The stories behind the images

The stories behind the images
chairs, rome

Saturday, November 13, 2010

the splendour of the pantheon

The story behind the image:

Dianne and I visited the Pantheon twice during a recent visit to Rome. It is one of my favourite places in the city.

When I lived in Rome I would visit almost every day. It's such a beautiful building, and even when it's full of tourists its elegance and splendour can still be appreciated.

Capturing the essence of the Pantheon is difficult, as it is such an expansive interior. For me (remember photography is personal) the key elements to capture are the marble columns, the oculus, the richness of the colours, and the tourists.

The image above is obviously of the columns and oculus. It was taken down low and I shot wide, leaning off one of the columns which I also used for support. I was able to include two strong elements to identify the Pantheon in a single shot.

Here is another, this time including the beautiful and distinctive marble foors. I also included the tourists. I shot low and wide off the floor (when doing this you really have to have an interesting foreground subject as it is going to be a sizeable part of your image - in this instance it is the marble floor and the directional lines) - and I waited for a tourist to do something interesting.

When including people (particualrly tourists) in your images make sure they are adding to the story you are telling. My tourists above consist of a group, which is a very common site in all the monuments in Rome, and an individual looking up at the oculus. Looking up is something that all tourists do in the Pantheon, so I also got this shot below:

Dianne took this shot below, and I love it. Dianne was obviously wanting to capture the detail in the ceiling and oculus, and then a fellow shooter popped their camera up into the shot uninentionally of course. A lovely example of a random action creating an unexpectedly delightful photographic moment.

Dianne also captured the rich colours:

A personal theme I enjoy exploring in my photography is capturing the less "exciting" aspects of these amazing beautiful historical buildings in Italy. Below is an image of one of the cleaners of the Pantheon. Whilst tourists are gawking in amazement at the sheer beauty of the Pantheon, this gentleman goes about quietly cleaning.

Lastly, when you think you've got all your shots, think again. There's always one more. In this case, I looked out towards the exit:

Remember that telling the story of a monument can be broader than just getting the classic shots.

(The Pantheon is currently under restoration, so the outside entrance has scaffolding. When faced with a situation like this, stick to shooting inside. Scaffolding just doesn't add to the story of the elegance of the Pantheon!)

Equipment and settings used (for pantheon image at top):
Camera - Canon EOD 5D
Settings - f2.8, 1/160, ISO 800, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 24mm

Photoshop post-production:
Levels, Alien Skin Black and White Film filter - Kodak TRI-X 400, pushed 2 stops

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Monday, October 11, 2010

Come inside and get out of the rain!

Come inside and get out of the rain at the Brisbane Powerhouse this Thursday for the Shopaholics Day Out. We have a booth and will be there with Gemma Green from Passion For Italy... we'll be happy to chat about our tours and photography and all things Italian!

Passion For Italy are boutique Italian Travel Designers, specialising only in travel to Italy. Gemma has a wonderful website, with personally inspected hotels, tours and packages:

For more information about the day, see the Shopaholics facebook page:!/pages/Shopaholics-Day-Out/118936148161924

Thursday 14th October
Free entry

Happy Shopping!

Lisa and Dianne
Capture Italy

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hinterland Photo Club - Maleny


For those of you who love photography and live on the Sunshine Coast, join us at the Hinterland Photo Club from 6.30pm on Thursday 21st October.

Photography and Camera Clubs are a great way to improve your photography and meet other local people who share your passion. Every month most clubs offer guest speakers and presenters, who share their knowledge and experience with club members.

On Thursday 21st October Capture Italy will be doing a presentation of images from our tours and discussing the techniques we used to capture their images.

This is not a marketing presentation, but of course if you wish to ask us questions about the tours we will be available before and after the meeting.

For more information about the Hinterland Photo Club go to:

Meeting location: Club house, Maleny Showgrounds, off Myrtle St.

Meeting start time: 6.30pm.

We look forward to meeting you!
Lisa and Dianne

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Art of Travel Photography


When: Wednesday 13 October 2010
Time: 5.30 - 7pm
Address: Martin Galleries - 4 Aspinall St, Nundah Village, Brisbane.
Cost: $30 pp (light refreshments served)

Do you want to learn the art of travel photography? Do you want to know how to tell a story with your images?

