The Italian Job
Not for the first time, I’m beginning a blog post with an apology for neglecting this part of my website in recent weeks (actually better make that months). In my defence it’s been a busy few months since the release of my book in April and between photography commissions, workshops and working on my second book there has been little time for much else and that’s when things like my blog and social media suffer.
Anyway, I have realised while looking through images from this year that as I only put a few of my images on my website (quality rather than quantity is what I try and tell myself!), I have an awful lot of images that never see the light of day so I thought I’d put together a series of short ‘what I’ve been up to’ blog posts to rectify that… starting with a trip to the Italian Lakes back in April.
The trip was actually a week long workshop that I was running which took in three lakes - the huge Lakes Maggiore and Como and the smaller but no less beautiful Lake Orta.
Landscape photography can often be rather reliant on the conditions for that wow factor - dramatic clouds, misty mornings or warm side light, for example, can all help to add atmosphere to our photographs. Sadly those sort of conditions were few and far between on this trip and the weather on the lakes, surrounded as they are by mountains, can be changeable, unpredictable and on this occasion very cloudy around sunrise and sunset! I’m sure I’ve said it before but photography wouldn’t be any fun if it wasn’t challenging and the task here was to work with the weather we had to get the best from the trip.
While the conditions were clearly going to have an effect on our photography, what was interesting was how they also changed our perception of the place. When spending a week on a photography trip everyone will usually have their favourite locations and of course, there will equally be those they find less inspiring and these choices invariably differ from person to person according to their taste or style of photography. While on the recce, choosing the locations and planning the itinerary for the workshop, my least favourite was at Lake Maggiore, it was a nice enough spot but it just didn’t appeal to me as much as some of the others. Typically, that particular spot (a sunrise shoot that I wasn’t exactly throwing off the duvet to rush to) provided the best conditions of the whole week, a beautifully calm morning with a mist like layer of cloud hanging over the lake which transformed both it, and my opinion of it, in an instant. The moral here, I guess, would be to never pass up an opportunity to get out there with the camera, you never know what nature might throw your way.
Fortunately, although the cloud meant we saw little colour or light at sunrise or sunset during the trip, many of the locations we were photographing were at their best in blue hour: the period between sunset (or sunrise) and darkness when there is still some ambient light but lights begin to come on in the streets and buildings. Blue hour is little affected by cloud so we were still able to capture the wonderful contrast between the warm lights and cool blues in the sky. It does, however, get dark quicker so our window of opportunity before the optimum moment passed was shorter but as I’ve already said it’s about quality rather than quantity.
As well as the sunrise and sunset shoots, we also had the opportunity to wander around the old towns and villages, that are clustered around the lake, photographing the streets and buildings. This is something I really enjoy, shooting hand-held for a change and just picking out details of buildings, colours or whatever takes my fancy, because whilst I love being out with the camera at dawn and dusk, it is these detail images, the ones which are most likely to languish on my hard drive never to see the light of day, which often best capture the spirit of the place.
You can see more of my images from Italy here.