The Heart and Soul of Tuscany

The memory of past adventures might fade with time, but somehow the taste of the wine that once touched your taste-buds lingers… and will bring it all back!

We are soon moving into our new house that we have been dreaming of for years, and with the date finally approaching, I started to empty my deep freezer. A surprise adventure into the past by itself… It is yesterday that I dug up some almost forgotten treasure: a pheasant my brother in law – a serious hobby hunter – gave us last year for Christmas. So dinner was quickly decided…

It dawned on me that such a divine roast would call for a great wine – so I rushed to the cellar to get one, when I had a sudden flash-back of the lingering flavor of the red wine we bought on our trip to Tuscany 2 years ago. As we were exploring the “Strada del Vino” in the Montecarlo region, one day we visited the Fattoria di Montechiari – an experience never to be forgotten… That was surely one of the highlights of our holiday!

We were driving up slowly on the hill surrounded by villas, olives and vineyards when we caught glimpse of the gate to the 10 hectare family estate beckoning us…

We had no appointment booked – which would have been customary – just vaguely hoped to gain access. Instead we were soon approached by a man at the gate who generously invited us into the garden

He happened to be Moreno Panattoni… the owner himself!

It turned out that we arrived in the middle of the season’s first harvest, and the house was bustling with people. We felt so embarrassed to disturb and was ready to leave when he gently ushered us to the processing line and even offered to show us the cellar! Wow..

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. We felt so privileged. So we took a stroll around the house and looked around from the highest point of the estate offering a full panorama of the Lucca hills, and then returned to the wine-press to observe the work of those diligent hands carefully selecting and sorting the grapes. It was simply beautiful to watch…

We were standing there in awe for a while, wondering if it was perhaps inappropriate to start a conversation. Oh, not at all! What a pleasure it was to find out about the history of this fine estate, chatting with the returning guests – or should I say friends – who were coming back to the harvest to participate in the work. How different it must be to taste the wine that your own hands once touched in the process…

Honestly, I was jealous! By then it was obvious to me: I want this choice wine!

I was getting anxious to see the barrels, to find out all about the maturing, the fermentation, the refining and bottling… And sure enough, he proudly escorted us down to the cellar, the “heart and soul” of their wine production. Barrels lined up in neat order all properly labelled, and a smaller room filled with colorful, almost smiling bottles designed to faithfully capture the spirit of this place.

The warmth, the straightforward manner in which this family was handling people, their professional attitude towards wine-making that meticulously took care of all details, yet made no fuss about it was more than convincing. I did not have to taste to know, I am buying a fair selection of their best years. A decision never regretted… In fact, if I was allowed more on the return flight, I would have taken more…

We said goodbye excited to get home and open their Chardonnay, Merlot and their great wine, the Cabernet… the one that left that perfect impact on my palate…

And yes, tonight’s sensation on my taste-buds is truly tantalizing: I find only an empty box in our cellar as a reminiscence of that beautiful color and fragrance. To my relief, I notice a web address on the side to help me find the Fattoria di Montechiari. So let me go now, look it up on the net and place our next order…

Cin cin to that delivery!




You wanna be judged or voted?

The internet is full of all kinds of photo competitions, and to be honest, when I come across something that jells with me, it is hard to resist trying… Aren’t you a bit the same?

Yes, you are tempted to try and enter, but the dilemma still remains: some competitions include viewers’ votes as a way of “getting ahead”, others are directly judged by a professional jury. So your image is tested and approved (if so) by a completely different set of standards and opinions and first and foremost by people with a completely different level of competence
. After all, it is so relative and subjective to say if a photo is good or not, isn’t it?

So, what to do? You wanna be judged or voted? Have you ever been struggling with this issue?

Let’s just look at the pro’s and con’s of both situations…

If you are a fledgling photographer like me, you are probably drawn in both directions here… I guess, this does not apply if  you are an “established professional” (whatever that might mean).

