Monday, October 19, 2009

Venice at Night

I love Venice best at night.

During the day the light and color are overwhelming and, ironically, it is easy to overlook the details which make the city so uniquely beautiful. Full light smooths out the details of the stonework; it looks brighter but flatter, or dirtier and less defined. At night the shadows etch the details. The difference between full moon and no moon is almost as dramatic as the difference between sunrise and sunset.

Because of the way the city is lit at night, it is hard to take pictures faithful to the living experience. There are thousands of bright street lights at close intervals. They drive cameras insane. There is no more well-lit city at night than Venice. But it is not even lighting, it is in bursts, and the best looking is between the lamps.

But at night the city is quite deserted. Venice is, in its essence, a small town with 30,000,000 tourists a year. During the day and at dusk, when the streets teem with people, it is impossible to focus on the structures which make Venice what it is in its essence. At night, when the streets and squares are deserted, it shows best its proper scale, its improbable physical setting, and its eclectic beauty, the fusion of Byzantine style, renaissance nostalgia for the glory of ancient Rome, and the baroque esthetic of more is more.

This is my first night gallery. Up until last week, I knew what I wanted to do but couldn't do it. The solutions were quite simple: a tripd and a new camera. These images are the closest I have gotten to capturing what it is I see walking around at night.


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