Lisa Kurtz, Photography Director of Capture Italy - Boutique Photography Tours, uses images from a recent tour to get your creative juices flowing. You will learn:
  • how to choose the right camera and equipment that are best for you
  • how to interpret and capture the essence of your destination
  • how to get your camera settings right for a variety of different situations (people shots, action, church interiors, landscapes)
  • how to develop your own creative style

To RSVP, email Lisa or Dianne at

We look forward to meeting you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Capture Italy Travel Photography and Information Night

Join us and learn hints and tips used by professionals for taking great travel photos as we talk about Capture Italy Boutique Photography Tours and showcase some beautiful images of Italy.

When: Tuesday 12 October 2010
Time: 5.30 - 7pm
Address: Robyn Bauer Studio Gallery - 54 Latrobe Terrace Paddington, Brisbane

To RSVP email Lisa or Dianne at

We look forward to meeting you!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A return to blogging and an updated Capture Italy website

Hello everyone, Capture Italy have had a busy few months and we have been quiet on the blogging front. Our website has been updated, so if you haven't visited for a while now is the time:

We are currently putting together our Venice extension itinerary so that will be added shortly.

I'm working on my next post - hints and tips on how to photograph the Pantheon, my favourite ancient Roman monument.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Retro" film software filters

I was asked for more information about the filter software I mentioned in one of our earlier blogs. The software is called Exposure 2 and is published by Alien Skin Software.

This software contains film filters. So, if your favourite film was Fuji Reala, you can add a Fuji Reala look to your digital images. Or, for the b&w shooters, perhaps you miss the look of your Kodak TRI-X 400 pushed 2 stops for strong grain and contrast. Exposure 2 has almost any colour or black and white film you can think of.

This software is a plug-in for Photoshop, so you simply install the software in the Photoshop Plug-Ins folder. Then when you have your image open in Photoshop, you access the filters through the Filter drop-down menu. Simple as that.

For the image above I used a filter for the now-extinct Agfa Scala b&w film. It's fine grain and full tonal range really suited this image.

Exposure 2 software is available for a free (30-day, from memory??) trial download for both Windows and Mac:

Happy shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Capture Italy is an exhibitor at PSQ2010.
This 3-day photography convention is run by the Photographic Society of Queensland and is a wonderful chance to hone your skills through workshops, presentations, masterclasses and photoshoots.
One, two and three day passes are available.

Dates: 12-14 June 2010
Venue: Riverglenn Convention Centre, Indooroopilly
More information and registrations:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

buon appetito, part II

The story behind the image:

Rome's Campo dei Fiori (which translates to field of flowers) is a noisy and vibrant flower and vegetable market dating back to the 1800’s. For the photographer, it's the perfect spot for capturing the beautiful fresh produce Italy is renowned for.

Insider's tip: for the best pizza by the weight, go to Forno Campo dei Fiori - it's right on the square, and it's delicious.

When shooting in a market, understanding depth of field can be very useful.

Depth of field is in simple terms how much of a scene is in focus. Shooting in aperture priority mode makes it easy to control depth of field. The smaller the number, eg f2.8, the wider the aperture and the less depth of field there is in the shot. Which means that the main subject can be sharp, and the background (in our case the busy market) can be blurred. This is also a fairly standard setting for portraits where we normally want our subject in focus but the surroundings blurred so as to not be distracting.

This image below has a reasonably shallow depth of field. The garlic is in focus, and the produce behind is blurred.

If you are using a compact point-and-shoot camera it can be hard to control aperture/depth of field. Most automatic cameras try to get everything in sharp focus. To get around this you have some options - first, try to get as much distance between your subject and the background; second, try settings on your camera such as portrait or macro; third, zoom in on your subject.

Don't forget to shoot some scenes of the market itself to give some context to your produce shots. Also, try getting a shot with prices (make sure you always get shots with the local currency in the local language for authenticity).


Photoshop post-production:
Levels layer to increase contrast.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f2.8, 1/200s, ISO 200, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 70mm

Happy shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

buon appetito!

The story behind the image:

Photographing food can be a lovely way to capture the essence of a country, particularly Italy where food is such an important part of the culture. On our last visit Dianne and I joined a cooking class on the Amalfi coast and not only had a wonderful time making the food, we also thoroughly enjoyed shooting the action in the kitchen.

