Walking Around Downtown Venice – Venice, Florida

A couple of months ago I was teaching some classes at the Venice Art Center in Venice, Florida. Venice is a neat town located on the Gulf of Mexico. There is something for everyone, beaches, property, arts and more importantly, a great ice cream store!

Part of my photography class is to take the students out and actually shoot photos. Talking about concepts until your blue in the face only goes so far. You have to get the students out in the field and get that “new camera smell” off the equipment. I like to get to class early so the students aren’t waiting on me to get it together.

For our last field trip, we decided to do a photo walk around downtown Venice. There are some neat shops and parks to visit. I arrived early at the designated meeting spot and I was instantly a kid in a candy store. I don’t know what it is with me and water, but it as always fascinated me, especially when it’s being pumped out of the ground and going all over the place.

spencer pullen photography venice florida interactive water fountain Interactive Fountain – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

Right in front of me was an interactive fountain. I was watching how the streams changed as time went on. I thought to myself, what would this look like if I were to slow it down? I grabbed my tripod and set up for a long exposure. This was in the middle of the day and getting a one to two second exposure was going to be a challenge. I set the camera up in manual mode: ISO 100, f/22 at 2” (seconds). I took a shot. The camera laughed and said ya, right and it was overexposed. I was in luck; I had a neutral density filter in my bag. I screwed on the filter and took another shot. It was better but still too light. Back in the bag I went and I found my circular polarizer. I screwed that on in front of the neutral density filter. This is usually a no-no stacking filters. In the viewfinder I noticed that I was getting some vignetting (darking of the corners). However, I noticed that if I zoomed my 18mm-200mm lens out a bit, it went away. This was a great thing. With both filters stacked, I now had cut the light by four stops. I took another exposure, bango, right on the money.

spencer pullen photography venice florida turtle Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

If the title of this one confuses you, I guess you never saw the cartoon or the movie. Anyway, all over the city are these turtles, pigs and dolphins that are painted by local artists. Everyone is different and has a plaque telling about the artist and whom the creature is promoting. My favorite is the turtle holding a pizza; I couldn’t get a photo of that one at the time.

 spencer pullen photography venice florida water fountain splashMake A Splash – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

As we walked around the city, we came to a very small park, one bench and one fountain. Again, I have this thing for water I guess. The fountain as a whole was nice, but I like detail shots. I was watching how there was a steady stream of water falling in the same place and what a splash it was making. Wanting to capture all the action, this time I wanted to freeze it. I set my camera up for ISO 800, f/5.6 at 1/1000. I took a photo and the exposure was ok, but the color needed something. The water was clear but the fountain was aged and made the water look gray. This is one of those times that I break the white balance rules on purpose. It was cloudy out and with the cloudy white balance setting, the camera was giving me a correct white balance. I wanted pool blue water. Could I have done this in post? Sure, but why? I can do it in the camera. I choose incandescent/tungsten for my white balance. Now everything went blue. I zoomed in on the water and that is how this got the blue color. Much better that gray water if you ask me.

 spencer pullen photography venice florida pelican taking offTaking Off – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

Since I was in Venice, I always make a trip out to the Jetty. It’s peaceful, quiet and you can watch all of the money in the town come and go in and out of the inlet. This is usually a pretty good spot to get some bird photos. I was watching the pelicans taking off, as they would go a short distance and land. They would drift in the inlet and keep doing this to keep their position.  I thought it would be neat to see if I could freeze the action as they were taking off. This took some doing. I used the same settings from the fountain. I shot in continuous mode to hopefully get a good one. I also switched lenses on the camera to my 70mm-300mm. I really like this lens, as it’s light, fast and sharp. I actually like the performance and sharpness over my 80mm-400mm. As you can see from the above photo, he almost has the landing gear up and ready to start climbing out.

 spencer pullen photography venice florida egret eating fishBad Day To Be A Fish – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

There were Egrets all over the place. As boats would come in and out of the channel, the wake from the boat would push the fish up against the rocks. The Egrets were there waiting for an easy meal. I patiently waited and watched to see how these guys were working the side of the rocks. It wasn’t long and one of the birds got a fish. In the viewfinder it looked like a great shot, but when I got home it was then I realized that the camera also froze the water droplets flying off the fish as he was fighting for his life. This was a bonus and helps show action in the scene and the fish is now realizing that this will be his last glimpse of Earth before he’s food.

If you get a chance, visit the city of Venice. There is lots to eat, drink and oh ya, ICE CREAM! As I tell people, you don’t get this sexy eating lettuce!

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. I always look forward to your post. They are very informative and interesting. I learned alot from the first photo how you captured the shot of the fountain. Excellent.

  2. Very interesting and helpful. Thanks

  3. Spencer, it is not only informative, yet fun to read your blog! Your sense of humor and casual, breezy writing style beautifully accompany guaranteed-to-be-stunning photographs.

  4. I totally agree with Linda and Sherry. I love your humor and I learn something, too. I love the pelican in take-off mode!

  5. Spencer

    I appreciate everyone’s kind comments. A lot of things in life are serious. Photography is supposed to be fun and a way to meet new friends. All I can hope is that a few people read these posts and it helps their photography. Thanks…


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