As my usual disclaimer if you just want to see some pretty pictures and a 4k resolution video that I shot using my Panasonic LX100 then go ahead and scroll to the bottom. If you want to read my random thoughts and experiences about the trip and food then please be my guest and read on. I promise I also talk less about cameras this time.
Ah, beautiful Venezia, Italia you were so amazing, beautiful, and delicious yet also a rather crappy, overpriced, and overcrowded tourist destination. Granted, we did go at peak tourist time during the summer and as tourists were also part of the problem. So thats on us, but at least for my travel preferences and at that time of the year it ended up not being our ideal travel destination. Scientists have recently discovered that the island of Venice is actually sinking and I can definitely see why with the amount of tourist bodies crammed onto every piazza, ponte, and calli every year. I am glad I am not claustrophobic because even the canals were crowded! At certain times of the day there would actually be backed up gondola traffic, which, since I was not sitting in it, was actually pretty funny phenomenon to witness.
I also cannot imagine how anyone that was not a local and completely familiar with the city managed to navigate it pre-GPS enabled smartphones, or at least without a good map. Hell, it is possible to get lost even with a map or smartphone as I, and several other tourists I encountered, can attest to. I imagine there has been the occasional tourist stuck and forever separated from anything at all familiar (or all eerily similar and forever repetitive) in a corner of Venice's endless maze of dead ends and turns.
Don't get my wrong I still enjoyed the trip for what it was and the incredibly crowded touristy aspects aside the history, architecture, and especially the food of Venice and the nearby islands of Murano and Burano are really quite wonderful. I was actually warned by an Italian colleague of my partner's to not eat pizza there since Venetians apparently do not excel in the art of pizza making. That said, pizza is pizza after all, so I definitely ignored that advice for at least one meal (or two). I have to say though if that was supposed to be bad pizza then I am rather disappointed by how pathetic my standards for the quality of pizza apparently are. I believe this also set the bar because if this was supposed to be the thing that Venetian were the worst at, then what else could I expect? ...And I was definitely not disappointed.
Since our goal in Venice was to eat as much food at as many places as humanly possible there was one thing that I was glad to know about. This is the cover charge known as coperto that is common when sitting at a ristorante, osteria, or trattoria. If an establishment does charge coperto then it will usually be displayed on their menu or somewhere else on the exterior of the eatery. If you are not careful then that refreshing Aperol spritz or quick cicchetti bite may easily double or triple in price. That is not even mentioning if you were to sit at a restaurant in the Piazza San Marco. I pity the wallet of any unwary tourist that decided to stop for a quick drink there.
We ate so much and had so many different dishes and cicchetti that it was hard to keep it all straight. Some of the best things I had were the random terrestrial and marine-related bites we had throughout the city at random places that they have become a delicious blur. This apparently was not as ideal for everyone because at one point we passed an American family with a disgruntled adult female member complaining that she was sick and tired of all of the seafood and pasta and could not understand why they could not find "some normal food anywhere". I guess she was unaware that she was currently on an island in a lagoon in freaking Italy, but luckily for her there is one single McDonalds on the island that she could visit. That would just leave more for me.
Just some tasty "abnormal" food. (iPhone 6 photos)
Anyways, my annoyance with that woman made me digress. Back to the subject of food, let's talk about squid ink for a moment and about how it is so unappetisingly delicious. I was committed on this trip to try some of these Venetian specialties. I did eat squid ink spaghetti as well, but the more memorable dish that I tried was seppie alla veneziana (Venetian-style squids) which is actually squid pieces that are cooked in their own ink and served with polenta. I was a bit skeptical at first because I think it is a bit sadistic to cook a squid in its own (failed) defence mechanism, but I was quickly won over after the first bite. How does a dish the color of tar and stains your teeth black taste so good? While I will not be adding squid ink to everything I cook from now on it was an interesting and tasty experience that I suggest anyone who is even culinarily adventurous to try at least once.
