AF-S Prime Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

The Imperial City, Hue

Hue (Vietnam). Normally I read two or three books in parallel, and one of them is always a book about photography. In this period I’m reading a very interesting book written by Alex Webb together with his wife Rebecca: the title is “Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on Street Photography and the Poetic Image” (no, you won’t find any link to Amazon or any other website for clear reasons written here). What I like about this book – beyond the amazing photographs by Alex Webb (I don’t like too much those from Rebecca, to be honest) – is that for each image there are some thoughts.

I cannot say that it’s the same concept of this blog, simply because my photos of course are not even comparable with those from Alex Webb. And thoughts too, definitely: mine are quite basic and much less deep than what Alex and Rebecca write. However, I find great sources of inspiration in this book, and I think it should stay on the table of each photographer.

One of the things I always think about, is the relationship about what I see and what I photograph. Said differently, when I come back from a shooting, the real image is still so alive into my mind and my eyes, that it’s almost impossible to see it in the photos I have taken. The result is a sort of frustration and disappointment because I feel the result of my work terribly distant from what I have seen, lived and experienced few hours before. And this phenomenon is – in my opinion – exacerbated by shooting digital, since it’s possible to see what has been captured almost in real time. Film photographers (here there is the interesting starting point from Webb’s book) were automatically preserved by this phenomenon, simply because there was (is) a sort of “physiological distance” between shooting and developing, so that the final result – a printed image – comes after the reality has already disappeared from my eyes.

I must confess my big limit of having started photography when digital cameras were already dominating the market: however, I’m more and more convinced that one day I should include in my bag one film camera. I already moved from big cameras with heavy zoom lenses, to something of more “basic” with prime lenses. And I’m more and more comfortable with the Leica Q, used in manual focus mode. So, the next step must be a traditional film camera… at least to protect myself from the sense of frustration mentioned above.

For those interested about this place – and why I posted this photo now: it’s a detail from the Imperial City in Hué, a lovely town in the heart of Vietnam, and a very popular touristic place (UNESCO site). I was there this January, but I share this photo only now. Why? It’s written in this post: reality was so different from the image, that it took almost one year to see (let me say, to “recognize”) that place in this image. And believe me, it was frustrating going through the gallery of photos taken that day at Hué, without finding one – just one – which was worth of sharing.


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At the Erzurum Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque)

Erzurum (Turkey). In these days I’m traveling around Turkey, and today as I finished to work I decided to have a walk along the central Cumhuriyet Caddesi in Erzurum. Along this street there are some of the most beautiful buildings of the entire Turkey, and one of my favourite is the Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque). I already had been here some years ago, so I was quite familiar with the building and the interior. But – as it happened the first time I stepped in – I was impressed by the mysticism and the sense of peace it can transmit. I sat in a corner and I looked at the few people inside: I decided then to shoot this photograph, because I thought that there was a perfect light for a perfect moment. A man was praying close to the Minbar, his small body – illuminated by a tenue light – was contrasting with the big columns and the fierce and austere interior of the building. The entire scene was unique, and I thought it was something I needed to capture…

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Landscape Of Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam). This is a landscape of the popular Ha Long Bay, in the northern part of Vietnam. Visiting this group of islands – which is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth – is a “must-do” for travelers. Unfortunately, it seems there’s a sort of “ships’ lobby”, which forces visitors to come here with two or three days cruises on expensive boats. What is frustrating – at least, to me and to my way of travelling – is the fact that every single action is determined by a rigid time schedule, which does not leave too much freedom for “doing something different” from what has been planned by organizers, like for example changing the itinerary, or staying some more minutes in a specific place.

To better explain, I took this photo of Ha Long Bay from the entrance of a very large cave (I will post some photos of it in the next days). I could spend several hours here, watching this landscape, the activities of small boats all around, or even simply the clouds moving on the sea. There was something of magic for me here, probably because I had dreamed this view for a very long time before – finally! – capturing it. And leaving this place without the feeling of having taken the image I had in my mind, was making me getting nervous, to be honest. Luckily, the final result is not so bad. But still I feel a sense of dissatisfaction watching this picture. It’s hard to explain, but “photographing around me” is not just clicking: it’s also taking my time to do it in the way I want.

Baia di Ha Long (Vietnam). Questo è il famoso panorama della Baia di Ha Long, nel nord del Vietnam. Un’escursione per vedere questo gruppo di isole – considerato da alcuni come il posto più bello del mondo – è doveroso per chi fa un viaggio in Vieetnam. Purtroppo, una specie di “lobby” delle barche costringe i visitatori a venire qui tramite costose crociere di due o tre giorni. Ciò che maggiormente mi ha infastidito, per quello che è il mio modo di viaggiare, è il fatto che ogni attività è rigidamente scadenziata, per cui non rimane molto tempo libero per fare “qualcosa di diverso” rispetto a quanto programmato dagli organizzatori (come ad esempio modificare l’itinerario o restare in un determinato posto un po’ più a lungo).

Ad esempio, ho scattato questa foto della baia di Ha Long dall’ingresso di un’enorme grotta (della quale posterò qualche foto appena possibile). Sarei stato ore a guardare questo panorama, le attività delle varie barchette, o anche solo a osservare le nuvole nel cielo. C’era qualcosa di magico qui per me, forse perchè ho veramente sognato a lungo di vedere questo posto prima di poterlo fotografare!. E andar via da qui senza la senzazione di aver scattato la foto che avevo in mente di fare, mi ha sinceramente un po’ innervosito. Per fortuna il risultato finale non è così male, ma ho ancora un senso di insoddisfazione guardando questa foto. E’ difficile da spiegare, ma “photographing around me” non è solo “cliccare”, ma anche prendersi il tempo per farlo nel modo in cui voglio.


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