Life by Lens: Motion (in Italy)

This year marked 10 years that my husband Jonathan and I have been married. As a gift to each other, we decided a trip to Italy in October sounded like a great way to celebrate. I studied abroad in Florence for one semester during my junior year of college in 1997.  To be able to go back and experience where I was then and to make and record new memories now is a blessing and I feel so lucky to be able to do that with Jonathan. When I found out the theme for this month’s Life by Lens* series, I knew I could have fun with it on our trip. Shooting with a theme in mind pushes me to look for and capture images that I might not otherwise. Thankfully, Jonathan was very patient while I took shot after shot, waited for crowds to clear, made him be my model, and occasionally positioned myself oddly to get a specific shot. I used and filled up every single one of camera’s six memory cards and then had to rely on my iPhone camera on the last day of our trip. We got back from our 11-day trip last week. This month’s theme, motion, is defined by Google as:

  • noun:
    • the action or process of moving or being moved (movement, moving, locomotion, rise and fall, shifting).
    • a gesture. (movement, signal, sign, indication)
    • a piece of moving mechanism
  • verb
    • direct or command (someone) with a movement of the hand or head (gesture, signal, direct, indicate)
    • make a proposal in a deliberative or legislative body.

I have applied the motion theme very loosely to my images. The pictures either clearly show motion (stopped, blurred, etc.) or the subject of the picture moves or the motion is inferred from the imagery. Or there is a noted lack of motion. See, a very loose application. Now, on with the pictures! Our trip started in the City of Water, Venice.  The city, in and of itself, is in motion as it is slowly sinking into the sea. 20131004_5982 This city is unlike any other in the world. It’s a magical place that begs you to get lost at every turn, and that we did without even trying. Narrow canals are around every corner, with boats tied up, sitting near motion-less.  Canal in Venice There aren’t any cars on the islands of Venice. The primary mode of transportation is by boat: vaporetti (water buses), taxi acquei (water taxis) or gondole (plural of gondola). The finesse and speed that the vaporetto deckhand uses to quickly and temporarily anchor the water bus at each “bus stop” pontoon is fascinating to watch. Vaporetto Most of our days in Italy were pretty gloomy and chilly, but that didn’t bother us too much. To get out of the rain on one of the days, we toured the Palazzo Ducale (the Doge’s Palace). The Palazzo was once the residence of the Doges (once the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice) and the location of many political and government affairs, where I am sure many legal motions were made.


Inside one of the many institutional chambers in Palazzo Ducale.

On the island of Murano, just a short vaporetto ride from Venice, we watched the coordinated movements between the two glassmakers as they created a work of art, in this case a statue of a horse. Murano Glassmakers The island of Burano, a smaller island near Murano, is quiet and quaint. However, the colorful houses that line the canals are visually loud and keep your eyes in motion as you take in that this is fact a real city and not the backdrop to a ride at Disney World. Burano Houses Gondole were parked at their moorings near Piazza San Marco, rising and falling in the lagoon, waiting to be put in motion by their gondoliers.


Placed around the city were stacks of temporary pedestrian bridges, ready for the first Acqua Alta (literally, “high water” or flood) of the season. During the fall and winter, the lagoon water levels periodically rise above the seawalls, due to the tides and strong winds (not from rainfall as you might expect). Little did we know that these pedestrian bridges would be put to use just ONE(!) day after we departed when the city flooded.

Pedestrian Bridges

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice houses a premier collection of modern art, including Red Disc-White Dots by Alexander Calder. This kinetic metal sculpture, while perfectly balanced, was never quite still if you looked closely enough. Peggy Gugenheim In Piazza San Marco, the pigeons are everywhere. We had no interest in feeding the dirty birds them, but I spent some time capturing these kids with the constantly moving birds (I have no idea who these kids are). Pigeons in Piazza San Marco In Venice, one oddity that stuck out to me was the amount cables strung along a lot of the buildings. I don’t remember seeing that the last time I was there in 1997. I am guessing the cables have something to do internet/broadband (??) communication. Cables Every canal we came across seemed more picturesque than the last. For centuries, gondolas were the primary mode of transportation in Venice. Now, their primary purpose is to take tourists around the city. We skipped the expensive gondola ride, opting instead to buy some local artwork.