Another memorable dining experience occurred at an osteria that we just happened to duck inside for one last drink and bite or two before heading back to our hotel. Since it was late the choices were limited so we opted for one small bite and two spritz. Apparently there was a special dinner party going on there with the owner of the restaurant treating his guest to seafood risotto. From our location at the bar I could see directly into the kitchen and was watching the chef prepare the seafood risotto, which he was tasting and shaking his head at while slowly adding more stock. After a few minutes he tasted the risotto another time and instead of his previous reaction he clenched his fist and enthusiastically fist-pumped the air. As I have also done this in the kitchen before I already knew that this was the international sign for "nailed it" and asked the owner that whatever it was he was making if we could please, please, please have some. Even though I offered to pay for even just a small taste the owner was still unsure because he had to see if there would be enough for his dinner party. The owner explained to the chef who in turn appeared to also practically beg him to let us try some of what he made. To which I am immensely grateful because the seafood risotto was AMAZING. As we were departing the cook, who was done for the evening now, was also leaving and we thanked him profusely for convincing the owner to share with us and how good the risotto was. I am not sure exactly how much English he understood but he could definitely understand our enthusiasm and gave two big thumbs up while smiling. In my haste to thank the guy I forgot to check the name of the osteria, but a few days later stumbled upon it again and snapped a photo of the sign for posterity. So if you are ever in Venice then definitely stop by Osteria Ruga Di Jaffa and order the seafood risotto.
On two separate nights while in Venice we encountered at the base of the Rialto Bridge two Moscovian brothers that were apparently music student violinists that came every night to the same spot for the last two months to play to a surprisingly large audience. With good reason though because they were fantastic musicians and their violin cases clearly reflected the audience's enjoyment with both times it being over 1/3 of the way full with various Euro paper notes and coins. I made a couple photos, but it was one of those times that you just want to sit back and to enjoy, so no videos were made. Although this guy will testify to how hard the people watching were enjoying the show and partying hard:
You can actually see in the photo that he is still snapping his fingers to the music and against all odds he even managed to get up a few times and dance around beckoning female audience members to dance with him. Alas, this budding Casanova never found a dance partner that night, but the music was great and who knows, maybe those two Russian brothers are still out there easily earning their tuition and then some.
Two of the other islands that we visited were Murano and Burano, the former is known for its exquisite glass making and the latter for their beautifully colorful buildings. This is in addition to the Trattoria da Romano that is famous for the seafood risotto and was host to an incredible list of writers, artists, and celebrities. Unfortunately I was not able to eat at the restaurant... mostly because I forgot that it was on this island until on the water taxi ride home, but I did eat an excellent assortment of fried sea creatures while on Burano. So not all was lost and luckily, as I said above, I managed to have my seafood risotto fix elsewhere.
The Island of Burano is beautiful to walk around and look at all the vibrantly colored buildings, but I wonder how the locals feel (most who look like they grew up there) having me and countless other tourists trudge through their front yards summer after summer. I wonder if they will ever become incredibly frustrated and collectively decide to paint all of their colorful buildings the shame dull shade of brown. I hope not, but I guess they always have that option on the table.
Another night at another osteria whose name I have forgotten but the memory is still imprinted upon me thanks, at least in part, to a shower of alcohol and seltzer water. It was yet again another place we stumbled upon and stopped in for some food and drinks that seemed to be full of local regulars. After a couple Aperol spritz I asked the bartender/owner if there was something distinctly local that he could make me. Instead of giving me a local drink he said he would "surprise me" with his own – and extremely strong — concoction. As we were enjoying our drinks the locals were starting to get a bit more rowdy and the bartender, who was also drinking, was as well. At one point he started spraying the regulars with seltzer water by arching his fountain gun so that it lightly fell while everyone was laughing, including us. The bartender was a little overzealous though and got carried away and ended up aiming at us as well. However when he aimed at us instead of arching it like before he aimed it directly at and completely soaked me. Quickly realising that I was not one of the regulars the owner looked mortified and started apologising profusely. Laughing, I told him it was hot and I needed a shower anyways but since he felt bad he gave us some free food, which is always nice.
