A view of Siena

siena-and-duomo-from-torre-wideI’m not sure if there is a best way to see Siena. Walking the narrow streets it looks great. Standing in the the middle of the Campo it looks great. But from the top of the Torre del Mangia it looks breathtaking – quite literally breathtaking – because of the 400 steps (exactly 400 steps) that need to be climbed to reach the top.

Here are some shots taken once I had caught my breath.

San Gimignano – quintessentially Toscana

 

San GimignanoWhen we were living in Tuscany having visitors arrive was always a treat. The opportunity to show people around “our neck of the woods” was always something we looked forward too. And as an experience of the essential Tuscany, San Gimignano was always a winner.

You may have heard of this village and it’s many towers. Originally it is said that there were up to 40 towers but now only 7 or 8 remain. But even with only a few towers it is still one of the most recognisable villages in the region.

Initially we thought that San Gimignano might be “too touristy” for our friends, but everyone we took there loved it. The walk up the hill from the Porta San Giovanni to the Piazza della Cisterna was always a great introduction, with the multitude of small shops that line the street adding to the feeling that this was the quintessential hilltop village. A drink or lunch in the main piazza was a must with a leisurely stroll down to the Porta San Matteo to follow.

We always seemed to leave with something – linen for the table or fresh pasta or a simple gelato from the award winning store Gelateria di Piazza located in Piazza della Cisterna.

 

 

To retouch or not to retouch

A few years ago we found ourselves in the hiiltop town of Monteriggioni about 20 minutes north of Siena. It was late in the afternoon and there was a view through the Eastern gate looking out across the Tuscan countryside that just had to be photographed.

When I saw the shots on screen I was disappointed. In some shots the gate surround was almost black and the shot lacked colour and contrast. In others, when the exposure was long enough to show the gate surround the countryside beyond was over exposed. The obvious thing was to load the shots into Photoshop and do some work. Which is what happened.

One of the great things about digital cameras is that they store a huge amount of the detail lurking in dark areas of a shot. The area may look black but with a little coaxing the detail can be brought out. Usually without affecting the exposure in the rest of the shot. This is what I did along with increasing the contract and saturation in the shot.

I guess the test of the finished shot is whether it represents the scene as I remembered it at the time? And yes it does.

 

 

Echos of summer in Toscana

After the PoolFor the northern summer of 2011 our life consisted of doing very little – but doing it very well. On the fine sunny days – pretty much every day between May and October – we spent time at our villa pool.

And after a hard afternoons sunning and swimming it was a short walk back to the cottage for a G &T, a beer and some time to recover from the stress of the day.

 

A view across Siena

For no particular reason, a panorama of Siena taken last August. I had never got around to stitching the 6 shots together until a few days ago. Once a few errant street lights and poles were removed, the result is quite good.

The shots were taken from the university looking across the old city. The Torre del Mangia is on the left and the Basilica of Saint Maria Dei Servi is on the right.

Siena Panorama

Under a Tuscan sun – surprisingly

Gallery

This gallery contains 14 photos.

According to the locals this summer in Tuscany was not good – lots of rain and wind, and not the usual warm temperatures. But we didn’t notice – for our two day stay the weather was glorious. It was a short stay but we … Continue reading

It always pays to look the other way

Just north of Pienza in Tuscany is a stand of Cypress trees that have been photographed more often than most others. The reason is they seem to represent Tuscany to tourists and they are visible from the main road. In each season they summarise the beauty of the region.

It’s not unusual to see half a dozen cars stopped at the side of the road with the occupants out shooting the grove of trees.

Interestingly very few people turn around and look the other way to a view that, in my humble opinion, is even more Tuscan. Captured here in late Autumn.