It is easy to get into a rut and shoot everything the same way, i.e – sharp, F/8, sun over your shoulder, literal. The results can be nice, but sometimes just a bit common, and dare say it, even boring. Don’t get me wrong. I shoot with that exact formula all the time. But then I like to get a little jiggy and take a few chances.

When these little creative moods strike, we photographers have countless options. It is a simple formula – I look at the situation and let my imagination run loose.

In Venice, it is great fun to walk the big promenades along the waterfront during the first light of the morning as people hustled to work or during the more leisurely “evening stroll”. I quickly noticed that the backlit sun created lovely fringes around people, soft shadows, and mood. Lots and lots of delectable mood. Add in narrow depth of field or even shoot out of focus and I had my inspiration. Walk the promenade agains the setting sun and shoot for dreamy.

Now this approach often results in “love or hate” images. That usually means I love them but the rest of the world hates them, but what do you do. I shoot for myself first!

Here are three of my favorites from my “Backlit and Dreamy” self-assignment.

Young boy eating chocolate gelato on "evening stroll" along Fondamenta Zattere, Dorsoduro, Venice, Venezia, Italy.

Young boy eating chocolate gelato on “evening stroll” along Fondamenta Zattere, Dorsoduro, Venice, Venezia, Italy. Fuji X-Pro II. 53mm. ISO 100. f/1.4 @ 1/1250 second.

While walking along the waterfront, I saw a young boy ravenously attacking his chocolate gelato. I am certainly not judging – my face usually looked the same after my own nightly “gelato-gorge-a-ramas.”.  I quickly composed and shot and the result is like a childhood dream, I think. (Yeah, I know. It is a little out of focus, but I am just going to bluff and say I meant to do that).

Backlit abstract of young couple strolling on Riva degli Schiavone promenade near Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Venezia, Italy

Backlit abstract of young couple strolling on Riva degli Schiavone promenade near Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Venezia, Italy. Fuji X-Pro II. 140mm. ISO 100. f/2 @ 1/5800 second.

One evening, the setting sun creating a warm glow on the promenade, so I set up with a wide  open aperture of f/2 and prefocused on a marble balustrade (or whatever that carved thingy in the front is called). Then I waited for people to walk into the frame. With the wide-open aperture, they were rendered as soft shapes. Most did not work, but I think this one does.

Abstract lady in yellow strolling on Riva degli Schiavone promenade near Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Venezia, Italy

Abstract lady in yellow strolling on Riva degli Schiavone promenade near Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Venezia, Italy

My favorite image came when I spotted a beautiful lady wearing a yellow shawl walking into the sun down the steps of a small bridge. I intentionally shot it out of focus to create an especially abstract look. I am probably a minority of one, but I just love this image.

If you have a favorite, let me know!