Category Archives: italy

Empty Venice…

Venice is a photographer’s delight. Everywhere you look are potential images. The trick is to empty the city of people, and that isn’t quite so easy…

Early morning works (only photographers get up before 6am…) or shoot across the water in the misty twilight.

I love slowing the exposures down so much that everything moving – boats, people etc – just disappears…

And then it’s good to find hidden corners, bridges and canals where occasional interlopers do appear, but seem quite arbitrary.

Visit Venice in the off season and it’s easy to appreciate its beauty, and not get too flustered by its crowds. And then, get up early morning to make the most of it…


For more info on Quest Photographic Tours, and the workshops I’m leading next year, please click on this .

Have some colour in your life!

It is grim outside – really grey, wet, monotone, sodden and cold. January is the hardest month… So I’ve been going through old pics to find some colour to cheer me up. And I found these. I’d forgotten all about this place, Burano Island, Venice. Colour indeed!


It was pretty cold there too (October, Acqua Alta and all that). But is it possible to feel miserable when there’s so much eye-popping colour about? You just have to grin at the visual fizz.






(Wish I had a speed boat parked outside my house. Mind you with all the flooding here, that’s a distinct possibility…)





So if it’s grey wherever you are, I hope these pics have brought some colour into your day, an perhaps a grin too. Ciao!





We should all learn German, especially the boys…

Skiing – yes, its that time of year! But there’s a problem…

Love the mountains...

Love a good mountain view

What is it with boys and learning languages? Why is it so hard? And why don’t they commit? Honestly, just basic German can be so useful, and yet the Brit boys forget their der, die, das and eins, zwei, drei  with catastrophic consequences….

That's the way to do it...

That’s the way to do it…


You need to picture the scene. Nine Brit boys on a long weekend skiing in Val Gardena – may be Italy, but German is the lingua franca, c’est la vie… The aim is as many miles on the piste for as few Euros as poss, so home cooking is the order of the day.

the boys favoured orange this year

the boys favoured orange this year


On the first shopping trip many, many, bottles of beer are bought for later consumption. Only for a fatal word on the label to be ignored: alkoholfrei… I mean I ask you, basic German or what!?! And spaghetti carbonara is a good dish for many hungry mouths, but the final pasta becomes slightly stodgy after overlong boiling and a realisation that it is senza glutine… (Italian, I know…)

the most pointless products in the world

the most pointless products in the world


Thank heavens for Wein, Weib und Gesang...

Thank heavens for Wein, Weib und Gesang…


Alohol free beer means speed limits can be ignored on the slope!

Alohol free beer means speed limits can be ignored on the slope!

But maybe the finest scene is reserved for the Bäckerei, where 18 rolls need to be bought for the following day’s packed lunch on the slopes. The boys can’t count to 18 in German – eins to zehn is all they can manage , so they asked the young lady behind the counter for neun rolls which she duly picks out, puts in a bag and hands over. At which point the boys add: “und neun…”, so she, perplexed, turns around and has to pick out another 9 rolls and put them in a second bag… She must have thought they were Idioten….

The view is spectacular

Spectacular views!


Looks like someone had  a serious tumble!

Looks like someone had a serious tumble!


I wonder if the girls’ trip is anything like this…? Let’s face it, unwahrscheinlich… 


Memories of lazy warm summers

Just before the annual feasting begins, I’ve been looking back at some summer photos. Here’s beautiful Lake Trasimeno in lovely warm Italy. What a delight Umbria is!

Makes me want to take up fishing!

Makes me want to take up fishing!




Even the birds just watch the dawn...

Even the birds just watch the dawn…


Now, bring on the snow!!! Merry Christmas to all.


