In Venice currently, teaching at the VSP Workshops, run by Jonathan Maher and his lovely wife Marzia. (Jonathan’s one of those guys, you know, in the club. Married waaayyyy out of his league and wanders around dumbstruck that somebody as nice as Marzia actually said yes.)
Jonathan’s a good guy, and he and Marzia team up to run a wonderful set of workshops staged quite literally around the world. I’ve been blessed to teach two of them here in Venice, and when asked to teach in this most beautiful of cities, I really don’t even bother asking them where their other workshops are, even though they are in some nice places. I just come here and teach. I mean, why go anywhere else?
We go to palaces and villas and theaters and piazzas, and drag along some grip equipment, a stash of Nikon SB 800 strobes, and light up some beautiful places and people. Julia, above, makes a great veiled lady of the castle. She is also a ballerina who will brave the 6 am pre-dawn chill of Venice and come with us to Piazza San Marco on Thursday dressed in a tutu. She is truly a lovely person, and has worked well with both the classes I have taught here.
The above was shot as a class demo with two SB800 strobes firing through a shoot thru umbrella. Key to the deal was the outer skin of the shoot thru was peeled back halfway which is a good trick to use when trying to get the flash to concentrate a bit and gradate down the body. I use Lastolite umbrellas, with an outer black/silver skin covering the standard white umbrella diffusion. You can peel the outer layer back by half, and thus block low spillage of light. Concentrates nice, soft light on the face, right where you want it. Jiggled the hand held camera a bit just to get the edge of movement, which was a cinch cause I had downed about 5 double espressos by that point. The shutter was dragging pretty good for the ambient backlight, but she stays sharp cause the strobe dominates the foreground.
It’s great here. The waterways churn like crazy, gondoliers passing constantly, and I hear accordion music and the occasional “Arrivederci Roma” from my hotel room just over a canal. (Actually wish it was occasional. It’s more like, often, which, depending on who’s singing, can easily verge on too much. From there it’s a beeline to “Jeez, can’t you just shut up and row?”)
Yesterday I saw a guy driving a cargo boat through a busy swatch of water, standing on the boat, arms folded over his chest, sort of swaying back and forth. The boat was turning here and there, and I was wondering how that was happening when he passed us by and I looked back and saw that the tiller was firmly jammed in his butt crack, and he was making course corrections by doing his version of an easygoing maritime rumba. I hadn’t noticed if he was smiling broadly while doing this, but hey, it’s cool. You gotta love your work.
Hard to call shooting pictures in Venice work, but it sure is easy to love.