We made crocchette (using the potatoes in the scales above):
We made gnocchi:
We also made a classic local dessert, Delizia Al Limone:
(consider shooting the different stages of a dish)

When shooting in a working kitchen you'll find your backgrounds quite busy/distracting/messy/not all that attractive so you need to be aware of that when composing your images. You'll have to either zoom in and get close-ups of the food (as in the images above), or you make the most of the background and include the kitchen and some of the chefs (as in the images below).

The best part of the class was eating the wonderful food we had prepared:

At various times during the class Dianne and I were torn between wanting to learn how to make these delicious recipes and wanting to capture the images in front of us. This will always be the photographer's dilemma - being in the moment or capturing the moment. Have you also had that experience? We would love to hear your stories...

Photoshop post-production for scales image:
Levels layer to increase contrast.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f2.8, 1/800s, ISO 800, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 70mm

Happy shooting and buon appetito, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

colours of positano

The story behind the image:

It was late morning in Positano and I was down at Spiaggia Grande (the main beach) with my camera. Surrounded by bright orange and red lettini - beach beds - and umbrellas, with a clear blue sky above, I was in colour heaven for photographers!

Colour has messages and meanings most people would only subconsciously be aware of. As a photographer, I use the visual weight of colour to add impact in my images.
Remember the colour wheel from school art classes?

The colour wheel - in this case, my son's umbrella! - helps us understand two important concepts which we can use in photography:

1. Opposite colours on the colour wheel, also known as "complimentary colours", work very well together in compositions - for example, in the beach image, the orange and red of the lettini against the blue of the sky. (fyi, "analogous colours" also work well - these are the colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.)

2. Some colours are advancing colours, some are receding. Reds and oranges are colours that advance - they appear closest and strongest in an image, they demand your attention. Blues and greens recede - they appear further away. Using colours in this way can add depth to our images. For example, in the beach image, the orange and red lettini immediately attract our attention and draw us in; then using diagonals and some greens, the interesting middleground takes our attention to the top of the cliffs; finally the blue of the sky draws our eye up into the distance to our final viewing resting point. The colours have provided a pathway through this image, and have created a distinct foreground, middleground and background.

Below are some more examples of complimentary colours.

Red and green:
Orange and blue:
Yellow and purple:

Below are some examples of analogous colours.

Reds, oranges, yellows and greens:

Reds, pinks, mauves, blues:

Photoshop post-production for positano image:
A layers level was applied to enhance contrast.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f14, 1/100s, ISO 100, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 40mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

roman trattoria

The story behind the image:

Dianne and I were wandering the streets around Campo dei Fiori in Rome. This wonderful poster of the very famous Italian actor Albertone - actually he was a Roman, and was a beloved resident and icon - caught our eye. The scene of him eating bucatini is from the 1954 comedy "An American Man in Rome".

(Albertone died in Rome in 2003. His funeral attracted a million mourners, the largest crowd of its kind - only surpassed by Pope John Paul II's funeral two year later.)

In this image shot by Dianne, the poster draws us in. From there we start to look around the image and see some classic Italian elements - the checkered tablecloths, the decaying facade of the building, the shutters, the terracotta colours, the shrine to la Madonna above the trattoria.

Above the shutters there was some washing hanging on a line, which can be seen in the composition below.

This image is pleasant enough, although I prefer the first image where the strong foreground interest with the poster and tables dominating the image works well. The image above just has too much in it and is lacking a strong point of interest. When composing your images, you need to remind yourself every now and then that less is more.

With that in mind, I focused on the shrine. These are everywhere in Italy. As you walk the streets, remember to look UP!

Photoshop post-production:
Dianne used a levels layer (to increase contrast).

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 400D
Settings - f9, 1/200s, ISO 1600, auto white balance, landscape picture style (for rich colours), shot in JPEG
Lens - Tamron AF 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) LENS
Focal length: 18mm

Happy shooting and Buona Pasqua (happy easter!), from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

montepertuso, amalfi coast

The story behind the image:

It was late-afternoon in Montepertuso, a small village up in the mountains behind Positano. The tiny piazza where the bus had dropped us was busy, as many of the locals were arriving back from working in the terraced fields. We went off to explore - I made my way to the church up the hill and Dianne walked along the streets leading off the piazza.

Dianne passed one of the old women of the village and knowing her delightful face would make a wonderful shot, Dianne gestured to her camera. The woman nodded and happily posed for some shots.

Dianne's first and second shots:

The strong textured background is competing with our main subject - we want the focus to be the woman.

