I decided to leave Florence on Tuesday. I jumped in my suv and headed for Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. I had been there this past June for the celebration of Corpus Domini…the blessing of the sea. My plan this trip was to capture a different type of image of Riomaggiore than I had ever done before.
I arrived at two in the afternoon and the town was bustling. Riomaggiore is the most southern of the five cities of Cinque Terre and dates from before the 8th century. Very picturesque, it has a shoreline on the Mediterranean’s Gulf of Genoa with a narrow beach and wharf framed by towering houses that seem to stagger up the hillside in a jumble.
I figured I would check into my lodging and then roam the city the next day. I stayed in a small hotel with a beautiful garden at the top of the hill. 340 steep steps above the train station. I ate a late lunch in the hotel garden under the shade of the vineyard where I smelled the scent of flowers. The house specialty? Fried anchovies. This area is known for wine and I drank my fair share that afternoon. It is known as Sciacchetra and it comes two ways…sweet and sweeter. It is a beautiful yellow color with amber reflections and the scent of apricot and acacia honey. Delicious. And, intoxicating.
I sat in the garden and wondered what it must have been like in the days of the pirates. Pirates trolled the entire coastline and that is probably why the castle at the hill was built. Built in the 15th Century, the castle rises on a rocky crag and overlooks the sea.The Castle is reached by climbing the steep road from the railway station and heading pretty much straight up.
As I sat in the garden, I realized that time has not touched the Cinque Terre. The villages are connected by paths, trains and boats. Cars are scarce. The path known as Sentiero Azzurro or the light blue trail, connects the villages. When you first see Riomaggiore, you see the colorful old houses, stacked haphazardly on top of each other climbing the hills.
I decided that the castle was definitely on my agenda for tomorrow. As evening fell, I watched the night fishermen head out from the small harbor for the anchovies. They were starting their day and I was finishing mine.
In the morning , I woke up to the chiming of bell towers. The bells are the background music of Riomaggiore. ..they ring throughout the day. I had my coffee in the garden, dew on the fragrant plants. Even though it was early, the city was bustling. I have noticed that the small villages of Italy have a placid exterior but underneath, they are constantly moving, changing, so active and vibrant.
I headed over to the old castello of Riomaggiore. The castle has a square base. The longest part of the castle base overlooks the sea. Two towers flank it. The entrance to the castle is located between two towers. There is an external staircase that leads into the tower itself. Dark and shadowy, it has the feel of something ancient and haunting.
The castle is fascinating…but I did not think I could get the image I was looking for…
I explored the town and around five , I headed down to the small harbor.
The light was stunning. The warm light of day was melting into the golden light of sunset.
I was at the foot of the harbor. But, I wanted to shoot Riomaggiore from the sea…looking straight at the city. Out in the harbor, there were giant boulders of marble. They were huge pieces from the Carrera quarry. The quarry that was made famous as the source for the marble of Michelangelo’s David. White and slippery, they formed a jetty. And, they would ultimately be my footpath to capture the image I needed.
I spotted some stairs on the side of the crag that lead down to the water. I figured that if I went down the stairs, I could jump from rock to rock with my camera balanced on my back. That sounded realistic at the time. The stairs were the easy part. The marble was slippery and wet. I inched my way out into the harbor. I knew this was dangerous. But, what can I tell you? I wanted to shoot from the middle of the harbor. The night fishermen were eyeing me suspiciously but I just kept on going. Moving slowly out on the jetty. I got to the middle of the harbor. I set up my tripod and camera on the slick marble, moving slowly so as not to slip. One mis -step and me and my camera would be in the drink. I got into position. My tripod was balancing against me and the slippery marble. The light was amazing. Golden and warm, it was making the terraced houses of the town literally glow. It was a fantastic panorama of the town, a few people, a dog…perfect.
All that was behind me was the open sea.
