Writing with Light

Italy

Milanese Bicycle

It would be a shame to visit a new European city, especially one in Italy and not seek out a bicycle I can photograph.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Milan, Italy, Bicycle, Europe, wall, window, travel


The Reader

A reader in Milan. He provided me with a perfect photo-op and didn’t even know it.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Milan, Italy, brick, stairs, man reading, reader, black and white, monochrome, travel


Duomo di Milano

After a 3 1/2 hour train ride through the Alps we arrived in Milan. The forecast for the day we arrived was cloudy and rain. Luckily it had rained early in the morning so by the time we arrived the rain had stopped.

After checking into our hotel and dumping our bags we headed out immediately and made the Duomo our first stop. I always find that dull, grey days make great black and white images and that’s exactly what I was pre-visualizing.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Milan, Italy, Duomo, cathedral, church, black and white, monochrome, travel, pigeons

 


San Quirico D’Orcia

I was going through my archives and came a cross an image I took in San Quirico D’Orcia in Tuscany. I love the way the winding street leads the eye through the image. I used Topaz Impression to create a digital painting.

I know I’ve been somewhat absent this week. Work has gotten extremely busy in the last couple of months and I’ve been doing more business travel in the last couple of months then I’ve done in the past 2 years (unfortunately without my camera). This has left me with less time to focus on my photography and blog but I’m hoping that life will get back to normal soon.  Thanks for sticking around while get through this busy period.

San Quirico D'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy, village, winding lane, buildings, digital painting, travel photography


Street Musicians in Trastevere

The Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is the perfect place to hang on a beautiful summers day. On the day I was there the Piazza was filled with tourists and locals sipping espresso, eating ice cream and listening to some terrific music.

Italy, Rome, Trastevere, street musicians, street photography, black and white

 


Italian Shoes

I thought I would post something a bit more whimsical and light today. Walking through the narrow streets of Montepulciano there were many wine & cheese stores, jewellery stores and of course leather goods.  This little shoe store had, what I think was an absolutely delightful display. Oh and the shoes inside were much more upscale 🙂

Italy, Tuscany, Montepulciano, shoes, shoe store, display, travel photography


Bar in the Wall in Trastevere

I wanted to start today by first thanking all of you for taking the time to vote and providing me with feedback on my logo options. Wow…the consensus was overwhelming and the clear preference was the second version which you can now see prominently  in my header. Now for today’s image we travel to Trastevere…..

Trastevere is located on the west bank of the Tiber river in Rome. I just loved the just little bar located not far from the Basilica of Santa Maria.

Click on the image to enlarge or to Purchase a Print.

Rome, Italy, Trestevera, bar, stools, travel photography, Toronto Travel Photographer


The Woman at 2949

Keeping watch on the street below in Trastevere, Rome….while I keep watch above.

Click on the image to see a full resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Italy, Rome, Trastevere, window, woman, black and white, monochrome, travel photography, street photography


Topaz Glow

To say that I’m excited by the release of Topaz Labs newest plug-in would be a huge understatement. This week Topaz Glow was released and what a great addition to Topaz’s arsenal of great tools.

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Topaz Glow can be used as a stand-alone or a plugin (for PC & MAC) to transform your photos from dull to dazzling. Containing more than 70 unconventional and quirky filters, you can infuse your images with neon, graphic, liquid and other electrifying effects. Glow reveals hidden textures in your photos that aren’t visible to the naked eye. While you may not want to apply Glow on every image, you can take your creativity to the next level with this awesome plug-in.

Glow comes packed with 70 filters which you can use as is or you have complete artistic control to customize, combine and tweak to make your vision come to life.

Topaz Glow is regularly priced at $69.99 but until December 31, 2014 you can pick up Glow for $49.99 using the coupon code INTROGLOW.

Here are a few of my images processed with Topaz Glow. Click on each image to see a larger version.

Topaz Glow, Topaz Labs, sunflower, flower

Topaz Glow, Topaz Labs, Italy, Tuscany, door, blue, travel photography

Topaz Glow, Topaz Labs, Paris, Louvre, night photography, long exposure, travel photography


Lens Correction in Lightroom 5 – Fixing Rome

I don’t know what it is, but when handholding my DSLR, often times my horizon isn’t straight. I don’t know maybe I’m a little off kilter 🙂 In any case in a lot of shots I have to straighten my horizon in post. The other problem I sometimes face when shooting buildings is that the perspective is off and the building looks like it’s leaning backwards. If I had a Tilt Shift lens I could take care of that problem in camera but alas I don’t. This is where the Lens Correction panel in the develop module in Lightroom 5 comes in.

