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

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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What’s Currently in My Bag?

Milan (Italy). Sometimes I receive message from people that are curious to know what is in my bag. They are confused – and I can understand them – because I frequently post photos taken months, if not years, before. And this contributes to their curiosity.

I’m just back from summer holidays, which is the period of the year when I stress use my cameras and lenses most. So, it is also an opportunity to test them and develop my opinion about what I have in my hands.

This blog – let me just remind it one more time – has not any purpose to test, promote or review photographic gears. There are excellent (and definitely much more popular) blogs that do it excellently. This is a blog to show and share my photos, but I understand that sometimes it can be interesting knowing what camera or lens has been used to capture a determined image.

This summer I decided to travel a bit lighter than I did in the past. While in January – during a trip around Vietnam – I brought one Nikon D810 and one Nikon Df, with only prime lenses (24, 35, 58, 105), this August I brought only the Nikon Df with one Zeiss 18, one Voigtlander 40, an old glorious Nikon 55, a 105 and a 180 together with a Leica Q. Basically, i was walking with the Leica in my hand, taking the Df out of my bag for some specific situations…

Will I remain with this configuration? Who knows… I must admit that I’m quite curious to see what Leica is doing and preparing. Some rumors talk about a new system, and I’m quite excited about this idea. At the same time, I think that the Nikon Df is still the only DSLR that can stay in my bag, and I will not replace it for another camera with the same technology.

Let’s see…

Ah, this photo has been taken with an iPhone 🙂


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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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Fishermen’s Boats in Ganh Dau, Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc (Vietnam). I remember Phu Quoc island as an “interesting mix” of wonderful places alternated to terrible spots: the island itself is beautiful and very well positioned – just in front of Cambodia. However,there are some parts that are going to be heavily compromised by new huge touristic resorts, and this is really sad to be admitted.

I was there some weeks ago, and I wanted to explore the island; therefore I headed to north to see the beach of Ganh Dau. This beach is also an important harbor for fishermen, which leave here their boats before going for fishing close to Cambodia. The atmosphere at Ganh Dau is nice, calm, and relaxed – I took this photograph to give exactly the impression I’m saying, and I used a wide angle lens to capture as much as possible of what was in front of my eyes. However, as said, resorts are really growing like mushrooms here around, and they are creating some serious threats to the island’s natural equilibrium. One of the largest resort on the island, the Vinpearl Resort, is very few kilometers from here, and it’s a brand new huge real estate development hosting a golf club, an amusement park, pools and other attractions.

The contrast between the Ganh Dau beach and the close Vinpearl resort is quite symbolic of Phu Quoc today: I really hope that this massive anthropization will not compromise the perfect atmosphere of this island, transforming this photograph as a pure and simple postcard from my memories.

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