Just as I was reflecting on the beauty of all that was before me, I got slammed with a rogue wave that hit me from behind. Drenched, I was hunched over my camera, trying to save it from a soaking like the one I had just gotten. I am standing in a harbor, on a wet rock, clinging to my gear. Small boats are sailing by me.
I got my footing back. I repositioned my camera. I looked out across the water and there it was….Riomaggiore glowing like a jewel across the harbor.
Click. That was it. My Riomaggiore.
I crept back across the slippery marble towards the steps. Frogs were chattering on the rocky shore and the night fisherman passed, headed out for anchovies.
I walked back to my hotel to change clothes. I was soaked.
And then I trekked over to the Bar & Vini , a local hangout perched on the side of the mountain, for a last few glasses of wine .
Tomorrow, I would head for Venice.
From Santorini, I headed to Italy.
To Tuscany. The land of the golden light.
I would be staying in Val D’Orcia, literally off the old Roman road, Via Francigena.
Tuscany is the place of Dante,Galileo,Puccini and Michelangelo. A rich artistic legacy that grew from an agricultural base and built a great cultural stronghold before, during and after the Italian Renaissance. It rivaled Florence politically and artistically.
Literally a valley of poetry, it presented a landscape which fascinated the great painters of the Renaissance and the Romantic writers of England and Germany and France. And, she charms us still today with her subtle hues and golden light.
I arrive late in the afternoon. The sun is low in the sky but it still paints the landscape…colors of dry clay and golden earth, hills green like moss and ancient farmhouses dot the landscape.
I am staying in the old stone farmhouse of a working vineyard. The workers are heading in, pulling their carts into an old stone barn, and waving to the guests under the portico. Time stands still in Tuscany. I finish my Chianti and call it a day. I plan on an early start in the morning.
Morning comes and I head downstairs to grab a quick coffee. But in Tuscany, there is no such thing as a quick anything. It is a slow place, a place where life is enjoyed and the simplest of routines are savored. So, in the dining room I have an espresso and fig focaccia, a specialty of the kitchen. I am warned by the staff to be back on time because dinner is pasta shuta, a favorite of mine.
I am off down the road in my rented SUV, my gear stowed in the back. When I say the road, I mean The Road. Via Francigena is a road the Romans built. Centuries old, it winds along the countryside, weaving in and out of the valleys and past the hills that are notched with ravines. My innkeeper has given me directions to some interesting places in the valley and I plan to spend my day meandering. So I wander, shooting images here and there and chasing the light around Tuscany.
And then, I came upon it. “It” being a spectacular place. As I rounded a bend in the road, I saw the old stone farm house perched on top of a hill, sitting like a jewel in an ancient crown, guarded by manicured orchards and spikes of cypress. The farm was the only thing still lit by the afternoon’s fading light. And, it was lit with a wand dipped in gold. As I got closer, I saw the earthy colors of the vineyard melding with the silver grey of olive groves and the graceful cypress. The beautiful palette of nature is before me…the burnt sienna of art classes gone by is a reality on this afternoon. That hazy golden light hangs over the vineyard, touching all the other colors below and seeming to linger past day’s end.
I set up my gear and I know that I am at the feet of the Masters. I am in the middle of the flourishing Renaissance. I look through my lens and sheer poetry comes back at me. I capture my image …the golden jewel farmhouse set in the crown landscape of umbers and greens and silvers. And, I wonder, how can this rich painting of nature be just part of an everyday landscape? But that is the beauty of it and that is the secret of it.
The mystery of Tuscany. A suspended place in time that has never surrendered to progress.
I head back to my lodging, knowing that I have possessed timeless Tuscany for a brief moment with the click of a shutter , the thought of pasta shuta and a glass of Chianti waiting for me.
Ah, Bella Campagna.
I awoke to find myself in a strange land, far away from my Southern Utah roots.
I was on a European shoot, planning to cover about fifteen hundred miles or so. I went to my window and gazed out to the Southern Aegean, out onto the bluest of blue seas, 120 miles south of the mainland of Greece.
Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic eruption that occurred three or four million years ago. It is a place of great beauty and history. I grab a quick coffee and my gear and head out for a trek up to the top of the city.
And I say up because I am staying near the harbor and the rest of the city is above me. Far above me.
Actually, the whole town is really a harbor of sorts. The city clings to the top of a cliff, looking down on a lagoon. The lagoon flows through a break in the sea wall and boats sail in and out.
I start my trek up, pausing at intervals to view a calm sea below. The pace of life in Greece is slow but constant, children dart in and out of alleys, women carry their groceries on a long slow walk home. A fish monger leans out his door, enticing me with a fresh caught octopus. A few men are talking, laughing, arguing about a lamb being barbecued at a small taverna , sipping their first glass of wine of the day. I stop and chat along the way, engaging myself in their conversations. I laugh at their observations and comment on a chess move or two.
This is Greece.
Slow but energetic, it’s pace a seeming contradiction.
But, my journey is singular and I return to hiking the narrow streets , up to the top to capture the City from a perch high above. I am determined. Determined to make it to the top to catch the early evening view. To see the sea of legends in the moonlight.
It is said that the island was formed after a huge volcanic explosion several million years ago. And this Big Daddy of volcanoes caused the entire Minoan Civilization to perish. Known as Thera, her fury is thought to have been responsible for the legend of the lost city of Atlantis.
By the time I have climbed to the top, the sky is dark. The sky is as blue as velvet can be, it presides over this ancient city and frames the harbor with a matching cloak.
The domes of Santorini dance across the rooftops like little blue hats. A place as old as time but yet as lively and timely as today. I glance down at people walking and at boats bobbing on the bay…a bay with winds that seem to laugh at the land above.
I have been to Greece many times and I know the ancient stories and legends surrounding the place. And , I feel their presence up here.
Standing on top of the World.
Standing on top of Santorini.
I survey the City below, knowing immediately where I can capture my image. I find it in my lense. And then, click. There it is.
My Santorini captured in time.
I began my trek back down those cobbled steps. But in the distance, I smell the faint aroma of a familiar lamb on a spit.
Photographers have a love of spontaneity.
An image captured with just a single click.
Just that one single click that freezes time.
But, I am a photographer who shares that love of spontaneity with a love of returning to the past, to places I have been before. A lonely beach in Polynesia. The ruins of an ancient castle in Austria. The sense memory of perfume wafting over a field of lavender in Provence. Pondering the music of the stones at an ancient Native American site.
So, it is with the thought of revisiting and reacquainting myself that I return to Oregon every Fall. I return to revisit my sensory memories and to renew them.
I load up my 4wd and head out, up to Oregon for a four day shoot. Fall seems to have come early this year. There’s a definite bite in the air and the birds are sparse. They’ve headed south weeks ago, leaving just a few hungry strays lingering.
I stop frequently to see the ocean, venturing out on the towering cliffs. The mist has a chill in it, a salty taste of the approaching winter.
I drive a narrow coastal route, remote and still. I stop for lunch and to wade the tide pools that are tucked like pockets into the bottom of the cliffs. Nestled into remote beaches and caves, they glimmer like dark jewels protected by towering walls.
I head inland, passing miles of trees. Their leaves have turned a fiery red as per the seasonal decree of Mother Nature. They stand in stark contrast to to the dark and gloomy day that surrounds us.
On the third day, I came upon an amazing tree. I had to capture it.
An ancient Japanese Maple, it was in the final days of a glorious and fiery display, a spectacular collage of deepening autumn hues. It stood like a timeless patriarch in a secret garden of scarlet and crimson, it’s beautiful branches bending like the arms of a dancer.
The challenge now was in finding the light. The day was overcast and dark like all the mornings so far. It was chilly and damp, dark and gloomy. It was nothing like the blazing tree in front of me.
