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Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH

Commuting Life in Milan

Milan (Italy). Tonight I was going through my photo catalog, and I noticed this image I took some weeks ago when I was on a tram in Milan – I like jumping on a tram with my camera, standing in the back of the coach and photographing life inside and outside – and I was passing from the same crossing where I met a nice juggler (I already wrote a post about him).

Well, I shouldn’t explain my photographs and everyone should have personal and intimate feelings watching an image. For the same reason I shouldn’t explain why I liked this photo… I can only say that I could find something interesting in it, especially in the tram coming from the other direction completing the composition. I imagined about commuting, about moving every day from one point to another, about how life goes on, both inside and outside the tram – the same environment where I was when I took this photo. Trams are like cinemas, there’s always a movie outside and people should try not to get used to the daily show.

For this reason I always have a camera with me: if I think about the world around me as a huge circus (as it is, indeed) or a cinema, there always will be something interesting to photograph. Here we are: this is the reason why I found this photo interesting: because in its normality – in its routine, typical of commuters – it describes something that at my eyes can be perceived as special. And in my opinion, this somehow can be considered as a big privilege.

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Vanke Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 (by Daniel Libeskind)

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

Many so called “starchitects” have been involved in the design of pavilions. The red one here is the Vanke pavilion and it has been designed by the famous architect Daniel Libeskind.

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At Christmas Time, We Let in Light and Banish Shade (Florence, 2015)

Florence (Italy). I took this photo last Saturday, when I was walking around Florence enjoying the city where I was born. Exactly one year ago I took the same photo and I posted it with the same title! Perhaps, now that Photographing Around Me is going through its second year of life, I should consider carefully what I posted in the past to avoid the risk of being repetitive…

However, I have been feeling something for this photo since the moment I prepared its composition, trying to include the carousel, the tree and the illuminated building – all of them symbols of Christmas and typical of this period; and I even used it as a cover of my Facebook profile (by the way, feel free to follow me if you want, it’s open to everyone and I use it mainly to share my blog’s posts and some other photos).

Why this photo is so important to me?

Both when I was capturing it, as well as when I was editing and preparing it for the blog, some words came to my mind:

… It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid

At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy …

I guess it won’t take too much time remembering the song’s lyrics these words are coming from (however, just in case…). And I found these words incredibly appropriate, considering the hard times we are going through and what’s happening in the world. So, I truly hope that this Christmas – not only for believers – will come into our lives spreading these exact words and teaching us how to smile. Again.

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Istanbul Under the Snow (Welcome to My World)

Istanbul (Turkey). This end of 2015 has been magic for those who were in Istanbul! Since December 30th, a generous snowfall has been covering the city with a thick white layer, changing completely the landscape – and not only, considering that even the “city’s sound” is different. I was walking around Istanbul with some friends and of course my camera, and the last day of the year we took the advantage of not too many people around visiting Sultanahmet to head – in my case one more time – to one of my favorite places ever: Hagia Sophia.

As written in one of my previous posts, there is a small window at the first floor of this wonderful Church Mosque Museum: from there, the view is breathtaking because it’s possible to admire both the domes of Hagia Sophia and those of the Blue Mosque with its minarets; such a perfect postcard of Istanbul! But this time was different: everything was so incredibly white, magic, poetic, muffled. It is impossible to described this situation with words, I wish I could do it with this image.

And for photography geeks, this photo made me also reach the conclusion that “my world” is more and more at 28 mm… What does it mean? Since July, I’m travelling and using almost always my Leica Q camera, with a fantastic 28 mm Summilux lens. There’s nothing to do: this is MY LENS, this is my focal distance, this is the perfect extension and the ideal angle of my eyes. So, like it or not, if you wanna follow me, you must get prepared to see more and more the world – my world – at 28 mm! Oh yes, welcome to my world!

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The Other Side Of The Camera

Ortisei (Italy). Let’s break the rules: for the first time since the beginning of Photographing Around Me, I decided to host not “a photo of mine”, but “a photo of me”. It’s quite unusual because, to be honest, I’m not so comfortable on the other side of the camera – it’s weird, isn’t it? – therefore taking a photo of me is possible only when I’m not aware of it. For example, when I’m concentrated on doing something else; for example, taking a photo (what a new!)…

The author of this portrait is my adorable wife. And to make it she used … ehm, I’m sorry to tell you … an iPad! The location is the amazing spot of the Dolomites, surrounding the Gardena Valley above Ortisei: here I’m taking a photo of the great landscape around me, with my beloved Leica Q camera.

Actually there are around 430 posts published: one photo of me on 430 posts is still acceptable…

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Woman at the Musée Du Quai Branly, Paris

Paris (France). Walking around a museum for me does not mean only watching an exhibition: I always bring my camera with me, and I like to shoot photos of people. In a certain sense, I like to see the artworkts through their eyes.

I remember – long time ago – when I was visiting a museum I used to capture images of paintings and sculptures: at the end, in terms of photographic experience, it was a nonsense. Why should I take a photo of La Gioconda at the Louvre museum? Most probably it will not be perfectly straight, there will be someone between the painting and my camera, and the final result will be affected by the reflection of the light against the protective glass. And the same is valid for basically every museum or exhibition around the world.

So, what should I do in a museum with a camera? The answer – as said – is simple: I see art through people’s eyes. In this perspective, the merge (or the overlap) of a masterpiece with the emotion it creates on those watching it, is far beyond the simply beauty. There’s an emotion, an experience, something that – for this simple reason – becomes unique and exclusive.

