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Leica Q

Estonia and Russia Pavilions at Expo Milano 2015

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

This is the Estonia Pavilion from the terrace of Russia Pavilion.

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Istanbul Under the Snow (Welcome to My World)

Istanbul (Turkey). This end of 2015 has been magic for those who were in Istanbul! Since December 30th, a generous snowfall has been covering the city with a thick white layer, changing completely the landscape – and not only, considering that even the “city’s sound” is different. I was walking around Istanbul with some friends and of course my camera, and the last day of the year we took the advantage of not too many people around visiting Sultanahmet to head – in my case one more time – to one of my favorite places ever: Hagia Sophia.

As written in one of my previous posts, there is a small window at the first floor of this wonderful Church Mosque Museum: from there, the view is breathtaking because it’s possible to admire both the domes of Hagia Sophia and those of the Blue Mosque with its minarets; such a perfect postcard of Istanbul! But this time was different: everything was so incredibly white, magic, poetic, muffled. It is impossible to described this situation with words, I wish I could do it with this image.

And for photography geeks, this photo made me also reach the conclusion that “my world” is more and more at 28 mm… What does it mean? Since July, I’m travelling and using almost always my Leica Q camera, with a fantastic 28 mm Summilux lens. There’s nothing to do: this is MY LENS, this is my focal distance, this is the perfect extension and the ideal angle of my eyes. So, like it or not, if you wanna follow me, you must get prepared to see more and more the world – my world – at 28 mm! Oh yes, welcome to my world!

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The Juggler at Porta Garibaldi Station in Milan

Milan (Italy). It’s very hot in Italy in these days, and in Milan – like in many other cities – people are suffering the high temperatures. Even simply walking around the city is tough! For this reason I was very impressed when some days ago, during a street photography shooting around Milan with my new Leica Q, I met this juggler. His job is making people at the crossroads smile, and he was putting all his energies to do it in the best possible way (and possibly raise some money). Believe me, it was really hot and he was completely sweaty.

After his performance, I met him and we had a short conversation. He told me his story: he’s from Sao Paulo in Brasil, but his life now is in Italy, where he lives happily with his wife and daughter. He explained me that his job does not consider the weather: it can be terribly cold (as it is in winter!) or extremely hot as in these days, it does not matter. Every day his mission is taking his “monocycle”, his tools and wait for the red light to start his performance and make people smile, eventually rendering their wait at the crossroad lighter.

When I watch this photograph, I like it because it shows people smiling while looking at him and therefore they give me the impression that they are enjoying his performance. Well done my juggler friend, I’m sure we will meet again at some crossroads around Milan!

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The Wooden Chapel of Madonna della Pescheria of Portogruaro

Portogruaro (Italy). It’s the end of the year, and it’s therefore time for greetings… Some days ago I went to Portogruaro to meet some friends, and I brought my Leica Q camera, just in case… Portogruaro is a very nice old town located in the north-eastern part of Italy, across the border between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, not too far from Venice. It was quite cold and very, very foggy. And of course, I could not resist the temptation of shooting some night photos around (although my hands were freezing)…

To do this, I chose one of the most characteristic observatory points of this lovely town: it’s a chapel made of wood and dedicated to the “Madonna della Pescheria” (roughly translatable into something more or less like “Holy Virgin Mary of the Fish Market”, but I admit it’s a bit funny). Here, the Lemene river moves the wheel of two old watermills, before heading to the Lagoon of Caorle where it meets the Adriatic Sea. The Chapel dates back to 1627 (as reported in a note on the chapel’s door) and every year there’s a traditional celebration around it, with people coming along the river with their boats, bringing gifts to the Holy Virgin Mary.

I love these hidden corners of Italy: they are able to surprise me every time. As I always say, Italy is like a precious necklace, where main cities (such as Florence, Venice or Rome) are the biggest diamonds, but small towns – like, for example, Portogruaro – are small shining gems and therefore are not less important than the more popular destinations…

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Pamukkale, the Ancient City of Hierapolis

Pamukkale (Turkey). I found some minutes to take this photo during a hectic business trip, in turn happened in a hectic period of personal issues. For this reason, perhaps it’s not my most accurate shots, but I like it for what it represents to me: some minutes of pure freedom, doing one of the things I love the most. Photographing!

To be honest, the Theater of Hierapolis – the ancient city adjacent to Pamukkale, in the Denizli province – has been in my “to do” list for a long time, but for many reasons I could not visit it before. That’s why, despite the tight schedule of a business trip in the area, I tried not to miss this opportunity. I climbed the hill where the theater is located almost running, and still panting I captured this image from the top of its tribunes. There was nobody around, it was truly magic.

Then I walked down to see the famous hot spring pools, but I think you won’t see any photo of them – not exactly what you can see on flyers and other promotional materials.


Pamukkale (Turchia). Ho trovato il tempo di scattare questa foto durante un intenso viaggio di lavoro, a sua volta capitato durante un intenso periodo di cose personali. Per questo motivo non è probabilmente il mio scatto più accurato, ma mi piace per quello che rappresenta: alcuni minuti di vera libertà in cui ho fatto una delle cose che amo maggiormente. Fotografare!

Ad essere sinceri, il Teatro di Ierapoli – l’antica città vicina a Pamukkale, nella provincia di Denizli – è stato nella mia lista di cose da vedere per parecchio tempo, ma per diverse ragioni non sono riuscito a visitarlo prima. Per questo, nonostante il fitto programma di un viaggio di lavoro nella zona, ho cercato di non mancare questa opportunità. Mi sono arrampicato su per la collina dove c’è il teatro praticamente correndo, e ho scattato questa foto dalle tribune del teatro quando ancora ansimavo. Non c’era nessuno attorno a me, era veramente magico.

