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AF-S Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Istiklal Caddesi

Istanbul (Turkey). Thousands and thousands of people walk day&night along the popular Istiklal Caddesi (Street), the main pedestrian street in Istanbul, characterised by the old tram back and forth between Taksim Square and Tunel.

[UPDATE] On March 19th 2016, Istiklal Caddesi has been shocked by a terrorist attack, which has killed five people – including a suicide bomber – and wounded 36. For those who have walked at least once time along this street, loving its shops and its 24/7 life, it’s difficult to forget the incredible energy that it transmits. But now that this iconic place has been bloodily raped, I want to use this image taken some years ago to remind everyone – especially terrorists – that this is Istanbul, and their bombs will never stop this city. Never!

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Paris By Night

Paris (France). I have been capturing photos of Paris for years; and every time I try to find different angles to give my very personal view of probably the most photographed city in the world. But I must confess that the landscape from the Montparnasse Tower is amazing, albeit quite popular among photographers (especially amateurs).

I love to go there in summer, when days are longer and the sunset is around 11 PM: a long-exposure photo will present some traces of pinkish daylight behind the Tour Eiffel and the skyline of La Defense, contrasting in this case with dark clouds coming over the city with heavy rains.

I have read on some newspapers and magazines that photographing the Tour Eiffel is prohibited, since the most iconic monument of Paris is protected by copyright. Some others say that only its lighting is protected, or even only the glittering lighting that happens every 15 minutes. I don’t know, and I find the debate quite ridiculous to be honest. What I know is that I love this photo – even though I got frozen when I took it, because the terrace is obviously very high and the place is windy – and I’m happy that it’s now my most popular image on Flickr

 

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La Ville-Lumière (La Defense)

Paris (France). Paris is often referred as “La Ville Lumière” (the “City of Light”) for its key role during the Age of Enlightenment. But to me Paris is also the city of sunsets: a different way to interpretate the word “Lumière”…

I love – when I’m in Paris and I have time – to climb up to the terrace at the Arc de Triomphe, watching the skyline of La Dèfense from there. When I can even choose the time of my visit, I prefer of course the sunset (I love the Parisian summer sunsets, when the sun goes down very late) and I remain hypnotised and mesmerised by the landscape. Sometimes the sky gets coloured with a lovely warm orange tone, which creates a very nice contrast with the tall buildings at the end of the Avenue de la Grande Armée and Avenue Charles de Gaulle. Despite the long distance (more or less 4 or 5 kilometres in line) the majesty of the buildings make this complex look like it is much closer to the downtown.

And turning back of 180 degrees, there’s the rest of Paris with its low houses and regular roofs: another nice contrast that makes the terrace of the Arc de Triomphe a “must-dos” in Paris.

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The Tree Goats (On The Way From Marrakesh to Essaouira)

Marrakesh (Morocco). “I will show you a tree of goats!” – this is what my guide told me, on our way from Marrakesh to Essaouira. “A tree of goats?” – was my question – “What’s a tree of goats?”. I thought it was another one of the typical jokes that guides normally do to their customers. But kilometer after kilometer, I was getting more and more curious… “A tree of goats? Simply ridiculous, it’s impossible!”.

Of course the photo demonstrates that yes, a “tree goats” exists, it’s real and it was not a joke – at all!

Along the road connecting Marrakesh and Essaouira (but apparently in many other places in the western part of Morocco) it is frequent to see Argan trees, on which goats love climbing and eating. Although this scene can be very funny and folklorist, someone says that goats represent a serious threat for Argan trees and for those economies based on products prepared with Argan fruits (such as oils, creams, soaps etc.), especially because tourism has increased this phenomenon. Goatherds probably raise much more money from tourists taking photos of their “funny goats” climbed on Argan trees, than from milk and cheese produced by the same goats on the ground (and it’s definitely less complicated and tiring). But I hope it will remain something limited to tourists driving from Marrakesh to Essaouira – and for the jokes of Moroccan touristic guide.

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Storks at the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh

Marrakesh. The Dutch painter Adriaen Matham defined the seventeenth century El Badi Palace as “a wonder of the world”. It seems this place was not only majestic in terms of dimensions (there were pools and many other palaces inside it) but also incredibly sumptuous thanks to its decorations with gold, marble and mosaics. The name itself in Arabic means “The Incomparable”, just in order to show its ambitions.

However, visiting the El Badi Palace today, it’s a bit hard to imagine it as described above. There are just some courtyards remaining, so the main characteristic of this place is its perimeter walls hosting many storks. These animals are very respected by people in Marrakesh also thanks to the prayer-like prostration when at rest; Berbers themselves believed that storks are actually transformed humans, and according to the local law the offence of disturbing a stork can carry a three-month prison sentence.

Preparing this photo for my blog, I particularly remembered that when I visited the El Badi Palace, it was terribly hot, but after all Marrakesh at the end of June is not exactly a very easy place to walk around.


Marrakesh. Il secentesco Palazzo El Badi fu definito dal pittore olandese Adriaen Matham “una meraviglia del mondo”. Pare che fosse un luogo non solo imponente come dimensioni (con piscine e altri palazzi al suo interno) ma anche incredibilmente sfarzoso grazie alle sue decorazioni in oro, marmo e mosaici. Il nome stesso in Arabo significa Palazzo Incomparabile, così per dare un’idea delle sue ambizioni.

A guardarlo oggi, non si riesce a immaginarlo come descritto sopra. Rimangono giusto alcuni cortili, per cui la principale caratteristica sono i muri perimetrali che danno ospitalità a numerose cicogne. Questi animali sono tenuti in grande considerazione dalla popolazione di Marrakesh anche grazie alla posizione che assumono quando si riposano, molto simile a quella di un fedele in preghiera. Gli stessi Berberi credevano che le persone alla loro morte si trasformassero in cicogne e pare ci sia persino una legge che prevede fino a tre mesi di carcere per chi maltratta questi animali.

Mentre preparavo questa foto per il blog, mi sono ricordato che quando ho visitato il Palazzo El Badi era un caldo infernale, ma del resto Marrakesh a fine giugno non è esattamente un posto facile da girare.

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