Posts Tagged Italy
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
So umm, yeah, this is Venice. Not really a surprise there. And no, I wasn’t recently there or anything, this is just yet another one from the archives from that big trip I took there, which at this point was “awhile ago”. One of those places that I’ve got to make it back to someday I suppose. So, until then..
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/400s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 39mm.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
It’s been awful sleepy around these parts lately, hasn’t it? I mean, I know that Will is sitting there hitting refresh over and over and over, waiting for me to put something else up here, but the rest of us have been checked out for awhile. Something about the holidays, blah blah. And, don’t get your hopes up too much, I’m telling you now that this will be the only post this week. I don’t want to put all that wear and tear on my keyboard if Will is the only one reading it.
Anyway, today’s picture comes from Grand St. Bernard Pass, which lies right on the border between Italy and Switzerland. Rumor has it Napoleon marched his army through these parts back in the day. Actually, that’s not a rumor at all, it might even be true. There’s a monastery right at the summit of the pass that’s been here for hundreds of years, and yes, that’s where they breed the dogs of the same name (the ones with the fictional barrels of brandy or whatever around their neck, that (non-fictionally) are intended to rescue people caught in avalanches and such. ) Thus, the cross. The cross isn’t intended to endorse any particular religion or anything, but since it’s the time of year for Christian holidays, and I live in a predominantly Christian society, this is the kind of thing that I (and now you) get to see all over the place. Actually, I should be slightly more specific: that cross is TOTALLY intended to endorse a specific religion. However, the PICTURE of it isn’t, nor is the inclusion of it here on this blog. There, everybody on the same page now? Cool.
So, enjoy your holidays! Or, at the very least, enjoy the latter part of December! I’ll see you all on the flip side.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/400s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 42mm.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Man, I swear I was supposed to be born in the Alps. I would LOVE to live over in Europe (preferably either in northern Italy or southern Switzerland), but unfortunately I’m not the type that has the courage to make huge life changes like that. Sigh. I guess I’ll just keep dreaming.
This is yet another picture from Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park), in the Aosta Valley, which is in the far northwestern corner of Italy. The valley is capped at the end by Mont Blanc (they call it Monte Bianco), and this is also the valley that has both St. Bernard Passes (both Grand St. Bernard Pass – where they breed the dogs – and Little St. Bernard Pass), which cross into Switzerland and France, respectively. At the time I was there, not only did I not have any kind of wide-angle lens, the widest I could get was 28mm, which is a travesty. I guess I just need to go back.
This was along the Alpe Money (moe-NAY) trail, which spits out of the village of Valnontey and follows the river up the valley. We only had just under a week to explore all of northern Italy, so the fact that we were able to spend two nights in the park and go hiking for a full day was pretty amazing in and of itself. Some day I’d love to just spend a whole bunch of time hiking and exploring. But this stupid job thing just gets in the way. Sigh.
Anyway, enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/250s, f/9.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 35mm.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Hi! It’s me! I just realized earlier today that my RSS feed has been sitting there broken for a couple months now. That means the HORDES of subscribers that eagerly anticipate seeing my content via Google FeedReader each day have been under the impression that either I’m super lazy or that the Picture of the Day was totally abandoned. At least one of those is not actually true!! So, to all of my RSS subscribers, welcome back!!
Also among the things I realized earlier today is this: I haven’t posted a picture from Europe in quite awhile. (Months, really..) So, I quickly woke up, found one, and Wham!, here we go-go. (Too much of a stretch there?) This goes back to Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park), in the northwest corner of Italy. We fortunately had the time available to spend a whole day hiking there, and it was totally amazing in every way. Loved it, I need to go back.
I’ll stop here, since all of you RSS readers have a lot of content to catch up on today. Man, I bet you’re excited, huh?
