Venice Photography Workshops – Fine Art Landscape Photography by Paolo De Faveri

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Venice Photography Workshops – Fine Art Landscape Photography by Paolo De Faveri.

– Hazy shades of Venice –

Essential portfolio of Venice in the mist


To serve as a complement to my previous post about visiting and photographing Venice in winter, I collected here a selection of images I took while wandering about Venice in the misty and foggy days of winter.

 *please click on the pictures if you want to see them larger

“Boy with frog” is a sculpture in white steel of the Los Angeles based artist Charles Ray. Prominently situated on the very tip of Punta della Dogana, exactly where the Grand Canal, the Giudecca Canal and the San Marco basin converge, it was placed here at the beginning of June 2009 for the opening of the new exhibition center at the Dogana. Unfortunately, Charles Ray’s wonderful masterpiece is not there anymore. Following a petition made by the population, the statue has been removed and replaced with that old, big lamp post that had always been there. Apparently, for the best or the worst, Venetians are a sort of very traditionalist people… I took this picture about 30 minutes after dawn on a cold and very foggy morning of mid January. This is stitched from nine vertical frames.

Another image of “Boy with frog” this time taken in twilight about 30 minutes before sunrise. I had noticed the clouds and the mist on the horizon were slowly moving towards me. To record this movement into a still photograph I decided to go for a very long exposure (160″ @ f11). It was still very dark, but not as much dark as needed for achieving such a long exposure time, so I used a six stop neutral density filter. The long exposure has beautifully motion-blurred the clouds in the sky, providing the picture with a dynamic element. And, as a secondary but very welcome effect, it also transformed the water of the lagoon into a perfectly flat, highly reflective surface.

A classic or better, iconic view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge, with the Palace of Camerlenghi on the left and the bell tower of the Santi Apostoli church in the background. It is not easy to take such a calm, old time looking picture of the Grand Canal nowadays, with the water buses and all sort of motor boats passing by all the time. Taken at noon on an overcast and misty day of mid December.

Riva degli Schiavoni with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background. Taken about 30 minutes before sunrise on a very foggy morning of December. It is just gorgeous  to attend the awakening of the city in the early mornings of winter, as you can become aware of those little things that make this city so unique in the world. For example, the big boat on the left is actually one of the many delivery vans of the town, and it’s docked there for resupplying restaurants, hotels, shops and offices of the necessary goods for a new working day. Nobody stops and thinks about it, but everything travel exclusively on boats in Venice, grocery goods included.

Thick layers of fog raising above the lagoon and the San Marco basin, with the church of La Salute and Punta della Dogana in the background. Taken from the vaporetto nr. 2, the one that from Riva degli Schiavoni – close to San Marco – goes to the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and Giudecca.

The amazing cathedral of San Giorgio Maggiore and the surrounding buildings emerging from the deep fog of the lagoon, in a very cold early morning of mid January. This place seems to be shrouded into mystery, and not only when it is so foggy. After all, this was the place called home by the Benedictine priest Pellegrino Ernetti, the most famous exorcist among those who operated in Venice. Besides this, Father Ernetti is also said to be one of the inventors of the chronovisor, a device that, according to the explanation given by Father Ernetti himself, allowed hearing and seeing any event from the past. In a few words, a time machine. Also this is Venice!

A lady walks her dog on a cold and foggy morning of mid January. Taken at the Fondamenta of Giudecca looking north, with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background. Stitched from eight vertical frames. Giudecca, together with Cannaregio and, partially, Castello, is one of the sestieri (districts) of Venice where people still reside and own their houses. This kind of people is becoming a rarity unfortunately, as there are only fifty-six thousand residents left in the city centre presently. Venice is not a very convenient place to live in, prices are ridicolously high – for everyone, not only for tourists – and householders are being offered big money for selling their houses to corporates and wealthy foreigners who want to set a foot in town. As a result, every day a family or two leave the city and move to the mainland. Sadly, also this is Venice.

A moody, almost surreal view of the Basin in front of San Marco square from a quay of the Giudecca. The three small yellow dots in the water are simply buoys. The waterfront sidewalks at Giudecca, Zattere, and Riva degli Schiavoni are great locations for taking beautiful, comprehensive grand vistas of the Venice skyline and the lagoon, particularly at sunrise and sunset. And when the fog gets in, they become perfect spots for minimalistic, simple yet strong compositions like this one.


Another very typical Venetian view, again a simple, geometrical composition: a quay and two lamp posts on the Giudecca, and the strip of buildings of the city centre in the background. Taken on a hazy evening of mid January, about 30 minutes after sunset.

A panoramic view of the San Marco Basin as seen from atop the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore, with the Cathedrale in the foreground and, in the background, the Giudecca Canal on the left, Punta della Dogana and the entrance of the Grand Canal at the centre, San Marco square and bell tower, Doge’s Palace and Riva degli Schiavoni on the right. One of those glorious sunsets sometimes nature put on stage in the misty evenings of December and January. Stitched from nine vertical frames.

As the night falls down again on the lagoon, the haze spreads the last rays of the setting sun in the sky, casting some amazing colours on the clouds over San Marco. Taken on an evening of mid January from San Giorgio Maggiore.


 Coffee table book
Click to preview In Venice as a Venetian photo book

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the Serenissima © Paolo De Faveri 2013 

now available on amazon

Paolo De Faveri's Italy Fine Art Landscape Photography Workshops

Venice in winter

Private and small groups Landscape Photography Workshops

 Join me on a ‘one-on-one’ or small group photography workshop. Learn new skills, experiment with advanced techniques, develop your vision, all while enjoying  in good  company an enthralling outdoor photo adventure in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.
Private tuition is a great way to kick-start your landscape photography hobby, fine tune your skills or analyze in depth a particular topic or technique.

