This thirty-kilometre stretch and the strada biancas that radiate to the north and south of it remain the loveliest areas of all Italy for me. Like a misshapen, lumpy old mattress, this chalk and clay landscape is classic Tuscany. My recollection then was of dilapidated farmhouses crowning every bump, complete with a cluster of guardian cypress trees.
Now in the twenty-first century, the ramshackle farmhouses have been transformed into large mansions with perfect avenues of immature cypress leading up to perfect thresholds. Cranes on the brows of hills betray the restoration of the few old houses that remain.
A piece of my heart belongs to this ravishing landscape. To be up at 5am on a May dawn, especially after a night's rainfall, looking down and across the Val d'Orcia is utterly beautiful.
When this image was made, there was a moment some half hour before the sun came up when the mist seemed to be like swirling chiffon, sometimes so dense that I was smothered. Within a moment or two it would become diaphanous, diffusing the early light. It seemed fitting to use a 6cm x 17cm panoramic camera here. I deliberately chose to drop the hilltop into the middle of the image and the vast breadth of the panoramic camera allowed all the agreeable shapes and the recession of the distant hills to fall into place.
Looking at this image, I sometimes wonder whether it was a fairy-tale setting and that I just happened to be there to see it manifest into reality... for a moment or two."
Listen to Charlie Waite discuss this photograph in the gallery HERE
Camera Fuji 6cmx17cm
Exposure 8 sec f.64
Filters Polarizer and ND 1 stop graduated