I can’t believe I’m already leaving Venice tomorrow. It feels like I just got here, but it also feels like I’ve been here forever. It’s a strange combination of feelings that’s probably common when you’re thrown into a different culture for a month. It’s been an exciting experience overall, and I’m glad I did it. I’m traveling in Ireland for a week after this, and then it’s back to Boston! I do miss Boston, and I’m ready to get back, but I will miss Italy after I leave. The culture is great, and Italy has so many more things to offer that I didn’t get to experience while I was here. But for now, I’ll enjoy my last gelato and move on to a country where they speak English.
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I realized I never did a post about how they built things in Venice, since it’s a unique process with Venice being a mudflat in the middle of the ocean, basically. Like in many places, the architecture needs to work with the environment here, and most building methods won’t work because of the wet environment.
To begin, workers first pound pine or oak logs about 5m long deep into the clay bed underneath the soft mud. Centuries ago, this process would take forever, since it had to be done by hand. When the posts were in place, they would build up the top in a kind of raft, and all support would come from the outside walls, where the logs were positioned.
A certain type of stone called Istrian stone was discovered to have extremely beneficial properties for the Venetians. This stone was taken from Istria, which came under Venetian control in the middle ages. It is a simple white stone, but it’s easy to carve and resistant to salt water. Hence, it helped slow down the salt water damage that was inevitable. This stone was typically placed on top of the newly constructed “raft” to help keep the salt water from seeping upward and doing damage to the building. Istrian stone could also be used to decorate and create facades, and was quite common.
(a building with a facade of Istrian stone)
Once the foundation was in place, the building itself was generally made of brick. Brick was an ideal building material because it was light, flexible, and porous, which made buildings sturdy while having give to adjust to settling on the uneven surface. The bricks also could withstand salt damage for a time, but eventually they would break down and had to be replaced. You can tell when the bricks have undergone salt damage for some time, because they develop a white tinge on the outer edges where the salt starts to form.
Since virtually all of the buildings in Venice are made out of brick, this doesn’t leave much room for creativity by the building owners. Thus, many of them apply stucco to the outside of the building to make it more decorative.
Over time, however, this stucco also begins to break down from the salty environment and must be replaced.
Also, none of the buildings are really perfectly straight. Especially the really old ones. With the soggy environment, settling is inevitable, and it leads to buildings becoming lopsided, in some cases.
It’s interesting to see which buildings have been around longer, which have been restored recently, and which need a facelift. You can also tell which houses belong to wealthier families based on how much effort they put into keeping their house looking nice despite the elements.
Photo final project
It’s done! Finally done with photo class. Here’s my final project. We could choose any theme we wanted, and I did symmetry with elements knocking it off balance. It’s a little less straight forward than other themes and it was difficult to find, but I enjoyed it. Only a little more history to do until I am DONE completely with classes. Then it’s off to Ireland for a little bit!
Last assignment post! Before the final project, that is.
For a change of pace we went on a trip to Padua to do some street shooting for this assignment. Padua is a bigger city than Venice, and it definitely isn’t as touristy. It’s known for the church of St. Anthony and a few other churches in the area. We had the whole afternoon to wander around and get a feel for the city, and hopefully produce some pictures that showed it.
The goal was to take pictures of people, which lots of us found challenging, including me, because it’s difficult to just go up and take a picture of someone. Asking to take someone’s picture is even harder, especially in a foreign language.
Here’s what I managed to turn in for the project. It didn’t go too terribly.
Next assignment: FINAL PROJECT!
Looks like it’s an update-the-blog kind of day tomorrow.
This was the most challenging assignment for some people, mainly because we didn’t get much direction on it. We basically had a few examples of certain abstract photographer’s work, and then were told to go shoot. Well then, alright. We mostly did alright. I wanted to use the water in mine, since water is everywhere in Venice and you can get all abstract-y with reflections.
Well, I tried. Only one more assignment to be posted until the final project! Which is due in a week o.O
For our third project we went to the island of Burano, an island known for its colorful houses (see post here: http://snapshotsofvenice.tumblr.com/post/24775659561/the-island-of-burano-for-photography-class-we)
The object was to shoot pictures in the context of color and light, and we couldn’t have been in a better place. I had trouble narrowing it down from all the pictures I took that day. Here’s what I came up with:
(I got yelled at for the flowers on the chair being cut off at the bottom. Now I can’t stop seeing it)
I like how the rays of light are visible in this picture.
The light was so strong that it made this incredible reflection in the silverware.
Only problem with this one is that I used a shallow depth of field. Should have been wide.
This was one of my favorite assignments, mainly because I liked wandering around Burano so much. I might go back there for shooting some of my final project, if I have time.
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Here’s the official blog of my trip run by our TAs, if you’re curious to see what everyone else on the trip is up to. The top 5 photos for each assignment critique are up there, along with descriptions of the different history classes, which I can’t even keep track of myself. Our final projects will also be posted in their entirety once they’re complete. Enjoy!
Photo assignment 2 was a little more ambiguous and left a lot more room for creativity. Each of us was given a different vaporetto stop and asked to photograph the area and tell a story about it (just to refresh, the vaporetto - or vap - is the bus system of Venice. They’re water buses, basically, that travel along the Grand Canal).
My vap stop was San Silvestre. It was a small stop near the Rialto bridge, one of the tourist hubs of the city. But even for being so close to a main area it was relatively quiet near the stop, and there were lots of tunnels and dank, isolated areas en route to the stop. I decided to use that in my portrayal of the area, and here’s what I came up with.
We also learned a little more in photoshop, like how to select and brighten/darken one area, and using the sharpen tool. I may have gone a little sharpen crazy on a few of them, but it’s coming along. I definitely knew a lot more photoshop than I thought, though, because a lot of it is review for me.
Next assignment up soon!