Overlooking Siena

Well might you wonder what’s involved with overlooking Siena. A few dollars, about 500 steps that circle around and around and around in a tall, skinny tower built for far smaller people than populate the world now (100 degree heat is a must for the full effect!), with no fear about squeezing through the last vertical feet on a ladder that pops you out on top of the Torre del Mangia; the tower overlooking the Piazza del Campo in the center of town. All the while holding each rung the ladder with one hand, vise-gripping your camera with the other.

Once popped, you look around and realize why you just put yourself through that torture on a blistering day in August. It’s this:


Being Siena, the place of my dreams, I wanted this photo to have a style reminiscent of the day. Kind of worn, with a particular kind of detail – not 100% like a photograph. I also wanted it to pop with color… but altered. A blend of old and new. Karen style.

The style I envisioned sure wasn’t in any of the RAW images I took. For this, I snapped 7 auto-bracketed frames for an HDR image. No tripod either: I had to balance my camera on the edge of the wall, kind of dangled out there over the plaza below! This was one of those RAW’s: (cause I know how you love Before and After comparisons. Me too!)


Yeah. Not exactly inspiring by itself, is it? But in my head were images of all these incredible artists and their respective styles and colors and textures that had been flooding our consciousness the entire time we’d been there. Masterpieces of Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Boticelli, Bellini, Gozzoli, the mighty Michaelangelo and countless others all swirled across my inner eye as I stood there, overlooking the mightily awesome Siena. Home of the Palio… which I’d wanted to see ever since I read the book “Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio” by Marguerite Henry when I was a kid. (The book was a whale of alot cheaper back then! Glad we kept our copy. ;))

We missed seeing the second Palio race by a week. But we got to see the course all set up – and the flags and signs of pageantry all over… my little kid was leaping for joy!

But I digress. Or maybe not… because maybe all I’m really saying is that our photography – our art – can be an imprint of our brief moment here on the planet. Our impressionistic love letter to life, which is short. Too short for messing about. The Italian renaissance artists I saw didn’t mess about – at least not with their art! They Brought It – and inspired me to continue doing my ultimate best to do the same.