THE STORY BEHIND THE DEVIL’S NO MORE

Castel Boccale, Italy

THE DEVIL’S NO MORE: HOW DID I DO IT, AND WHY? HERE’S THE STORY BEHIND THE ART!

“The Devil’s No More”, created on the shores of Tuscany, is one of my favourite B&W images from this area. I have been exploring Tuscany since I was a kid, many decades ago, I know it like the back on my hand and I love it deeply. The coastline south of Leghorn is dotted by many old watching towers; this is one of them, a small tower known as “Devil’s Tower” before being developed into a residential castle, around the end of the 19th century. In this article, I’ll tell you all about the idea behind the image, as well as what it took to create it, artistically and technically speaking. Above all, this article is about the passion driving me, the force that makes me go out day after day chasing that elusive, perfect image.

“Few men, entrenched in the Devil’s tower, watched for enemies never to come. For centuries they patiently waited, their minds easy prey for the dark one.

A fair lady chased the Devil away and turned the tower into a castle; not for war, but to make a home of it. The dark one, scattered onto the rocks outside his former seat, now screams between the thunders and the waves.

The tower, is the Devil’s no more.”

GETTING THERE
In October 2017 I spent about ten days working between Cinque Terre and Tuscany, both on the coast and inland. The imposing Castel Boccale, pictured here, is one of my favourite stops along the coast. Easy enough to access, the location offers a wealth of photographic opportunities as well as a number of different compositions. To me, it works best when the sea is rough; that, though, can make photographing close to the shore difficult because of the saltwater spray that needs to be kept out of your lens. On one stormy sunrise, I decided to go photograph the castle, looking forward to using the weather conditions to a good use, expressively.

EXAMINING THE LOCATION & COMPOSING
Arriving on location, I walked the scene moving along the coast on the dark rocks, until I found the perfect vantage point to create a composition based on diagonal, converging lines pointing at the castle. To do so, I previsualised the clouds as long exposed, noticing they would create a set of lines I could use to strengthen my composition. I then placed the rocky coastline in my frame to complement the clouds as leading lines into the image.

On this October morning, the wind was moderately strong, and the clouds would break from time to time letting some light in. I waited for the moment when I could use the breaks around the lower clouds to turn them into a darker line pointing at the castle and took my photo.

Castel Boccale (Italy, 2017)

PASSION AT WORK: THE WHY AND THE HOW BEHIND MY B&W FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
There’s nothing like black & white photography, for me. It is timeless, powerful and expressive, and I believe it to be the best medium to reveal the true nature of the planet’s landscapes through my photographic interpretations. Black & white landscape photography is a lifelong passion for me and it’s what I most love doing. Over a decade of love and dedication working with black & white photography’s composition and post-processing are what makes my black & white Fine Art photography unique.

Removing colour from a photograph is an incredibly powerful process in terms of the expressive possibilities it opens, one that requires a completely different approach to seeing the world around us. It brings photography to another level, requiring a craftsmanship in the field, an attention to composition and an ability for abstract seeing, that colour photography doesn’t necessarily need. For me, the decision is made long before pressing the shutter; when a landscape is revealing its monochromatic nature to inspire me, I just can’t help it but let go of the colours.

Processing my black & white work, I first prepare my RAW file for conversion following a dedicated workflow, completely different from my colour work. Then, I convert them to black & white via DxO Silver Efex Pro, using my own processes and presets. One thing I always found lacking in most black & white photography, both film and digital, is the treatment of mid-tones, which are normally flat and lacking depth. During my film days, to create my images I used a self-mixed, Pyro-based developer that rendered a truly amazing tonal range. For my digital work, during the last decade I developed my own Silver Efex presets to recreate the deep, rich tones that I loved on film.

THE AESTHETICS BEHIND SHUTTER SPEED
Shutter speed control is of fundamental importance for my work. I believe that controlling our shutter speed and using different exposure times, carefully selected according to each shooting situation, is one of the most powerful tools we can use to create our photographic interpretations.

For this particular photograph I needed my shutter speed to do two things at once. First, I needed it to transform the moving clouds into shapes and lines; in particular, I wanted to use long-exposed clouds to create compositional lines pointing at the castle. Second, I needed my shutter speed to simplify the breaking waves into a brighter patch of foam; not only this would make for a cleaner composition, but I also needed the lighter water mass to fill part of the negative space on the mid-left side of the composition. Too long an exposure would have made me lose all textures in the clouds; a too short one, on the other hand, would not have managed to tame the sea as I needed. After looking at the clouds’ movement, my experience made me decide to go for a shutter speed just above one minute.

FILTERS
When I work, I always prefer to create images that are as close to the final image as possible directly in the field rather than spending hours doing post-processing. To make this happen, filters are of fundamental importance for me. In particular, for this image I used a polariser to control reflections on the wet rocks, a Grad ND to balance the exposure in the sky, and finally an ND filter to bring the exposure down to 75 seconds, the perfect exposure time for the effect I envisioned.

BRING IT HOME!
For NFT lovers, “The Devil’s No More” is coming soon as 1/1 edition NFT on MakersPlace, following the link here: THE DEVIL’S NO MORE.

CREATE YOUR OWN
Join us for one of my CINQUE TERRE & TUSCANY PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS to create your own amazing photographs of Arnardrangur and many more Icelandic locations while learning all I know about Fine Art landscape photography. Attendance limited to just THREE people!

Iceland Photography Workshop

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