Glimpse of Heaven

I was weaving my way up the Pordoi Pass, just clearing the tree line and getting the day’s first real look at the mountains, when the bike’s stereo came up with The Strawbs “Glimpse of Heaven”. One of those totally appropriate moments.

Heaven, in that sense, would be unremittingly rocky, drawn like a child would draw mountains, and with a sky of the deepest blue imaginable. Such clouds as there would be would only be there for dramatic effect. There would be next to nobody else about, and I’d have endless power in my camera batteries, and loads of space on the cards in the cameras. Yup, by that token, the day was indeed one in Heaven. But then, so was the next, and the next, and….

However, all good things must come to an end, and today is effectively the day I start to point this trip of mine in a vaguely homeward direction. By a rough calculation, I’ll be back in ten days from now. In part, I’m taking the philosophical view that all good things must come to an end. On a more practical note, places I have been going to are now very much gearing down for the break between summer and skiing. It’s actually getting difficult to guarantee somewhere for a meal of an evening. This weather, perfect though it may have been for weeks, is not going to hold, and a mountain area in the first storms of autumn is somewhere I want to avoid, being as I am travelling on two wheels.

I have had amazing success with the photographic project that was to form a backbone of this trip. As a reminder, I’ve been aiming to take a 2011 equivalent of each of 36 photos I have in a hand-made book, taken in the Dolomites in about 1911. I’d estimated possibly several years to complete the groundwork for this. At time of posting this, I have 33 of the 36 in the can, all shot on large format film, and backed up with digital versions from the same spot. I’ve got there by good weather, principally, coupled with (in order of importance) good luck, hard graft and good local knowledge of some areas. An early job upon return will be to track down somewhere that can develop the negatives really well. I also need to be turning my thoughts to the sort of web site the stuff will be going on to. I’ve been working on notes for the accompanying words on several evenings while dining.

Before I finish here, I have a day to capture two of the final photos. The third one is just going to have to wait. It was taken from a very inaccessible place high in the mountains, which I have visited once before. Whatever else I have with me on this trip, I am not equipped to get back up there solo or safely. Impressed that the original photographer managed with, I think, a 5×4 plate camera. I quite like the idea of having one piece of the jigsaw still needing to be fitted. An excuse to return, were one really to be needed.

My choice of hotel for the next couple of nights has not been a good one. This one flouts EC law on smoking in indoors, and will be the subject of a flaming review from me on the bookings web site I used, which is normally so reliable.

I’m hoping I’ll be in Switzerland for the next blog.

2 Responses to “Glimpse of Heaven”

  1. Dan Slee Says:

    That’s such a good idea for a project, Tom. I remember you talking aboutr it earlier in the year. What would mine be? I don’t know. But it would involve a pair of walking boots, the countryside, some cash to do it and my £49 camera.

    • tomsprints Says:

      It’s been quite a long time in the offing. The whole story of how the project came about is a good one, too. I got defeated by the logistics of getting one of the 36 photos, and by foggy weather for another, so I will find a temporary workaround for those. Just taken 14 rolls of 120 film in to be processed today. £50’s worth. That’s 140 frames, as I took something like three frames of each shot and bracketed exposures. I enquired about the cost of having each frame scanned and copied to CD, to save me time. “£3.50 per frame”, the boy in the processing shop said. “You’re having a laugh”, I said. Should see the results on Saturday. I took digital of each scene too, as belt and braces, but the real care went into framing the film versions. Long time since I’ve done a serious amount of medium format film work. Totally different technique and pace to it, which took some getting used to. I took a very expensive Bronica GS 6×7 camera and four lenses with me. I realise now that for sake of authenticity, I ought perhaps have taken my late mother’s old Box Brownie, though!

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