Water Reflection Photography
Venice is arguably one of the most mapped, photographed and painted cities in the world. For centuries artists such as Canaletto, Turner and Monet have been captivated by this floating city with its exquisite architecture and iridescent skies.
I am lucky enough to have visited Venice many times, initially when I was 12 years old on a wonderful family holiday. This glorious floating city had a lasting impact on me. I have since been back with my husband and daughters but only during the summer holidays along with plenty of other visitors! However I returned to Venice in December of 2019 on a particularly special photography trip. The city was wonderfully quiet and devoid of tourists following the recent devastating floods. Finally I had the chance to really discover Venice and enjoy a few indulgent days of art and photography.
Venice is utterly alluring with its charming bridges, canals, gondolas and spectacular architecture; the opportunity for photography is everywhere. My particular interest lies in the city’s textures and reflections and I am going to focus on the joy of reflective photography in this blog.
In Venice reflections appear in any low lying areas when the tide is high. When the world famous St Mark’s Square floods, marvellous reflections of the surrounding buildings unfold across the newly reflective geometric paving. I only experienced minor flooding on my first afternoon, but I must confess that I was rather pleased to have had this opportunity to witness the iconic view of the reflected Campanile!
Many photographers favour the perfect mirror image which is achievable when the canal waters are calm. I made sure that I rose early whilst the air was very still to take a few classic long exposure shots of the December sunrise over the Grand Canal.
However I was even more excited to explore the quieter and narrower canals with less pristine facades. Everywhere I turned provided yet another beautiful waterway with striking vistas of reflected stonework, brickwork, windows and balconies. I became increasingly mesmerised and excited by the ripples and blurs caused by a passing gondola, Vaporetto or indeed the sea breeze coming in off the Adriatic Sea.
Textures of Venice
Built directly on the water, Venice is truly unique. This city is made up of winding canals; sometimes the water is completley still but more often than not there are gentle undulations. The water’s reflective surface both mirrors and distorts the elevations of the facing buildings.
To this day I love these unpredictable distortions which stir up the waterways of Venice. The magic happens when the light from the sun or from buildings or boats meet the water.
Suddenly the water shatters into new colours and breaks into unique, uneven patterns.
Art is created right there and then.
I had just as much fun with reflections on the nearby island of Burano, a small fishing island set within the Venetian lagoon.
Burano is famous for its brightly painted houses. The story goes that vibrant colours were used so that the fishermen could find their way home when fog blanketed the lagoon. These cheery coloured houses facing each other across small canals can’t fail to bring a smile to your face. I discovered that the houses on Burano are protected by law, so if you own a home in this part of Venice, and you want to change your hot pink exterior walls to a cool turquoise, then you must apply for approval from the government. Like many other visitors , I am also convinced that the locals arrange their laundry to match the colour of their paintwork!
Whilst I enjoy using the water’s reflective surface to create an artistic echo of a scene, it is even more rewarding to generate something more abstract by zooming in on these distinct shapes and ornamental patterns found in the water.
A myriad of reflective opportunities are waiting to be explored. By taking multiple exposures and playing with blending modes both in camera and in post-processing, I have created a series of unique images. I hope that my reflective photography brings back your memories of perhaps an equally wonderful trip to Venice. Or it might entice you to make a visit and discover this incredible city for yourself.
Abstract Reflections, Burano
Member of Pure Arts Group https://www.pureartsgroup.co.uk/interview-juliette-scott