Icons and Creativity

Tuscan countryside near Montalcino, Italy

When visiting a place known for being a photographic destination, it isn’t unusual for certain locations to be “famous” as sites of iconic photographs.  We all have our favorite examples.  One of them for me was the photos I made of the blurry gondolas in Venice.  While I captured the obvious shot, I also tried to find my own view, to make it my own, in a sense.

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta in the Tuscan countryside near Vitaleta, Italy

While on our photo tour in Tuscany, several of the students asked about specific locations and whether we would be going there.  Jeff (Curto) indicated that those spots were not on the itinerary but that we would likely pass by a few of them.  Jeff was very familiar with the locations, but cautioned us that for a number of reasons – namely conditions such as weather, season or time of year – we would not be able to capture the photos those folks had in their minds and had seen on Flickr, Facebook or National Geographic.  But, photographers being photographers, they wanted to go anyway so we did.  There’s nothing wrong with photographing famous photographic subjects of course, but Jeff encouraged us to find our own unique view of the locations – under the conditions we found there – and to make the best of them.

Tuscan countryside near Montalcino, Italy
Tuscan countryside near Montalcino, Italy

Case in point is our visit to the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, which is in the Tuscan countryside near Vitaleta, Italy and is the location of the photo I posted previously and the location of the photos in this post.  It’s a spot that even I was familiar with, having found photos on a number of websites and possibly in a guidebook or two along the way.  It is a beautiful scene under just about any conditions, but at the time of our visit we faced a number of challenges.  First, being that it is a place famous for being famous, it attracts a lot of attention.  In the middle of the afternoon in June, there was no way to avoid people.  Second, it was 4:00 in the afternoon, not exactly an ideal time for photography, although the light in Tuscany was almost always ideal for some kind of photography!

Tuscan countryside near Montalcino, Italy. The sign says “Vietato Calpestare – Coltura In Alto” or “Forbidden to Walk – Farming in Progress”

I worked to try and come up with a couple of views that I felt would reflect my own take on the scene.  By taking the wide-angle approach I minimized the appearance of people and took advantage of the great sky and the surrounding landscape.  I also looked around for other scenes that were not as iconic but photo-worthy themselves.  I think I came up with a few good shots, including one of some actual people!  On the distance shots I could have cloned out most of the bodies, but to me that was part of the scene and I decided to leave them in.  Plus, the scenes looking elsewhere didn’t have any people in them!  If at some point I decide to make a “fine art” print I may take a few more liberties.

Tuscan countryside near Montalcino, Italy

8 thoughts on “Icons and Creativity”

  1. Gorgeous landscapes and you were provided with a beautiful Tuscan sky as well. I do believe that you have succeeded in making this location your own Tom, just as you have in all the other places you visited on this trip.

  2. It can be a challenge to arrive at a place that we want to photograph, but at a time that’s not ‘ideal’, nor with an ideal situation, as in lots of people around; however, you seem to have made the best of it, Tom!

    During my road trip, I found myself photographing at times of day that I normally would have blown off, but, I’m glad that I did it!

    1. One of the hardest things about travel photography is letting go of preconceptions and being ready to photograph what we find when we find it. Sometimes it works out and sometimes we go drink wine! 😉

  3. Great set of images, Tom. Tuscany’s such a beautiful part of the world. I guess if you lived there it could become “daily ordinary” but it’s hard to imagine that happening.

  4. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of that scenery Earl. But I might be willing to try! It’s tempting to think about going back but there is a lot more of the world to see.

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