And, last but not last, photographing art in a crowded museum is frustrating, whereas photographing people is always exciting.

For this photo I used my new travel companion, which performs amazingly in low light conditions…

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Sunrise at La Défense, Paris

Paris (France). Early wake-ups are never very welcome, especially when I have to catch a plane. But there’s an exception: it’s when they make you experience (and photograph) such a beautiful sunrise!

This morning I was at La Dèfense – a large suburb of Paris – and I was walking around my hotel to breath fresh air before going to some meetings: when I turned my head toward Paris from the Esplanade de la Défense, I remembered when some weeks before I took this image posted here, and I immediately surfed my archive to find and share it here in my photoblog. I still have in mind when I saw this scene: I was literally impressed because it was early December (there’s a Christmas decoration) and despite the tragic terrorist attacks happened few weeks earlier, which put the city in a sort of deep chaos, I remember that everything in that exact moment was incredibly calm, relaxing, charming. The reflection of these thin lampposts on the fountain’s water was close to perfection, and the color of the sky was going from an intense blue (still with some memories of the night that was going to finish) to a warm orange announcing a fantastic sunrise – as it effectively was few minutes later.

Probably someone is curious to know how this same landscape was today… well, definitely not the same, unfortunately: cloudy and foggy, very annoying. However, this situation makes me think about another great strengths of photography, when watching something of already seen, brings your mind to the same place but in a much better situation, creating intense emotions…

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Landscape of Istanbul from the Suleymaniye Mosque

Istanbul (Turkey). I’m a bit worried: maybe I’m sick?

Ok, let me serious, since my parents and relatives could read this sentence and get scared… I’m joking of course! And I’m perfectly healthy – I have some kilos to loose though, perhaps I spend too much time blogging my photos and I do not run enough. Anyway, the point is that out of 8 posts in January (including this one), 7 (some 90%) are about Istanbul! So, the conclusion is only one: I’m sick of Istanbul, meaning that I’m totally crazy for this city and I’m loosing control in photo-blogging about its places, landscapes and situations… This is my problem, and I do not want to find a cure 🙂

Probably the two snowfalls that hit the city this January are responsible for my situation, but I found that everything – including places where I have been several times before – when covered with snow was irresistibly beautiful!

This one posted here, for example. I have seen this landscape of Istanbul from Suleymaniye Mosque an uncountable number of times: I love these small domes of the former “preparatory school” (in Turkish, mülazim) gently degrading down toward the sea; and I could stay hours watching the Galata Tower dominating the Golden Horn (Haliç) and the Karakoy peninsula. But the scene is covered by the snow, it’s completely different – not to mention the fact that all around is silence (but – I’m sorry – photography cannot represent noises yet).

The weather forecasts bulletin says it’s going to snow again: I recommend all photographers to prepare their cameras and lenses, and to include the Suleymaniye Mosque in their photo-tour around Istanbul…

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Monaco and Italy Pavilions at Expo Milano 2015

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

This image has been taken from the terrace at the Russia Pavilion and shows a landscape with Monaco Pavilion, Italy Pavilion and – on the right – the “Albero della Vita” (Tree of Life).

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The Rear Window (10 Corso Como)

Milan (Italy). This is a photo of 10 Corso Como courtyard facade, and it is a typical residential architecture typology in Milan. I went there last Saturday because I wanted to visit the 2016 World Press Photo Exhibition at the Galleria Carla Sozzani.

I’m not a very big fan of 10 Corso Como Cafe, and I normally does not visit the shop – it’s definitely not my style. But I do love the bookshop, probably one of the best place in Milan where to find interesting books and magazines about art, photography, architecture and design. And, of course, I love the many exhibitions hosted here.

As said, the reason of my Saturday visit was the 2016 World Press Photo Exhibition. The World Press Photo today is one of the most prestigious contest in the field of photo journalism and reportage, and the current Syrian war – with its dramatic migrants crisis – inspired several photographers this year. I must admit that I was shocked by some images, they literally opened my eyes on this tragedy, and during my visit I thought frequently about the huge responsibility that photo reporters had in the course of history – and still have (probably even more than in the past) nowadays.

From the beginning of photojournalism, facts became stories thanks to photographers, which frequently put their lives at risk to give everyone the possibility of being informed and develop her own consciousness. “We see, we understand. We see more, we understand more”: I think it’s true, although manipulation is always just behind the corner…

One of my favorite book – “Slightly about Of Focus” by Robert Capa – has probably changed my way to interpret, live and enjoy photography. It’s a fantastic book – an autobiography – talking about Capa’s experiences on assignment for Collier’s magazine with the Allied Forces following (and photographing) the World War II. He’s generally recognized as “the century’s greatest battlefield photographer” (this definition was created by John G. Morris, Magnum Photos’ first executive editor), but the book shows also his life of human being, with his failures, difficulties and – of course – fears.

For this reason, visiting the World Press Photo’s Exhibition, I tried to put myself not only in the position of the subject, as it normally happens; but also in the position of “the one behind the camera”, trying to get – for each shot – the feeling of the author in that exact moment. Was s/he conscious that s/he was capturing history? Was s/he aware that – by definition – he was telling the truth (in a world in which truth is more and more a chimera?). And – most important – was s/he feeling the great responsibility embedded in that action?

Obviously, I could not answer to all those questions and I left the exhibition with a knot in my stomach. Leaving 10 Corso Como, when I took my camera to capture this image published here, I understood how easy is life for photographers like me…

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