As I am wont in everything I do, I spent a very long time to perform my photographic work. I began taking my photographs in Venice in 1973, and I stopped there in 1989, when the subject of my interest had become completely altered : Venice, and its lagoon, have no more the genuine charm of the olden days; modernity has yet invaded them.

Besides, I have never been able to work but according to my own thoughts and needs. Like my photos, this Cdrom has been made by myself - for the pleasure of making it, and in order to show other people how the ancient world was, when Nature and Man stood one in front of the other, the one and the other filled with wonders.

I did not know what I was doing, but I did do it : photos indeed, but also thoughts and little novels.

Now, there are more or less 25,000 photos of Venice and its lagoon - in colour and in black & white. Almost all were taken with 1930 Contax I Zeiss (24x36) and only with Zeiss Iena 50 mm lenses, considering the quality of such lenses, handmade in the 30's.

Nevertheless, some of my first black & white photos were taken with a Foca Sport, 45 mm lens. A very little few, with a Kodak Instamatic.

I never used professional colour films, because I am fond of blaze and pastel effects. Therefore, I preferred Kodak EH and ED 200 ASA for daylight, and EHB and ET 160 ASA for the night.

For the black & white photos, I generally used Ilford films - HP4, HP5 and later HP5+ - for a similar reason. However, in the beginning, I preferred Kodak infrared HIE, because of its unreal aspect. For some photos, I used some Kodak Microfilms for fun and few Kodak Recording films.

I scanned the photos with an Epson Perfection 1200 scanner. Therefore, I can be sure that the photos have been taken, developed and scanned without any kind of fake : no flash, no filters, no colour alterations, no multifocal lens, no mask...

Even the retouching tried to respect the soul of Venice, eliminating TV antennas or publicity placards for instance when contrasting with an antique subject.

Before going to Venice, I hardly knew anything about the place. I remember my "visiting tour" of the city - rather funny as a plan.

I had decided to arrive at night - because I am fond of night - then drive round the city and pass over the Bridge of Sighs... by car.

The reality followed somehow different. First, I had to leave my car in an informal kind of location. Then I had to boat upon an inky water, at each moment frightened of sinking. The night was dark, all around was so dark, just some poor lights lightening here and there.

Down to the quayside, I headed into small alleys and after a while stepped out into St Mark Square, without even daring to look around me, frightened as I was. Once more, I ran into alleys and finally paused near a bridge. I remember such canal - so dark, silent yet tender - and then my thought : "One can cry in Venice".

Taking photos requires good health and training.

First hurry along alleys and over bridges to get the motor of the boat, can, ropes and trolley; then run to catch the boat of the lagoon; in the end drag all that load, luggage, cameras and tripod by a bumpy track, under heavy persistent rain... Then walk by day, by night, eat standing, row, and finally, at night, when you are freezing in the wind, after long camera settings, an incidental boat that troubles the stillness of the canal for another twenty minutes wait...

Nevertheless, to me, it has always been a walking time, peaceful, calm and serene, only a walking time. I used to say : "We go to Venice just for a walk".

Taking photos requires also patience.

As already said, I used 1930 Contax Zeiss cameras, because of their marvellous lenses. A long time has been necessary to make these old cameras work. After buying them in cameras fairs, I spent about five years to fully repair them : i.e. understand their mechanism, set it, rebuild damaged parts, then calculate and reset the whole. For example, I had to have new ribbons woven to pull metal shutters and I had to remake the springs moving these shutters by finding out the ancient unique working steel; in fact, 60 hours time are needed just to clean and oil the mechanism of one camera.

Little by little, to professional work I have preferred a photographic and later writing life. All this adventure began in 1973. I was taking my first photos of Venice and I met Eleonora Mongiat; she loved them. Since then, we have worked together. She has managed the background of my photos and writings, when travelling or not travelling, carrying material, watching reflects onto lens and people in alleys, yet developing my films the last ten years, making the programme of my Cdroms, writing the texts of its comments (save WRITINGS which obviously I wrote myself, and SOME OPINIONS written by their respective authors) and retouching its photos, also correcting my writings and preparing the work for their translation.
          By the way, my photo of her has been inserted into the Lagoon in black & white page 9;
          and her photo of me into Venice by Foot in colour page 7.

An ancient Chinese tale comes back to me, telling of a friend who had offered a vase as a gift : the vase was filled with his friendship. But, one day, this friend betrayed the other; from this day on, the vase was an empty vase, and the other one threw it away. The vase was restored and admired, and great care was taken of it by everybody, for it was splendid. So, against all appearances, I did not photograph Venice, but indeed what was in it, which is no more.

With melancholy, I count the years I have not been back to Venice. I still hear Eleonora's words, when we used to leave Venice : "Venice cannot be left".

Photos remain.