It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday here in Italy so I thought I would pick a photo with some bright sun and color. This is from a Saturday a few weeks ago, in Burano (of course!). The first two times we were in Burano it was overcast so I had been hoping to get there when there was some sun. When we left for Venice on Saturday morning it was grey and drizzly. We even were rained on as we exited the train station. But after lunch, the sun came out and we headed directly to Burano. Do not pass Piazza San Marco, do not stop in Murano. And I was rewarded with sun on the beautiful colors! Often when traveling, you only have one opportunity, one visit to get the images. It is nice we have the chance to go back someplace once in a while!
Archives for May 2010
Today I thought I would post of fun exploration idea that I’ve played around with a few times. Finding a great “shadow portrait” opportunity like this one requires a few things:
1. Sunshine or a direct light source that throws shadows. OK, obvious. 🙂
2. A wide open enough surface that the shadows are recognizable.
3. Noticing the shadow.
4. Deciding on composition: Angle to capture the shadow to get the “portrait” of your subject, how much of the background to use to “frame” your portrait, etc.
You can do this with any object, it doesn’t have to be people. The thing I like about these shadow portraits of our family is that they are all three of us together (since I don’t turn my camera over to strangers, it’s hard to get a family photo all together) and that they are also of the place we are at. It puts us, in that place, in a unique way.
The first photo was in Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre last weekend. The photo below… well, it should be obvious.
Play around this weekend and take some shadow portraits if you have time. Or just notice the shadows around you, that is interesting in itself!
Living in another country is like walking in the fog. At times you have no idea where you are, at times you can make out shapes in the distance. At times, you can see what is right in front of you but you may not recognize anything else in the landscape.
Every time I think things are going well here in Italy, I am reminded again that culture and language is such an essential part of who you are and how you behave and react that it gets us into trouble.
Just for a moment, I would like you to pause and answer this question: What does the phrase “extremely tough” mean to you?
To me, it means it may be hard but is possible. It may be doable. We will have to work at it but could make it happen. So when we discussed a proposal at work and I got this answer, I thought that it would be difficult but was open to discussion.
To my Italian colleague, it meant no. It meant it was not possible to do, they would never agree to it, we were wasting our time. So it came out this week that he was extremely angry with me about the fact that I went forward with the proposal through formal channels at work, because he thought I was completey disregarding his feedback and intentionally causing delays. And I was frustrated when the formal channels completely, flat out rejected the proposal without discussion, feeling they had strung me along and were just delaying things. Both completely normal responses, given our understanding of the situation. And both completely wrong.
All because he said “extremely tough,” meaning “no” and I heard “maybe.”
The layers and layers of language and culture are all around us, are part of us. You don’t realize how fundamental they are, how much we operate on assumptions in every day life, until they are challenged. This is my cultural lesson for the week. Maybe you can learn from it too. Even in our home country, in our home language, we make assumptions all of the time about meaning and intention. Next time you are frustrated by a situation, check and validate your assumptions and look at it again. Those assumptions may be the problem.
What is my fascination with peeling paint? Is it the texture, the light, the randomness of it all? Whatever it is, it called my name this weekend while visiting Cinque Terre. I have several pictures of peeling paint, mostly on doors. This wonderfully textured door is to our little private terrace for our apartment in Riomaggiore this weekend.
The interesting part of the terrace is that it wasn’t on the same floor as our apartment. We had to walk up a floor to get to it. It wasn’t locked but the gentleman renting us the apartment was very clear this was our private terrace. We found this immensely enjoyable because last fall, when my Mom and cousin Heather visited Cinque Terre, they told us a story of trying to go onto a terrace in their building, similar to this one, and being told, emphatically, “No balcony for you!” by the person renting them the room. They had just watched a man and his son go out on the balcony and nothing was said, so they didn’t understand why they couldn’t. Must have been a similar situation, but the story provided much humor for the rest of their visit. And, months later, for ours to Cinque Terre as well. We enjoyed the retelling of the story as we sat out on our balcony and looked over Riomaggiore.
Why is it, that coastal towns seem to revel in color? Pinks and yellows and greens for buildings, and here some red and blue near the harbor of Riomaggiore, the Cinque Terre town we stayed in. So much color. It’s as if the coastal towns are more sure of themselves, less serious than inland cities. No drab greys and browns for them. They celebrate their sparkling summer sun with bright colors, showing tourists their fun side, knowing that the time will pass and the winter storms will come again. But, even when the people leave and the waves crash against the shore, the colors of summer still remain.
Along the coast of the Ligurian Sea lies a stretch of land that time has intentionally forgotten: Le Cinque Terre, or the Five Lands, is a national park of Italy with these five fabulous little towns along the coast that have been preserved. This one, Manarola, was our favorite. Hard to believe that we were there just hours ago, enjoying the sun and the sea, eating torte di verdura and focaccia, and climbing up and down the steep hills. My blog has been missing for a couple of days, because I was off taking more wonderful pictures of places like this. Ah, inspiration on the Ligurian Coast.