Out of limitations comes creativity...
As photographers we cannot capture every opportunity. I like to limit my choices to 'force' myself to be more creative. With a 35mm or 50mm lens I HAVE to find better compositions and I CANNOT photograph everything I would with a 18-300mm. This constraint makes me rehearse my compositional techniques and pushes me to up my game. This doesn't come without any frustrations of course, but oftentimes photography is a frustrating game.
I have posted a few photos of Tuscany recently, but I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world so it is time to start posting about Paris too!! The road that used to be along the river Seine has been closed definitely to become a place of leisure for pedestrians and cyclists. Many pop-up bars have sprung along the quay (some are charging exorbitant prices!!) but there are still green parts where you can come with a few friends, a few bottles of rosé and some food.
You can watch a quick video from the official website: www.paris.fr/rivesdeseine
Just 20 years ago My Heart Will Go On, the title song of the 1997 blockbuster 'Titanic' became a huge hit worldwide. The main star of the movie was a very large diamond called 'The Heart of the Ocean'. Today, I am posting a photo of the heart of Tuscany.
Deep analogy here!
Finding the right spot to photograph sunset is always a challenge. It's often luck - be at the right place at the right time. Being in Tuscany it seemed obligatory to make the effort to capture this beautiful moment when the sun shines its last rays through the golden warm air. I am not a landscape photographer - I am clearly not patient enough for it.
We'd been driving back and forth for half an hour trying to find the 'right' spot, in vain. During our search we took every little paths off the main road hoping it would lead us to this magical place we were imagining. Finally, the time was up; we had to stop or we would miss sunset completely. We turned off and took a path that seemed to climb up. The path became a dirt road and after a few minutes we arrived at an old building. Not a farmhouse, something bigger, better kept with a big gate.
The gate was wide open. An inviting place we thought. A whispered 'Hello' got us no response. Fine, we thought; nobody's there to tell us to keep off the site. No signs, no mad barking dogs; the place is safe. We entered the property which looked like a place that welcomes visitors, except that there were no visitors. With hindsight it looked like a place that welcomed lost visitors who would remain lost forever!
In through the gate, we entered and quietly walked through this beautiful, manicured garden with expressive statues who could have had cameras instead of eyes. Sunset was about to take place at the back of the house. What was this house? A fort? Not enough defensive features. A convent? Quiet and eery, but too open for that. Mr Grey's home? We may experience the dungeon soon enough...
We turned left twice after the statue and ended behind the house on a sort of terrace with a wall, facing the hills of Tuscany. We didn't see or didn't hear anyone so we decided to stay for a little while and watch the spectacle. A cat joined us. He/she was very affectionate clearly wanting to be the centre of attention. So, I made the cat the main subject of my photos.
A few minutes later we heard someone coming home. We saw a woman at a window. I think she understood we were harmless. When sunset was over, we said goodbye to the cat and left quietly. The woman opened her window and called the cat in.
This is one of the most iconic views in Tuscany and one that is very much liked by photographers around the world. It is a little bit of a hike to get there but a very nice walk. The way back up the hill is a different story.
This is one of the many beautiful and picturesque views on the road between Siena and Pienza. Here, the sky adds intensity to the dramatic landscape. The heart of Tuscany is surrounded by hills and mountains which traps clouds. The weather is very changeable, very quickly. Hence the reason why Tuscany is a wine region.
Cypresses are big in Tuscany. Big in the sense that they are very important, very symbolic. The heart of Tuscany is filled with cypresses, particularly around the Val D'orcia, a whole valley declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is made of gentle, cultivated hills.
The Etruscans were the first to introduce the cypress tree in Tuscany. It was, and still is, a symbol between earth and heaven, which is why we can find cypress trees near cemeteries. In the Middle Ages, noble families used to plant a cypress tree when a baby girl was born, as a good omen for her fertility.
In Tuscany, many cypress trees were planted along Via Francegina, a road that comes from France and used by pilgrims traveling Europe on their way to Rome. Since they were visible from afar, they were used as 'road signs'. One tree indicated a rest area, two meant a place to eat, and three a place to sleep.