Gondola in Canal

At night, the cafés lining the piazzas were a good place to sit for a cappuccino and people watch. Piazza at Night We traveled from Venice to Florence in a Frecciarossa (high speed train). As we were got close to Florence, I was able to capture the graffiti-lined walls from the train. Train View In the evening, the Ponte Vecchio is a great place to get a picture as the sun sets beyond the Arno river.  I got that picture, but I also wanted to get a picture of the busyness on the bridge. I had Jonathan stand very still in the center of the bridge while the people passed him by (I left my shutter open longer than normal to catch the passersbys’ motion). Ponte Vecchio Later that evening, we spent some time in Piazza della Signoria. Thanks to my new lens**, I was able to get some really nice shots without even using a tripod. Located within the piazza is an open-air sculpture gallery called the Loggia dei Lanzi. The Rape (abduction) of the Sabine Women was carved from a single block of marble by Giambologna. It shows the three intertwined figures struggling, caught mid-motion.

Sabine Women

You can’t visit Florence without noticing the sheer number of vespe (literally “wasps”) on the streets. The streets are narrow and parking is limited, so riding a vespa is a smart mode of transportation.


When we were at the Bargello museum, known for its large collection of Renaissance sculptures, I noticed a window with the Italian and EU flags flying on the other side of it. Because of the circular glass in the window, the waving flags’ colors were distorted and made for an interesting view.

Bargello Window

Our last stop in Italy was a quick stay in Milan (we flew in and out of Italy from there). We managed to see a little bit of the city while there, including a stop to see il Cenacolo (The Last Supper). While waiting for our viewing reservation time, we watched several groups of boys play futbol against the church wall that’s next to the Refectory where the masterpiece is located. Outside of the Last Supper The biggest immediate difference to note between Florence and Milan is how much busier and less touristy Milan is compared to Florence. This roundabout was full of vespe, cars, buses, and trolley cars zipping around it. To take the picture, I braced myself well and left my camera’s shutter open for 1/5 of a second in order for the vehicles to show their motion blur. Milan The last leg of our trip included an overnight layover in London. We spent the few hours that we had in the city walking around and sight seeing. The best place to sight see there is taking a ride on the London Eye. The oversized ‘ferris wheel’-like contraption moves very slowly and it takes a good 30 minutes to make one revolution. The London Eye One of the few places that we stopped to check out in London was Buckingham Palace. Surprisingly to me, the guards did a little bit of marching around while we looked on (the official ‘changing of the guard’ wasn’t scheduled  until the next day). I think they do that so they don’t fall asleep while on guard. Then, once they finished, they moved back into their little huts and stood motion-less once more. Standing Guard And that wraps up a somewhat brief look into our mostly Italian vacation. We took about 2000 pictures when you combine my big camera and our two iPhones. My goal is to get the pictures above printed [already done!], sort through the rest of the pictures and post them online and print them, THEN get all of them into an album this month so I can document our travels before we start forgetting details of the trip. Thanks for looking!

Take a moment and check out the next photographer in our Life by Lens circle > > >  Joanna Robbins Photography from Carroll County, Maryland  < < <


*Life by Lens is a project I am participating in with a great group of photographers who I met on a photography web forum. Our goal each month is to document what is important to us — big or small. Our Life by Lens submissions will be published on the 20th of each month. **I have been needing wanting a better walk-around lens and got one just in time before our trip. I was debating between the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II and the Tamron  24-70 f/2.8 DI VC. I decided on the Tamron lens because of price and the fact that it has image stabilization (“vibration control”). I didn’t realize how much I would rely on I.S. during our trip for low light/church interior shots, night shots and slow shutter speed shots. I’m so pleased with how my new lens performed and am very happy with my purchase.

Life by Lens: Creation (Part 1)

This summer we decided to try something new – gardening. And it just so happens that this project of ours fits perfectly with the theme of this month’s Life by Lens* theme: CREATION.

Life by Lens

Mallory and Chelsea really wanted a garden last summer, but we never got around to it. The girls even tried to make their own garden by planting any seeds they found (apple, watermelon, orange) in our backyard. This summer we decided not to dig up our backyard to create a planting space. Instead, we went with a raised garden bed and added 16 bags of soil to fill it up. The garden is in the middle of our small backyard so that it can get the most sun.