Okay so as much as I complained at the beginning about the overabundance of tourists and the labyrinth that is Venice it was still a decent time and definitely a "must-see" place with delicious food, which I guess is exactly the problem. It would also probably be much more enjoyable during tourist off-season when it is significantly less crowded. We actually stayed for 9 days which I think was pushing it because two days we just decided to stay at the hotel. That time was spent reading books whilst sitting on the sill of our room's Venetian windows overlooking the canal. Which actually became an interesting, albeit distracting while attempting to read, activity in itself due to the inordinate amount of Asian tourists passing beneath in gondolas that shouted to us to look at them for photos. I am rather convinced that a good amount of them thought they were getting photos of genuine Venetian locals enjoying a relaxing afternoon, but I guess what they don't know won't hurt them.
One of the days I did manage to wake up an an ungodly hour when no tourists were out to create another one of my "Living Out of a Suitcase" series photos that you can see by clicking here.
In addition to that, below are some more photos from the trip and beneath that is the video I shot there using my Panasonic LX100. If possible watch the video in 4k resolution with the volume on. Thanks for making it this far and enjoy!
As my usual disclaimer, if you do not care to read my rambling about the trip or things such as man-bag accessories, French food, and cameras, and just want to see pretty motion images, then be my guest and scroll through to the bottom to view my 4k video of Paris. Go ahead and look at a couple of photo's while you are at it. They are on the way and kind of pretty too.
Recently some friends from the United States were visiting my girlfriend and I and staying at our place in Utrecht. For a majority of their trip we acted as overly enthusiastic tour guides and showed them around various places in the Netherlands, but for the end of their first European trip we all decided to spend a weekend in Paris. I was ready to play the part of a tourist for a bit.
The best part about this mini-vacation was that it would allow me to finally take my Panasonic DMC-LX100 on it's first holiday (Hurrah!). So after throwing some clothes and a toothbrush into my Qwstion backpack and loading my various LX100 paraphernalia into my expensive, waterproof, handmade camera bag, I was ready for the trip.
Okay, so I feel like I have to come clean. Only 1.5 of those things are actually true about the "camera" bag. It is actually a fanny pack that I purchased from a Chinese company via Amazon. I paid 20USD for it and ordered it to be "dark brown" in color. "Dark brown" was apparently lost in translation because the bag's color looks more like Popeye's, presumed, poop color. That said, the bag is actually somewhat handmade though, especially if you include the third-world children's hands that probably helped to assembled it, because I applied a couple layers of Greenland Wax to it to make it waterproof and protect it's precious contents from the wonderful weather of the Netherlands. So it was not ALL a lie.
Anyways, back to the trip...
While our friends left a day earlier and everything went smoothly for them during their trip, we were booked for a train ride out on Friday. Unfortunately, we were not quite as lucky as them and due to some confusion with the tickets I managed to cause us to miss our first train from Rotterdam to Brussels Midi. We caught the next train and arrived in Brussels Midi about 50 minutes after our next train's departure time. With only 10 minutes left until we would lose our refund on the tickets, and we would have to purchase new ones at full price, we managed squeeze through the customer service line at the last possible minute. For some reason the awesome servicewoman that helped us decided to book us new tickets on the next train to Paris at no charge. She even had to be sneaky about it. Following that incident we were feeling good about our change in luck and shopped a bit in the train station before catching our next train (on-time this time). One of my freshly purchased items, a 750ml bottle of sour beer, decided to shoot out its cork and exploded inside of my Qwstion backpack. Luckily, one of my pairs of socks took one for the team and managed to soak up most of the liquid. Normally this wouldn't have bothered me that much, but it was that this particular sour beer was one that a friend had told me to keep an eye out for while in Brussels; and when I finally find it I do not even get to taste it! As much as I may have wanted to, I assure you that I did not drink any from the socks. They were given a proper warrior's burial in the train's trash bin. So like I said, while it could have been much worse, things were definitely not starting out as smoothly as I would have liked. We did finally manage to arrive in Paris though; only a few hours later than expected and me reeking of sour beer.