Successivamente ho camminato giù verso le celebri piscine termali, ma non penso che vedrete alcuna loro foto, dal momento che non sono esattamente come nei volantini e nelle varie pubblicità.

 

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Let’s Listen to the Sound of Milan (City’s Voices, Alberto Garutti)

Milan (Italy). There are some afternoons during the weekend, in which I really love (well more then love, it’s a sort of need) to take one of my cameras, leave home and walk around randomly, without a specific destination or assignment. When I was living in Istanbul, I remember I used to go very frequently to Uskudar to take photos of people, landscapes, situations: it was a great way to fight against the stress accumulated during the week and relax a bit.

Being now in Milan, one of my favorite “walk around” areas here is the new site at Porta Nuova, with the UniCredit Tower and some other modern buildings such as the Bosco Verticale. The situation here is of course completely different from the one I was dealing with in Istanbul. In fact, photographing around Uskudar was mainly based on trying to capture the unique mix given by interesting people, a breathtaking landscape, and – sometimes – peculiar situations (to give an example: this is one of my favorite photos ever, taken on the Bosphorus seaside close to the Kiz Kulesi). Photographing around Porta Nuova and Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan is a totally different situation, and when I’m there walking around, my attention is mostly captured by the architecture, and how it can influence the behavior of people spending their time there (many people gather here for a walk).

The photo posted here is an example: it’s an interesting artwork by Alberto Garutti. Several pipes – 23, to be exact, and they look like trumpets – connecting different floors of the building, and used by people to listen to the sounds from underground. The name is “City’s Voices”, and people show to appreciate them putting their ear to listen to the soft noise coming from the other floors (as said, “underground”).

I photographed this artwork using a Leica Q camera with its wonderful 28 mm Summilux lens: the perfect angle for situations like this one (in my opinion).

 

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Landscape of Portovenere (Festa della Madonna Bianca)

Portovenere (Italy). This is a landscape of Portovenere photographed yesterday – the 17th of August – during the celebration for the White Virgin Mary (in Italian, “Festa della Madonna Bianca”). Portovenere is an ancient and lovely town, located on the Ligurian coast of Italy (designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997). Every year the local community (made by residents and tourists together) commemorates the special event occurred in 1399, when the image of the Virgin Mary appeared to the population becoming miraculously white and bright: in this anniversary, the town is decorated with hundreds and hundreds of small candles, which adorn the suggestive landscape of the Church built on the rock with the sea in the background, and the original image of the White Virgin Mary is carried along the narrow streets of Portovenere during a procession, with all the boats in the gulf honking the horn as an act of greeting.

No need to say it: this is an unmissable event for those who are around Portovenere and the Cinque Terre in this period.

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The Central Courtyard at the Palacio da Bolsa in Porto

Porto (Portugal). Yesterday I posted a photo of a nice courtyard in Milan; here today I’m posting the same subject – but this time it is from my recent trip to Porto, the second city of Portugal and one of the most beautiful one.

This sumptuous and elegant neoclassic building is the old Palacio da Bolsa (in English, the Stock Exchange Palace). It’s not used for its original scope anymore: for example, the courtyard photographed here in the past was the negotiations room, and the ceiling is decorated with the emblem of the countries with which Portugal was having commercial relationships.

However, today the Palacio da Bolsa it is still used for the meetings of the local commercial association.and for some special events. During the day, the Palacio da Bolsa opens its doors to visitors, and it is possible to walk along its corridors, as well as to visit its rooms, following a 45 minutes guided tour. I particularly appreciated the fact that during the tour I could shoot photos, and this one is one of my favorite from that visit.

The Palacio da Bolsa is located in the Infante D. Henrique Square in the historical center of Porto, and is designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

To capture this image I used a Leica Q camera: I think its 28 mm lens is very versatile and is very suitable for architecture photography (with a touch of creativity).

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At Christmas Time, We Let in Light and Banish Shade (Florence, 2015)

Florence (Italy). I took this photo last Saturday, when I was walking around Florence enjoying the city where I was born. Exactly one year ago I took the same photo and I posted it with the same title! Perhaps, now that Photographing Around Me is going through its second year of life, I should consider carefully what I posted in the past to avoid the risk of being repetitive…

However, I have been feeling something for this photo since the moment I prepared its composition, trying to include the carousel, the tree and the illuminated building – all of them symbols of Christmas and typical of this period; and I even used it as a cover of my Facebook profile (by the way, feel free to follow me if you want, it’s open to everyone and I use it mainly to share my blog’s posts and some other photos).

Why this photo is so important to me?

Both when I was capturing it, as well as when I was editing and preparing it for the blog, some words came to my mind:

… It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid

At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy …

I guess it won’t take too much time remembering the song’s lyrics these words are coming from (however, just in case…). And I found these words incredibly appropriate, considering the hard times we are going through and what’s happening in the world. So, I truly hope that this Christmas – not only for believers – will come into our lives spreading these exact words and teaching us how to smile. Again.

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Landscape of Istanbul Under the Snow

Istanbul (Turkey). It’s snowing again over Istanbul. After a magic white New Year’s Eve, another snowstorm is currently hitting the north-west of the country, causing some problems to the circulation, including ferries and airplanes (Turkish Airlines is cancelling several flights, internal and domestic).

Istanbul covered with a white layer is amazing: I know it’s pretty “normal”, and that it snows average once or twice per year, but still this event captures completely my attention and shows to my eyes a completely different city. Somehow, I have the feeling that the snow “cleans” everything and makes the city landscape more “uniform”, more regular, normalizing its irregularities and exalting the old city’s skyline with mosques and minarets.

I took this photo from the SALT Galata in Karakoy at the beginning of this year: at the top floor there’s a window with this amazing landscape. I guess it’s pretty much the same right now…

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