I studied the best way to bring to light the magestic stature of grace and strength of this iconic tree. I juggled my camera from a hundred different angles, hoping that some sun would seep in from somewhere. There just was not enough light.
And , as I was trying to capture the image from all these angles, an amazing thing happened.
The sun broke throught with a beam of pure white light.
I felt a shudder, a sense of elation.
Something magical had just happened.
It was Brilliant, my latest release.
I set out on my annual Autumn shoot in Oregon last week. It wasn’t my usual Autumn. But rather one with cloudy skies and thunderstorms. But you know, it was perfect in it’s own way. On the third day, it cleared some and I caught the warm days and crisp nights that I know so well…I headed out at sunrise to catch an early shoot at the Falls.
I followed the old road. It’s a winding old wagon road: two narrow lanes the traverse an old lava flow. Along my narrow trail, I knew I would get some of the best views of this amazing terrain. The mountains in Oregon are always favorites of mine. I think it is the challenges they represent. I would drop almost 2000 feet and catch the fantastic waterfalls below. It was warmer this early morning than in past days…fly fisherman were casting on the lakes, hoping to score some of the last of the season’s catch. I see things with the eye of a painter and the fisherman with their forms outlined against the shore and their poles arced, formed a painterly image in my mind.
I stopped for some coffee and to watch their lines dance around the shoreline, feathered flys bobbing in the early morning. My sunny morning had vanished into the clouds so I thought I best be on my way.
I jumped into my 4wd and hit the road for the Falls.
The drive is an easy one mile or so loop that crosses a firey red vine and maple laden ancient lava flow and then passes through an old growth of rain forest. From there, two spectacular waterfalls plunge over immense towering moss covered cliffs. The upper Falls dumps water about a hundred feet into a shallow pool. The water cascades into the pool and then trickles down through the underlying lava beds.
I was set to shoot at the lower Falls. It was very early in the morning so my light was bright. The Lower Falls streams its way down a two hundred foot glacier carved cliff, spreading out into watery ribbons along the way. Words like spectacular and awesome don’t even describe it. I captured my image as a light mist started coming down through the approaching fog.
I left the loop and headed for the River Trail. The Trail is a beautiful path in the Summer but now it was slippery from the mossy dampness. The river was moving fast, swollen from a freak early snow. It was punctuated with vibrant red and yellow leaves skirting down the water like floats in a parade.
It was still early in the day. But the sun was weak, more like an Winter’s afternoon that a blazing Autumn morning. The trail was gloomy and a drizzle helped douse whatever sunlight I had hoped for.
I sat in my 4wd and was happy to finish the last of my coffee as the afternoon chill approached.
I had been driving north for a few days, headed towards the Italian Alps, hoping to get some great images of the Italian countryside. I was on the “other ” side of Italy, in the high country…very different than Rome or the other ancient cities. But, ancient just the same. And, unique in its own way.
I had gotten an early early start. And, by that I mean dawn. Fueled by espresso, I was determined to find an amazing shot on one of my last days in Italy. It had been a good trip and I was happy with the images I had gotten. But I wanted to capture some of the amazing Tyrol, the Italian high country.
I looked at my watch and realized that I had driven for over three hours. I was deep in Sud Tyrol and the wine country. I stopped in Caldano, a beautiful city built by the Medici family to use as a country place as well as being a thriving vineyard culture since before the time of Christ. Time in Sud Tyrol moves at a comforting pace. Every day is a repetition of the day before. And the day before that. And the day before that. And so it goes for a thousand years. I took my time in Caldano, having my lunch in an outdoor cafe and doing a little people watching. I chatted with the owner of this small bistro and he told me his family had lived in this city for four hundred years. He gave me a couple of bottles of the local wine for the road and I was on my way.
I drove past a grove of olives and then I saw it.