As this was the second time that I was visiting the capital of France, I decided that the aim of this trip would be twofold: to not only make a 4k video of the places I saw, but to also stuff my face with as much delicious, and possibly strange, French cuisine as possible. While I do have video evidence of the former (as seen in the video below), I am still new enough to this "blog" thing — and maybe not hipster enough... yet — to make photographs of the food that I ate. So there is no evidence of the latter. In some cases I am not even sure you would want to see photo's of what I ate, but I can assure you that stuffing my face I did do aplenty.
We visited multiple brasseries, charcuteries, and boulangeries and sampled more French deliciousness from the land, sea, and air than I can concisely list here. Whenever it comes to eating in new countries (or just eating in general for me) I like to try interesting things that I have never tasted before or would normally be unable to eat at home. With that said, one meal that will definitely stick with me for awhile was one that I actually have previously enjoyed in both France and elsewhere. Steak tartare. In case you are not already aware, this dish is basically raw chopped up cow meat with an unfertilized (and uncooked) baby bird poured on top, but only the yellow part. Sound delicious, right?
Previously, I had only enjoyed it in this simple, unadulterated form, but on this fateful day I was to finally be formally educated about steak tartare. Apparently there is an extremely secret and detailed process in preparing the meal even after it has left the kitchen and has arrived on the table. Luckily, the Frenchman that was serving me was willing to share these secrets with me. When the server asked me if I knew how to prepare the steak tartare correct I, somewhat confused, gave a noncommittal response and shrugged my shoulders in answer to his question. I thought that what was on the plate was it: raw meat and raw egg yolk and some salt and pepper. What else do I need? He kindly asked in broken English, and using lots of pointing and gesturing, if I would like him to prepare it correctly for me. I incredulously nodded my head that he could do so, mostly because he seemed so eager to do it for me. I leaned back to allow him the room to pour and shake various condiments (ketchup, French mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and of course extra hot sauce) over my dish. He then picked up my fork and began to mash and mix these and other ingredients that were already on my plate (parsley, sliced cornichons, and diced onion) into my steak tartare, creating a mess that honestly looked less than appetizing. Since this was the first time as an adult that I have ever had a grown man, or anyone, mash my food up for me, I was obviously a bit taken aback. But I quickly recovered and showed my gratitude to him for bestowing these steak tartare secrets upon me. It was like my eyes were never truly open before.
While some people would definitely not go for the steak tartate, I still wanted to try something that was even more decidedly-French and maybe a bit... different. I got my wish the following day at a another restaurant that we meticulously researched and then sought out for their exceptional and well heralded cuisine. What I of course mean is that the menu outside this restaurant showed that it was not ridiculously expensive and it was the first place that we stumbled upon that did not have a waiting list longer than 45 minutes.
After reading what little I could on the menu, I decided to order a caramelized pig's feet dish that would probably make any lover of "The Three Little Pigs" die a little bit on the inside (me included). When replying to my order the waiter inquired if I planned to "go on a long walk or run around the city" after eating. Even though I had no idea what he was talking about I managed to ingeniously reply "Uh... Yeah, I guess?". He did a less than satisfactory, but quite enthusiastic, job explaining what he meant exactly, so I did not understand until I finished eating my meal. I use the term "finished" loosely because even though it was just two relatively small piggly wigglies, I could not finish it all. Even then I still felt like I had instantly gained a couple kilos and would possibly never need to eat again. Persevering through the physical pain and cognitive guilt of eating another animals freaking feet, it was definitely still worth it in the end. If not just for how amazingly tasty those hoof meats were, but for the fact that the, possibly, coked up waiter told me that he was proud of me for finishing my meal. This was now the second time in as many days that I was treated like a well-behaved child at mealtime... It must have been my fanny pack.
