Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, 1990

Charlie Waite: Picture/Story
December 27, 2021
Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, 1990 | Edition of 50 | £1300 exc. VAT

The impulse to make an image of an arcade or cloister probably comes from the same desire that I have to put the camera to my eye for an avenue of trees. Perhaps it satisfies a sense of order, the pleasure to be had from repetition, the pleasing aesthetics of arcs and diagonals: who knows? But I will always remember the happy and yet frustrating time spent in the elegant town of Lucca. Florence and Siena are often sited as the jewels of Tuscany, but Lucca should not be overlooked. Many a day have I spent there, wandering within its Renaissance walls. For the lover of architectural detail, there is a feast of opportunities: the fine Romanesque cathedral, palaces, squares, and the arcaded cloisters abutting the main square. 


It is not always the case that an image has to be awaited and received; sometimes it is blatantly 'for sale' and shouts out to be acquired. The lemon diagonal sunlight bands, fat towards the beginning of the image and skinny at the far end, were irresistible to me, and the bicycle parked nonchalantly and set so perfectly two thirds of the way down the twenty or so arches sent me into photographic rapture. I did not know at the time that when a print was made, the bands of sunlight would create the optical illusion of steps in the front of the image. 


Within minutes, I had set up. This was not the time for sedate photography where waiting is the game, this was about urgency, about grasping opportunities. I could not bear the prospect of the sun slipping behind a cloud - perhaps a cloud that was so vast, so infinite there would be no sun on my arcade for a week, for a month or a y ear. I could hear the sirens screeching in my mind. This was panic time. 


I had never suspected that I would be undone by the mischievous but infuriating little ten-year-old lad who was determined to taunt me by slipping in and out of each arch one by one, always managing to pre-empt the moment when I would depress the shutter of my camera. In normal circumstances I am able to cast an eye upward to see the state of play with sun and clouds, but here I was unable to know if I was to be denied my light and, if so, when. Would it be in a moment, or could I relax in the knowledge that I would be afforded at least ten minutes of direct undiffused sunlight? If I had known, then I would have had the luxury of being able to join in with my little friend Luccio and buffoon with him for a while. But it was too risky. Supposing I were to have stepped away from the camera to glance at the sky for just a few seconds. That may have been the moment when he too was distracted and I could have made my exposure.


Finally a pleading call from his mother brought this cat and mouse game to a conclusion, but not before he peeped around the far pillar at the end of the arcade to snub me at the last. Game set and match to me...just. 


Charlie Waite


Film Fuji Velvia

Camera Hasselblad 6cmx6cm

Lens 150mm

Exposure 2 secs f.32

Filters 81B

About the author

Luke Whitaker

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