09 March 2013

Christmas day in Venice

Venice HDR panorama photostitch

Christmas is a good time to visit Venice. It's quiet (by Venice standards), cool (ok, freezing, actually), and you avoid the stink of stagnant water that permeates the city in summer.

The downside? Weather, not so good. We had four days of low cloud, poor visibility, featureless skies, and not a hint of sunlight. The classic views of Piazza San Marco and Canal Grande were all rather drab-looking, so I had to explore the streets for interesting details to capture.

Venice's narrow streets are like a labyrinth. One wrong turn and you're hopelessly lost. This was to be our second visit to Venice, but I still prepared by spending hours beforehand on Google Maps. By the time we arrived I felt like I knew my way around. It certainly paid off, and yes, we still managed to get lost a few times.

But sometimes getting lost pays off. We stumbled upon this street on a very unexpected detour back to the hotel one evening. Timing couldn't have been better, as there was just a little daylight left in the sky. With my tripod set up, I waited for a break in the endless stream of pedestrians. (Even in winter, these "secret", off-the-beaten-track streets are full of tourists). Then I took a series of 5 photos to stitch together into a panorama. Each photo was itself comprised of 3 shots at different exposure settings, to capture the huge range in tone, from the dark shadows on the canal, to the brightly lit shop windows and street lighting. That's a total of 15 shots combined into one, 43 megapixel photo.

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