Reflecting on Life as Night Falls in Venice

Venice at Night

Giudecca Dog Walk © Jed Smith

Life and beauty aren’t always found in brilliant light.

Maybe this is a brief, passing phase, but I’m finding myself increasingly fascinated with the “darker side” of existence. Night falls, literally and metaphorically, in life and we have the choice to resist the dark or explore, with curiosity, its gifts.

My photography, my camera is my journal.

Recently, a dear friend and accomplished photographer came to visit. The photo above was taken just after we had toured an inspiring photo exhibition of Willy Ronis at Tre Oci on the Giudecca in Venice. Many of the photos were masterful renderings of how night falls in various settings. I was inspired, and I promised myself I would double my resolve to learn the ropes of capturing nighttime photography. I also realized that this fascination with the darker side of life mirrors my willingness to face my shadow side.

What particularly drew me to the above scene was the man leisurely walking his dog and pausing under a street lamp while the stacks of platforms that become the emergency sidewalks when Venice has high water ominously wait to be put to use.

Night falls on our ideas about how life should be, how it should progress.

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Yes, She Exists! A Woman Gondolier.

Woman gondolier, ItalyWise

The Changing Face of Gondoliers? © 2018 Jed Smith

Finally, real proof that Venice has a woman gondolier!

Talk about stumbling across a good story. Just two days ago, Simone and I had opted for an impromptu trip to Venice and a stroll around the city. I almost didn’t bring my camera. We’d disembarked from our train and decided on a loop that begin in the Jewish Ghetto. We’d crossed Campo di Ghetto Nuovo and were turning left to cross the bridge over Fondamenta dei Ormesini, and there she was, a woman gondolier!

If you’ve read my previous blog post about The Life of the Gondolier you’ll know that I’ve been on a mission to find Venice’s only woman gondolier––or gondoliera.

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I Found Mental Repose in These Italian Abstracts

Italian Abstracts, Italywise

© 2018 Jed Smith

When the mind gets overly fixated on being literal, it can use a break.

Mine does, for sure. And, thanks to the vibrantly rendered island village of Burano, just outside of Venice, I’ve stumbled upon Italian abstracts that do the trick.

As I approached ferreting out a topic for this week’s blog post, my mind told me it needed a short vacation from writing about the logistics and adjustments of living in Italy. I thought, “Well, I’ll just skip a week.” But, then I realized I could speak with photos and not get too mired in words, other than a brief commentary as to why the images in this post give my soul peace and balance. Maybe you’ll relate…

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Color Thrives in the Venice Snow

Jed Smith Photography, Venice Snow

Scarlett and Snow © 2018 Jed Smith

Welcome to Episode 2 of Venice Snow!

And a healthy splash of color. I so appreciate the enthusiastic responses to last week’s post, which featured the Venice snow through a filter of black and white. Such images, devoid of color, can’t help but elevate the sense of extreme cold. But I would be remiss if I didn’t share the impact of color in this second installment, so here goes!

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Venice Snow Makes a Rare Appearance

Jed Smith Photography, Venice Snow

Catwalk in the Snow © 2018 Jed Smith

I hit the jackpot.

Yes, I’d been waiting for this rare occurrence, Venice Snow. Last winter I waited and hoped. But no luck. Ever since I saw a few photos (on display at a local gallery) that had captured Venice blanketed in snow, I’d been itching to have my own crack at it. I have volumes of Venice images in color-saturated summer, and in dreary rain, but no snow. Imagine my delight when I saw snow in the forecast with a high probability. We hopped on hotels.com, found a screaming deal of a room adjacent to the Rialto Fish Market, and I charged my batteries and packed up my photo gear. We boarded the train to Venice with great optimism. Would the forecast be correct? Would I be gifted with this rare opportunity?

Yes, yes, and yes!

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The Shadowy Faces of Venice

Venice, Italywise

Proceed At Your Own Risk – © 2018 Jed Smith

Venice remains my favorite city in Italy. I never tire of her beauty and charms. I’m also fascinated by her dark side and her complicated past, which seems to be reflected in the many dark faces of Venice that adorn countless walls and doors.

Don’t get too comfortable.

That’s my interpretation of these dark and foreboding faces of Venice. On their own, they can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but throw in their location in the maze of dark and confusing alleyways, and you have an excellent setting for a thriller or horror movie. Who can forget the final scene in Don’t Look Now? (The creepy knife-wielding dwarf elevates the spooky factor).

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The Extraordinary Street Perfomers of Venice

Venetian Street Performers

Glass Symphony – © Jed Smith 2018

Street performers in Venice have a never-ending audience of tourists flooding the city. If you’re an artist and you’re good at your craft––or if you’re particularly adept at being novel, you might be able to make a decent wage.

It’s pretty easy to find a musical maestro

Consider the photo above. I know people have heard plenty of glass music, but this fella is something to behold. How a person can coax music with such dimension out of the glasses is beyond my comprehension.

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Venice Postscript: The Working Man and Acqua Alta

Acqua Alta, Italywise

Sloggin’ Through Acqua Alta © 2017 Jed Smith

Yep, it’s that time of the year when Venetians start dealing with the acqua alta more frequently.

The high waters associated with fickle tides keep the people of Venice on their toes. Just a couple of weeks ago I published a photo essay and tribute to the working man of Venice. I forget to point out an added complexity of their lives. That’s the acqua alta. Locals stay abreast of the “odds” given by the local weather reports. Everyone waits and dreads the siren that goes off city-wide to warn people to “get ready”.  Usually, when you hear the sirens, the high waters will be making their appearance within a couple of hours.

Venice is constantly in readiness to respond to the acqua alta.

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Buone Feste! Let There Be Magic!

Buone Feste, Italywise

Buone Feste! May you have the happiest of holidays! © 2017 Jed Smith

I am indeed fortunate to be living in Italy and experiencing yet another magical holiday! I confess, a long career in advertising and marketing had almost depleted my stores of holiday cheer. Yes, a bit of “too much Christmas” for commercial reasons. Yours truly had become a bit of a Scrooge. Until my move…

Thank You, Italy, for bringing back a hearty Buone Feste into my life!

Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of holiday lights with ancient architecture and streets steeped in history. Maybe it is a matter of letting go of the former life and being able to see with fresh eyes. Maybe it’s the unfettered enthusiasm with which Italians celebrate the holidays. Whatever the answer, I just know I’m grateful to feel like a kid again.

Wherever you are, may this holiday season be full of magic and warmth.

Jed

 

A Tribute to the Working Man in Venice

working man, Italywise

Intensity – © 2107 Jed Smith

I love so many things about Venice. The city is a constantly unfolding visual feast. It’s a city that never stops giving even though she will never reveal all of her mysteries. Most visitors are dazzled by the sites in this magnificent city. I’m enthralled with the grout of Venice, the working man. Put another way, the working man is the connective tissue that keeps this city afloat and functioning.

The working woman, too, is part of the grout of Venice.  To give her equal tribute, I am working on a separate photo essay (stay tuned).

The working man in Venice is always battling the elements.

Venice is forever shifting and settling. Perfect right angles and straight lines are an impossibility. Imagine keeping a city going that exchanges boats far cars and trucks. Imagine dealing with the corrosive and rotting effects of so much moisture. Imagine coping with the acqua alta, the high waters. And then there is doing one’s job while dodging throngs of tourists. The working man in Venice must cope with it all.

These seven images capture only a snippet of the life of the working man.

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