It’s amazing how the clouds in the sky can make such a difference in the quality of a photo. A cloudy day with a completely overcast sky, not so interesting. An all blue sky, while it may make for a wonderful warm sunny day, also not that interesting. In between is the perfect mix, some clouds and some blue sky. Interesting shapes and patterns in the sky make for so much more interesting of a photo. Sunset photos especially benefit from interesting cloud formations in the sky as they’re lit up by the sun as it disappears below the horizon. Sadly, we can’t control what the clouds in the sky look like, however if you pay attention to the sky you’ll know when great photos will be appearing before you. For example, when I took this photo of the sunset in Siena I knew it was going to be a wonderful sunset and was literally running back to the location to make sure I didn’t miss it because I had seen earlier in the day that the clouds in the sky and where the sun was going to be setting was going to make for a wonderful sight.
Towers Of San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a small medieval town in the Tuscany region of Italy. The town is famous for its towers, which numbered around 70 at its peak many years ago. Just over a dozen remain and they dominate the skyline of the town. The day we were there was absolutely beautiful and the clouds provided an excellent backdrop for this shot that I got from the edge of town.
The photo below is from the McDonald’s located in the shopping center next to the cathedral in Milan, Italy. You’re probably wondering why I would be posting a photo of the McDonald’s instead of the cathedral (which will be coming later, the cathedral is extremely impressive) but once you look at the dessert display you can understand why. I’ve never seen a McDonald’s quite like it, when I usually hear McDonald’s I’m thinking greasy burgers and salty fries, not delicious looking croissants, cheesecake, and gigantic muffins. On top of that, the building the McDonald’s was in was very fancy looking, only adding to the strangeness of seeing the common fast food restaurant in a not so ordinary way. Maybe if the McDonald’s here looked more like this, I might actually go there once in a while.
After a couple weeks without home internet access, I’m finally online again. We got our internet hooked up this morning and so far the results have actually been faster than the advertised speeds. We’ll see if it lasts but so far I’m quite pleased.
Walking The Walls Of Lucca
This photo was taken in Lucca, Italy. Lucca is a charming small town, located near Pisa. While Pisa is known for it’s leaning tower, Lucca actually has several towers, including a couple you can climb. The old town is located within the city walls, which were built hundreds of years ago for protection. The walls still remain but instead of providing protection as they did ages ago, the top is covered by a walking/biking path which is lined with trees on either side. It makes for a very pleasant walk with some excellent views along the way.
Mount Etna is located on the island of Sicily. It is the largest active volcano in Europe and is an awe inspiring sight. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the volcano twice, both on day excursions. The second visit was in the summer of 2011, two days after the volcano had erupted. The road winding up the volcano was still dusted in volcanic ash which had coated the entire area. The massive volcano has many craters, both active and extinct. The view looking down is also impressive, of the Italian towns below and the Mediterranean Sea beyond them.
Looking Down At Silvestri Crater
Silvestri Crater is a popular stop on excursions visiting Mount Etna. Each bus stops in front of the crater, tourists make their way out and circle around the crater. It’s understandable why it is so popular, not only is the hike very easy but the views are great and can be done fairly quickly. Having hiked around (and down into) Silvestri Crater during my previous trip to Mount Etna, I decided instead to hike up to the higher crater on the other side of the road. It was a much longer trip and I didn’t have much time so I was literally running up and down the mountain, and I was about ready to collapse by the time I got back to the bus. It was well worth it, however, as the view looking down to Silvestri Crater was beautiful, as was the landscape facing the opposite direction, which was not visible from below.
HDR, or high dynamic range, photography is becoming increasingly popular in the photography world. In a nutshell, the basic idea is that you take multiple exposures of the same shot then combine them later on the computer, using best exposed parts of each photo to make one (hopefully) great looking photo. For example, when taking a sunset photo you would use the sky from the darker image and the foreground of the brighter image to make one photo that is properly exposed throughout. I could try to explain more but instead I recommend you check out this great tutorial written by HDR master Trey Ratcliff.
HDR in Tarquinia
This photo was taken in the small town of Tarquinia, Italy. The town is known for its necropolis (which is quite impressive) but it was this small church that caught my eye as we strolled from the necropolis back to the main part of town. It was early afternoon, a time when many places in Italy close up for a few hours, so no one was around but I did manage to get this shot through the fence surrounding the church.
Welcome to my new blog! Inspired by photographers like Trey Ratcliff and Lisa Bettany I have decided to start a blog to share my photos, one new photo posted every day. Along with the photo will be a story about how I took the shot or an interesting story about where the photo was taken. Also, I’ll share my thoughts on photography, links to photos or articles by other photographers I find interesting, and various other surprises. Feel free to leave comments and please do check back often as there will be a new photo posted every day.
Today’s Photo – Sunset In Siena
This photo was taken last August in Siena, Italy. The church on the right hand side is Basilica of San Domenico. While exploring the city earlier in the day, I had passed what I knew was going to be a great location to get a sunset photo from and as the sun got lower in the sky it became clear that the sunset that night was going to be a good one. I hurried back to the location I had passed earlier (without getting lost, which can be a small miracle in many Italian towns where the roads can be quite confusing) and was rewarded with this shot. I originally planned to make an HDR image out of the three exposures I had taken but once I loaded the files onto the computer for editing, I saw that this was a great photo to make into a silhouette.
Tags: Italy, Siena, Sunset