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As the wind is dragging the sea foam across the water surface and rain-laden clouds slide past each other, you think you’ll never make it down there. The island, so close yet so far away, out of reach.
Will you be dreaming about it for the rest of your life? Will you be strong enough to endure the wind and wait for the spring to finally come? Will you trust the soft summer breeze and let it touch you gently, until the past is forgotten?
That very moment, as you long for those grey clouds to dissolve, and for the past to be done, is a holy one.
When I was a little boy, I was afraid of the dark, of being alone. I couldn’t imagine that as an adult I’d develop a pleasure for loneliness. Back then, It took so little to shake me, every little movement, when I was alone at home, would startle me.
Where are our fears encoded? How deep? For how long do they leave our subconscious scarred?
It was last Christmas Eve, I was taking photographs on the beach. Lonely, dark, except for the full moon shining through the sea. Standing out in the moonlight, the thin silhouette of the remains of a burnt tree.
If all is silent around me, I can maybe exhume the black box of those primordial fears, remove, layer by layer, the dust, the mud, the blood accumulated in these thirty years, leaving everything buried.
I want to see them face-to-face, focus them, watch them under a microscope.
I walk back on the beach, against the wind. Then I look back, and have one final listen to the sound of the waves.
My woollen socks and the soles of my hiking boots do not prevent me from feeling my feet freezing, as I stand still in the middle of the frozen lake. Which offers some uncommon perspective on the surroundings.
It’s a multisensory experience.
Fractures propagating inside the thick icy layer induce unearthly moans. Patterns recalling Julia sets branch on the lake’s surface.
It does not matter where. What matters is what I’m experiencing.
Georeferencing photographs is not necessarily a good thing. I sometimes come across professional photographers doing identical photos in places already shot by somebody else, in a nearly identical way. Planning your shooting session is fundamental to nature photography. But excessive planning can inhibit discovery, improvising, serendipity. As for me, I think I’ll try to stay away from expectations when in the field with my camera. Trying to find something even where I won’t expect.
“Barbaro!” said the old lady, as I handed her the soap tablet, after having overcome my reluctance to photograph strangers.
I spotted her inside her tiny apartment, adjacent to Sancti Spiritus’ main market, Cuba.
She made me think of the many paradoxes I came across as I travelled through the island. Everyone can access public healthcare, but only a few can afford soap for handwashing. Everyone can access universities and get a degree, but with little hope of finding a job.
As she stared at me, through the lens, she looked like a prisoner in her own house, a foreigner to the world outside.
The night is flowing, quiet and silent, at the mountain cabin, 2388 metres above sea level. The ascent to Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Appennines, is waiting for us tomorrow. It is quite a challenging hike, yet not presenting any particular difficulties, except when a little distraction lead us away from the main trail, along a talus slope, between the vertical flanks of Corno Piccolo and the basin that hosts what remains of the Calderone glacier. It is after years of mountain hikes that I do find out I suffer from vertigo. Fingers tingling, legs shaking. I give up walking along the crest, up to the summit of Corno Grande, which I eventually reach after turning back to the signed trail.
The peak is packed with people, making it difficult to enjoy the view. What really matters, yet, is having made it there, after having explored my own limits. Something that human nature has always driven us to.
I have a deep affection for this rock, which I’ve been shooting for nearly ten years. In my mind, it is a symbol of Nature’s overwhelming power. It took just a few year for this rock to be literally ripped in two by the restless motion of the waves.
I had not been totally satisfied with the previous morning shooting session, hence my decision of being at the rocky beach at daybreak, for the second day in a row.
The alarm clock rings just before 5:30 AM and as always I curse the very moment I thought I’d go shoot at sunrise, it’s still the beginning of March and I’d settle for staying in my warm bed.
Outside, leaden clouds are bearing down on the sea. As I drive, the drizzle keeps tapping on my car’s windscreen. I get off and quickly move towards the pathway, I still have got a few minutes before sunrise. As I keep descending, I find the path flooded by the recent rainstorms and with some difficulty I make my way through the mud and finally reach the pebbly beach. I quickly set the tripod and filters. The sun stays behind the cumuli at the horizon, it won’t be a spectacular sunrise, but the sea and wind are deploying all their immense force and, what I’m really interested in, today, is capturing such a primordial power. It is something for which it’s worth waking up before sunrise, it’s worth getting stuck in the mud. It’s worth living for.