Anyways enough about man-bags, French food, and details about the trip. Now a little about the Panasonic DMC-LX100. Here are a few photo's from the trip made with the LX100:
As usual, my LX100 was a pleasure to have with me. As I am sure the photo's above have started to show, the Leica lens produces amazingly sharp images and can sometimes get decent bokeh at the wider apertures. The 4k capabilities of the camera keep blowing me away too, and I don't even have a monitor capable of viewing the full 4k resolution yet.
The LX100 is such a pleasure to use for both photographs and videos and is a great camera to always have on me, for work and play. I love the manual controls. Even if I do not aways use them and leave some of the setting on auto when I want to snap faster and with less thought, it is still great to have the ability to quickly switch features manually whenever I want. One minor issue is that since the camera is so small, it is not the most stable when shooting video handheld. For this reason many of the video clips in the "Paris in 4k | Panasonic LX100" below were stabilized in post-production using the warp stabilizer. I knew this would be an issue when purchasing the camera and was obviously going more for a small, carry everywhere camera, so this bothers me minimally. It is also beneficial to put the LX100 up to my eye when shooting video since it adds another contact point and helps to stabilize the shots.
One other small issue that I notice more and more with this camera is that if it is left on autofocus, when in video, then often it will hunt on new things to focus on while recording. This can and has screwed up some shots of mine. This is less of an issue in a setting like on this trip because I can just use manual controls or clip around the unfocused parts of the clips. But it does become an issue occasionally as I discovered last week. I had the LX100 mounted for an overhead shot for a "how to" video, that I was helping to assist in the production of, and I needed to operating the camera remotely on my iPhone 6 and had it in a location that I was unable to quickly reach and make adjustments if I was to rely on focusing manually. Therefore, I had to depend on autofocus and would focus the camera by clicking my finger on my phone screen in the Panasonic remote control app. Unfortunately, even though I set the focus point the camera would still sometimes hunt which did mess up some nice shots. In the end though It is more an inconvenience rather than anything else, and maybe I will eventually figure out what settings to adjust or another a way around it.
With that, I leave you with my 4k video of Paris. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, a bit of crappy weather, and my rather narrow-minded focus on documenting the trip via 4k video, I was unable to create a new photo for my "Living Out of a Suitcase" series in Paris.
Furthermore, as a city that recently just underwent some pretty messed up terrorist attacks, I figured that some bearded guy laying in the grass sticking his arms and/or legs through some sort of nondescript suitcase at the Eiffel Tower or Louvre would probably attract some unwanted attention. With good reason, I look ridiculous whenever I am creating the photographs for that series. I did not feel like explaining to any of the military guys or gals walking around holding assault rifles what exactly it was that I was doing. Hopefully next trip and in better times, Paris.
Last Friday my friend Ziggy and I decided to take a small trip to Amsterdam to not only walk around testing out our, collectively, three recently purchased cameras, but to also find places that were named after us and pose in front of them. We were ultimately successful at both of these hair-raising adventures and I am positive that the following text detailing those exploits will keep you on the edge of your seat. [WARNING: this statement is not guaranteed]
For the latter mission we resourcefully employed our iPhone's, while for the former we had a few choices namely my Panasonic LX100 and Ziggy's Nikon D700 and Fujifilm x100. All photo's seen here, except for the extremely flattering photo's above, were shot using my Panasonic LX100. I also used the LX100 to shoot the 4k video below.
With that said, if by any chance you hoped that this post would be about any other camera besides my Panasonic LX100 and about it's 4k video capabilities (and maybe a few pretty photos too), then I suggest you turn away now and throw your laptop/smartphone out of the nearest window in a fury; because this will be the last time you see words "Nikon D700" or "Fujifilm x100" in this article. If you do not care at all about any of my ramblings over the video, camera, and day then you can just scroll through the pretty pictures while skipping to the bottom for the embedded video. No body will be the wiser!
