Friday, 31 December 2010

One upmanship

Allow me to introduce the medieval hill town of San Gimignano near Siena in Italy. This mini hill top Manhattan is quite a tourist draw, and we certainly enjoyed our short visit there a decade ago.

We find the typical Mediterranean hallmark of tall buildings and narrow streets, but there are also these huge almost windowless medieval towers. From Wikepedia: "While in other cities, such as Bologna or Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars or catastrophes, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying height which have become its international symbol."

I can't argue with that. The towers  were apparently used as statements of wealth and status, with each family attempting to outbuild its neighbours.

Although the town is an architectural delight, it is also a photographers nightmare. The deep shadows and the bright stonework are at war with each other, and everywhere there are your fellow tourists... These images scanned from slides have required work to present the scene as I remember it. 

I have also tried to minimise the Tobacco Abuse evident in many of my slides from that era. (A blog on this subject is coming soon)

When I am faced with crowds at ground level, I often look up to see if there are small detail shots that can be had to capture the feel of the place without including the tourists. Here's an example: A local surveying the early morning scene in the market place below.

Here is a more conventional view of the market place. In this case an extreme wide angle lens was required. The high contrast and heavily distorted image may not be to every one's taste but it does represent something of the feel of the place for me...

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