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Where And What To Photograph In Tuscany

Charlie Waite, Light & Land founder and tour leader tells us why Tuscany is a landscape photographer's dream.

| Landscape and Travel
Words by Charlie Waite - Light & Land.

A region famous for the beauty of its landscape and the graceful elegance of its historical architecture earns its reputation through generations testifying to being emotionally moved and visually stimulated as each individual is enriched through personal experience. There is no question that Tuscany has inspired painters for over 500 years and more recently landscape photographers have come to regard this landscape, just a few hundred kilometres north of Rome as a sublime a landscape as they could wish for.

Where And What To Photograph In Tuscany: Belvedere
Charlie Waite -

For the landscape photographer the ubiquitous cypress tree punctuates the entire region delineating the crests of the many hundreds of gentle hills that much of Tuscany is famous for. A frequent sight may well be a single cypress tree making a dark and elegant punctuation within the landscape with perhaps a fine cloud formation above. These two elements working together can make a striking image.

Through centuries of time where men and women have ploughed and worked the soil the cypress tree represents quintessential Tuscany.

Yet, it is not only the cypress tree that beckons the eye of the landscape photographer, there are numerous ‘nooks and crannies’ albeit the Tuscan kind that are there to be sought out.

In one particular region an hour or so south of Siena, there are landscapes that I am particularly fond of. The hills are reminiscent of a giant lumpy mattress where a mixture of cereal crops and vines can be seen juxtaposing into patterns and design that can delight the photographer.

At the very heart of the photographer should be found an enquiring, inquisitive and investigating mind. It will always the eye that will first seek out and detect an image to be made.

Each landscape photographer will make a different response to the world around them and after recognition that there is an image to be made, the camera will always be that wonderfully creative device that will help manifest that response and bring it to life. I am utterly convinced that the greatest joy to be had in photography is through making the image ‘work in camera’ and I would suggest that here in Tuscany, the opportunities to do just that are limitless.

There are some that may find vast vistas too daunting, almost too unwieldy and cumbersome to grapple with and who respond to smaller designs and aesthetics within the natural world. It is healthy for a photographer to look out toward the vast and a moment later wonder perhaps to wonder at the ingenious way in which one stone has been laid beside another or the pattern that a group of poppies make into a familiar shape.

Where And What To Photograph In Tuscany:
Phil Malpas –

Somehow one can never be satiated here, with no dawn of dusk like any other and where the sensation is seemingly not unlike being in the very midst of a renaissance painting of the region.

It is almost mandatory to stand in the first light of dawn looking and photographing south across the swells and hollows of the Val D’Orcia for an image that will always be ones very own and which will be so evocative of how it felt to simply be there gazing and photographing across what is arguably one of the most glorious stretch of landscape in Southern Europe.

The pale sandstone Benedictibe ‘Abbazia di St Antimo’ is a remote jewel that appears to have emerged organically from the snug valley in which it lies. Embracing the abbey are the vines soon to be harvested for the world famous Brunello wine along with five hundred year old olives with their tortured looking limbs all combining to provide countless opportunities for the landscape photographer. It is easy to spend many hours making images and perhaps there may be a moment spare to go and sit quietly to listen to the Gregorian chanting that sometimes can be heard within the abbey.

Where And What To Photograph In Tuscany:
Phil Malpas –

The many white dirt track roads ‘strada biancas’ which are often regarded wrongly as impassable are like the ‘routes to treasures’ as they sometimes offer the only way to access the finest vistas in Tuscany. These networks of dusty white chalky roads can lead you to some gems that many regular visitors to Tuscany would never find. They are entirely safe with rarely another vehicle to be seen and with some of the hills exceeding 1000 feet above sea level, the views are second to none allowing the photographer almost 360 degree opportunities for their photography. In my experience, a few kilometres spent travelling along a strada bianca will often pay dividends with perhaps a discovery of a small chapel on a bend or a glimpse across a recently ploughed or new sown field toward the gleaming white dome of a distant church.

Many landscape photographers are drawn time and again to photograph within this truly ravishing landscape and to my mind, this staggeringly beautiful region of Tuscany continues to live up to its reputation and I for one can never get enough of it.

The next Light & Land tour, hosted by tour leader Peter Hendrie, takes place 2-9 October 2011. For full details visit Light & Land.

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