Photographing Istanbul (Day 1)

Boats in harbour, on the Sea of Marmara 

Recently we had the pleasure of a visit by our friend, photographer Jerry Newsome, from Georgia, USA. Jerry and I spent the whole week he was here, photographing many of the iconic sights of Istanbul. We began soon after his arrival by venturing down to the promenade along the Sea of Marmara, with our cameras, of course, not wanting to miss anything within range of our lenses.

We were blessed with beautiful weather, and saw people fishing, 
and generally enjoying the sunshine

We walked all the way to Bostancı, and then back down to Kızıltoprak, snapping away as we went, stopping only to have some gözleme and Turkish tea in a little seaside café.


We enjoyed photographing the bird-life...

...and people too!

Jerry getting down to his work!

We stayed to photograph the setting sun...

...and were rewarded by a stunning sky!


Last Day of AWAI Photography Workshop, Venice

On our last day with the AWAI's Photography Expedition to Venice, Itlay, we got to experience everyone's dream of what to do in Venice - glide along the canals in a gondola. There are only 425 gondoliers in the whole of Venice, as the number of licences granted is strictly controlled by their guild, and are generally passed down from father to son in a family. Even so, there are long periods of training and apprenticeship culminating in a rigorous exam, before a gondolier is deemed proficient enough to take charge of his gondola.

Two of our three gondolas, taken from the other one.

A gondoliers right of way.

Our gondolier

Gondoliers have transported passengers through the canals of Venice for nine centuries, but it wasn't until 2009, that the first female gondola was allowed to take up her oar, and break the ancient taboo against women gondoliers. Gorgia Boscolo fought long and hard for her gondolier's licence, and we were lucky enough to see her in action.

Gorgia Boscolo rowing a tragghetto across the Grand Canal

After our gondola ride, a group of us walked to find Teatro La Fenice, newly built after the devastating fire in 1996.

La Fenice Theatre

 As we walked up the steps of the theatre, we were surprised to see the Director of the Theatre, and his leading man in the opera Don Giovanni, going over the score.

Venice was expecting the Acqua Alta (High water) that 
blights the city. These platforms were ready to be put out for 
people to walk on when the floods come.

We returned to our hotel just in time, as we would have been unable to reach it only moments later. A demonstration was forming outside the nearby railway station and the roads were being blocked off by riot police.

Riot police blocking our way

We later discovered that the demonstrators were immigrants demanding the same rights as Italian citizens. Later, one of our number, Peggy, had a conversation with one of the demonstrators. She was a Nigerian, who was working illegally in Venice on a three-month tourist visa. Each time her visa ran out, she returned to Nigeria, only to return on a new tourist visa. So much for hard-done-by immigrants!

Later, we managed to circumvent the barriers and make our way to Al Giardinetto da Severino, where we had our final dinner together. This was such a great workshop, I was so sorry that it had come to an end!


AWAI Photography Workshop, Venice Tour

Our day began with a three-hour guided tour of Venice. One of our stops was the original Jewish Ghetto, Il Ghetto. The word ghetto has become synonymous with urban slums and the persecution of the Jews by the Germans; but its origin is in the Italian word, "ghettare", meaning "cast in metal". It was so-called because it was established on the site where old foundries were located.

The entrance to the ghetto

Two young men from today's ghetto area

One of the synagogues in the ghetto

From Il Ghetto, we walked over bridges and along canal sides to Il Campo Dei Mori. This was once the home of the Mastelli brothers, who arrived in Venice from Morea in the Peloponnese in the 12th century. The brothers were primarily silk merchants, but were thought to have made much of their wealth by investing in the Fourth Crusade, and receiving part of the plunder as their reward.

A statue of one of the Mastelli brothers in Campo Dei Mori

This brother had to have his nose replaced, as people thought
they would have good fortune if they touched it.
Unfortunately, they wore his nose away!

Our next destination was the fish market on the other side of the Grand Canal. We crossed in a tragghetto, one of the passenger boats that ferry people from one side of the canal to the other. These tragghetti have mostly been run by the same families for many generations, who use old gondolas that have been stripped of all their finery.

It's quite common for passengers to stand in the tragghetti, 
while crossing the Grand Canal

Our group climbing into a tragghetto

We also visited a tiny workshop where gondolas are made and refurbished.

As the sun was beginning to set, we took our tripods and set them up to practice capturing shots in the fading light. This definitely needs more practise on my part! NOT an easy task!

We were rewarded for our patience with a beautiful sky!


AWAI Workshop in Murano and Burano, Venice

 We visited a glass factory in Murano, to watch how the glass 
is melted, blown and shaped

On this day, we travelled to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is just like a miniature Venice, and was one of the first lagoon islands to be permanently inhabited. It became the centre for glass-making in 1291, when the Senate declared the industry to be a fire-hazard for the city of Venice. This move had an added benefit of keeping all the master glass makers and their manufacturing secrets in one place, ensuring Venice's monopoly in the production of glass-ware.So much so, that every mirror made in Europe during the 14th century was made in Venice.

I loved this glass snail

The canals on Murano are just like the city of Venice itself

This is a close-up of the glass sculpture seen under the tower above

There were amazing glass sculptures everywhere on the island, 
I especially liked these glass ducks and drakes

Our next stop was Burano. This picturesque island dazzles in multicoloured hues of brightly painted house. This island was settled by fishermen, who prospered from the abundant fish they found in the lagoons. While the men were away, the women developed the art of lace-making, and the island has become famous for the quality of their lace. Legend has it that the unusual colours of the houses was to enable the fishermen to identify their homes after long periods at sea, although it does seem rather unlikely.

A row of brightly coloured houses along a canal


This one would be easy to spot...

...and so would this one!

Some hand-made Burano lace

That evening, we had a group photo review back at the hotel. It was great fun looking at everyone's photos and seeing how we had all done. This really is a wonderful way to improve one's skills as a photographer.

Press Centre

Press Centre
I couldn't resist this one!