Leaving France for a Day. Buon giorno Italia! As usual, our weekly photo trip destination was set a week in advance. This time it was Dolceacqua, Apricale and Pigna. Well, there was also Isolabona somewhere on our way (just before Apricale) but the timing was not good for a stop there. We did however agree on coming back because it looked interesting. There is so much you can do on a day, and sometimes it’s better to come back again to cover things properly than rush everything in a hurry.
It’s hard to criticise or find anything wrong with any of these locations which all have something truly special to offer. Walking around the narrow streets in Dolceacqua is awesome and looking at the stone bridge makes you understand why Monnet had fallen in love with the place in 18841. He spent some time there and two masterpieces came out from his stay in a place he called « un bijou de légèreté »: « Dolceacqua, Bridge » and « The Castle Of Dolceacqua« .
Apricale felt much more remote and very quiet. Yet, every of these villages have a soul and we can only get a tiny bit of it when visiting. I always have the same thoughts when I find myself in such places: how is it to live here permanently? Some houses are well maintained and decorated, others have a « VENDESI » (i.e. « FOR SALE ») sign on their doors. I guess that’s part of the answer.
My experience in Pigna is halfway between Dolceacqua and Apricale. A living village, with both maintained and abandoned houses, but with too many « VENDESI ». This is sad because I could also feel a « true soul » in Pigna, especially near the place beside the church. There were old ladies talking, a fountain, people walking around. It felt like I had stepped back in time by at least a century. Still wondering why house owners can let their property deteriorate like that (i.e. literally falling apart). Consequences are irreversible, even for the well maintained houses next door, due to adjoining walls structures severely damaged. Still, it’s wonderful to discover every corner of this village and let your imagination travel centuries. And then travel back to reality and have a delicious « gelati » at « Les Désirs du Roi » (Bar Trattoria-La Posta) on main street (SP64).
Looking from a Different Angle
I usually bring a second lens with me when I travel, even for a day hike out and about. Being a 50mm shooter, I frequently grab a wide lens like the Leica Super-Elmar-M 18mm, f3.8 ASPH or a telephoto like the Leica Summicron-M 75mm, f2 ASPH. But I found that most of the time the 50mm stayed on the body (Leica M Typ 240) and the other lens in the bag! The 50mm is really my favorite lens and that’s how my eye sees things, I guess. But finding myself in lots of villages recently, I realized that maybe a wider lens could help a little. Interestingly, I have a 28mm I almost never use. I don’t have a count of the frames I shot with it, but it’s certainly only a few. Humm.. So I though it would be an excellent compromise between the 18mm2 and the 50mm. I also have a Leica Summilux-M 35mm, f1.4 ASPH but it’s not wide enough to bring along the 50mm3.
Well, great news! The 28mm never left the Leica M. It was the perfect lens for the job and I’m very glad I gave it a serious try. I think that’s what was needed. Leaving home with the 28mm on the body forced me to stick with it and use it extensively, not for just a few shots. Oh, I admit I had to get closer to subjects on many occasions, but it didn’t take very long before couldI anticipate and evaluate the distance more precisely, like « second nature ». At first we stand too far and need to move forward until getting a proper composition. Doesn’t take very long to get it right. The eye starts to see wider and it works well for me as long as I get closer because I hate to have too much stuff in my frames. Always remember before you press the shutter: What is the subject of the photo? What is it talking about? What am I trying to communicate to the viewer?
Too much is.. well, too much! That’s why I so much love the 50mm. It makes you look at things in a narrower view, while giving you the choice of what you want to grab precisely. The 28mm on the other hand allows you to have a lot of things in the frame and forces you to either get closer or isolate your subject to make it speak. Unless the intended images is a wide scene that speaks for itself (i.e. Mountains, ocean, etc.). Landscape in other words.
What’s In The Bag
- Leica M (Typ 240) + spare batteries x 2
- Summilux-M 50mm, f1.4 ASPH (Not used at all this time!)
- Summicron-M 28mm, f2 ASPH
- Olympus VF-2 Electronic View Finder (proved to be a must in the sun)
- Sony RX100 + spare batteries x2
- 64GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SD cards x 3
- Lens cloth & brush
- Apple iPhone 5 (Duh! I always forget to track my walking/driving with the GPS app)4
The photo above was taken in the narrows street of Dolceacqua yesterday. I found the light was particularly beautiful, almost unreal. For me, this is the kind of light I’m looking for in photography: natural, soft and flattering on the subject. Now I’m wondering how it is when it’s raining over there? That’s something I’d like to see eventually. Definitely have to get back in Dolceacqua, there’s a lot to see and probably plenty I haven’t seen or noticed.. yet!
You can find the whole picture set on my website at www.normandprimeauphoto.com
© 2014 Normand Primeau Fine Art Photography. All rights reserved.
- This followed a back and forth trip by train from Nice to Genoa with his friend Renoir, in 1883.
- I have mixed feelings about this lens. First, it’s too wide for my taste (on most occasions), and second I recently installed a UV/IR E49 filter on it and it casts a « vignette » when used on the Leica M (Typ 240). This problem does not exist when the lens is mounted on the M8.2. ↩
- Only for situations where I’m shooting in very narrow streets, of course. The 35mm is an awesome lens and there are occasions when it’s just perfect. ↩
- Hurrrmph! The objective is to start the iOS app and use the GPS to track our itinerary (driving and walking) so this info can be used here to share a map with you, but also to insert maps/infos into DayOne. O.K., I still have a hard time writing in my journal everyday. Even every week is complicated. Anyone with a tip to help me write daily? ↩