Rush hour in Perugia

London was all a bustle today. Hot, sticky, busy, full of people, all with a place to go and little time to get there. Now I quite like the buzz, but I have to admit that photography is probably easier when there’s calm. And that does exist in the city, but more so in hilltop Italian city states than in the UK’s megametrolopolis… This is rush hour in Perugia:


7am, a Thursday morning

7am, a Tuesday morning


Isn’t it blissful. Don’t you wish every day could start like this? Can you sense the head-down, must get on, march march-ness of the commuters here? Round the corner I spotted another person dashing to work:



The adrenalin is just kickin’. I wandered further, in search of more typical morning rush hour shots. But no-one was around. Clearly it was too early:

Deserted backstreets

Deserted backstreets

Empty porticoes

Empty porticoes


Even the main square was empty. Mind you, as I said it makes for easy photography… And good memories to sustain me through the crush-push-shove (?!@**!!) of the tube on a Tuesday morning here in London. Bring on the holidays!

Town hall steps, empty...

Town hall steps, empty…


If you like these pics, check them out in colour here and let me know which version you prefer. Plus I have a series of articles appearing in Black+White Photography magazine. Link here to the mag if you’re interested in how photographs create emotional reactions in viewers. Let me know what you think – I’d be fascinated to find out!




Close shave in the Dolomites…

Feb half term is the annual family skiing holiday. A week of fun and adventure. Stories that we will talk about forever.

Sun and snow

Sun and snow

It all started at the airport. You know what SqueezyJet check in is like. Well, our group was 12 in total and the others had already been in line for 45 minutes by the time the Peck foursome turns up. Of course, we go to greet our companions, and somehow manage to jump the whole queue. Much dark muttering amongst the early morning seething mass. How to antagonise the Brits – jump a queue…

The kids are getting good!

The kids are getting good!

Conquer the mountain!

Free the mountain!

Charles and skiing have clicked. One private lesson for a couple of hours and he’s accelerated so fast I can’t keep up with him anymore. He announces “I’m a responsible skier” at lunch, and promptly smacks into his Mum, wiping her out in the afternoon.  Blimey he goes fast – the confidence of youth!

I think he's contemplating the perfect line...

I think he’s contemplating the perfect line…

Charles Tree (1 of 1)

Ah, to be young again…

Charles and fans

Charles and fans

The girls are rocking the ski school. 3 girls, and 3 champions, all winning trophies in their respective classes (phew! what would have happened if 2 won, and 1 didn’t…?)



Looking cool on the slopes

Looking cool on the slopes

Felix is chief mischief maker for the week, principally by refusing to ski. Mind you, he is only 3. His parents keep on dancing.

Felix, almost skiing.

Felix, almost skiing.

Any chance for a boogie

Swinging to the umpah music

A week’s fun in the Dolomites, and then, out of the blue, near disaster. Our transfer bus back to the airport gets hit by an avalanche at the top of the pass. The bus slews round and halts. We’re at the edge of the avalanche. Had we been 50 yards further on …., it doesn’t bear thinking about. We’re stuck until the snow plough can dig us out. We miss the plane. But no matter. We know we’ve been incredibly lucky.

Snow plough digging us out

Snow plough digging us out

Every cloud has a silver lining – in our case we have a day to kill in Venice whilst we wait for the next plane. Nothing like a close shave to make you appreciate the moment! And a family story, to last forever.

Enjoy every day!

Enjoy every day!

Skiing with the girls, part 2

Skiing in the Italian Dolomites

Last week was the boys (link here). This week the girl gang is on the slopes! a recipe for slow skiing, and lots of hanging around whilst gloves are found, sun screen is applied, bags are packed, skis are carried and helmets are adjusted.

Collective noun for girl gang skiing? Skiettes?

But much fun is had nevertheless! Imogen is quite capable of singing her way from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the slope, with a couple of tumbles on the way to liven things up.  Last time we took her skiing she smacked her front teeth out, this time she’s a natural, almost…

Uncle has to take evasive action

She even manages to win her ski school race with aplomb!


Celebrating as a snow angel

This is the life, huge wide empty slopes and great views. No queues on the lifts. Why can’t it always be like this?

Can you spot the skier?

Italy has become my favourite place to ski!

And the girls keep it nice and lively. Hannah manages to drop her ski into the trees from the ski lift, and then skis down on one ski (!?!?!); Freya (her first week) can’t turn, loses control and almost careers headfirst into a logpile (saved by her hero uncle… me!); Melissa is the earth mother extraordinaire, with a bag that contains absolutely everything – drinks, wipes, chocolate etc (Freya asked her if she had a chicken in it? – great question!)

