Obsessed by Geometries

Tbilisi (Georgia). Can geometry be an obsession? Can someone be addicted to find the perfect line of symmetry in whatever is in front of his eyes? I’m talking about myself: I must admit that I’m quite obsessed by geometries, even when I do not have my camera in my hands. There’s a sense of self-confidence in the perfection of geometries, something that relaxes my eyes and my mind.

I was crossing the famous Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. It’s a pedestrian bridge, designed by Michele De Lucchi, a famous Italian architect. This bridge is characterized by a very geometric structure made of glass and steel, and my concentration was immediately captured by this ceiling. I decided to develop this image in black & white because I wanted to stress the shape of the structure against the sky and to make it look like a net that captures the observer – being or not obsessed by geometries.

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Luis I Bridge in Porto

Porto (Portugal). Few days after my post on the Arab Room at Palácio da Bolsa, I’m happy to share another photo taken in Porto: it’s one of the city’s symbols, the marvelous bridge “Luis I” (or, in Portuguese, “Ponte Dom Luís I”), which crosses the Douro river with its 172 meters and two decks (the upper one for the light metro train, and the lower one for cars), connecting Riberira with Jardim do Morro and the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar.

Perhaps it’s because I’m (still) a civil engineer, but I’m always fascinated by bridges. They perfectly combine elegance and functionality, easily becoming not only part of the landscape (I can think about Istanbul, for example) but also a city landmark: Ponte Vecchio in Florence is jut one of many examples; or the Millennium Bridge in London, to mention something of contemporary.

But probably one of my favorite bridge ever is this one crossing the Euphrates river: not so “architecturally” charming, but for sure very exciting to be crossed…

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Father and Son in the Mouth of the Monster (La Defense, Paris)

Paris (France). This is what happens when someone (like me) watches all the eight episodes of “Stranger Things” in two days! As I finished this series, I had to go to Paris for business, and during a pre-dinner photo-walk around La Défense, my attention was captured by this (questionable) installation, which looks like a monstrous spiral. Observing a father with his son passing through it, had triggered my fantasy and gave me the feeling that this horrible creature was going to capture two poor innocent victims, to bring them into the meanderings of the concrete skeleton.

Thankfully, shortly after I had to go to dinner…

Paris. Questo è quello che succede quando uno guarda tutti e otto gli episodi di “Stranger Things” in due giorni! Appena finita la serie, sono dovuto andare a Parigi per lavoro, e durante una passeggiata fotografica attorno a La Défense prima di cena, la mia attenzione è rimasta catturata da questa struttura artistica (di discutibile pregio) che forma una sorta di spirale mostruosa. Il vedere passare attraverso di essa un padre con un figlio, ha scatenato la mia fantasia, dandomi la sensazione che questa creatura mostruosa stesse per catturare due povere vittime innocenti per trascinarle nei meandri di uno scheletro di cemento.

Per fortuna poco dopo sono dovuto andare a cena…

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The Giants and the Girl (Casa degli Omenoni)

Milan (Italy). It’s all about motivation. What? Everything.

Yes, everything. Everything is about motivation: our whole life – without a reasonable dose of motivation – will be empty, grey, dark, senseless. Why I’m writing this? Because in the past days I’m so overloaded with things to do with my job, that my mind is totally distracted by things to do and I essentially lost my motivation for photography!

And it’s quite weird, especially because normally photography is my discharge valve for when I’m under pressure: what’s happening then? I don’t know, this time seems different. When I fly, commuting back and forth to Paris, I love reading books, especially about street photography, and I imagine myself with my Leica shooting around in incredibly stimulating environments. But it’s just imagining… The reality seems different in these days.

What I know, is that in such situations I’m extremely happy that photography is not my work. It’s already frustrating walking around me with the camera in my hand but without seeing nothing capturing my attention; I can’t imagine how it could be if I should send my shots to an agency or a customer… terrible!

Anyhow… Last Sunday, after a very tough week, I decided to take a walk around Milan. The weather was fantastic and the city during the weekend is incredibly crowded (I thought that after Expo it the situation would have been more calm, but I was definitely wrong). In such situations it’s nice walking and photographing around me, but as said my eyes were frozen and I could not see anything. The only “inspiring” moment was when I notices this little girl being observed by these huge men on the facade of “Casa degli Omenoni”, a famous palace just behind Piazza della Scala. If you want to know more about this place, this is the wikipedia page.

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Photographing Milan (Taking Off From Linate Airport)

Milan (Italy – but on the way to Paris, France). I’m a frequent flyer to Paris from Milan: usually, mine are just business trips, and unfortunately they are too short to let me walk free, photographing around Paris (the “Ville Lumiere”). For this reason, I normally don’t bring any of my cameras with me – except the Ricoh GR, which is always with me in my suit pocket.

However, some days before – when I was visiting a photographic exhibition – I noticed an old black and white picture of Milan, taken (I guessed) from an airplane. I thought at the end, that landscape deserved to be photographed, even for the simple purpose of documenting the urban development of probably the most vibrant and dynamic city in Italy.

So, while the plane was moving from the parking area to the take-off strip, I prepared my camera expressly brought to capture this image (for the occasion, I decided to use a Summarit-M 1:2.5/90 mm lens) and a few seconds after leaving the ground, I was at the to take aerial photos of Milan under me. And frankly speaking, considering the window (and the glass, which is not the highest quality one – in photographic terms), I think I can be satisfied.

Milano (Italia – ma sulla rotta per Parigi, Francia). Mi capita spesso di volare da Milano a Parigi: di solito si tratta di viaggi per motivi di lavoro, e purtroppo sono sempre talmente brevi da non darmi modo di farmi un fotografico per la Ville Lumiere. Per questo, evito di portarmi la macchina fotografica (giusto la Ricoh GR che ho sempre con me nella tasca della giacca).

Tuttavia, alcuni giorni fa mentre visitavo una mostra fotografica, ho visto una vecchia foto di Milano, in bianco e nero, scattata dall’alto (presumibilmente da un aereo). Ho pensato che alla fine, quel panorama meritava una fotografia, anche per il solo fatto di documentare il cambiamento urbanistico di quella che forse è la città più dinamica d’Italia.

E così, mentre l’aereo muoveva dal parcheggio alla pista di decollo, ho preparato la mia macchina fotografica appositamente portata per scattare questa immagine (per l’occasione ho deciso di usare un obbiettivo Summarit-M 1:2.5/90 mm) e pochi secondi dopo aver lasaciato terra, ero al finestrino che scattavo foto aeree di Milano sotto di me. E sinceramente, nonostante appunto il finestrino (il cui vetro non è certo della miglior qualità – in termini fotografici) penso di potermi ritenere soddisfatto…

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Testing the Leica M-D (Milano, Piazza dei Mercanti)

Milan (Italy). Frankly speaking, although in the post title I wrote “testing”, this was not a proper test.

First of all, because who am I to test a camera? I’m just a “passionate user of photo devices” and I intend cameras as instruments for creating positive feelings – that’s it.

Second point, because there are so many official and unofficial tests on this camera around internet, that mine would be “just another one”. Who cares of it?

Third, and probably most important aspect: what’s the sense of testing a camera that is the essence of pure photography? The sensor? Well, it’s the “usual” 24-megapixel high-resolution CMOS full-frame sensor. The screen? There’s no screen in the Leica M-D. The effects? Please, don’t make me insist…

So, all above considered and to be more precise, this was not a test: this was an experience.

Yes, the correct title should have been “experiencing the new Leica M-D”, concentrating the whole content on my feelings and emotions with this fantastic camera. And probably, the best feeling that explains what is photographing with a Leica M-D, is the same that a swimmer has when she starts swimming from shallow to deep water – does it give the idea? For a large number of photographers, the presence of a screen on the back of the camera (to review the captured images) represents a sort of comfort zone, given by the opportunity of instantaneously check what has been photographed. The new Leica M-D – let me be a bit “hard” – gives a kick to photographers’ backs, saying “ok, if you call yourself a photographer, demonstrate that you are confident enough to survive without the screen!”. On the other side, a photographer must love this kind of challenge – at least, I did!

So, I walked randomly around Milan downtown for more or less one hour. A sort of touristic tour around Piazza Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Piazza dei Mercanti, capturing photos and being exclusively concentrated on what I was doing. No distractions. No feeling a sense of accomplishment, because I had no idea of what I had captured. My eye was only on the street through the viewfinder, not down on the screen zooming-in&out to see the result of my previous clicks, and potentially risking to miss another shot (I guess that film photographers perfectly understand). Yes, this is the true difference of the Leica M-D: with a screen camera, you constantly bear the risk of being distracted by the screen itself (eventually missing a better capture, the next – decisive – moment) and of feeling the sense of accomplishment that a photographer should never feel. With the Leica M-D, photography is a pure action, done straight forwardly to the subject, the scene, the situation.

This is my feeling. And I think I will experience it again, since I’m seriously considering to buy this camera. Yes, because – as clearly stated here in my blog’s manifesto – I buy the cameras I use, and I’m totally free to say what I think.

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(After-lunch) Sunbathing in Naples

Naples (Italy). Another photograph captured on the same afternoon and in the same place of this other one (Piazza della Vittoria, at the beginning of Via Partenope’s promenade). I must admit that Naples is a city that under the photographic point of view (and not only) offers me always so many emotions, both for its indisputable beauty, and for the people it’s possible to meet.

As I wrote in my other post, I could stay hours taking photos in these moments, which are so rich of sparks that it’s impossible not remaining completely captured by the scene and by the life happening in it. This is – I’m repeating myself – the charm of Naples, one of my favorite cities in the world.

I am from Naples so I like the mixture of drama and comedy all together (Sophia Loren)

Napoli. Una foto scattata lo stesso pomeriggio e nello stesso posto di quest’altra (Piazza della Vittoria, dove inizia il lungomare di Via Partenope). Devo dire che Napoli è una città che offre sempre tante belle emozioni dal punto di vista fotografico (e non solo), sia per la sua indiscutibile bellezza, ma anche per le persone che si possono incontrare.

Come scrivevo nell’altro post, queste sono situazioni in cui potrei stare ore a fotografare: sono momenti così ricchi di spunti che è inevitabile rimanere completamente catturati dalla scena e dalla vita che in essa si svolge. Ed è proprio questa – lo ribadisco un’altra volta – la magia di Napoli,una delle città che amo di più in assoluto.

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Milan (Italy). I captured this photograph today during my lunch break. I found the curiosity of this group of children for the fountain of Piazza Castello, something of very poetic. That’s it.

Milano. Scattata oggi in pausa pranzo: ho trovato la curiosità di questo gruppo di bambini per la fontana di Piazza Castello molto poetica. Fine.

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Singing a Peace Song (Hiroshima 70th anniversary)

Hiroshima (Japan). Today it’s the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, that destroyed more than two thirds of the city killing 70,000 people instantly, with an unknown final death toll.

I visited Hiroshima exactly five years ago: I arrived there very few days after the 65th year celebrations, and I was honestly surprised by this place, which was the protagonist of one of the most horrible episodes in the world history. I was – as said – surprised because I realised that everything in Hiroshima was talking about “peace”: the most famous landmark is the Peace Memorial (commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome), which is also part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, memories are conserved at the Peace Memorial Museum, and the Flame of Peace (designed by Kenzo Tange) burns continuously days and nights since it was lit in 1964 and it will remain lit until all nuclear bombs on the planet are destroyed and the planet is free from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Yes, “peace”. Walking around Hiroshima – one more time – the most common word is “Peace”. I found in it a very strong message for all of us: a message of hope and forgiveness, something that will be inherited by future generations, something that is difficult to imagine normally, and for this reason it is even more special considering – again – the history of Hiroshima.

When during a night walk along the Ota River, I saw this young Japanese girl playing a song with her guitar, with still the word “Peace” echoing into my mind, I immediately stopped and I stood up listening to her. It was one of those moments that make a trip, and still today – when I think about Japan – the first episode that comes to my mind is this one.

I took this photo (and few others more) because I found the entire scene very symbolic: a peace song played in front of the Peace Memorial (which is mirroring itself on the river’s water surface), in the heart of a city which became an example of “pacific pride” for the rest of the world. It was a perfect moment, no need to explain more.

Today, 5 years after that my personal experience (which is still incredibly vivid in my mind and in my heart) and especially 70 years after that tragic day – when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” killed hundreds of thousands of people – I like to think about Hiroshima in this way, and like its citizens I want to share my humble but heart-felt message of hope and peace.

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