Burano. I don’t think that many tourists (but also Italian people from other regions of Italy) know about this little island of the archipelago of Venice. The architecture of this island is completely different from Venice and the key aesthetical point of this island is the huge amount of colors.
Besides of the higher concentration and focusing on details when you wander alone, I think there’s another reason why it’s better to go out alone. When you’re alone, you are simply more productive than with someone. I realized it when I saw that going out alone produced a golden condition: I shot a lot of pictures and the quality of the pictures was really high. I had the time and focusing to choose the better composition for my images…
It’s quite difficult to arrive to Burano, it takes more or less 35 minutes from the island of Venice, taking the only transport available: Vaporetto (typical public transport in Venice). That’s the bad point of being alone, while going and coming back; but what about music? Come on it’s not so bad to wander alone and spend some time alone, sometimes.
The unique feature of this island is that fishermen built their houses painting them with very brilliant and dreamy colors. In this way, now the island has a very special and multicolor soul, which will be impressed on your Color Negative films as it is, or will be hiper-saturated with Slide Films…
And when you finally will arrive in Burano, you will surely appreciate to enjoy all that beauty alone! There are hundreds of places to sit and stay calm, relax and think. It’s not only about pictures, it’s also about meditation. If there are not too much tourists, there are some spots in which you can stay alone and have a spiritual experience, in particular if it’s spring and it’s not too warm.
Venice has recently been nominated as the most beautiful city of the world, as a touristic destination. I was born in the nearest town to Venice, called Padua (or Padova), so it has been always so simple for me to go to Venice for the Carnival or just to walk…
I have always been a fan of going alone to wander around places and discover secret or simply less known spots. Staying with someone is a pleasure, but you lose focus on the space around you, or because you speak with your mate/s or because you simply don’t want to lose yourself in the middle of the town, metropolis, forest, etc.
What’s extraordinary about Venice is that you cannot really say “Oh I know Venice!”. Even people who live in Venice for two, three or four years, cannot really say to know this town; the truth is that you continue discovering new places and spots, even though is a little town on an island.
Going around alone suits perfectly the geography of Venice, with the little streets and the labyrinth urban space. In particular if you have a model, backgrounds are unique in this town and you will surely have a great effect with portraits in those spaces. Usually landscape in portrait photography don’t have really a historical meaning or simply they don’t “say” anything at all; when you use Venice landscapes in portrait photography the result is quite magical, in my humble opinion.
What’s so special about that? Well, Venice is not made of stones, water and Gondolas, but is made of history. I personally like the contrast between a “modern model” and the ancient details of a very old and unique town like Venice. Just imagine a model with modern indie or tipster clothes, in Venice landscape: the contrast between new and historical will produce a magical *oxymoron* in your pictures.
If you are looking for a historical town which can inspire you, Valletta is the place for you! It’s a very diversified town, in which you can find some very different spaces and places derived from completely different origins and stories.
With «Valletta» I mean the historic walled citadel, which is the Republic of Malta main administrative district. Obviously, as what happens in other countries and cities, this part of town is part of an urban agglomeration (in this case, known as Greater Valletta).
I visited this town in a very hot August day and there was a very strange light, I don’t know if it’s a peculiar feature of the town or something I found randomly only in that day. However, the atmosphere I found was really warm and the pictures turned out to be very yellow (in the case of the XR film, setting the LC-A at 25iso) or light blue (in the case of the XPro Chrome film). I think that this kind of light is due to the reflection of solar rays on the white and beige walls of the town: this kind of different light radiation is quite visible in my pictures, if you pay attention and watch them in HD.
Valletta is set in a little peninsula, so it’s surrounded by water for almost its whole perimeter. City walls are huge and the most monumental part is in the entrance of this historic citadel. The streets are amazing and very narrow and the only people who live inside can use cars; houses and buildings have a characteristic Mediterranean look, visible through windows, terraces, roofs, gates, and trees which you can find in the parks.
There’s a lot of religious monuments, because of the Catholic devotion that Malta citizens have: the Republic of Malta is one of the most Catholic countries in the European Community and this is the reason why you can find a very high number of churches and cemeteries.
Generally I’m not a fan of the main monuments of the countries that I’m visiting because I like to photograph the inner essence of the population more through some lifestyle shots: people in their usual and simple activities, unknown streets, cars, parks, trees, road signs, corners, objects. I think this is the best way to show how people live in a place, which is completely different from the one you are use to live in.
In the north area of the Republic of Malta’s main island (named Malta) there is a small town, which is a very popular place during the summer because of its amazing bay: Għadira Bay. Għadira means “pond”; the peculiar feature of this bay is that it is the most famous and longest beach shore in the entire state, so this is a favorite site in which citizens use to stay during the weekend.
Mellieħa can be divided in two parts: the historical part, which is located above the hills, and the part located at sea level, which is the part with hotels, dive centers, and most of the pubs and bars. The historical part has a lot of steep roads and footsteps: most of the citizens live here, even though there are some hotels. Streets are filled with curios, because of the very old-style cars that you can find parked everywhere; buildings are cool and sometimes have some Mexican-style and colors. They are very peculiar to photograph, because it’s considered as strange architecture for a European area.
The interesting feature of this part of Mellieħa is the monumental buildings. The most important historical building is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa, which is a Marian shrine constructed in the late 16th century and contains a Byzantine-like fresco. In the same building, there is the church (which expanded several times as the population kept growing) and a terrace with a lot of benches, plants and a bar. From this terrace there is a stunning landscape: you can see all of Għadira Bay and the Marsa Peninsula.
Pictures from this higher part of the town will be very yellowish if you go in the “brighter” moments of the day (from 12am to 3pm). Yellow is the dominant color of Mellieħa because of the materials that citizens use to build houses and other buildings. Using a Redscale XR film could be a great idea, if you set your camera at 25 ISO or less because blue and green will pop out from your images, if it’s really sunny. I used an LC-A set at 25 ISO, because it was the minimum setting I had, but I suggest you to try to expose your XR pics at 12 ISO, so green and blue will be more vivid and strong.
I lived in the second part of Mellieħa (the one at sea level) for two weeks and I simply love it for many reasons. It’s a very quiet place, in which me and my friends can move by foot everywhere. In 5 minutes you can reach the shore of Għadira Bay, with its soft and crowded sand. There are little apartments everywhere with maximum three floors each: time seems to be stuck in the ’80s and there’s also that peculiar Mexican-like style.
The sea is simply wonderful. There is clear water and beautiful beaches, but also a wonderful view of the bay. The inner part is made for swimmers that can stay in a very large area of water (with both low and high founding), while the outer part is for the mooring of several boats.
I will speak about pictures of the sea areas in the next episode of the “Malta Series”, so stay tuned!