Ancient dolomite peaks stood like soldiers at attention above green valleys and tiny villages.Those mighty dolomite spears, with a wide lap of snow around their base, seem to stand guard around the spring green lushness of the meadows below. Silently, stoically protecting all that lay below. The dolomites are national treasures of Italy. Literally a million years old, they draw visitors from all over the world, anxious to view their stone majesty.
My painterly eye drank in the spring, just when that spring had rolled back the winter and spread a lush carpet of green below. There was a newness, an untouched quality of pureness here this late afternoon, high in the Italian Alps.
I captured my image just before the day began to signal her shadows of day’s end. The afternoon sun was still warm, casting her golden embrace to the valley below and wrapping it in reds and golds and yellows. A wash of rusty purple signaled the end of the afternoon. I knew this image would be magical…I could feel the power off the dolomites in it.
My Bellavista complete….Now, where did I put that bottle of wine….
Peak fall color arrived in southern Utah this week above 8000 feet but there was a grim forecast, calling for oodles of heavy rain. Feeling optimistic I set out with my gear knowing that if the snow level dropped, I could get fruit loops color together with a fresh mantle of snow.
I got on the road to the Kolob Terrace and started to climb.
The road got snowier.
The fog and low clouds made pea soup.
That wasn’t gonna work so I blindly continued on until I reached 9000 ft.
A stand of aspens suddenly appeared mixed with every color of the rainbow.
There was an Aspen stacked fence, perfectly positioned, completing the composition.
These days it is oh so rare when earthly elements align themselves
and speak “ this is art”.
When we were asked to participate in the Justin Timberlake-Shriners Open Golf Tournament at TPC Summerlin, we knew it would represent more than just donating a single piece of art to a charity and calling it a day.
But, what we didn’t know is what a deeply touching experience it would be.
Kick Off Your Heels was an event designed to support the week long festivities at the Summerlin TPC funraiser for the Shriner’s Childrens Hospitals. The event showcased three hundred talented Las Vegas women and featured lunch and a fundraising auction.The generosity of donors is what enables Shriners Hospitals for Children® to deliver life-changing medical care without placing burden on the families of their young patients. There are many ways to give, from participating in one of their many fundraising events throughout the year, to creating a plan for giving. No matter how large or small, every gift to Shriners Hospitals for Children makes a difference in the life of a child.
That said, we were honored to be invited and made it a point of donating one of our most popular prints, Villa Fleurie. A stunning pictoral of Alsace Lorraine photographed one September afternoon, it is a very lyrical piece featuring a village path lined with spectacular flowers. Perfect for a women’s luncheon, we thought.
We arrived early to the golf course. The landscape was dotted with golfers playing, spectators watching, people walking up the hill to the tents and literally hundreds of volunteers. Golf carts whizzed in and out of the crowd, carrying celebrities and officials here and there. It was a hike up the hill to the 17th hole where the event was to be held. Lucky for us, some jovial shriners in a golf cart swooped us up and delivered us to the top.
The white tent literally glistened in the sun, it’s air conditioned interior a pleasant respite from the heat outside. Inside, there was a flurry of activity as volunteers put the finishing touches on this magical setting. Bottles clinked at the bar, ice buckets were filled, and flower arrangements seemed to float across the room,headed for tables. Volunteers made last minute adjustments to pristine white tables for ten and waitresses began greeting guests as they arrived, offering lemonade from a tray. There was no mistake that this was where the party was!
We sat up the print we had donated, the fabulous Villa Fleurie. Struggling to lift it, we attracted the attention of two Shriners who helped us hoist it up and position it on a ledge where it could be seen by all. Striking, it literally commanded the room and gathered a crowd of admirers. We chatted with so many interested people, including a three year old girl who was being feted at the luncheon. She had been a Shriner’s patient since birth. Many of the guests shared their experiences with us and we were happy to hear their stories about the Shriners, their trips to Europe and also to answer questions about the William Carr Gallery and our amazing collection of fine art photography at the William Carr Gallery.
