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While passing through Venice on our way to the Dolomite Mountains, we were fortunate to spend some time photographing in the iconic city. On our first night in Venice, I joined a friend in photographing from Ponte Dell’Accademia. This famous bridge is one of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal in Venice, this one near the southern end of the canal.
We chose to take our photograph from the popular bridge at dusk with the intent of including both the city lights and colorful streaks from passing boats. Facing east from our vantage point on Dell’Accademia, the Grand Canal makes a gentle left turn toward Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (often abbreviated to the Salute), which appears brightly lit in center background. The Roman Catholic basilica is an iconic 1600s church with a vast cupola, started in 1631 as a votive offering in hopes of ending the plague that had been devastating Venice.
We set up our tripods on the bridge and waited for several boats to sail the Grand Canal at the same time, hoping to capture parallel streaks. I used a low ISO setting so as to increase the shutter speed during “blue hour” for longer the light streaks. But it made for a tricky shoot since every passerby tended to move the wooden suspended bridge ever so slightly, threatening to shake our tripod-mounted cameras and ruin sharpness.
As with many long exposures, this one involved repeated trial-and-error, constantly waiting for multiple passing boats on the Grand Canal, and re-shooting the scene using a long exposure. We started photographing around 30 minutes after sunset and continued for another 30 minutes. The myriad of light streaks on the canal form leading lines toward the basilica.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor