Galleria Meravigli (Perhaps One Day I Will Expose at Fondazione Forma)

Milan (Italy). I come to this place – the Galleria Meravigli – more or less every time there is a new photography exhibition at the Fondazione Forma, one of the most active reality in the Italian photographic landscape and a reference point for photography lovers in Milan. Even this year I have attended several exhibitions, including one of my favorite ever: the legendary Vivian Maier.

I have selected the Galleria Meravigli some days ago, when I was walking around Milan to test the new Leica M-D camera: It was Saturday morning and there was nobody around. I liked the feeling of being a bit suspended in the past and I took some photos of people walking “over there, out of the gallery”. This is one of them…

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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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Camondo Stairs in Karakoy, Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). The Camondo Stairs (in Turkish: Kamondo Merdivenleri) are located in the Galata neighbourhood and are the result of a public service project donated to the city of Istanbul by the wealthy Jewish family Camondo. The stairs climb up from the Bankalar Caddesi (Avenue of the Banks, close to the Galata Docks n Karakoy District) to a school built by the same family. What makes these stairs very special is their hexagonal shape, which – it is said – was arranged so that if a child would slip while climbing down, the other bevel would prevent her or him from falling. In fact, these stairs were built to help Camondo’s children to reach the school and to cut down the family way to the Bankalar Caddesi.

The Camondo family was a prominent European family of Jewish financiers and philanthropists. After the 1497 Spanish decree (that ordered the expulsion of all Jews who refused conversion to Catholicism) the family settled in Venice where some members became famous by their scholarship as well as by the services they rendered to their adopted country. Following the Austrian takeover of Venice in 1798, members of the family moved to Istanbul where, despite the many restrictions imposed on all minorities, flourished as merchants. In 1802 the Camondo family founded the Isaac Camondo & Cie Bank, inherited by Abraham Salomon after his brother Isaac’s death in 1832. Abraham Salomon prospered greatly, became the prime banker to the Ottoman Empire (until the founding of the Imperial Ottoman Bank in 1863) and financially contributed to the liberation of Venice from the Austrian Empire (for this, the King of Italy Victor Emmanuel II conferred upon him the title of count, with the privilege of transmitting it in perpetuity to the eldest son of the family). He died in Paris in 1873 but, in accordance to his wishes, his remains were returned to Constantinople and were buried in the Jewish cemetery at Hasköy, a neighbourhood on the Golden Horn in Istanbul. This family is now extinct; the last descendants, Béatrice de Camondo with her two children (Fanny and Bertrand) and with her husband Léon Reinach were deported and murdered in Auschwitz from 1943 to 1945 during World War II.

The legendary Henri Cartier Bresson chose these stairs for one of his most famous photo during one of his visits to Istanbul.

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A Bottom-Up Approach

Paris (France). I cannot imagine how many people every day take this photo, probably thousands. However, it’s a very challenging shot, since you must find the exact symmetry point, stand well stable and keep the camera on a perfect horizontal plane.

In my case, it was even a bit more tough, because I was testing using the manual focus lens Nikon 55mm f/1.2 AI. It’s an old Nikon glass (it dates back to 1977, almost like me!) but I found it quite impressive in terms of sharpness and precision. And – no need to say – shooting in manual focus is something different, difficult to explain!

I’m confident this will be one of my favorite lens in my bag! I have some more shots from the same photographic tour, I will post them within the next days!

Ah, maybe you are still wondering what is represented here in this photograph: it’s a bottom-up view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris…

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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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The Lonely Passenger (Photo From Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana Station)

Reggio Emilia (Italy). A photograph quickly captured during a very short train stop at the “Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana” station. As soon as I realised that the train I was travelling with, was stopping at the high speed train station Reggio Emilia AV (AV means “Alta Velocità“, which is the Italian for High Speed), I thought it was an unmissable opportunity. Indeed, all the times I pass from this station (or close to it, such as when I drive on the A1 highway, which runs close to it) I’m really mesmerised by its futuristic architecture designed by Santiago Calatrava: the sequence of 19 modules, each of them 25 meters long and made with 25 staggered steel portals (one per meter) generates a very peculiar structure – 483 meters long – which resembles a wave and that calls to my mind the famous Bridge of Aspiration in Covent Garden – London, which connects the Royal Ballet Upper School with the Royal Opera House.

Since I was just in transit, I knew I hadn’t enough time to prepare the composition and the framing: therefore, few minutes before the train stopped, I set the camera with the settings I thought correct, and I used the available time (less than a minute) to jump down, frame the scene, focus, shoot (with the train manager looking at me doubtfully) and return on the train before it was leaving. But I must admit I had fun, so much that I hope soon I can come here again to capture photos of this infrastructure, better if with more calm and with a different light. But to be a first and faint attempt, besides with few seconds available to prepare everything, I can say that for the moment I can be happy with the final result.

Reggio Emilia. Una foto scattata “al volo” durante la breve sosta con il treno alla stazione ferroviaria “Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana“. Appena ho realizzato che il treno su cui viaggiavo si sarebbe fermato alla stazione di Reggio Emilia AV, ho pensato che si trattava di un’occasione che non dovevo lasciarmi scapapre. Infatti, le varie volte che sono passato da questa stazione (incluse quelle in cui l’ho costeggiata in macchina lungo l’autostrada A1) sono sempre rimasto molto affascinato dalla sua avveniristica architettura progettata da Santiago Calatrava: la sequenza di 19 moduli, ciascuno lungo circa 25 metri e formato a sua volta da una serie di 25 portali di acciaio sfalsati e distanziati tra loro di circa 1 metro (per una lunghezza complessiva pari a 483 m) genera una struttura molto particolare, del tutto simile a un’onda e che mi ha ricordato per certi aspetti il celebre Bridge of Aspiration di Covent Garden a Londra, che collega la Royal Ballet Upper School con la Royal Opera House.

Visto il fatto che ero in transito, non è cha avessi molto tempo per studiare la composizione e l’inquadratura: di fatto, poco prima che il treno si fermasse ho preparato la macchina con quelle che pensavo fossero le giuste impostazioni, e ho sfruttato il minuto scarso a mia disposizione per saltar giù, inquadrare, mettere a fuoco, scattare (con il capotreno che mi guardava dubbioso) e risalire sul treno prima che questo ripartisse. Ma devo dire che mi sono divertito, tanto che spero in futuro ci sia modo di tornare a fotografare questa infrastruttura, magari con più calma e con una luce diversa. Ma per essere un primo timido tentativo, oltre tutto con pochi secondi di preparazione, diciamo che per il momento posso ritenermi soddisfatto.

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Pontremoly by Night (Vietata L’Affissione)

Pontremoli (Massa Carrara, Italy). Yesterday late afternoon I was flying from Rome to Milan: let me say, it is one of the best (or at least one of the most original) way to visit Italy, especially if you chose the right-window seat (normally the “F” one) and if the sky is clear, as it was yesterday. The plane flew along its normal route, which means it followed the coast of the Tirrenian Sea from Lazio to Tuscany, and then headed to Milan. If you know a bit the geography of Italy, it will be easy to recognize landmarks like Pisa, Livorno (Leghorn), Lucca and the Versilia coast.

Anyway, when the plane was over La Spezia, it pointed directly toward Milan and flew very close to a small town called Pontremoli, I recognized it because I have there some of my family roots. I have spent there most of my childhood’s summers,and still today a piece of my heart belongs to that place and to its neighborhoods. Here you can see some of the photos that I have been taking around Pontremoli for the past years.

During the few minutes during which I flew above Pontremoli and the mountains around, somehow I thought about this photo, which was taken some days ago (with my Ricoh GR) during a pleasant night walk along the old part of the town. When I was back home, although it was quite late, I decided to develop it and to post it here in my blog. It happens to me sometimes: a place brings me back a memory to which I associate a photo, and somehow to “complete” that moment I think that there’s nothing better than reconsider that photo and post it here in my blog. It’s a sort of “fixing” something for the future, since from now on, when I will watch this photo, I will indirectly go back to my yesterday’s flight: isn’t it weird fantastic? This is another one of those magic features about photography, in my opinion.

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Wide Angle Landscape of Piazza Duomo in Milan

Milan (Italy). A photographic sequence of the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) in Milan, merged together to create a landscape prospectively anomalous, but interesting to be watched. These images have been taken from the restaurant Giacomo Arengario at the Museo del Novecento – one of my favorite places in Milan (from) where shooting photos.

Milano (Italia). Una serie di scatti in sequenza di Piazza Duomo a Milano, uniti insieme per creare una panoramica prosetticamente anomala, ma secondo me divertente da guardare. Le foto sono state scattate dal ristorante Giacomo Arengario presso il Museo del Novecento (uno dei miei posti preferiti a Milano da / in cui scattare foto)

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