I have to say that LR5 has become not only an organizational and cataloguing tool for my image library but my go to post processing software as well. The power of LR5 never ceases to amaze me. I would say that 85% of my images are processed in Lightroom alone and I only use Photoshop now for detailed cloning work.

The image below was taken while I was walking around Rome. This is the original RAW file, straight out of camera.

IMG_5111_Original_viewable

 

As you can see it needs some work. Not only is the building leaning a bit sideways but it’s also leaning back. I first used the “Level” tool in the Lens Correction panel then the “Vertical” tool to straighten the building. Then I opened up the shadows which brought back all the detail inside the windows and the tables of the restaurant. I then increased the clarity and vibrance slightly, made some adjustments with the Luminance sliders in a few colours and added a bit of detail.

Here you have it…the final image. Click on the image to enlarge.

Rome, Italy, restaurent, dining, patio, travel photography, building, shutters


Standing the Test of Time

Cypress trees line the hills of Tuscany. I don’t know how long these have been standing in this spot but I do know that I could photograph the Tuscan countryside ad infinitum.

Click on the image to see a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Tuscany, Italy, Blackand White, monochrome, landscape, travel photography, hillside, cypress trees, minimalist


Beware of the Dog

Every so often I get this boost of creativity and feel inspired to do something different, even a little outrageous with one of my images. This was the case with this image that I captured when we arrived at San Quirico D’Orcia in Tuscany

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RAW file

This is the image straight out of the camera. I haven’t done a thing to it. What I love about this scene is the layer upon layer of the buildings and how the converge. As I stared at it on my computer screen I wondered what it would look like if the buildings were slanted and those stone walls started to squeeze together. I used the “pinch” artistic filter in Photoshop, at about 55%, to bring the stone walls in and the back buildings forward forcing the centre door to inch closer. That looked pretty cool but I still wanted to make it a bit more ominous looking. I had a black and white image of a dark and cloudy sky and used that as a texture overlay using the blending mode “multiply” at 100% opacity. I then used a layer mask to bring back some of the detail in the walls and selectively lighten certain areas.

As you can see from the original image Fido was nowhere to be seen. He is from that village. I captured him only moments earlier standing on one of those high walls. I used the Quick Selection tool to select only him from the image he was in, created a new layer from the selection and then dropped him into this image.  And there you have it…Beware of the Dog!

I don’t do these often but its fun experimenting. I would love to know what you think.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Italy, village, San Quirico D'Orcia, Tuscany, composite, fine art, dog, travel photography

 


Rolling Hills of Tuscany

The beauty of Tuscany never ceases to amaze me. As you drive through Tuscany these scenes are all around you forcing you to pull over and just marvel at its beauty.

I entered this image in my clubs Print Competition and I found out last week that it came in second. I’m very proud that it was recognized but I have to say it was one point less then the winning image so I was a little disappointed.

Click on the image to see a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Tuscany, hills, countryside, Montepulciano, travel photography


Ristorante

San Quirico D’Orcia is a small medieval town located between Pienze and Montalcino. The town is encircled by fortified walls and walking through the tiny streets throws you back to a time long forgotten. The historic city centre is home to about 2,500 inhabitants and there are 4 entrances into the city along the wall. All roads lead to the Piazza della Libertà which is the heart of the town.

As with all small, Tuscan town today one can find stores selling cheeses and pasta, leather goods and of course small restaurants offering homemade delicacies that one can only dream of at home.

Click on the image to see a higher resolution image (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

 

San Quirico D'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy, restaurant, travel photography, village

 


Cypress Trees of San Quirico D’Orcia

The town of San Quirico D’Orcia lies halfway between Pienza and Montalcino right on a hilltop (don’t they all in Tuscany). Just before you arrive in San Quirico you’ll pass by a crop of Cypress trees which are probably the most photographed in all of Tuscany.

I was hoping for rolling green hills, which is what you’re supposed to get in the summer but that was not to be. Still I loved standing there and photographing these tree and the area. I will share more in future posts.

Click on the image to see a high resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cypress Trees, San Quirico D'Orcia, Italy, hills, Tuscany, travel photography


The Daily Special

I know it’s Halloween and this isn’t a very Halloweenie picture but I just finished processing it last night and was very pleased with the way it turned out.

It was late afternoon and the sun was streaming down on this small street in Montepulciano when I saw this gentleman diligently writing out the evenings specials on the menu board. What a perfect street photography scene. I quickly took the picture and checked my histogram on the back of the camera to make sure that I haven’t clipped my highlights and everything looked fine.

