Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Night of a Thousand Hashtags, I mean, Lanterns

A magical night, so the flyers went... A June sunset filled with a thousand lanterns glimmering in the sky reflecting in the dark waters of the canal. Prayers for peace for all who gather as silence falls over this corner of Milan. The first time the Milanese will have witnessed such a spectacle.

Eventi Milano

Except it wasn't exactly like that.

Vantage point
For those who arrived early there was a good hour or so of waiting whilst perched on Daddy's shoulders, bins, parked motorbikes...
But more people were arriving, and yet more people were arriving. It took me two attempts to get on a train and then 15 minutes to exit the metro station such was the crush.

The inexorable flow of people from the metro and tram stops.

 I really hope that meter isn't running.
The crowds were swelling and swelling and the traffic was getting caught out in the surrounding streets. Any car that tried to pass was trapped. In fact anybody who was trying to go on foot got trapped. It seemed the organisers had failed to let the public authorities know that over 40,000 people had already said yes on Facebook.

Amazingly nobody fell in
 I tried to stand on tip toe but I couldn't see anything. So then I thought maybe if I could get my camera high enough I would at least be able to see the canal. I couldn't.

I think this man was all of us.
 It turned out I wasn't the only one in Milan who had bothered to show up.

Then the police came
 Then the police came and got as hopelessly trapped as the rest of us. The flashing of the lights and wailing of the sirens proved futile. They started getting out the car and shouting, but that proved futile too.

At last a lantern!

When the lanterns came there were two of them. 
I decided it was time to slowly weave my way back home.

And that was that. Tens of thousands of people gathered to watch precisely nothing. A hilarious fail on epic proportions.

Unconfirmed sources put the crowd at 150,000

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Things I've learnt about photography in 2015

Right now I could talk the hind leg off a donkey when it comes to photography. I'm having a very creative moment due to the coinciding of my photography course and a spot of unemployment.
I'm going to keep it brief-ish though as this is probably not the place to go into detail but it really feels like the technical aspects are all coming together* and allowing me to go on to the next step in expressing myself.

Scrap what I wrote a few years back, I am no longer one of them. It's just so much easier to use the camera on manual as soon as you want to take photos in situations that aren't all outside and in bright daylight. Hey, it only took 4 years of practice.

A Momento Milanese in white, red and black.

Here are the 7 things I've learnt recently.

1. Take the photos you would like to take. I've wanted to take more portraits for a long time now but haven't had the guts to even ask anyone other than close family. Finally I have taken the next step and done some couple's shoots for friends and it was a lot of fun and my photos came out nicely.

Can't take this on automatic.

2. Share only the photos you like the best. Making choices is the hardest but most necessary part of photography.

THIS one is the BEST

3. Get other people's opinions because often they will see things that you missed. Instagram/Flikr can be fairly useful in this respect because you will at least know which pictures made the most impact even if few people will stop to tell you why they liked something.

4. Criticisms or bad comments are useful because either you will decide you agree with them and learn from them, or you will decide that you disagree and you are one step closer to finding out what you want and like in a photo.

Ripping up the rule book on shooting (the backs of) hands.

5. It is better to use your head before pressing the shutter because trawling through 30 slightly different photos of the same thing to find the 'right' one is massively time consuming.

6. Get a comfortable neck strap and a large SD card. Not doing so is a false economy. Charge your battery after using the camera, not before.

Storm over Milan: If hadn't had my camera...

7. Everything you want to know is on youtube.

No, really.

*Except panning. I'm really crap at that.

Monday, 1 June 2015

La Certosa di Pavia

On Sunday morning A and I were up at the crack of dawn (it was a very wide crack) and set off for Pavia. Now a lot of people were enjoying their long weekends in exotic places like London or Liguria but A and I found ourselves with somewhat more limited options because 1) he hasn't got a long weekend and 2) it was forecast to rain in the mountains.

We had to head South. The only problem with heading South was that coastwards all the hotels were blocked and Tuscanywards is a big drive for just a day trip. So we set on Pavia and the Certosa which we had visited some years ago and which my abiding memory of was coming face to face with a massive albino nutria rat.

It was time to give the Certosa a second chance.

La Certosa di Pavia.
 Alas, with one thing and another, (the TomTom took us through the centre of Milan and we caught red light after red light) we had the misfortune to arrive just after the first tour busses had arrived and it was getting crowded. The first two photos were taken in a lucky lull.

Figure for scale.
 Inside the church they were ensuring nobody took any photos and letting only 40 people in at a time to see the abbey.

 The beautiful summer morning turned into the classic Milanese humid grey white-out.

 And we didn't have much change for the parking meter. So our visit was very brief.

Rice Fields
All the same I feel like it wasn't a total failure. The best part was driving back through all the rice fields with all the wild rice escaping along the verges.

We'll go again another off peak season in a few more years probably!