How many times do we see something while driving, then pull over, leap out of the car, and race into the picture space to capture what it was that called out to us? Here, while opening the door and reaching for the camera, I saw the frame within the frame and the way the mist seemed to have slightly different densities between the two. I made the photograph and then stepped out to be in the space more fully.
And although it was lovely being out there with the rolling mist and the small scale of the buildings on the far hill, it was the odd presence of the door’s shape that made the frame,e more playful and interesting.
You know the expression; ‘I went to see a man about a dog.‘ Well on this day, we did. Gianni’s sheep dog had a litter of 10 and one of them was promised to a man who was for many years the man behind the Armani brand, now retired to a grand country estate nearby. As you can see from this dovecote, if a birdhouse can look this good imagine the rest.
He’s a kind and generous man who walked us all around his place with evident pride and pleasure. We went through woodland and pasture and vineyards and rolling hills and then through an amazing house. There was so much to see that I wanted to come back with my view camera and make some pictures that the place deserves. But for the moment these few notes are just the tip of the many places I responded to while with him.
But the mud/boot room takes the cake. What a holy ‘chamber,’ and for boots!
Oh, those mornings! The spectacle of seeing through the watered sky. All that suspended moisture acting as prism, or screen, or veil, hiding things while revealing another dimension of seeing. And then that gift of silence that falls over the land as does the mist itself. It’s an offering of contemplation that makes every morning an invitation to go out into it.
Even though the beauty of it seems to be everywhere it still takes a kind of discrimination to see, not the superficial beauties, but those other characteristics that speak to one’s own sense of necessity.
After a long day of rain the break came around dusk. The air was saturated with moisture but it almost felt like color was part of the moistness, as if I was breathing in pinkness! There was even a fragrance on the air as if the ground was exhaling it’s perfumes after a long dry summer, and at that moment it was water, bourne up from the ground as droplets of the exchange between ground and air. All the elements were at play.
Earth, air, water, and the light was the last fire of the sun, and it kindled every thing together into a bloom of evening beauty. I always try and choose to put myself in the way of beauty.
Right out my front door! The sheep often come by, bells jingling, dogs herding, and the shepherd, a strong, silent presence who merely needs to move his shoulders, or body, a certain way and all the sheep move where the silent message sends them. Sometimes it’s a whistle, or a precise grunt on his part, and the sheep come to a standstill.
Magical. Like the stuff of fables. But to see it still alive in our world today is to connect immediately to what the past must have been like, with flocks of sheep moving over the fields everywhere, and shepherds, their silent guardians, living on the land with them as a large integrated unit.
The year before, when I encountered him way out in the fields, I made a portrait of him, and when he passed by today I brought it out for him. He looked at it, and I believe he couldn’t quite believe it was him, so unused to a mirror is he.
Behind the Dentist’s office where I parked my car, I saw this simple space, with the pole set against the rolling landscape, glowing in late, low light, and it made me once again look at where I was. This is Tuscany! This is where a Dentist’s office is! Deep, rural country and a state of the art office. How do the two go together?
It reminds me that carrying the camera always pays off even if it is as simple as a pole in the sky.
A lazy mist drifted through and over the valleys that the road rolled through, so that at times I was above the clouds and then down under them. It felt a little like flying. And it was dreamy too, in that same way that flight can make you feel when passing through the clouds at 30,000 feet.
Up ahead the mist spooled across the road, and the moment felt timeless. The thing that separated me from the old world, it seemed, were the little pings of reflected light to mark the borders of the road. Out there was timelessness, inside the modern machine, with a camera in my hands, I could make a photograph at 50 mph and still get good quality, and a degree of sharpness that tells me how good our technology really is. It is important to be able to count on it that way and thus not have any fear about what the outcome will be.
I’ve basically used the same equipment for 50+ years. I don’t keep changing cameras, or go into the equipment mind set searching for the latest toys. For me the Leica and a good 35mm lens, and that’s all I need to say what I see, and to stay open to the act of seeing the world freshly.
Ordinary things still surprise me. A hay bale for instance, rolled up in the fashion of today’s farming methods, is often just pitched into the stall for the cows to chomp it down in their own sweet time. But here it unspooled itself when the wrapper was cut, and mimicked the wave that was already set in motion by the winds while the grain was growing in the fields earlier that summer.
While standing in front of it, the ‘object’ it became was satisfying to look at in unexpected ways, and led me to both see it for what it was, and to reconsider it for the other non-objective properties it held. I saw the color it became in it’s season of drying, I looked at the light it appeared in in the darkness of the stall, I thought about the flatness it presented while at the same time being enriched with curves, swirls, and eruptions of forms that splintered out along its edges. All these small thoughts made me stand there staring at a hay bale!
At times I wonder how these simple things have taken hold of me; a city boy whose love of the messy mix of speed and life on the streets has been overtaken by the study of stillness in the form of natural or man made things. It must be a certain time of life I’ve entered. I am taking ‘long looks’ at things that earlier slipped by and now call out for consideration.