Once I started processing the image I realized that the waiter’s jacket was a bit too bright for my liking so I toned it down a bit and then used Topaz B&W Effects to convert the image to black and white. I loved the way the shadows popped in the B&W as well. I just participate in a 5-Day Black and White Challenge on Facebook and it just renewed my love for Black & White. If you’d like to see the images I submitted for that challenge you can see them on Facebook page here.

You can get a 15% discount on all Topaz Labs products by using the coupon code elphoto.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Italy, Tuscany, Montepulciano, restaurant, waiter, Black and White, monochrome, travel photography


The Restaurant on Via Del Teatro

Walking through the different towns and villages in Tuscany (especially in the historic centres) is a little bit like entering a time warp. Towns were fortified and built on hilltops to stay protected from advancing armies and enemies.

Today, while the architecture dates back hundreds and thousands of years, a walk through these towns will yield many delights. Town centres are filled with restaurants and cafes and venturing down alleyways filled with galleries and artisan shops will make you wish you had the time to explore every nook and cranny. I suppose that’s why I keep going back to Italy 🙂

Click on the image to see a high resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy, restaurent, brick building, flowers, travel photography


Sunflower Sunshine

I love sunflowers. In full bloom they exude happiness and light and much like a photographer they follow that light. I came across this beauty in a sunflower field in the hills of Tuscany.

Click on the image to see a full resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Sunflower, nature, flower, flower photography, yellow


Italy & A Bicycle…Finally

Some of you that have followed me and this blog for awhile know that I love to photograph vintage bicycles with character leaning against walls in classic cities or villages. When I was in Italy a few years ago I came back with lots of those images…you can see one here and here and even here 🙂

You might have been thinking…“why hasn’t she posted any bicycle pictures?” I honestly didn’t see has many this time around. Maybe because we didn’t spend as much time in big cities. Our trip to Italy this summer was mostly to small towns and villages with lots of steep hills and stairways (not very practical to get around by bike).

You can imagine how excited I was to come across this little scene while walking through Cortona.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cortona, Tuscany, Italy, bicycle, gallery, brick wall, street, village, travel photography

 


Tuscan Rainbow

On the day we were in Montepulciano the weather was iffy at best. The clouds were heavy and the sun was trying it break through. Walking along the narrow streets of the historic town centre we were caught in intermittent rain. We weren’t going to let a little rain stop us from exploring this beautiful, medieval town and when we stopped to take in the view from the ramparts we were rewarded with not one but two rainbows. Look closely…the second one is on the far right.

Have a great week everyone.

Click on the image to see a larger resolution image (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Montepulciano, Italy, Tuscany, hills, rainbow, travel photography


The Candy Stand

When I was in Lerici, Italy my husband and I took a leisurely walk around the waterfront. On that beautiful, sunny day vendors  were lining the small harbour selling handmade crafts and souvenirs but it was the last vendor that really caught my attention.

This scene was as colourful as you see it. I took 3 bracketed exposures to ensure that I caught the full dynamic range of the scene and processed the image in Photomatix.

Click ont he image to see a high resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Lerici, Italy, candy store, popping colour, travel photography


Villa Cicolina

A couple of days ago I posted an image of the infinity pool at the Villa Cicolina. You can see that post here. The Villa Cicolina was built in the late 16th century and until the end of the 19th century was the country residence of a noble family from Montepulciano.

The villa is located just outside Montepulciano and it was the perfect spot to base ourselves during our visit in Tuscany. Surrounded by lush gardens and old world charm I was entranced from the moment we drove up the narrow, gravel driveway.

Click on the images in the gallery to see a larger size image.

 

 


To Infinity & Beyond…in Tuscany

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends. We’re enjoying a beautiful, sunny long weekend. While the weather is wonderful on this fall day I was thinking back to the lovely villa we stayed at when we were in Tuscany, the Villa Cicolina, located just outside of Montepulciano. One of its many attributes was the infinity pool that overlooked the Tuscan countryside.

The pool was lit up so beautifully at night that I just had to capture some images. I’ll be sharing more images of the Villa Cicolina in the next day or two.

Villa Cicolina, Tuscany, Italy, Montepulciano, travel photography, night photography, infinity pool


Farmacia

Don’t you wish Pharmacies in North America looked like this. I came across this little gem in Pienza.

Pienza, Italy, Tuscany, pharmacy, building, stone, farmacia, travel photography