I intended to document the process of building the raised bed and preparing the garden soil but that didn’t happen. Dirt, water, sweat and rain looming had me keep my big camera tucked safely indoors.


After the raised bed was finished, the girls (plus a friend of Mallory’s) picked colors and painted some paint-stirring sticks that we’ll put in the garden to identify what we have growing (we still need to label our sticks).


We started with a mix of seeds and seedlings that the girls helped sow and plant. Just a few days after burying the seeds, several started to sprout.


I am hoping that the girls might even try some of what we harvest (if we manage to do that!). They will have a chance to try homegrown watermelon, pumpkin, tomatoes, strawberries, eggplant, peas, zucchini, squash, lettuce, spinach, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, sweet banana peppers, cucumber, carrots, green onion, basil, oregano, and cilantro – all growing in our 4′ x 8′ space. That might be too many plants in that space, but what do we know?!


The big girls have been doing a great job watering the plants. And we quickly learned that the plants do not like to go without it for more than a day.

Life By Lens

We still need to install a low fence around the bed to keep critters out. And I really want to get a compost bin too, if I can talk Jonathan into that idea.

And… I need to figure out how to deal with bugs, how to *feed* the plants by enriching the soil and I’m sure some other things that I don’t know about yet. Gardening is all new to us and we aren’t really sure what we are doing. In the end, even if some of our seeds don’t sprout or the bunnies eat our lettuce, we will still have fun trying to make stuff grow. I hope to be back with an update on our garden at the end of the summer. So, stay tuned!

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*Life by Lens is a project I am participating in with a great group of photographers who I met on a photography web forum. Our goal each month is to document what is important to us — big or small. Our Life by Lens submissions will be published on the 20th of each month.

Take a moment and check out the next photographer in our Life by Lens circle
> > >  Michigan Newborn Photographer Jen Priester  < < <


Life by Lens: a personal project

Life has been busy (is it ever not?). Since the start of 2013, my focus has been to (1) try to keep up with the everyday activities of three little girls and (2) work on becoming a healthier version of me (eating better and moving more). Those two tasks alone seem to fill up my every waking hour. The ‘free time’ that I found last year for photography has disappeared.

My hiatus from my big camera has made me realize that I miss capturing life with it. I still manage to take pictures with my on-me-all-the-time camera (iPhone), but that is not the same as being able to control the shots with my big camera. So, with that said, I am slowly making an effort to get back into photography on a personal level with the help of the Life by Lens* project.

My share for LbL this month is a single image taken last weekend just inside the church stoop before my brother-in-law’s wedding in New Orleans. Our girls were super excited to be flower girls. They did a great job during the ceremony (smiles, no tears, cooperation = success!). With their flower crowns and white dresses, I thought they looked like angelic princesses. I am pretty sure they felt like them too, if you couldn’t tell by the way they posed themselves.

Life by Lens / Lucia Wilke Photography

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ISO500 • f/2.8 • 1/320 • 31mm (Canon 5DM3 & 16-35mm f/2.8L lens)

*Life by Lens is a project I am participating in with a great group of photographers who I met on a photography web forum. Our goal each month is to document what is important to us — big or small. Our Life by Lens submissions will be published on the 20th of each month.

Take a moment and check out the next photographer in our Life by Lens circle > > >  NGHI LE  < < <


Intertwined ♡ Dallas family & couples photographer

Lucia Wilke Photography

I think I gasped a little when I first saw this image. I love how the trees envelope Glen & Michelle and how their arms are intertwined. We had a great session close to their home, near White Rock Lake in Dallas. Doing a session with adults is a fun change of pace to the children and toddlers I normally work with. G & M, I think you are going to be very pleased with the shots we got!

In the Middle ♡ North Richland Hills – Fort Worth child & family photographer

Lucia Wilke Photography

Luke is the middle child of five kids in his family and he is one handsome little dude. We had his family session last weekend. I don’t want to spoil the family’s Christmas card, so I am using Luke’s portrait for their sneak peek. Once the holidays are over, I will share the family portraits because they turned out great.