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/160s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Today’s shot is a view down over Vernazza, one of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre in northwestern-ish Italy. I’ve covered this ground before, so I won’t do that here. But, this is the town where Julie and I stayed when Trevor and Heather got married over there. This picture was taken along the trail between Vernazza (the 2nd of the 5) and Monterosso al Mare (the 1st). The little tiny beach was nice enough, and the water is *amazingly* clear. It looked like the boats were just floating in the air, suspended 10 or 20 feet or whatever over the sandy bottom. That’s the second revision for that sentence. The first revision said something like “…looked like the boats were just floating there.” which seems like a somewhat stupid thing to say.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/125s, f/7.1, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Today takes us back to Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso, a national park in the far northwestern corner of Italy. For a full story of where we were and why, it’s probably best to go digging around the earlier entries ( like this one, this one, or this one), but a quick summary is: we were there, and we saw stuff. And the stuff we saw is totally worth going there to see.
This is probably true everywhere in the world, but one thing that really struck me on our little trip through northern Italy (with a quick jaunt through southern Switzerland) was how warm and friendly everyone was once we got away from the cities. And I’m not even just talking about the folks working at the restaurants and hotels, even the other tourists seemed more willing to come out of their shell. Just as an example, when we were having dinner and breakfast in our hotel in the national park, (a total of 4 meals – 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts) we had two sets of buddies that I don’t know if we would have even interacted with in any other circumstances. One set was made up of two mildly older gentlemen (that’s my new term for folks that are my parents age – “mildly older”. Meaning, they’re older (than me), but they’re not what you’d call “old”) who were down from Britain for a couple weeks just to go “walking”. They were trying out different trails around the park each day, returning to the hotel every evening. I mean, man, what a trip that would be! I’d love to have the vacation time to be able to do that. The other set was two French-speaking ladies from… Quebec City, as it turns out. They were happy to practice their English on us, and we were happy to practice our “speaking more slowly and loudly so that non-English speakers will understand you”. Good times! Also, they had homemade yogurt. I’m glad I was able to work that in there.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Today’s picture takes us back to Cinque Terre, in northern Italy. If you recall, Julie and I were there a few years back to see our buddies Trevor and Heather get married. (To each other, as it turns out.) We were staying in Vernazza, but this picture is from two towns down the coast, Manarola. Trevor and I were hanging out there a few hours before the wedding. I mean, what better activity on the day you’re supposed to get married than a little bit of sightseeing, right?
The Cinque Terre towns are all built into the cliffs along the Mediterranean coast. The buildings are all crammed together, all painted really bright colors, with little tiny alleyways and staircases in between. Just simply walking around the little towns was an experience unlike anything I had before. It’s magical, really.
Now, a few notes about the picture itself… As you probably realize, I’m primarily interested in landscape photography. I have very little interest in pictures of buildings and such, so consequently I have very little experience and skill taking them. I’m a horrible city tourist, because to me, a city is a city. I’m typically much more interested in seeing the landscape surrounding a city than the physical buildings that make up the city itself. While I was here, walking around these little villages, I of course tried to get the best pictures I could, but as I mentioned, I haven’t developed those instincts for what makes a great shot and what doesn’t. So I did some experimenting, with some good results, and some … not so much. I can’t decide how I feel about this one in particular. There’s definitely good parts to it (the tightly jumbled, chaotic-yet-orderly buildings, the vibrant colors, the focus on the sunny patio), but there’s other parts that are ho-hum (the cheeseball fake texture on the right side, the ugly gutter drain, the fact that I cut off that turquoise building at an awkward spot, etc). But this is how it works – you take a picture that’s pretty good, decide what the good parts are, and figure out how, next time, you can cut down on the not so good parts, so that the next picture you take will be that much closer to being great.