Still here? Excellent.
The video at the bottom of this post was shot entirely handheld and made over a several hour long period of random wandering around Amsterdam Centraal, parts of the infamous Red Light District, Dam Square, and wherever else that tickled our fancy. There is no usual obligatory "IAMSTERDAM" sign footage, photo's, or anything like that that... So sorry if you were hoping to see that in the video. This was mostly due to the fact that we were too lazy to head that far south. Even for the sake of art apparently.
As per the typical Friday in Amsterdam we saw a bunch of interesting characters...
... and plenty of heavily bundled up tourists and locals... even though it was a Spring day, albeit a rather cold one. You have got to love Dutch weather.
We wandered and photoed/videoed our way through a decent portion of the center of Amsterdam, but while we were walking through the actual red light, ladies-of-the-evening portion of the Red Light District I did not really attempt to capture much footage or photo's. This was mostly due to the fact that — while I would never actually photograph or video any of these gainfully employed women anyways — Ziggy had just finished telling me a story of a friend of his who was caught by a woman thinking he was making photographs of her. This inevitably resulted in an expensive camera taking a refreshing swim inside of a bike-infested Amsterdam canal. Needless to say, I was not at all enthusiastic about the idea of accidentally being blamed for the same thing and parting ways so soon with my LX100.
So enough about the other stuff, here is some more about the camera because I love the LX100's portability and the photo's and video's that it produces. Previously, I carried my Canon 5D Mark III or Rebel T2i whenever I could with a relatively small 40mm f/2.8 pancake or 24mm f/2.8 lens on either, respectively, to try to keep the weight down as much as possible, but even that was often a pain to carry around during the times that I desired to travel more lightly.
This was even more true for whenever I wanted to use either of those as a daily carry camera. That actual occurrence was extremely rare and I would usually op for one of my pocketable film cameras instead, but I am not made of money so the film ends up being a bit too costly to purchase, develop, scan, and print. Because of this my film photography is, unfortunately, a more special occasion kind of thing.
I could also go the route of using my iPhone 6 for making photo's and video's, but it just takes all of the fun out of it whenever you are not actually holding a camera and able to adjust settings, and because of that I will more often miss a cool photo opportunity rather than use my phone. I can not say that I am personally a big advocate of "iPhotography", or whatever the kids these days are calling it. This doesn't mean that it doesn't work for other people, but it is just not my thing. Unless of course that involves me making slow-motion videos of squirrels climbing my leg to eat from my hand... but that is beside the point and a different story.
With that said, the LX100 has been the answer to both of those dilemmas by producing beautiful digital images and still being small enough to serve as an everyday carry camera. While it does not exactly slip in a pants pocket, it can easily fit into a many a jacket pocket with little to no issue (and I wear those quite often here, as a native Texan the concept of a "summer jacket" was initially extremely foreign to me). Because of these reasons I find myself carrying my camera more often and that allows me to capture more photographs than I usually would if I just had my iPhone. It is the best of both worlds and everybody wins! Well... mostly me, but I believe that this time it is actually the point.
If I recall correctly there is a saying that is something like "the best camera is the one that you always carry on you", and this camera has allowed me to do just that. Again, the photo's and video's that this camera produces are excellent in both RAW and right-out-of-the-camera JPEG formats. All of the photo's seen here were shot in RAW and received some minor post-production lovin'. I will not write too much about the quality of the photo's and video beyond this because I believe that the photo's and video's can better showcase that than anything I can say.
If you would like to see more of my photo's from the LX100 before your 4k viewing experience then please feel free to distract yourself a wee bit longer by viewing these examples below:
As a potential spoiler alert, variations of three of the above photos were also used in the video from that day. So with that said, here is finally what I am sure you all likely came here to see!
AMSTERDAM IN 4K | LX100
Anyways, thanks for making it this far and I hope you enjoyed the photographs and video! Check back soon for more updates.