Landscape of Paris from the Hotel Melia La Défense

Paris (France). Here we are: in a couple of days it will be Christmas, and with it the end of 2015 is approaching. Time flies, and the last months have been characterized by a very (too much!) hectic life… I traveled so frequently in the last period, that in few weeks I upgraded my frequent flyer status directly to gold. Almost all my trips have been to / from Paris; and almost all my stays in Paris have been limited to La Defense – which is not exactly the most exotic place in town.


The last time I was there, I spent a night at the Hotel Melia, one of the many hotels around the Esplanade de la Defense; and although it was what is normally recognized as a business hotel, there was a nice sky bar with an open air terrace. Of course, after dinner, I could not resist the temptation and I went there with my camera, looking for a stable place to put it for this long-exposure shot.

Paris has something…

It’s not my favorite city where shooting photos because – probably – it is “overphotographed” (I do not think this word exists). However, every time I see a landscape of Paris, I remain fixed in a sort of contemplation. Especially from La Defense, the city looks flat with few churches’ domes, illuminated streets and – of course – the Tour Eiffel. And a sense of “need of taking an original photo” pervades me, like a challenge, probably a reaction to what I was saying with my neologism… I’m never sure enough I accomplish my mission, and in this occasion is the same story; but I liked the final result of this capture, with the illuminated tower and its strong light-rays completing the scene.

And since I’m not sure I will be able to post something before Christmas, I will use this image to share my best wishes with all my readers and followers.

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Jane’s Carousel in New York

New York (USA). Jane’s Carousel is one of the magic places in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a very old carousel, you can read the entire history here in the official webpage. I photographed this place one night I was walking around the Brooklyn Bridge: it was a cold winter night (and when I say “cold”, it means “freaking cold”!) with very few people around. When I saw the carousel, it was like a mirage: it was closed, but lights were on and horses in the glassed structure were looking as ready to start their ride again. All around, there were Manhattan’s lights, forming a perfect frame. Somehow, that moment warmed me so much that I spent half-an-hour shooting this scene.

Both last and this December (2013 and 2014), this photograph has been chosen by Jane for the Christmas newsletter. This is the kind of things that make me proud: not only because I’m talking about one of the most popular place in New York City (by the way, this place won the Travel and Leisure 2012 Design Awards as “Best Public Space”), but also because I like to believe that if Jane’s Carousel warmed my heart that night, maybe with my photograph I can now warm someone else’s heart. Isn’t it what a photographer should try to do every time?

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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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Moscow International Business Center

Moscow (Russia). Last night I was going through some old photos taken almost one year ago during a trip to Moscow, and I found this image posted here. It’s not one of my favorite, since it has been taken in a tough situation: I was without a tripod in a low light environment and it was extremely cold (I remember it was going to snow!). One of the things that makes me particularly nervous, it is the fact that I photographed this complex of skyscrapers from their feet and in complete darkness (not the best observatory point and situation to enhance this type of skyline and its architectures) and that I had to cut the latest two floors of the “Naberezhnaya Tower”.

However, while I was watching it, I thought that it was still able to give an idea about what I wanted to show: the new raising city of Moscow. This is the Moscow International Business Center (known also as Moscow IBC or Moscow City), one of the most interesting areas under development in the world, with investments for 12 billions of dollars, 300,000 people working and living here, and 6 skyscrapers above 300 meters of height (including the 374 m Federation Tower, at that time still under construction).

But the most interesting skyscraper – and I must admit it stands out in the skyline not only for its shape, but also for its enlightenment – is the Evolution Tower (right, 255 m high), in which each floor is 3 degrees rotated versus the previous one, for a total rotation of 135 degrees: a sort of huge DNA chain, to symbolize the relationships among human beings, families and generations, designed by Tony Kettle and Karen Forbes and already become a landmark of the new Moscow.

Mosca. Ieri sera stavo riguardando alcune vecchie foto di un viaggio fatto a Mosca circa un anno fa, e ho ritrovato questa immagine. Non è tra le mie preferite, dal momento che è stata scattata in condizioni non ottimali: poca luce, senza treppiede, ma soprattutto con un gran freddo (ricordo che stava per nevicare!). Una delle cose che maggiormente mi infastidisce è l’aver fotografato il complesso di grattacieli così da sotto e al buio, e l’aver dovuto tagliare gli ultimi due piani della “Naberezhnaya Tower”.

Però, riguardandola, ho pensato che riesce ugualmente a dare un’idea di ciò che volevo far vedere, della nuova Mosca che sta nascendo. Si tratta del Moscow International Business Center (conosciuto anche come Moscow IBC o come Moscow City), una delle aree di sviluppo immobiliare più interessanti del mondo, con 12 miliardi di dollari di investimenti, 300,000 persone che ci vivono o ci lavorano, e con ben 6 grattacieli che superano i 300 metri di altezza (tra cui la Federation Tower, all’epoca ancora in costruzione e alta 374 m).

Ma il grattacielo sicuramente più interessante – e che devo ammettere spicca non solo per la forma, ma anche per la sua illuminazione – è la Evolution Tower (a destra, 255 metri) in cui ogni piano viene ruotato di 3 gradi rispetto al precedente, per una rotazione totale di 135 gradi: una sorta di grande DNA che simboleggia i rapporti tra individui, famiglie e generazioni, pensato dagli architetti Tony Kettle e Karen Forbes e diventato uno dei simboli della nuova Mosca.

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Florence by Night (Landscape from Villa Bardini)

Florence (Italy). This is a postcard; an “easy” postcard. I know. And I’m not a big fan of this type of photos. But it’s also Florence, my city, captured from probably the best observatory in town; and I could not resist. This image has been taken from the terrace of Villa Bardini, a former private residence now used for exhibitions. From there, it seems possible touching the heart of the city; and by night, Florence becomes even more magic. As said: I could not resist.

Firenze. Questa foto è una cartolina; una “facile” cartolina. Lo so. E non sono un grande amante di questo genere di foto. Ma è anche Firenze, la mia città, fotografata da quello che probabilmente è il punto di osserazione migliore possibile; e non ho potuto resistere. Questa foto è stata scattata dalla terrazza di Villa Bardini, in precedenza una residenza privata, oggi utilizzata per ospitare delle mostre. Da là, è possibile toccare il cuore della città; e di notte, Firenze diventa ancora più magica. Come detto, non ho potuto resistere.

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