All images and text copyright 2004-2014 Paolo De Faveri. All rights reserved. 

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the

Inverno Veneziano

wintry wanderings from dawn to dusk in the chilly, foggy, drafty and almost deserted canals, calli, campi, bridges and isles of the Serenissima.

Boy with frog  – Punta della Dogana

In the cold and foggy days of November, December, January and February, Venice shows what is probably its most genuine face.

To visitors, winter offers one huge advantage over other seasons: the city is nearly deserted. With most of the noisy, gaudy trappings of the tourist industry packed away, with the crowds of trippers reduced to perhaps a handful of true Venice’s lovers, the beauties of the Serenissima are more readily appreciated.

No noise, no waiting, lower prices, slower paces. And the sense of the city’s past greatness is even more captivating in the calm and silence of these days.

More over, you can even meet true Venetians in winter, a sort of people you would tell as extinguished in every other period of the year, when they probably feel just like sailors, shipwrecked in a boundless ocean of tourists.

And having a chance to see how Venice’s people actually live is nothing but a blessing, if your aim as a visitor is to live the town from its very inside rather than to merely scratch its ready-made-for-tourist gleaming surface.

This is indeed the only time of the year when those fifty-six-thousand heroes who still live in the historical centre of the Serenissima can reclaim the ownership of their city, when kids can play again hide-and-seek or football in the campi and calles, when you can even find a seat on the vaporetto, when 30 euros, if not less,  is your dinner bill for two fish courses at a bacaro, and you don’t even need to book your table in advance; and last, but absolutely not least, it’s also when half a day is well likely all the time you need for thoroughly visit and enjoy the masterpieces at Basilica of San Marco, Museo Correr and Accademia.

“Boy with frog”   in a very foggy early morning at Punta della Dogana The San Marco Basin
in the fog, as seen from the Giudecca

The cathedral of San
Giorgio Maggiore in a very foggy day
A long exposure take
of the Grand Canal in another very foggy day

For photographers, there are even a few more advantages.

In winter, a thick fog often envelopes the city and the lagoon like a huge blanket, dumping the calles and canals in a veil of mystery and charming mood, while in the very occasional clear mornings everything shines in a sort of otherworldly Impressionist glow: soft, diffused, dreamy. In winter days the sun seems never to rise, it rather stays hanging low in the sky, barely reaching the edge of the roofs, and the shadows are as long as church aisles. The mist raises from the lagoon and spreads in some way the light in the sky, as if the sunrays were shining through a window of polished glass.

Sunrises last for ages, and so do sunsets. It is breathtaking just staring at this glorious representation, watching  the sun while it slowly emerges from or dives into the pale, jade green waters of the lagoon, peeping every once in a while through layers of bold rainy clouds at the horizon and casting its faint rays on the facades of palaces and churches.

Dawn from the Zattere, the waterfront sidewalk on the Giudecca Canal Gondolas at Riva degli Schiavoni

Navigation marks in the lagoon Beautiful stripes of
clouds over the lagoon at sunrise


And then, totally unexpected, the sky breaks for a moment, and the lagoon is suddenly flooded with a magnificent warm light.

Photographically speaking, these are the best conditions you can hope for, if you are looking for those moody and mysterious atmospheres you have always dreamed of, when thinking of Venice.

I am primarily a nature photographer, so when I am taking photographs in the wilderness I am used to wait a very long time for that special moment when unusual light or harsh weather contribute unique drama and mood.
When I am doing cityscapes, I take advantage of this kind of experience I collected in the field, and I must say that it is as much exciting.

The Venice skyline
from the top of the Campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore
The Venice skyline
with the snow-covered Alps in the background

The patchwork of
crazy colours in the houses of Burano
Maria Callas bridge, leading to the backdoor of the theatre La Fenice

There are only eight hours of daylight in winter in Venice, but every minute carries within itself infinite opportunities for a trained eye. Whether you go for grand vistas from the waterfront sidewalks at Riva degli Schiavoni, Zattere and Fondamenta Nove; or you focus on the facades of the historical Palazzi on the Grand Canal; or you choose to create amazing abstract composition with the colorful reflections in the water, the hazy atmosphere and the diffused glowing light will always add that special dreamy look to your pictures, something that is very difficult to achieve, if not impossible, in any other season.

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O’er the far times, when many a subject land Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean, Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion, A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was–her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless
East Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers:
In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more, And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,

And music meets not always now the ear:

Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here; States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

Rio (canal) dei Greci
with the Orthodox church

excerpt from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by George
Gordon Byron, 1818


Venice in Winter Landscape Photography

 A photo gallery of scenic landscape photographs of the Serenissima in winter dresses.

Venice in winter
Private and small groups
Landscape Photography Workshops

 Join me on a ‘one-on-one’ or small group photography workshop. Learn new skills, experiment with advanced techniques, develop your vision, all while enjoying  in good  company an enthralling outdoor photo adventure in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

Private tuition is a great way to kick-start your landscape photography hobby, fine tune your skills or analyze in depth a particular topic or technique.

Click to preview In Venice as a Venetian photo book
 Coffee table book

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the Serenissima

© Paolo De Faveri 2013 

  • 10x8 inches (25x20 cm) large format landscape book

  • available in three version: soft cover,  hardcover with colour jacket and hard cover with image wrap

  • 130 pages

  • 88 large format high quality prints,among which 24 in a breath-taking two-pages spread wide panoramic format

  • field notes for each image included

now available on amazon

All images and text copyright 2004-2014 Paolo De Faveri. All rights reserved.