Saturday, 3 April 2010

Ravenna + Aquileia

Got back on Friday from an excursion to Ravenna and Aquileia, which are especially famous for their colourful Late Antiquity/Medieval/Early Christian mosaics. A welcome change after all that white marble.

Some of you might have noticed that my blog has recently been mainly about photos. The reason for the shift is not that I don't have anything to comment on about life in Italy - it's more about my love affair with my new camera - and the fact that I find the visual environment here so endlessly fascinating. (Also, writing in English just doesn't come as naturally to me as I thought it would.)

Allow me to introduce some of the features I like the most on my beloved Olympus E-P1:

1) It's portable, yet stable/sturdy - i.e. easy to take along where ever I go.

2) It's very easy to use (I am yet to figure out all about the manual dials and such... and what on earth am I supposed to do with that clip-on optical viewfinder?)

3) It's got fun, built-in shooting modes that really encourage experimentation of all kinds (not only because I cannot afford Photoshop or what-have-you, but also, the camera chooses the ideal settings for that particular effect for you. Nifty.)

(...and it just looks so darn cool, of course.)

An example: a street view in Ravenna:

Here's how it came out using the "Automatic" setting. I think it looks ok, but I kinda liked the harmonous washed-out colour palate which was much more obvious IRL, so I tried a few different tricks in order to bring it out:

"Light tone"

"Soft focus" - for creating that romantic and dreamy atmosphere...

This one's called "grainy film" - it doesn't work here, but nevertheless it's one of my favourites (as I'm sure you've noticed), and the only one that will work on gloomy, rainy days. I'm sure I'll get bored with it sooner or later. But for the time being, I still kinda think it looks really cool, especially in portraiture ;)

A scene from Aquileia (a few hours later I climbed that bell tower in the background :):

This is, again, the automatic setting.

And here's a mode called "Pop Art". Makes even the blandest colours really pop out. To be used sparingly...

And there are heeps more, of course. I'll demonstrate them at some other point, maybe.

Then, for some highlights along the way...

First stop was Ravenna:

San Vitale.

Ravenna is a real cyclist's city. Of course I failed to get any good shots of the vintage beauties we saw there... Altogether, it seemed cleaner and more orderly up there as well. Made me think of (and miss) Germany...

Many of the chapels and churches had alabaster windows, which help create a mysterious atmosphere inside.

Most shots of the famous mosaics didn't turn out so well, because I don't have a tripod - nor flash or zoom...

A unicorn :)

Sant'Apollinare in Classe.

A medieval inscription in one of the churches we visited (do not ask me which one... Probably the above-mentioned Sant'Apollinare in Classe).

After two days in Ravenna, we took off to Aquileia - a much smaller little town further north along the eastern coastline:

The Cathedral.

This postbox is, in fact, still "operating" - or so they led me to believe at the magazine stand... It'll be interesting to see whether my postcards ever get delivered. So, if you do receive one, let me know!

Spent a lot of time on the train - and train stations.

Allora... should get back to work now!

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