Dianne's third shot:

This works. The background is blurred and non-intrusive, and Dianne's captured a fantastic moment - the smile, the cheeky eyes, the wave goodbye. It was then cropped to fill the frame, although I think the original un-cropped version (which gives us more of the lady) also works.

Heading away from the piazza I also met some wonderful local women who were on their way to church. They stopped and we chatted, and then I captured this image. It's one of my personal favourites of last year's tour.

There are two approaches to shooting images of people. You can shoot discretely and not make any direct contact, or you can engage with your subjects. I often find that my approach depends on my mood and the particular circumstances, but mostly my experience has been that by directly engaging with people you not only get compelling emotive images but you also get wonderful memories.

Photoshop post-production:
Dianne used a levels layer (to increase contrast) and a filter from Alien Skin Exposure 2 filter software to warm up skin tone.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 400D
Settings - f6.3, 1/160s, ISO 200, auto white balance, landscape picture style (for rich colours), shot in JPEG
Lens - Tamron AF 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) LENS
Focal length: 250mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

chianti grapes, tuscany

The story behind the image:

It was mid-afternoon in Chianti. Dianne and I had just visited the small village of Radda in Chianti.

(btw - if you ever make it to this delightful town, you must visit Decori nel Tempo ( - they make beautiful, tasteful chianti ceramics and other lovely homewares and paintings, perfect for gifts. Whenever I am in the Chianti region, I make a point of coming to the shop. They close for siesta, so time your visit before or after lunch.)

We were heading out of Radda when we spotted a lovely Chianti landscape, so we pulled off onto a side road.

We both then wandered off to find the vantage point that suited us. I went one way, Dianne the other, and we spent about 30 minutes waiting (there was some rain about), composing and shooting. Dianne's perspective:

My perspective:

Both of these images have definite leading lines - line is the strongest element of design, and can determine the emotional impact of an image. As a photographer you need to be aware of the subtle feelings associated with the different types of lines.

Dianne's image contains curved lines. These are the lines we expect to see in nature and they are soft and relaxing, and they also lead us gently through the image. My image contains strong diagonal lines (which is more my style), and they give the image a more directional and energetic feel. In this instance I feel Dianne's image is the more successful of the two.

When shooting a wide landscape scene, don't forget to also shoot the smaller detailed elements of that same scene. (In fact, I shot the close-up of the grapes before I even started on the lansdcape. I find that it's a nice way to ease into the expansive wide angle work.) By having the small details as well as the "big picture" your story is stronger and more interesting. I find it's also more personal, as what you notice as a small detail depends on what catches your eye.

Photoshop post-production for grapes:
None. (It was a cloudy day, and that automatically creates stronger contrasts and colours.)

Equipment and settings used for grapes:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f4.0, 1/200s, ISO 200, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 64mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

vintage red vespa, rome

The story behind the image:

It was mid-morning in Rome. I was wanting to capture some quintessential Italian images and then I saw it - a classic red vintage vespa! These old vespas are getting harder to find, and for me, nothing says vintage vespa more than red...

There was a man standing quite close to the vespa, and there was also a pole leaning on the wall next to the vespa. I decided that neither of these elements added to the scene I wanted to capture so I moved around the vespa to see if I could shoot at an angle or distance that would eliminate them from the scene. Unfortunately, given the view and perspective I wanted, it wasn't possible. I also knew that removing a man's leg and/or pole was a very quick and easy exercise in photoshop so in this case I decided it was worth shooting.

I shot three images of this scene. The first, as I find is often the way, was the best. It is the one I have chosen for the Capture Italy website gallery. It has clear diagonal lines and good context. This is it below, before photoshop post-production.

I then tried two different angles, in an attempt to include less of the unwanted background elements, but neither of them worked for me. You can see them below:

Unwanted people and items in backgrounds are a common challenge you face when shooting street scenes. You can choose to include them to add interest to the scene (in this case neither the man nor the pole added to what I was trying to achieve - if the man had been a typical old Italian man, and the pole had been his walking stick, perhaps they might have been worth including); or you can attempt to shoot so as to exclude them. This means you need to walk around your object and shoot from different angles/perspectives. Your last resort is to rely on photoshop.

Photoshop post-production:
I used the clone tool to remove the pole and leg, I applied a layers level and a filter from Alien Skin Exposure 2 filter software for the vintage yellowing effect.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f3.2, 1/200s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 48mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.