Topic: Italy (12 posts) Page 2 of 3


I don't know about you but I tend to be a little skeptical when it comes to miracles. I don't think of myself as being a tried and true cynic but some healthy perspective on things seems good to me and when confronted with a "true" miracle I tend to be wary.

But I can't really tell you what's going on here:

These two guys were sitting there in the central piazza in Torino, Italy a couple of weeks ago. There was no visible support and no guy wires. They were stoic, with no changing expressions on their faces and no acknowledgement of anyone passing by. All I can think of, since the fabric covered their arms, was that there was a steel armature and structure that ran down the yellow one's arm up the pole and down the red guy's arm to a seat. John and I discussed this, the possibility that the yellow man's hand was fake, as the weak link in this display seemed to be his hand.

Presumably they sit there, hour after hour, like statues, proof that miracles do exist and that with true faith and belief in God's higher powers, anything can happen.

I am not so sure.

Topics: Italy,Foreign,Digital,Color

Permalink | Posted November 25, 2014

Day 6 & 7 From Italy

We've moved up to the Alps, way up. My hosts have a place in a region called Stroppo in a tiny village called Morinesio about 5000 feet up in the Italian Alps close to the French border.

We drove for 1 1/2 hours from Alba, stopping along the way for the best bread, the best meat, the best cheeses, the best dessert and drove up and up to a hamlet on the side of the mountain that has a population of about 30, when they're all here, as many come here just for vacation. This below taken from the balcony of the house:

I don't know about you but the view from my condo in Cambridge isn't quite like that.

John and I went out to photograph and drove up the valley until we couldn't go anymore. As we headed north there was snow on the ground and in the late fall the trees were golden.

The region is popular for hiking, cross country skiing and mountain biking. The locals grow potatoes, wild boar is hunted and, of course, it is visually stunning. 

The valley has an untouched quality to it. The locals have worked hard to preserve it and keep snowmobiliers out and are actively resisting a developer who wants to bring in a downhill ski area. 

Actually, John and Donna's house is for sale. This site will give you details: Stroppo.  Right now, I am sitting at the large dining room table as I write this.  This is quite simply a wonderful home and an extraordinary place to live.

John and I are headed off to Noli today, along the coast of the Mediterranean, to spend a couple of days. From there we'll take an overnight to get back up to Paris for Paris Photo.

Stay tuned.

Topics: Italy,Foreign,Digital

Permalink | Posted November 9, 2014

New Old: Forti Dei Marmi, Italy 2012

Odd to be posting new pictures made almost two years ago but I have spent the last week or so resurrecting this now older work into prints and I am very excited about them.

Forti Dei Marmi

That is a link to the full series but I will give you a few here too:

I think of these as being indulgent as they are so filled with the love of color... but I am getting ahead of myself.

In the fall of 2012, still enjoying the newness of being retired, a friend and I made a trip to Italy to stay with close friends who were having a delayed honeymoon in a small house in the hills in Voldottavo, about 20 minutes from Lucca in central Italy. Would I work? Would I make pictures? Could I pull that off in the middle of vacationing, being a tourist, shopping, eating, drinking copious amounts of wine, laughing a lot and overall having a great time? As I packed up my full kit in Cambridge prior to leaving, which includes several lenses, tripod, laptop computer and hard drives, I thought I would soon find out.

How do we resolve this? This desire to go someplace wonderful and then deal with the conflict of the fact that if it is so wonderful, we have this desire and need to make pictures? Luckily for me, I had in my traveling friend, Marybeth, someone who understands this need and is amazingly helpful in letting me go do what I need to do. Without her these pictures would not have been made. Marybeth isn't an artist, but she sure gets my need to make pictures and I am everlastingly grateful for that.

I made four bodies of work while there:

Luna Park



and now printed, Forti Dei Marmi. You tell me? How'd I do?

The deal we struck, Marybeth and I, was that we would go if I could get back to Trieste where I'd shot the stands of trees three years earlier about 30 minutes west of the city near Palmanova. I'd made a series of pictures there in 2009 (Trees, 2009) and I very much wanted to be there again with a camera to make a series  in color.

So, here I was in Forti Dei Marmi, an Italian seaside resort, which was very trendy, posh and managed, with my friends shopping as it was market day and me wandering around, camera in hand, looking for pictures to make. I found myself down by the beach. As so often happens, pictures began to unfold and reveal themselves to me as I walked about. First it seemed to be about the sand and how it is always manicured at "paid" beaches in Italy. Yes, there are public and paid beaches in Italy. The paid ones are always made perfect at the start of each day with tractors dragging along behind them a rake that disappears the previous day's foot prints. So, I worked with that for a while. The sand was flat and rich in middle tan/gray, contrasting with the changing rooms in bright bright colors.

So, from the sand there are one or two transitionals, pictures I make to help get me from one idea to another in a series.

"It was one of those days where if you stood out there looking at the meeting of the water and the sky, if you just let your senses relax and take in this light, this color, this sound, you could, yes, it true, you could feel like you were able to see forever and be at peace with yourself."

I wrote that in the evening after we were back at our hillside home, sitting outside under the trellis at the table where we were about to have a wonderful meal. 

