Strade di Firenze

In an attempt to get back to reading books over the holidays, I decided to start reading Inferno – the latest novel by Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci Code). Now before you pass judgement on my choice of author/novel, I was simply looking for a fictional page turner to help me build the momentum I personally need, when I’ve been away from books for a considerable period of time. True, the writing style might be a bit too cheesy and the plot all too familiar, but one thing I like about this author is the amount of research that goes into writing his books and the vivid descriptions of the surrounding environment that manage to engage the reader throughout the story.

The latest adventure of Robert Langdon takes place in Florence, the capital of the region of Tuscany and the birthplace of Renaissance. As I was reading about Langdon’s street chase from the Italian authorities in the narrow streets of Florence, this picture came to mind from my recent trip to Florence. The city can get overly crowded in mid-summer, but in my attempt to avoid the crowds and find some shade, I veered away from the tourist areas only to find myself alone in these picturesque side-streets.

Florence Bike - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 400, F4.5 @ 1/160sec and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Advertisements

Tuscan Landscape

Just got back from a 10-day vacation in Italy where I got the chance to drive around Tuscany for the first week followed by a visit to Venice for the last stretch of the trip. Had a great time there, with the highlights being the great scenery, the wine and definitely the food…ah yes, the food..what the heck do they put in that pasta that makes it so tasty!?

In preparing for this trip (from a photography perspective), I’ve read countless articles online about the great Tuscan landscapes, with the endless fields of grass, the iconic cypress trees and the variety of colours in nature. Unfortunately, I also read that the best time to visit Tuscany is either spring or autumn, which was somewhat disheartening given the timing of my trip in mid-August. Nonetheless I wasn’t discouraged, to the point where I made an impulse (yet relatively inexpensive) purchase of a new ultra-wide angle lens (Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM), which would be perfect for this type of landscape scenery.

I first got the chance to put this lens into good use, when I passed by this endless field of sunflowers, near the village of San Gimignano (half way between Florence and Siena). I immediately jumped out of the car with my tripod and started running into this field, being careful not to step over the flowers. The composition was tricky, as I was trying to shoot straight into the sun. I stopped down my aperture to get the sun look more like a starburst, and fitted a 3-stop ND grad filter to bring back the sky. Unfortunately, I got significant flaring on my lens, but to be honest I don’t mind it that much!

Sunflowers - 1920c

Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F18, and bracketed at -3/-1/+3.