This is the blog of Steve Burkett of Italy, Our Italy

The Results Are In -- Part 13

I had planned to tell you of the Venetian sestiere of San Polo this week...but something came up

Isn't this time of year great?! The hectic holidays are over, the decorations are mostly put away, we are back to work and our routines...there is time to take a breath and catch up on things that need catching up on. That's what I was doing when I made a discovery.

Last year, my wife Ellen gave me a fabulous subscription to a magazine called "Italia!". This monthly publication is guessed it, Italy! The byline of their magazine, published in Great Britain, is "Holidays - Property - Food - Wine - Culture - People". 

I enjoy reading this magazine each month. I especially like the sections on food, as there are excellent recipes in each issue. And each issue is dedicated to a different region or town of Italy, so you get a smorgasbord (not sure there is an Italian word for that) of regional dishes over the years.  

As I write this, I had just taken a few moments to catch up on my Italia! reading when I picked up the September, 2016, issue. Travel and the holidays had created neglect on my part in staying abreast with the Italian scene. As I do with each issue, I was tearing out page after page to save articles for later reading and recipes for later execution (this issue has some great recipes for appetizers from Venice, as well as some pasta sauces), when something caught my eye.

There on the "Readers Photo Competition!" page near the front of the magazine was one of my photos. I had submitted it several months past, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had won the first place award for that issue. My prize? A free one-year subscription to Italia!

Here is page 6 showing my winning photo...

I was thinking that you might have seen this photo before in one of my photo transformation articles, but as I looked back, I saw that I have not done that...until today.

So, what follows is how this winning photo came to be.

But first, a reminder about just what a 'water gate' is. As small canals crisscross Venice, most of the larger palazzo have entrances at both a pedestrian level from the walkways of Venice, but also at the water level. Remember that Venice is a city of walking and boating...and that's it. When you go to visit your friends, it was, and is, just so much nicer to go by gondola and be dropped off at a water gate, like this one. And it is much easier for the supplies for your home to be dropped off by boat, rather then being hauled over bridge after bridge on their way to your home. 

As I was standing directly across a small canal from this water gate, I was just a bit difficult to get the whole of the door and its surroundings into one photo. So I took three photos and stitched them together in Photoshop. Are are the original three photos.

And here is the photo that resulted after stitching these three together into one image. If you want to see any of the photos below in greater detail, just click on the image.

As you can see, the resulting image is a bit wonky, and it needs a good bit of adjustment, so that's what I did. But, before I go there, I have to admit that I am constantly amazed as I make my photo transformations -- of Venice in particular. That rather blah, unassuming snapshot above does absolutely nothing aesthetically for me as it now stands. But, that challenge of making magic to give you that Venice of another age is what drives me in my transformations.

Here is what the image looks like now.

The composition is just as I want it. The elements of the photo -- the brick, stone, wood and glass -- are just as I want them, too. And I really like the warm, yellowish glow coming from that one panel on the door to the right. I'm thinking that this particular element is what I need to enhance to make this image into a fine-art photograph. 

So, here is this water gate after working that nice evening glow into all of the glass elements of the photo. 

But remember, this evening glow has nothing to do with the evening, as the original snapshots were taken during the day. So my final job is to transform this ancient, Venetian, functional water gate, into a sight as you might have seen it one evening as you strolled Venice in another time. Here is the final image.

As you can see, I've emphasized the texture of the brick and stone work, and the glass transmits that nice glow from within this timeless building. And I've tried to call attention to the ubiquitous, relief-carved keystones of the archways of Venice, as well. Finally, I hope that I've cast just enough late-night light onto the subject, for you. 

Now, take a moment to think about what is going on behind those doors. And perhaps what has gone on behind those doors over several centuries...remember, Venice is well-over a thousand years old. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find my photo as the winner in Italia! magazine. I hope that you are pleasantly surprised at today's transformation. 

Interested in receiving Italia! magazine yourself each month? Click here to see how.


Ciao for now,


Venice's Sestiere

Index of Blog Articles

First, let me be one of the last to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope this year is filled with joy and hope-realized for you.

I know I’ve been away for a bit, as many of you have reminded me as you asked and wrote, “Where are your articles on Italy?”  But, I’m back now. However, I do feel a bit fickle about my absence because of what I was doing when I wasn’t preparing my Italy, Our Italy articles.

During the next few weeks, I will be going over the various districts, or ‘sestiere’, of the most interesting, beautiful and mysterious city in the world – Venice.

I hope you don’t think less of me when you find that I was working on photos from our latest trip – a trip to England, Scotland and Ireland. There were fewer vineyards there (actually, we saw none), less pasta and wine (we made up for the wine with ciders), but the people were just as friendly as those of our Italian encounters. I’d have to say that the countryside of the UK environs was a good bit more cultivated and elegant than those of Italy…but maybe simplicity and magic are what continues to draw us to Italy.

At any rate, it took me a good bit of time to get through the photos from our trip. If you would like to see just a few of the photos from our England-Scotland-Ireland trip, you can see them by clicking this button...

During the next few weeks, I will be going over the various districts, or ‘sestiere’, of the most interesting, beautiful and mysterious city in the world – Venice. I began this journey with the article on the San Marco sestiere on February 16, 2016 in the article titled ‘The Sestiere of Venice”.

As this new year progresses, I’ll cover the other 5 sestiere of Venice. In each, I will give you a quick overview of the sestiere. Then I will cover where to stay and where to eat in that sestiere. If there is something else that I think you need to know of that sestiere, I’ll include that, too.