And that idea doesn’t just apply to your own photos either. If you’re trying to improve as a photographer (I certainly am), every time you look at a photo, figure out what you like about it, and what you don’t. You can get a lot of great ideas for your own pictures by looking at what other people have come up with. I keep harping on this idea, because it’s really the best way I’ve come up with to improve. It’s a gradual, incremental process, with no finish line. Am I a better photographer than I was a few years ago? Without a doubt. Am I as a good of a photographer as I can possibly be? Not even close. I’ll save that for next week!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Welcome to yet another Monday, everyone! Here’s a picture to help ease the pain. This is the view from Pointe Helbronner, which is the highest gondola station on the Italian side of Mont Blanc / Monte Bianco, which is the highest peak in the Alps. Julie and I ended up there after riding the gondola (well, series of gondolas) up from near Courmayeur. I’m still kicking myself today that we didn’t take the extra time to keep going from there, on the French (Chamonix) gondola, all the way down to the French side of the mountain. I’m not really sure why we didn’t. Some combination of not realizing we could, and not having enough coffee that day. Oh well. Sadly, this was as far as we made it.
Mont Blanc sits right on the Italy/France border. They’ve actually cut a tunnel all the way through the mountain, although I remember it being pretty expensive, and besides, we didn’t have the time, nor did that fit in with our itinerary. This is looking toward the French side. In fact, down that canyon is the Mer de Glace (sea of ice), which is a big huge river-like glacier that’s one of the big tourist draws at Chamonix. The thing that struck me the most when we were hanging out up there (and, everywhere we went in the Alps, really) was how rugged and sharp the terrain is. When you see how razor-sharp those ridgelines are, it’s painfully apparent how young the Alps really are, that nature hasn’t had a chance yet to wear them down into something resembling the Rockies or the Appalachians. Amazing, really.
I asked for some requests last week, so thanks to all of you who sent those in. I’ll be posting an animal picture tomorrow, something from Colorado on Wednesday, and some kind of mountain/water scene on Thursday. I’ll have to dig into the archives and see what I can come up with. That leaves Friday open for a special surprise! Which means that I have no clue what I’m going to toss up on the wall that day. I’ll be as shocked as all of you, I’m sure.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/250s, f/13.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 32mm.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Hello everyone, welcome back. It’s getting harder and harder to come up with little quips to put at the beginning of my Picture of the Day entries. I’ll probably just start recycling them. People like my wife who remember every story I’ve ever even thought about telling will probably notice, except that people like my wife don’t actually read this crap anyway, they just look at the pictures. So everybody wins!
This is the Grand Canal in Venice. I’ll be honest, it’s not really one of my favorite pictures. But, it’s apparently one of the most viewed images on http://davefry.net/rate . I’ve started putting in little links that say “Read more about this picture” on the pictures that I’ve posted on Picture of the Day, so this is really just a lame attempt at getting some of those folks to head over this way. Don’t you all just feel used?
This picture is good for something though. It’s great for illustrating one of my huge pet peeves, that I’ve already mentioned at least a couple times in the past. When you have things like buildings in your picture (or trees, but buildings are worse), it’s painfully obvious (to my eye, anyway) when it’s not perfectly straight. And, I’m notorious for being a bit lazy and taking pictures that are cockeyed by a couple degrees. So taking pictures of things like buildings (or views where you can see the horizon) is a very frustrating activity for me. On top of that, most lenses introduce a little bit of barrel distortion, meaning they bend things around a little bit, especially near the edges. (Try getting a picture to look level when stuff in the middle is straight up and down, but stuff on the left side is leaning to the right, and stuff on the right side is leaning to the left. Arrrghhh!!) Then, just to put the icing on the cake, in some cases the buildings themselves aren’t even consistently straight! (And, depending on your perspective, having the lines be perfectly vertical or horizontal isn’t always “right”). I swear that was the case here, but that could just be me making excuses.
Regardless, these pictures of Venice drove me bonkers. Taking a picture straight is of course the most preferable option, but even when using software to straighten it out later (which sucks because it degrades the image – although I’m not going to go into why here) is really frustrating. Take a look at this image. The stuff near the middle looks pretty true. But that building on the far right is most definitely leaning toward the edge of the frame. And, as expected, the stuff on the far left is also off-kilter, although this time leaning toward the left. That’s actually kind of weird, it’s the opposite from what I’d usually expect (barrel distortion usually bends things as if it’s trying to turn them into a giant donut), but it’s still annoying. Sigh.
