Between No Longer And Not Yet

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Morning broke on the day I looked most forward to, and it did not disappoint with its glorious Tuscan sunrise.

I selected and squeezed three oranges into four small glasses, took my coffee outside and made a couple of Photographs.

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San Gusme was just appearing through the morning mist. I knew then that the magic here cannot be held at bay by Glass. It strikes deep and massages a tired soul. Once again the peace was overwhelming and my eyes filled with tears of bliss and joy. The anticipation of what lay ahead made my head spin.

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Breakfast devoured we headed west to Siena to pick up the famous and scenic SR2 to San Quirico d’ Orcia. Driving through fields of curvaceous green plains. This is where the Unesco protected Val d’ Orcia begins.

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About 5km south hot sulphurous water bubbles up into this picturesque pool in the centre of Bagno Vignoni.

We then headed 15 km further south to the tiny and beautiful (aren’t they all) village Bagni San Fillippo. A tiny path through the woods took us to sets of warm, tumbling cascades. Mudpools and Sulphur mountains. A most glorious spot.

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It was fast approaching lunchtime and we headed for Monticchiello, a sleepy medieval hilltop village. Just inside the main Gate (doesn’t that sound brilliant – inside the village gate) stands the small and highly regarded Osteria La Porta. It has a small terrace  with the most overwhelming panoramic views of the Val d’ Orcia. This is the place to have Lunch.

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We drove unhurried to Pienza, making several stops en route to enjoy and marvel at this wonderful scenery and to make photographs.

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We could see our next stop from the terrace of Osteria La Porta.

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Pienza is small and boost several Renaissance  buildings that should not be missed. We spent several relaxing hours here and strolled without a care and without any hurry through this beautiful village. Exploring with eyes, heart and soul.

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I also found a plaque that stated that the Val d’ Orcia was an idea by several Renaissance painters. I for one will be forever grateful to them.

So we slowly made our way back to the Villa for our last night and a scrumptious BBQ.

I thank whoever needs thanking for making this trip possible.

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A Stroll To San Gusme, Salt-less Bread And The Return Of The Giant Hogweed

The day after Siena, and having enjoyed a leisurely breakfast we decided to leave the car and take a little wander into the little hill top village that is San Gusme.

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Down the Cypress Avenue to the very end, past the Ruin and at the fork not knowing which way to go.

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Luckily enough Lucca the local Game keeper was at hand and pointed us in the right direction.

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10 min he said. Famous last words. Uphill all the way, through wild woods, past clearings that presented views of some beauty. Vine hills framed by poppies and daisies in full bloom.

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The sun was shining, birds were singing and on we climbed.  A good 90 min later we reached San Gusme. Took a look at a pristine and very much cared for resting place of the dead. One could still feel the mourning and the grief. The silence was tangible.

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We climbed the last steps into the Village square.

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Two or three restaurants, a bar, a post office, a bank and a Tailor. By now it was Lunchtime and the Tailor closed shop. A bend over gentleman of advancing years, but in great spirits.

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The Baker lady hurrying up to deliver the mornings work to the restaurants.

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We purchased a traditional Tuscan loaf from her delivery van, to take home.

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On our way out of the village we decided to rest on a patch of land that was freshly mowed. The bench was slightly covered in tiny green and purple pieces. We rested, made some photographs and headed on home. 30 min or so later my left thigh began to burn and weep. I thought I was stung by a horsefly. Not so, the pulverised green and purple blanket so delightfully draped over the bench was the leftover from the Giant Hogweed massacre.

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Country gentlemen
In cultivated wild gardens
Innocently planted the Giant Hogweed throughout the land

Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge

Heracleum Mantegazzianum

My leg was on fire and blistered like I had third degree burns. And still we had a fair way to walk to our Villa.

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We made it home. I cleaned up and was hungry. A welcome looking sandwich of Tuscan bread and prosciutto ham. A cool glass filled with the freshest spring water imaginable. But what was this. Two hard pieces of bread devoid of any taste. Ahh the traditional Tuscan salt-less Bread. And why not. When in Rome….

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A day to remember, or in part to forget. Sitting here two weeks later my leg is just about resembling some normality and regaining full use.