Waiters were still passing lemonade, both “hard” with a spiced liquor and regular. We opted for the regular, not wanting to end up under the table rather than at it! Lunch was announced and featured a specially designed menu from Buca Di Beppo.
First, an amazing Antipasti of mozzarella caprese. Vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh mozzarella mingled in a drizzle of basel olive oil and chopped basil leaves.
Next, insalata made of fresh green apples, spiced walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese tossed with fresh lettuce.
Our main course was a delicious oven roasted salmon with pesto cream sauce,pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.
The salmon was complimented by Gnocchi al Telefono. These delicious potato dumplings tossed in garlic marinara with a hint of cream.
The restaurant had also created a special dessert menu that featured mini versions of well known pastries like cannoli, mini rum cake and Italian cookies.
Kudos to the TCP Summerlin staff, Bucca Di Beppo, the PGA staff and the Shriners for creating this magnificent event that gives so much to so many children!
All the while people were eating, others were perusing the silent auction. I had occasion to chat with many of the guests all during the luncheon. Many had been to France and recognized the charm of Alsace. Definitely a standout in any show, Villa Fleurie simply glowed in the afternoon sunlight.
While I was standing by the photo, a beautiful young woman and her husband came up. She began to share with me the story of her son, a recent patient at Shriners Hospital. Her story was heart breaking. But her hope was courageous. Her young son, Ryan, had been the victim of a swimming pool accident. Now, four years old, he was on the road to recovery. It was a touching story of sadness and triumph. Just as she was finishing, it was tme for speeches and the silent auction concluded.
Mayor Goodman was introduced by news journalist, Kim Wagner. She told the story of her romance with Oscar, her marriage and of the early years in Las Vegas. I noticed more and more people partaking of that lemonade on that hot afternoon. Finally, with her speech at an end, the winners of the silent auction were called.
I was amazed to find that the young woman I had been talking to, the mother of Ryan, was the winner of Villa Fleurie! She purchased it for a thousand dollars more than the value listed on the auction sheet. I was overwhelmed. She said that she and her husband had taken their son to France and this was an amazing sentimental piece that they simply had to have in their collection.
I was touched.
Villa Fleurie was loaded into the back of a Corvette and I saw it drive down the hill,on it’s way to a new home.
We headed out ourselves in the late afternoon sun….down the hill and past the course, speckled now with just a few remaining golfers.
A summer rain sprinkled across southern Utah, unexpectedly drenching me and the video crew I had dragged out before dawn. We had been out for hours, hiking and shooting.
We were deep into canyon country, the video crew documenting my photography while I documented the countryside.
We had come upon a field of wildflowers just about the time when the rain hit. Soaked, we waited out the showers in the meadow.
The wildflowers glistened, perfect for picking by my camera lens. As I was shooting, I heard a rustling to my right, I glanced over and two magnificent wild horses came bounding out of the woods. Above them, a rainbow painted a swath of color across the sky, forming an arc above us. If telling stories visually is what photography is all about, then I had hit the jackpot.
The photographer’s dilemma…what to shoot. For a photographer, time is everything. And there is precious little of it. Three amazing things happening at once in a hidden meadow and the urgency of capturing it all, not letting a single second slip away into time. I clicked away furiously, capturing all that the afternoon had to offer, an incredible collage of nature.
But, we had to push on. We were losing the day and soon we would be losing the light. We moved on , hoping to make it to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon within the hour.
And the light across the expanse of the canyon was like the glow over Umbria. The rocks. The ledges. The cliffs. All were bathed in a golden wash of light.
Magnificent. Inspiring. Holy.
These are all words I have heard used to describe the Canyon. But, I actually think it defies human description. Only my camera could capture the mystery of it…it’s stone majesty frozen in time.
We shot like crazy before we lost the light and then packed up and headed back to our camp as night was falling, a few early stars in the sky above us.
Powered by wordpress customer service chat