Whatever, enjoy your picture, and hopefully I can convince a few of those folks looking at the picture on davefry.net to check out this entry. Have a great rest of your day.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
As promised, here’s a crappy image to provide the yang to yesterday’s “best picture ever” yin. The main reason I picked this image is that for whatever reason it’s the 3rd most viewed image on http://davefry.net/rate , so this way I can add a link from that image to this post, so that the anonymous horde will discover the picture of the day and then everything will be unicorns and rainbows. I can’t wait!
This picture goes back once again to the hike that Julie and I took in Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park) in northwestern Italy. To rehash the story once again, we stayed in a little town called Valnontey, and hiked right from our hotel room up into this huge valley, capped at the end by the Gran Paradiso massif, which you can see here.
So, why do I keep saying how much this image sucks? It’s got some really cool elements. The huge steep walls of the valley are very striking, and being able to follow the spidery progress of the river up the valley is pretty cool. So why the negativity? Well, I’ll tell you. I don’t feel like this image is complete. Or, alternatively, I feel like it’s trying to be too many things at once. Or, a third attempt, I don’t think it’s got a clear focal point. The big jumble of mountain stuff that caps the valley is just too chaotic and jumbled, my eye doesn’t know what to do with it. There’s nothing to draw me in to a nice satisfying conclusion. Also, I don’t like all the haze. That was the main problem with the light, you may remember me saying. All day long, the views the other way down the valley were great, but it was always super hazy looking this direction, making pictures extremely difficult. There’s absolutely some photoshop trickery I could employ to cut down on the haze and bring out some detail, but I’ll be honest, my photoshop-fu isn’t up to the task.
All that being said, it was a gorgeous view from up there, and there’s tons of cool stuff to look at in the picture. I just.. don’t count this one among my favorites. That’s all. But you should feel free to enjoy it or not, as you see fit. That’s it for today!
Maybe tomorrow I’ll post another flower picture, because I know how much Dave loves them.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Man, I wish I could live in Europe. This kind of stuff is incredible. And the craziest part is that you can DRIVE here. And there’s TONS of spots just like it! Really, it’s just not fair. I’ve noticed that a lot of readers are from Italy. You guys don’t realize how lucky you are.
This is Grand St. Bernard pass, which lies along the Italy-Switzerland border. This was taken just on the Swiss side, looking back into Italy. The building on the right is the Swiss guard station, and the other two buildings are Italian hotels. There’s also a hotel on the Swiss side, behind me. We were there in early-mid September, which was perfect, since all of the grass and such was a brilliant gold color once you got up above treeline. I’m sure it’s beautiful *any* time of year, but in the autumn it was especially so. I wish I could have had more time there, I would have loved to stay in one of those hotels and just spend a few days hiking in whatever direction caught my fancy each day. But, I sadly only had about 6 days total for driving around and exploring, and this was the last night we had before we had to start bee-lining it toward Venice. Sigh. Next time, next time.
There are two Saint Bernard passes, Grand and Little. Grand (this one) is 8000 feet high, and as I mentioned goes between Italy and Switzerland. Little is about 7000 feet high, and goes from Italy to France. Both of them are accessible from the Aosta valley in northwestern Italy, which is capped at the end by Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco). I would have liked to have been able to drive both of them, but the timing just didn’t work out.
As you can tell, the view was a bit hazy looking back into Italy, since this was taken looking south, and it was mid-afternoon. The view north (into Switzerland) had better light (and I got plenty of pics that direction too), but the quality of the Alpine views was spectacular no matter which direction you were facing.