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The Dream And The Light

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Our last night in Tuscany. We managed to escape; transported ourselves for some days onto a privately owned Chianti Vineyard. Utterly inspiring. A Villa set in Olive groves surrounded by soothing hills and billowing plains, the magical splendour that Mother Nature has to offer.

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So just go out and win
And should you lose? That’s fine
Precious love of mine

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We made it, though, to this moment in time

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The open road beckons. From San Gusme to the Val d’Orcia. Classic Tuscan countryside, rolling hills, sun-kissed vineyards and avenues of Cypress trees. Historic time capsules dotted amongst the landscape, transported to the modern day. All there waiting for us………more to discover ……

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I found a wild wild wood
Full of white eyed birds
And a roaming boar
With no eyes at all
I felt a warm warm breeze
That melted worry and fears
I had a bad migraine
That lasted eight long years

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And I know that I am alright
And I will wake from my dream tonight
And I will find some true peace in time

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Chasing Moments Of Light

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There is something about chasing light. The scramble to find the right spot to be because you somehow feel you are not already there.

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And then in ways that cannot fully be described, there you are, at the edge of somewhere where you pulled over after leaving the last spot you were in (which you thought was THE spot, and it was in its own way but you didn’t realise you would soon find this spot as well). There is a sense of passing in such moments, that short window of time and light, knowing that where and when you are standing is measured in seconds, maybe minutes.

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It is beautiful, even more so than the sunrise-drenched Horizon and the quiet Rose in front where the Seagulls and Insects are just beginning to wake up. It is a sentiment expressed in the quiet rustle of the morning breeze. Those are easy moments to photograph in and they are hard moments to photograph in. It is difficult to not just remain perfectly still and silent and try to breathe as deeply as you can, soaking as much of that rare moment in to take with you when the time inevitably arrives and the light slips away. And you quietly set the camera away and climb back in your car and move on, in part because you have to and in part because there is other light to chase and other right spots to arrive at and be in.

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Casual Fascination

AM5 copyOne of the greatest gifts of photography is the ability to be fascinated by something as seemingly mundane as an abandoned child’s bike, a discarded chair or an empty parking lot. In all fairness it wasn’t simply an empty parking lot, but rather the light during a sandstorm, late one afternoon drifting across the sand peppered surface of an empty parking lot. But that is still fairly mundane. Not many people are sitting at home and think to themselves, you know what I want to do today? It’s not dinner, it’s not clubbing, it’s empty parking lots. Not many people! But I am happy to belong to the people who do think such things. Because that’s what photography does for me, it gives me the tools I need to notice such things and a strengthened sense of creativity to appreciate them.

And I am thankful for that. It isn’t even about being able to make an interesting photo of such things, but rather simply the noticing of them. I think this image is alright, I doubt I will ever print it, it’s interesting enough to post along with this short train of thought, so that counts for something. But the value that came from this experience was all in the experience itself, standing there in a big, open parking lot that was a few hours removed from being packed with cars and people, that was noisy with human activity and had become silent, the play of the different colour temperatures of light across its surface, and the speed at which the clouds were traveling on the stormy breeze through the skies above.

P1I also found my shadow exploring the emptiness. I know that technically it is always there, following me endlessly around on my travels, whether it wants to or not. Sometimes I notice its companionship, sometimes I know I don’t, but yet it remains right there. I turned around, surveying the light, looking for any last moments of the day to photograph, and there it was stretching out in front of me. Was it in repose? In waiting? Bored? Anticipating? I have no idea. I never do. But it did hold still long enough for me to make a photo of it in that light. Within a minute or two, the sun had dipped those crucial extra couple of degrees and my shadow, though still there in some sense, had nonetheless dissipated, immersing itself unto invisibility in the greater pool of shadow that stretched across the land.

P2All in all, it was a good moment to be in and one I doubt I would have ever found without the benefit of photography.

