Surprisingly compact and ridiculously beautiful, Florence, the capital of Tuscany truly deserves its “open air museum” nickname. The architecture in the city centre reminded me of Paris but for the absence of cars and scooters. Florence is a very walkable city. A lot of photography of Florence is very Duomo based and that’s the case everywhere where there are small number of “iconic” sights (think Paris and the Eiffel Tower) but looking back at the images that I made in Florence after I left I realized that mine too were quite Duomo and Ponte Vecchio based. I guess I will have to go back and mix things up a bit :))
I’m currently lucky enough to be traveling in Italy and France for the next couple of months. I will make more detailed posts after the trip but in the meantime will post some images to join the dots of my itinerary.
I kicked off my tour in Venice, a spectaculalrly beautiful city that truly has to be seen to be believed. Despite it’s beauty Venice is a bit of a challenge to photograph. Getting angles and compositions that are pleasing is sometimes difficult and other than dawn and dusk there is the ever present sensor dust, I mean fellow tourists. There are of course beautiful images to be made there.
From Venice I caught my first Italian train to Cinque Terre via Florence. Usually I don’t “do “ public transport so I was way of the journey. Things started off badly when I got accidentally locked in a toilet at Venice train station. Yelling “signore, SIGNORE, for the attendant finally got me freed from my unfortunate prison just in time to catch my train.
Things went from bad to worse at a train change in Sarzana, a small station apparently in the middle of nowhere, when my bag set off some kind of detector that a Carabinieri waved over it. I quickly drew the attention of four or five police toting enough firepower to invade a small country. They asked me if I would open my bag for them. I looked at their guns and quickly complied. Perhaps there is an increase in middle aged, slightly overweight white photographers causing mischief in Italy, I’m really not sure. Next was a request for my “documents” presumably in case I was an alien. My passport copied I got a slap on the back and was sent on my way. The joys of travel!
I’m now happily ensconsed in Vernazza on the Cinque Terre eating gelato and pasta while simultaneously drinking wine, in an attempt to forget the ordeal of my first Italian train trip!
Next stop Florence.
With Tet (Lunar New Year) rapidly approaching, Saigon and Vietnam are already beginning to buzz with preparations for the weeklong national holiday which climaxes in the great Tet migration of millions of people traveling back to their home towns to spend the holidays with their families.
One of the many traditions of Tet that is particularly pleasing is women donning Ao Dai, the national traditional dress, and hitting the streets for photo’s to commemorate the end of one year and the beginning of another. Natural Vietnamese beauty in all it’s forms is on display in the lead up already. I made a few indicative frames in Saigon last weekend, it is after all, difficult to resist!
This year Tet will run from Friday 1st February until Sunday 10th February with life slowly returning to normal after that.
I’ve been super busy traveling and shooting and not blogging too much lately. It’s easy to think that as photographer’s we need to visit exotic locations around the world to get good pictures. But there are always photo’s to be made wherever we are, it’s just a matter of seeing them. Returning home to my apartment building from a shoot recently I noticed some decent cloud around the Landmark 81 building, the tallest building in South East Asia, which was recently completed opposite my building and perhaps a kilometer away. I dropped a tripod and shot a long exposure image (below) with a 10 stop neutral density filter. The process took all of five minutes from the ground floor of my building. There is always a picture to be made!
I particularly enjoyed making some long exposure pictures in both Portugal and Paris earlier this year. Paris, in particular, using the Seine River as a setting yielded some pleasing results. In an effort to keep my gear and travel weight to a minimum all of these shots were made with a Canon 5D Mark iii body and a Canon 24/105mm f4.0 L series sense. For camera stabilization I mounted onto a large Gorilla Pod with a ball head. This set up worked fine provided there was a stable object nearby to set the tripod on. A selection of my favorite longs are below.
Last stop on my inaugural European Tour 2018 was Paris. Before I left on this trip my daughter told me that Paris would change my life, and it did. To call a place a "shooting gallery" as some photographers do I find distasteful, but in Paris there is a picture EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK. From the sublime architecture expressed in its monuments, museums and notable buildings and parks to the stunning yet every day street scenes to the people with their Parisienne style and openness, to spend time in Pais as a photographer is to be in nirvana. I had a week there and wish that it was longer, in fact, like a lot of people who visit the city of light I'm plotting on how I might live there! I stayed in a hotel in Montparnasse which was a short, downhill ten minute walk to Saint Germain, the Seine River, the Louvre and all that the Ile de la Citi has to offer. I have chosen more photographs then usual and I'm not sure that my selection still gives a cross section of my experience in this beautiful city.
My next, and last, blog post from this trip will include some long exposure photography in both Paris and Portugal. Stay tuned.