When I was there, I only had one lens with me, which is my 28-300 mm all-purpose whiz-bang best-thing-since-mayonnaise lens, which works for just about everything, but, since it starts at 28mm, I lose a lot on the wide-angle end. I’ve been thinking a lot lately that having a more wide-angle lens at least handy would be cool, as here it may have helped me get a nice shot that included the whole lake in the frame, as well as the mountains. I’m intending to steal back the 18-55 that came with the camera from my buddy Dan who is borrowing it, but I’ve also tossed around the idea of getting something even wider, but that would require spending some cash, which is never fun. (Except when it is.) We’ll see, that’s still an open question. I do hate the inconvenience of swapping lenses (which is why I’m so fond of my 28-300), but lately I’m realizing that it might be an impossible dream. Oh well.
Anyway, that’s it for today. See you all tomorrow! (Or, Friday, if I decide to go ahead with the 3-day-a-week idea.)
Update: Oh, forgot to mention… Grand st. Bernard pass is where monks traditionally have, and still do, breed st bernard dogs for … All the things that you would normally breed such a dog for. Like carrying your booze for you.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 32mm.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009.
Ahhh Venice. This of course goes back to that same Italy/Switzerland trip that I’ve already posted a few pics from. Venice was where our trip came to an end. (Well, kind of. The next day we still had to travel back across Italy to Milan, where we stayed one more night out in the suburbs before catching an early flight the next day. But.. whatever.)
To recap: we flew in to Milan, stayed a night, then took the train down to Vernazza (in Cinque Terre) for Trevor and Heather’s wedding. Stayed there a few nights, then headed along the coast with T. and H. (again by train) to Monte Carlo (which was actually quite a let-down.) Stayed there two nights/one day, then up to Torino. From there, Trevor and Heather went their own way, and Julie and I rented a car, and played around in the mountains for a week. We had no set itinerary, but we ended up hanging out in the national park (Gran Paradiso) for a couple nights, and crossed over into Switzerland, where we stayed in Zermatt. From there, we drove all the way across Italy (although, driving “all the way across” west-to-east is a lot less significant than north-to-south) to Venice, where we met up again with Treather for one more night (and dropped off the car.) Right, got all that?
We got in to Venice around 1pm, so we had most of the day to fart around. We basically saw the same stuff you’d see on a bus tour, as in, we didn’t get away from that central touristy part at all. (Do they even HAVE a non-touristy part there?) But, Julie had never been there, so she made me promise we’d go at least for a day. Now, about the picture…
Pictures like this can be hard to take. Anytime you’re trying to include both stuff that is illuminated by sunshine AND stuff that’s in shadow, it can be tricky to get right. Usually, either the bright part is overexposed (and all the color is washed out if you can see anything at all), or the shadow part is underexposed (and is completely dark.) I know I’ve covered this before, but it’s such a common issue that it’s worth going over again. Basically, our eyes have a much higher sensitivity range than a camera does. We can see a scene with both bright parts and dark parts, and make out the detail in both. The camera can only handle a much narrower range. So usually you have to make a choice about which part you want to be subject of the picture, and thus which part gets exposed properly. (Or, you can try to average it out, which sometimes works. Or, you can play games like with HDR photography where you basically combine multiple images after the fact, but I haven’t yet gotten into stuff like that…) There’s of course also the option of a split neutral density filter (which is a filter with one half clear, the other half darkened), which can make the difference a lot smaller, but I never think to carry one of those around with me. (Well, the bigger problem is that I don’t actually own one.)
And then, of course, you can just cheat, which is kind of what I did here. Nowadays, there’s lots of software tools that you can use to touch up photos. (Maybe you’ve heard of them? Nah, probably not..) So, assuming your picture doesn’t have too many areas that are either so bright or so dark that you end up losing data (once something is bright enough such that the values for the data point are maxed out, if something right next to it is slightly brighter, you won’t be able to tell the difference, and thus the data is lost), you can use software to lighten or darken certain areas of the picture. I didn’t do that a LOT in this picture (because I’m too cheap to buy Photoshop), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t play around with it a little bit.
Map (Right, like I remember where in Venice this was…): http://bit.ly/D9Gy4
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/250s, f/6.3, ISO 200. Focal length: 30mm.