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/

A Beginning And An End

AB1As a photographer I have encountered that quirk of human behaviour where I will pull over alongside the road to make a photo, only to be joined by other cars stopping to also make photos? It seems to happen enough to me that I have noticed it; I’ll find an empty bit of shoulder, or a deserted lay-by with a nice scene and before long I’ll have a small crowd joining me.

f5This behaviour doesn’t annoy me, I certainly don’t mind sharing a nice view but I do find it interesting how seeing one person pulled over making photos makes it so much more likely that others will follow. I guess if I did have issue with this quirk it is that I wish more people didn’t need the incentive of seeing others already stopped to be encouraged enough to stop themselves. But I get it. I have been on the other side of that equation too, driving along, in the zone, wanting to get to a destination but then seeing a small crowd enjoying a view and having my interest piqued where as I wouldn’t normally have noticed.

AB2I do have one other wish though when it comes to these situations. I wish people stayed longer. I know I have a photographer’s bias here, I move slow and love taking my time in spots such as these. I like to work on my images to insure they turn out well but I also like taking in the scenery. I struggle with feeling a bit dismayed when folks join me by the side of the road only to not even get out of their cars but simply roll down a window, lean out with a phone, snap a photo and drive on. I wonder what it is they really are looking for in that moment. Is all they want a brief record of where they briefly stopped? If you take the photo out of the equation the behaviour becomes even more questionable. Imagine pulling over for 15 seconds, rolling down a window, looking out and driving on.

SC3It is a hard thing to learn how to slow down and really look at things. I feel fortunate to have chosen to become a photographer because I think it has slowly taught me the value of this. I was not as appreciative of looking at things before I became a photographer, so I realise that the stuff I see now that seems so obvious to me wasn’t always that obvious. In a weird way it makes me feel a bit sorry for some of these people that join me at stops like this. I know they are appreciating the pretty scene in front of them, at least in a very abbreviated and superficial way, but I almost want to guide them by an arm to a rock and encourage them to sit for even 10 minutes and watch the clouds drift, or the golden yellow leaves sway and rustle. To feel the warmth of the sun come and go as it passes behind clouds and to listen to the wind interspersed with passing cars. To watch the play of light and be aware of the passing time. To marvel at the seasonal beauty and realise it will be at least another year before you have a chance to see this again, most likely. Or you may never pass this stretch of road again in your life, do you  really want to rush this?

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I let them do their thing, just as I do mine. And that’s ok. Maybe not perfect, but ok.

 

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Paperback

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I’d like to buy a good
Used paper back bible

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Too much time to kill
Too much wasted air
Too much everything
No need to think

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Here above the clouds
I am free of all the crowds
I float above the surf
And I feel the rush of love

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And I have always thought
That hand guns were made for shooting people
Rather than for sport

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Guess I’d like to sell
A good used paper back bible.

http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Midgard

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Having read The Lord of the Rings as a young boy and created the visual imagery in my mind I never felt the need to watch any of the movies. The characters were real enough and I enjoy having them with me.

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So today I raided my Lord of the Rings negative Folder and put a little fantasy post for you to enjoy and journey into middle-earth.

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Some Photographs are years old other were just made recently.

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Susan has recently completed a needle felted sculpture of Gollum, and for the first time I saw a 3D image of how I imagined him.

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And what has this got to do with a photography blog? Well two-fold really. One it’s my blog and I do as I please, but more to the point all these images were made using ND Filters of different strengths. So here is a little of my findings about ND Filters.

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The term neutral density is a bit of a misnomer. It isn’t really as neutral as it seems. Most of my ND filters do quite well if I only cared about the visible spectrum, and sometimes that’s enough. But I have long suspected that many ND filters don’t block UV light as readily as visible light. Turns out that some ND filters also don’t block IR light quite as well either. IR light isn’t generally a problem for me since I do most of my long exposure on film. Most film emulsions aren’t sensitive to IR light. It is digital sensors that experience the most noticeable problems here. Again, not a big help to me, I just use IR-insensitive film.

I guess many film emulsions have sensitivity that extends into the UV range. I knew that certain b&w films do, but based on what I see, a number of colour films do too. This tends to result in a blue/purple shift when using strong filtration. It also tends to result in the underexposure of vegetation. Mostly I accept it. Eventually I suppose I will learn how to make best use of that UV exposure rather than fight it.

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So off to find my way back to reality……..

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