Relaxing on the slopes

Phew, managed to dodge the woodpile...!

Girl racers

The real world seems far away, which, after all, is what this week is all about. Just great views and good times with the family. Long may it continue!

All together

Up in the mountains

Our village - St Martin in Thurn

Adrenaline rush on the slopes

St Martin in Thurn

A week’s skiing at half term. Fantastic – best skiing I’ve ever had – in the Italian Dolomites on the Kronplatz & Alta Badia ski area. We went with Mountainsun and stayed in the Hotel Diamant in the village in the pic. Highly recommend the area, the resort and the agency. Top notch:

So this week is the story of the boys. We’ll come to the girls next week….

Birnenschnapps, to warm the cockles

The boys of course, need to go fast. And that’s what we did. Sometimes not very stylishly it is true, but always with enthusiasm:

Me, not leaning down the hill, as usual

I did get some good speed up – 98.3 kph at one stage (just had to mention that…, the iphone apps are amazing!).

Top of the Black

But I also had the biggest tumble. And it was in full view of our whole party. The kids and girls were in the gondola just going over the black run as I got into trouble: “look, Dad’s lost a ski……, he’s sliding…., he’s not stopping!…., OMG, IS HE ALRIGHT?!?!?!”        (I was, just.)

Re-enacting my tumble (no-one watching now, of course)

Carnage in Alta Badia, not me this time

No such problems for the kids. Charles (12, skiing 3 times in his whole life) considers himself an expert. Carving is simply natural ability, he claims. As soon as he hits the slope, he’s off!

Charles, incapable of going slowly.

Tops in ski school

The best soup on the mountain


Dude in action...

For most flamboyant, we need to turn to Charles’s uncle, who had a particularly spectacular set of eye-wear this year

You should see his shades!

Powder rush

When not charging the slope, normal Dad duties take over:

The best nursery slope ever - it's about 2 miles long!

Boys need liquid refreshment, regularly

The Dolomites are a particularly lovely area; the peaks are jagged, tooth-like, sharp. Very dramatic.

from village to peak


the view onto the black where I crashed and burnt

I want to do that!

Great views, fantastic snow, high octane fun, the odd beer or two. Adrenaline rush to clear the mind of the day to day work life. Paradise for the boys!

Feeling good!

Free the mountain!

(Thanks to Marc from Mountainsun for risking his SLR on the slopes to get the action shots – appreciate it!)

Playing with my Christmas presents…

I’ve been having a great time playing around with some of the Xmas presents. Best of all, this one was free! It’s an app called Snapseed, and I’ve decided I love it.

Young lady

It’s sits on my ipad, and lets me manipulate photos in an amazingly intricate way.

Venice flooding

You just have to play, re-investigate the 000s of photos from over the years. Here’s some from about a decade ago:

Northumberland coast

Mother-in-law's lilies

Bamburgh Castle at dawn

Portraits come to life in weird and wacky ways:

Mrs P

and Ms P

Landscapes become mysterious and slightly age-less:

Pisa, of course

The Dordogne

Menerbes, France

Even cars seem to take on a new personality:

Blackberry photos of BMWs

But maybe my favourite is the abstraction to be given to the nude. Check it out: ‘Snapspeed’. You’ll love it on an ipad.

2011 – a personal review

This blog is one year old, so I thought I would do a quick review of the last 12 months, in 12 pictures. If you want to read the blog page that lies behind the picture, just click on the caption and it will take you there. Magic!

Dec/Jan, Venice in the cold:

Feb: Blackberry photos of BMW dream machines

Mar: Sailing off Mersea Island

Apr: Spring has sprung

May: Bluebell woods

Jun: The Royal Wedding

Jul: Cars!

 Aug: memories of York

Sep: kids gossiping on holiday in Italy



Oct: Italy’s sexy statues



Nov: New York, New York!

Dec: London night scenes