Italy Backroads: To Snap or Not To Snap?

It’s the eternal question on any vacation. If you’ve always got a camera in front of your face, are you experiencing or memorializing? And which is better?

I like a good bundle of vacation photos, but I prefer to err on the side of under-shooting. Especially in a new country, I want to let all five senses work together to fortify a memory that I can call on later. There are exceptions, though. Or hybrid experiences, let’s say.

On a country road climbing a ridge from strada regionale 135 on the valley floor, two Opel min-wagons labored in second gear around potholes and gravel piles on the way to the little town of Montefollonico, where we planned to have dinner. The sun was dipping; the road was shiny from a recent shower. The occupants of both cars must have looked left at the same time, because we both pulled over.

Montepulciano glowed in the distance, gracefully receiving the sun’s halo like a silent monarch bowing her head for the crown. It was travel-brochure stuff, so much so that any attempts at photographs carried the risk of postcard syndrome: the too-perfect look.

But the heck with that; we can sort it out at home. We stood on the deserted road and framed, snapped, looked…waited for the light to shift in the valley, did it all again. In between, I made an effort to smell the grass, feel the gathering coolness in the sunset air, listen to the breeze.

Here are four views of Montepulciano, all taken within a few minutes of each other, all within 100 feet of where we stopped.♦

© 2013 Adam Barr

Photographs by Adam Barr

With cloud bank and sky. The domed church beneath the city on the right is San Biagio.

With cloud bank and sky. The domed church beneath the city on the right is San Biagio.

More sky balances the stereotypical Tuscan colors with some deeper blue.

More sky balances the stereotypical Tuscan colors with some deeper blue.

A bit of zoom, and the all-cloud aspect makes a more dramatic presentation.

A bit of zoom, and the all-cloud aspect makes a more dramatic presentation.

A few steps up the road, with the sun now low enough to allow a bluish haze to creep in.

A few steps up the road, with the sun now low enough to allow a bluish haze to creep in.

Three of the four shutter snappers: (l.-r.) Brian Mills, Rick Higley, Ken Carpenter

Three of the four shutter snappers: (l.-r.) Brian Mills, Rick Higley, Ken Carpenter

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One thought on “Italy Backroads: To Snap or Not To Snap?

  1. […] Some need wide, postcard-y vistas to properly memorialize good travel. Not me. Although I like a tasty panorama or two or four, I like most of my vacation pics to be unusual looks and angles. Sure, I may break some composition […]

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