Here is the simple map similar to the one I included in the article on the sestiere of San Marco.

This map presents a rather modest view of the six sestiere. I say 'modest' because this map just cannot characterize the world that it represents and that awaits will have to experience it on your own.

You will note that the map includes the Giudecca island, which is not actually one of the six official sestiere. Further, not all maps show the same delineations for the sestiere. For instance, some show the Giudecca to be part of Dorsodouro. While others show that orange, polygonal island at the eastern end of Giudecca (the island on which the church of San Giorgio Maggiore sits) to be part of the sestiere of San Marco. For our purposes, we will use the delineations shown in the map above as we work through the sestiere.

Finally, understand that there are many, many islands in the Venetian lagoon (around 117 it is estimated) that are not considered to be within the districts of Venice – islands like Murano (glass), Burano (lace and colorful homes) and San Michele (dead people).

I'm wondering if you remember what the six sestiere and Giudecca have to do with the accouterments of a Venetian gondola. If not, you can review that in the San Marco sestiere article

Here is a rather different view of the six sestiere of Venice…this in the form of a Google maps satellite view. I want you to see this to see just how large the municipality of Venice is.

Venice is quite huge. Note just how many buildings there are. From east-to-west, Venice is about 3 miles, while north-to-south, it is just shy of 2 miles. Within these six square miles you will find 409 bridges crossing over the 177 canals that divide Venice into 117 islands. 

And in this detail view below, you can see churches, gardens, pozzi, restaurants, boats, canals and bridges. 

There are places you will never see as you stroll Venice, as they are kept hidden behind walls and locked doors, like the one of which I wrote here. In Venice, intrigue abounds now as it has for centuries!

You've seen our favorite sestiere of San Marco, so tune in next week when we visit our second most-favorite sestiere, San Polo.

Ciao for now,


ps:  The Berlin Foto Biennale is now over. If you missed the significance of that exhibit this past fall, please see my previous article here

A Sense of Place

Index of Blog Articles

Well, I'm back from a bit of traveling: England, Scotland, Ireland, Texas and New Mexico. I'm ready to resume my blog articles for you. But, I'll be working my way in slowly with a short article today.

Her response: “Now you tell me!” Well, yes, now she knows.

This week I'm just letting you know about a change I've made to my list of blog articles, and why I've done that.

Last Thursday, I was visiting with a friend who had just returned from Italy. She expressed a bit of disappointment in some of the restaurants they chose in Venice. I let her know of my Italy Our Italy blog and the fact that it contains personally evaluated and recommended restaurants, hotels, and other helpful information on certain places within Italy. Her response: "Now you tell me!" Well, yes, now she knows. And I want you to know, too. That's why I've made changes to my list of blog articles.

What I have done is to take the Index of Blog Articles to another level by creating another series of headings in the right-hand column (which is labeled, "By Subject"). You will now find three new subheadings for 'places' within Italy -- specifically 'Places: Venice', 'Places: Amalfi Coast', and 'Places: Tuscany'. This will give one a greater sense of these wonderful places.

Now, if you are traveling to one of these fabulous places of Italy, you will have all of the resources that I have previously published about those fabulous places in one place. 

That about sums it up for today's very short article. 

Ciao for now,



The Results Are In -- Part 12

Index of Blog Articles

This one's kind of a big deal!

I am excited to let you know that I have been asked to participate in a large, international art show starting October 6th. This is a show that is held in a varying international venue every two years. This go-around is called the Berlin Foto Biennale. As you can undoubtedly tell, this current showing will be in Berlin.

This one’s kind of a big deal!

I was asked to participate because of my first place award in the 7th Annual International Pollux Awards. You may remember seeing that announcement back on July 14th of 2015. If you missed it, here is that announcement

The promoters of the showing provided an invitation for me to send to those who might be interested. Here is that invitation, which includes my three photos that will be featured in the Berlin show. 

If you happen to be in Berlin during October, consider this your invitation to attend so you can see this show featuring photographers from 41 countries. 

The photos that I will have in the show have been printed as 24"x36" prints, mounted on diBond. 

A just-returned-from two-week trip to the UK and Ireland prevent us from attending the opening vernissage and artists reception, but we will be there in spirit. [To save you the trouble of pulling out a dictionary, the term 'vernissage' refers to the night-before-opening showing of the photos for the artists' benefit]

As a regular reader of my articles, I thought you would like to know.


Ciao for now,


p.s. Well, at least one of the photos was taken in Italy! I'm sure you can guess which, by process of elimination.

Rome Tunnel Composite

Index of Blog Articles

I am on vacation at the moment in an undisclosed location (maybe my Instagram feed to the right will give it away). Meanwhile, here is a simple and kind of pointless composite of a couple of photos taken in Rome.

This tunnel attracted my attention as we were going to the Trevi Fountain in the evening. The tunnel is nice and gritty, just like a good bit of Rome.

This snazy sports car was captured outside their hotel by our traveling companions on this trip, the Kennedys.

Just for a bit of fun, I decided to put the car into the tunnel. 

I accomplished this with a bit of motion blur to give the car a speed boost (from 0 to 60 in an instant). Then did some color toning to duplicate the ambient light of the tunnel. And as one shouldn't drive at night with headlights off (yes, even in Italy), I added headlights and light beams.

Here is the result.

Kind of goofy way to kill time, but that's it for today. And if you need me to turn on your headlights, just let me know.


Ciao for now,