From there we move on to these, printed as pairs:

A South African ambles by, carrying his "designer" handbags, as my fiend Gail watches him. These guys are all over Italy and hang out at the touristy areas. It's fun to watch them run for cover as the local police patrol and chase them away, only to see them resurface again as soon as the cops are gone. This was a brief look at reality in the middle of a place that was like a dream.

The pictures move on then to a Pantone wheel of colors, the changing rooms paid beach goers rent to put on their swim suits in the summer:

Then the series ends, abruptly, as the statement's been been made, the analogies are in place, the "comparisons and contrasts" are finished and the pictures need to stop.

For me, Forti Dei Marmi was good, very very good, short but sweet.  It took me almost two years to get to it, but with it being 8 degrees outside as I write this on December 31st in Cambridge, MA it feels great to put my mind back to a perfect, and warm, day in Italy. 

Hope you enjoy it.

Topics: Italy,Color,New Work,Digital

Permalink | Posted December 31, 2013

Vignole, Italy

Get your ticket and get on the water bus called a Vapporetto, and ride it a ways in the lagoon that surrounds Venice and you might end up on Vignole. Right away Vignole is different, not like Murano or Burano, but agricultural, with few tourists and sparsely populated. When teaching for three summers in the mid 2000's in Venice it is where I went when off on weekends to get away, to take pictures by myself, to grab a few hours of serenity before going back into the maelstrom that is Venice in high tourist season.

The series was made in 2007, at the end of decades making 120 mm black and white pictures with film. These negatives never met an enlarger in a darkroom, however, as I scanned them, then made inkjet prints.

Google Maps gives us a good idea of what the island looks like:

The full series is on the site at: Vignole

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Next up is Thomspson, CT.

Topics: Italy,Series

Permalink | Posted September 7, 2013

Lago Di Bolsena, Italy 2

Lago Di Bolsena is a lake in central Italy, not far from Viterbo where I stayed for three weeks  in 2009. It is also the site of a battle in WW II where the remains of 600 soldiers lie in a cemetery above the shore. This post will look at the pictures I made that show the cemetery about an hour before a thunderstorm struck. I was there in late October, 2009.

I taught for three summers in Viterbo in the 90's and had driven by the entrance to the cemetery several times in those years. I remember I had even parked and walked down the path to see it at one point, carrying my 8 x 10 camera over my shoulder. Funny how a place can be nothing at one point and be everything at another. Back then I wasn't thinking of series pictures, I was thinking single pictures for the big camera and the cemetery held nothing for me.

But in 2009 the cemetery in Italy became another in a series of series pictures of cemeteries. These are loaded places for me, these cemeteries that I photograph, for they are so charged with the past and the residue of former lives. I've already referenced two in this blog: Mt Auburn and Oakesdale.

This is on a plaque at the entrance:The cemetery was built by the US after the war and is maintained by the US as well. No Americans are buried there, however.

The Lago Di Bolsena series starts by showing the path down the hill to the site from the road:and then opens out to show the plot, the gravestones laid out in neat rows and the  trees which form a perimeter:I wanted to try to convey a sense of discovering the place. The series is a "walk around" just as I had done at Oakesdale, Washington (Oakesdale) twelve years earlier.

Next, I worked to describe the place itself, and the remarkable day it was.

 It being October and windy leaves had fallen from the nearby trees and carpeted the grass which was so smooth and cut so close it looked like a putting green on a golf course.I'm not going to continue here with a blow by blow description of each photograph as the full series is now on the site (Lago Di Bolsena) but suffice it to say that the photographs progress to show the layout of the stones and the story reaches a climax at an image of a growth at the bottom of one of the trees inside the cemetery:that seems, to me, like a gorgeous tumor. Why? Because, while very beautiful the growth is also abhorrent, like the cemetery itself. The series ends with an image looking back up the hill as I leave the cemetery behind me:

 I'll let you in on a conflict I had as I worked this series in postproduction back at home the following winter. It took me awhile to get to the pictures as I was working on other projects, plus I travelled and stayed in Austin, Texas and Moab, Utah that same year. But when I did I decided the set would be rendered in black and white. But one of the pictures 

which showed rose petals scattered on the grass in front of two gravestones was com-pelling in colorand as I worked through the series I played with the idea of including it as a single color image in the set of black and whites. Rose petals on a carpet of green at the bottom of two gravestones in a cemetery? Would it work and drive the point home or be an over the top and unbearable cliché? This reminded me of the use of color by Spielberg in the black and white film "Schindlers List". If you remember this was a controversial  device. So, what did I do? Did I step up and say the hell with the consequences? You'll see what I did if you go to Lago Di Bolsena on the site to find out. Now three years later, I believe I made the right decision. 

The last point I wanted to make is that the prints in this portfolio are made smaller than usual for me, on 13 x 19 inch paper. This wasn't for any technical reason except that I felt the photographs would be more intimate if made smaller, as images more easily held in one's hands become something tactile and closer. And finally, although printed as duotones, they are primarily neutral in color as you see here.

I hope you enjoy this series.


Topics: Italy,cemeteries

Permalink | Posted January 19, 2013