Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Neuschweinstein Castle

Neuschweinstein castle
A900, f/7.1 @ 24 mm, 1/160, ISO 200

Neuschwanstein castle is a sort of a hallmark of Germany. When you are looking at the tour guide brochures, the castle stands as the most popular celebrity on every cover. Besides, every girl has it already well packed in their sub-consciousness through the Walt Disney’s ’Sleeping Beauty’, where Neuschwanstein inspired the creators of the cartoon.
So you can imagine how glorious this place must be!

That’s why we were very surprised when told by a friend of ours that castle is a bluff, not really a castle and not even worth visiting.
We still decided to go as we knew that at least the view of the Alps would not disappoint us and our cameras. Having reached the village named Hohenschwangau, we spent the most part of the day admiring the magnificent view from the bottom of the hill and cheering from happiness of being in that place.

The castle was there - probably in the most beautiful place in the whole country - built by Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, in 1886 as his refuge from the political complications of those days and materialisation of his personal fairy-tale. The castle was built around the thematic of a swan expressed through numerous sculptures and pictures in its interior.

Ludwig II spent his childhood in the Hohenschwangau castle, built by his father Maximilian II of Bavaria, that now neighbours Neuschwanstein adding to the beauty of the scenery. Hohenschwangau was decorated with scenes from medieval legends and poetry. There still as a child the king identified himself with Lohengrin from the legend of the Swan Night which obviously took deep roots in his spirit and fantasy and finally realizes itself through the castle.
To this very legend of the Swan Night Richard Wagner once dedicated a romantic opera. In his turn, Ludwig II, Wagner’s great admirer, dedicated the composer the whole Neuschwanstein castle installing a stage ready for opera performances of the renowned musician.

There is no other way to enter the castle rather than joining a tour: as the day passes along with final calls of the visitors bus, tourist start to disappear. You can live the sunset up there almost alone. Almost cause there's always a couple of landscape photographers passionately clicking with their cameras to capture the glory of the hills embraced with the last beams of a sleepy sun.

There is a road that leads back to the village through the woods surrounding the castle:we recommend to walk down there and be alert. No-no, no-one will rob you. But… engaged by the thoughts about the fairy-tale castle, when evening’s darkness prevails the setting sun, in the stillness of the nature you can hear the voice of the Swan King calling out from the trees: ’Cu-Cu…Cu-Cu...’.

The bridge taking visitors to the castle is a very common spot to take a snapshot: we needed to differentiate our image from the thousands taken in this very shot. We chose a wide angle view framed on the left by trees and on the right by the hills to give the impression of looking at a painting. The valley in the back gives depth by adding a third plane. The shot was hand-held, but having good light we could still choose the optimal aperture of the lens (around f/7.1) that gave us a very workable 1/160s shutter speed to ensure a sharp image. The fairy tale quality we had in mind at the moment we saw the scene was enhanced in post-processing by carefully choosing the green of the trees that form the base of the image.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Golden Gate

Golden Gate in the mist

The Golden Gate in San Francisco is on fire! Or it looks like it's on fire when it's surrounded by fog and mist during a warm autumn evening, and it's framed accordingly. It's a wonderful metaphor of the two cities behind the bridge, San Francisco and Oakland, so different, and both on fire for different reasons. San Francisco is the hot cultural capital of USA, smug and posh, but open and diverse. Oakland is the working horse of California, also the center of attention during the days of the 99% movement.

While we were driving into the city with the idea of shooting a sunset on the bridge, a thick fog welcomed us: "Hope it stays as is until the bridge". We crossed the Golden Gate with very limited visibility, but when we drove up to the vista points, we left the fog behind us, under, us and joined a pretty consistent flock of photographers attracted by the same even.

This image was taken on a Sony A900 full frame camera, with a long focal length (approximately 200mm) with the intent of compressing the planes, and a long exposure of 30 seconds to smooth the mist around the base of the bridge. The red tone comes naturally from the city and the bridge lights around the Bay.

Sony A900, 200mm, f/6.3, 25s

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cornwall sunset

Cornwall sunset

Newquay, Cornwall, UK. 
This image was just an intuition of a typical sunset in Cornwall when shot initially, one of those instances where the vision is not quite clear at the beginning, but it forms itself over time, in this case in the arc of a couple of years. The sunset was there, the beautiful setting on the coast of Cornwall, in England, was giving the subject, and the wide dynamic range of the sensor was used to capture as much information as possible by exposing to the right without clipping the highlights. The vision wasn’t quite there during the first editing though, but by looking repeatedly at the image for months, after more than a year, it started shaping itself: by giving more emphasis to the brooding stormy sky in post processing, and by underlining the wave coming into the opening in the rocks on the right, the image came to life. It now shows better what you might feel when witnessing the power of the Atlantic ocean.

The image was taken hand-held with the aperture set close enough to get good depth of field, but still being able to hold the camera still at around 1/25s: the steady-shot technology delivered a sharp image across the frame. The relatively slow shutter speed also gives a nice feeling of movement in the crashing waves. In post processing we increased contrast and saturation in the sky while reducing brightness to bring the dynamic range in check and enforce the stormy feeling that was so present in the original scene.

Sony A900, 24mm, f/7.1, 1/25s, +1EV

Welcome to our blog!

Francesco Emanuele Carucci photography
We are lucky enough to live in and travel for our photography to some of the world’s most picturesque and interesting places like Californian coast of the Pacific Ocean, volcanic peaks of the Hawaii islands, endless waterfalls of Iceland, breathtaking San Francisco with its “ups and downs”, good old Italy with antique cityscapes and “pregnant” vineyards. Through our photography blog we would like to share with you our experience of these places and transfer what we felt while looking at the stunning views that are captured in our images.

In many remote places we have visited we were held in surprise by the human presence we discovered.  In the era when human intervention in nature often leads to negative consequences, we have found a number of places where it blends into it, complies with its rules and even guards it. The equilibrium between the two, nature and humans, is a shared theme of our photography and is represented by images like “The House Built by the Sun” featuring an observatory peacefully nested on top of the Haleakala volcano in Maui; or “Hohenschwangau Castle” planted in the Bavarian Alps harmonizing with the overall landscape rather than disrupting it; or “Fishing in Maui” where two fishermen pull their nets in silent agreement as the calm Ocean sings a lullaby to the sleepy nature…

As we strive to convey the feelings, photography to us is a fusion of art and technology with both of them being equally important for a great image. That is why we do out best to be artistically evocative as well as technically brilliant! We achieve this ever moving goal by constantly upgrading our photography equipment to the latest technology, improving the tools and techniques, and taking extra care while editing the images during post processing. On the blog we also share the knowledge that we gather during this never ending learning process and hope that you join us in our journey!