On the one hand, you surely want to see if your image catches the eye of your audience, since this is your purpose. Or, is it, really? Who is you audience? Have you decided that? Or you are still in a process of discovering who you are, and what you represent in “photography”? That’s ok, nothing wrong with that – it is a process you have to go through!  Let us not be quick to judge if you are still battling finding yourself…

On the other hand, you most probably are eager to get the approval of some “big shots” or at least someone, whom you know for sure already knows what he or she is doing, since you see the fruit – “professional work”! Are you willing to face the truth: you wanna be patted on the back by someone you look up to, who says, “Well done, you nailed this one!” That IS a thrill, no doubt – recognition like that should be!

I don’t know where you stand, but one thing I know: merely crunching the numbers on a “Vote for me” site is pitiful and meaningless, never go for such cheap praises! Nothing is easier on social media sites than to get a “like”… So, please do not harass your friends daily or send a spam email to everybody on your contact list and beg for a vote! I am not saying that it is forbidden to let those friends who are interested in following your “photographic career” know that you have entered a competition, but that’s it!  Yet, to wait for some celebrity to tell you that “You are definitely gonna make it” is also a futile thing

. How long are you going to wait for somebody to discover you, before you get serious with what you want to do? Whose WORD is it really that you depend on? If you are waiting for an ultimate approval from someone outside, you are wasting your time.

Get dirty with more work, more trial and error, if necessary, more risk of failing or succeeding, and you will discover your own inner voice in this gruelling process

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. It is this journey itself that will give value to the end result. It is by such a concerted effort that you gain the right to speak out and tell a story, and people WILL listen, they WILL look. It will be compelling!

So, I guess, now that I have given myself such a world of good advice, I am no longer going to wait for any outsider to be the “Sceptic” and pass a judgment, I will be my own “Judge”, I will be my own “Critique”..

Will you join me?






Return to the “Scene of Crime”

This is where it all started… Italy!

I joined Twitter early last year and started to follow a few people that seemed interesting. Some were social media people, others were sharing my personal interests such as photography. I got connected with a small number of them fast, exchanged a few personal messages and soon clicked so much that when an offer was made to join a photo workshop in Italy, I just sighed: “Oh, I wish..” However, Jeffrey Chapman – the “Twitter friend” assured me, that it does not matter if I am a complete amateur or a pro, it does not matter what “gear” I have, I can join the team, so I decided I would pluck up some courage and send in my application…

That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! We had the time of our life in Liguria and Cinque Terre with a small group of really special people that could not have been better “chosen” – a company of individuals from around the world with a pretty high emotional and social IQ to act like we had been friends for years…

David duChemin and Jeffrey Chapman were leading the IWTF – Italy Within The Frame – workshop that forever “changed a chip in me” regarding photography as a friend of mine said having seen my pictures before and after that workshop!

This year I returned to the scene of crime with my husband to immerse him in the atmosphere of Tuscany and “crowned” our trip with a brief visit to Cinque Terre… Having seen what I had been ranting and raving about, all he said was: “Next time THAT is where we come, and spend at least two weeks here!” Now, that is the ultimate praise coming from the mouth of a Norwegian man!

The weirdest part of this experience was of course “revisiting” those places where we were shooting together last May. Yet, as you know, you can never step into the same river! My images taken this time in Liguria should soon be forgotten – it seems that this year was about finding some photo stories in Tuscany, where we spent a whole week. We booked ourselves into a secluded farmhouse in the hills of Montecarlo,  surrounded only by vineyards, olives and cypress trees, and visited regularly by wild boars in the night… We were also perfectly positioned to make day trips to Lucca, Pisa, Firenze – and even Cinque Terre!

Having now processed most of my images during recent trips to Italy, India and Norway, I could no longer resist putting this website together mostly for the simple joy of sharing my travel experiences, and nevertheless presenting my fledgling portfolio to be tested by the most critical audience – YOU, the “Blog Reader”..

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I welcome your comments on my posts and portfolio, even your objective critique, determined to grow as a person and master my vision and this craft – travel and cultural photography..





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