The colour of water

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“The light of Venice is as important as its space and form. The light on water casts illumination upwards and outwards…..There is a sparkling light, on winter days. But the characteristic of Venice is a pale soft light, like a drifting haze, powdered, part wave and part cloud. It is a pearly iridescent light wreathed in mist. It is drawn from the horizon as much as from the sun. It lends everything unity.”  Peter Ackroyd, Venice

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The light on the venetian lagoon is hard to describe, it has to be experienced.  During a recent visit to Venice I made regular trips on the vaporetto out to the islands of Mazzorbo, Torcello and Sant Erasmo. These islands are all a little further out in the lagoon, all places near to Venice yet far removed. Over time the lagoon became a destination in itself.

Something about the stillness of the water and the way it reflects light from its glassy surface. Something about the hazy wintery conditions that hide the horizon from view, sky and water blending together, indistinct. Something about the softness of the colours, subtle yet vividly there.

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This is light as physical substance, you don’t just see it, you feel it.  You are ‘in’ it. Endlessly changing, endlessly watchable.  The effect of the movement of the water combined with the movement of the boat has a mesmerising effect, it becomes soporific, hypnotic almost. Time moves at its own speed here, like another substance, indistinct and unimportant it passes as we move through it.  I have noticed that when out on deck looking into the lagoon people often end up with their eyes closed, maybe the effect can be better felt this way as though what the eyes transmit is too literal.

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“What in any case is the colour of water?” (Peter Ackroyd, Venice). “The colours of the sea approaching Venice have variously been described a jade green, lilac, pale blue, brown, smoky pink, lavender, violet, heliotrope, dove grey. After a storm the colour changes as the water becomes aerated. On a hot afternoon the waters may seem orange. The colours of the sky, the colours of the city, are refracted in little ovals of ochre and blue. It is all colours and no colour. It reflects, and does not own, colour. It becomes what it beholds.”

In Praise of Darkness

 

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Recently I spent a few days exploring Naples.  Sometimes this meant getting up before dawn so that I could be out on the streets before sunrise, those were the hours, or rather minutes, during which these photographs were taken.  The street lighting starts going off ‘at dawn’ like it would in any city as it is starting to get light then, but in the old town where the streets are tall and narrow this is not the case as what little daylight there is does not penetrate.  This meant that for a short while the streets were dark, really dark.  The only illumination came indirectly from doorways and windows, long stretches were pitch black.

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Technically ‘unsafe’ but actually not a problem to walk along the streets were very beautiful, what is lost in light level and uniformity is gained in atmosphere.  Living in London where it is not possible to find conditions like this it was a rare treat to experience darkness in a city, it was only a few brief moments but it is one of many things I love about being in Naples.

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Here are some more places by night………….

Listening to architecture

For a while I have been experimenting with sound recording as another way of documenting architecture and places.  Through a combination of starting to use video (of which sound is a key aspect) as well as listening to certain types of music/field recordings it has fast become an area of interest and one I am starting to use more and more alongside architectural photography in an attempt to convey the atmosphere of places.

Here’s what an expert has to say on the matter:

“Field recordings convey far more than basic facts.  Spectacular or not, they also transmit a powerful sense of spatiality, atmosphere and timing. These factors are key to our perception of place and movement and so add substantially to our understanding of events and issues.  They give a compelling impression of what it might actually be like to be there.  Sound is our prime sense of all-round spatiality and listening gives us a point of ear.  It enables us to judge how far we are from the events and how we might feel and react in the circumstances.”  Peter Cusak, On Listening

Images can show you what somewhere looks like, but you are removed from the action somehow, sound is more engaging so listening ‘puts you in the space’ in a way that looking does not.

I am not trying to talk myself out of a job here, after all I am a photographer, but (like video) I see this as something that can add a bit more to the way a project is presented…………anyway some sound recordings can be found here.