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Perhaps Our Most Beautiful Spring Ever In Montalcino.

Updated: Mar 24

Our hearts are with the people and regions of Italy that have suffered devastating flooding due to record rains this spring. Montalcino has been receiving much higher than normal rainfall which was welcome after two years of nearly record drought. We've never seen it this green and beautiful in Val d'Orcia. It made for some epic moments of light.


Sant'Anna in Camprena as seen from Castelmuzio.
Evening thunderstorm seen from Castelmuzio. The abbey of Sant'Anna in Camprena is seen on the left.

Lee and I went out painting and photographing every chance we had. If we saw clouds forming around noon we'd head out to do some "image" hunting and stay out until almost dark. I consider myself very fortunate if I can make even one truly memorable photograph in a year. Even one from one of our trips to Italy is cause for celebration. Critics say that Ansel Adams made somewhere around 20 "truly great" images in his lifetime. I've been chasing that goal all my life.

We went to this spot on two consecutive evenings. I had photographed here many years ago and I remembered the exact place. It's in Castelmuzio a small hill town not far from Pienza. It has an incredible view over the Val d'Orcia which was made a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. The views and weather of the Val d'Orcia are dominated by the 1,738 meter (5,702 ft) extinct volcano of Monte Amiata. Brunello wine exists thanks mostly to the weather that is created by this peak that dominates the skyline.

I made a nice image the evening before but thought I could do better, so we went again and waited. And waited. We were just about to leave when the light started coming under the clouds from the west. Most to the weather passed us to the west, but not all. Monte Amiata is enveloped in the clouds on the left skyline. And yes, the green wheat fields really were this green and the clouds really were this ominous blue-gray color. Santa'Anna in Camprena is on the left skyline. Ansel Adams use to say, "Fortune favors the prepared." This was one of those cases.

My measure of success when I make a photo is in how the photo makes you feel when you see it. This photo makes me feel the sense of awe and amazement I felt the moment I pressed the shutter. I hope it makes you feel the same way.

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