I drove half way across Tuscany to visit a printer outside of Florence, and on the way back, this was two years ago, a torrential storm, un diluvio, they say here, swept across the region destroying bridges, sinking towns and farmland, destroying late crops, a real disaster. Of course while I was driving it was only a storm, but it was intense and unlike anything I had seen here before. Even the locals said not since 1966 had there been this kind of weather. And then it had flooded Florence and destroyed artworks, national treasures and landmarks.
Tough driving and shooting too!
I have only seen this kind of cloud formation 3 or 4 times in my life. Each time I am filled with a kind of awe about the mystery and potential it portrays, and I find I am drawn to standing out in whatever the weather will be that accompanies it. I try to imagine what the tops of the clouds look like, up there in the bright sun above them, while down below the menace and roiling, bulbous forms suggest a fierce climatic doom may be upon us.
And then it passes. Blown away like all moments, no matter if they are angry or benign, they just go on about their endlessly dissolving – one can’t say merry – way into becoming something else. For me this is a reminder that photography, like nature, is made of continuously unfolding moments that are rich with the rare and unexpected gatherings of energy, all of which are individually addressed to each of us.
Whenever I see architecture of extravagance; cathedrals, palaces, monuments, etc., particularly from 4 or 500 years ago, I give myself over to the experience of wonder that they produce in me. I love the birthday cake-like fantasía that architects in those days offered their wealthy clients, and that those clients, often the Church, would accept that kind over-the-top decoration, probably as a way to bring the paying multitudes in, grandeur being a seductive call or advertisement for the pageants produced therein.
Looked at today these places still hold up their end of the bargain, as one can see by the tourists regularly visiting these sites. For me though, it’s part of a continuing record I keep of the craziness of a past time, and I wonder what of our structures today might still be here 500 years from now.
We went to Lucca to hear a Leonard Cohen concert and the day started off sunny and bright, then dark and stormy, then back to sunny again, and on and off for most to the day. I always like being out in the weather, watching the way it clears the streets as everyone runs for cover. Sometimes it produces a photograph or two.
Be In It
Nature in full force is a beautiful spectacle. Where do the colors come from? How did the clouds become tinged with that faint magenta tone when all the light seems to be mixed into a grey?
To stand in the path of all that energy and let it sweep towards me is one of the joys of living in nature. I always experience the feeling that I must go out into it rather than run for shelter. It was the same for me during my years photographing on Cape Cod. When the weather was at it’s worst – then it was at its best – and the invitation was clear; be in it!