Thursday, 24 September 2015

Swimming

Swimming by GothicNarcissusI was swimming across the sky,
Clouds and angels by my side,
Then I realised that I was lonely
And it wasn’t such a good thing.

I was flying in paradise,
In that ocean of dead lights.
I was looking for your smile in the wind,
But there was nobody there this morning.

I believe in your smile everyday,
But I know that you’re far from my way.
When I talk to the moon I can hear you:
In the dark I can see, I can feel your light.

[ Swimming – Emilie Simon ]

I remember distinctly I started listening to Emilie Simon right after moving out of the student dorm into a real flat, which was five years ago around this period. One of her songs that caught my attention first was Swimming, which is still one of my favourites today. It evoked the image you can see almost immediately when I heard it, so I can say I’ve been gestating this photo for exactly five years. Just like that, the very way you see it. A friend of mine, to whom I showed the photo earlier, asked me why it took me so long to do it, then. Well, I’ll be damned if I know.
The idea per se is quite simple: floating in a very still pond which reflects the sky and clouds to convey being swimming across the sky, with no shore in sight to give the idea of vastness and solitude. Fairly immediate. Why five years, then?
Well, I guess back then I was aware I wasn’t nearly artistically mature enough to pull out the photo as good as I needed it to be, especially the reflection. It took me some observation to learn how the light reflects or scatters in the water and which conditions are best for what I needed: grazing light or even shadows, shallow water with as little ripples as possible, a very low point of view so the water is more reflective than transparent to the lens and, of course, the right amount of clouds. In the meantime, I upgraded my equipment to include a full frame camera and a telephoto lens, which would give a great technical help to the photo. Now the problem was the right place and time: of course I needed the clouds, but it had to be in summer so I would not freeze to death. As for bodies of water with a clear view of the sky and shallow enough to make a good reflection, well, I had no idea where to look: I either kept coming across forest ponds, which reflected the green of the foliage instead of the sky, or places where the water was constantly moving and rippling, which didn’t reflect enough. At some point this year I even considered some lakes near Trieste, but I could not arrange to get transportation and assistance there, so I shelved the idea for some time.
As my dear friend ContessaNera put it, you go all “I need a location that doesn’t even exist in the computers of the Noah graphics”, then you find it in your own basement. In this case, while shooting a month or so ago, I found out that the coastline near Alghero hid some really nice tide pools which were shallow and enclosed enough to reflect the sky perfectly under the right conditions. All I had to do was wait for the right amount of clouds and go for it, except, as I noted while discussing Noisy Awareness, is easier said than done in such a sunny place as Alghero.
Well, yesterday was a very rainy day until it cleared late in the afternoon. As soon as I saw there were some leftover clouds, I grabbed my camera, my tripod, my mom and rushed to the nearest pool to set everything up. With some precious help from my mom, the shooting went smoothly and there it was, the photo I’ve been dreaming of for all these years.
In these five years, this song has become incredibly meaningful to me and so has the photo. I can say I’m exactly in this situation right now, floating on my own among unrealistic things with a strong sense of yearning, which helped me add a layer of depth to the image. I can say this photo has come in the due time, as my photos always do.

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