The gold of Puglia: inside the extra virgin olive oil factory – Reportage with my Leica SL

Hello folks, have you ever wondered how a little tiny fruit can produce one of the tastiest and used ingredients ever? I’m talking about the extra virgin olive oil and how it is actually extracted from olives.

I may admit that even though I’ve always and only used olive oil produced locally, from my family’s farm, so far I’ve never had the chance to see how is actually produced. And I guess that most of you, have only bought it from the supermarket, packed in a fancy bottle.

Well, there is a world behind that bottle, a long history and an incredible process that deserves to be told and photograph!

Frantoio Griseta, where all begins, since 1930.

The production of olive oil is a seasonal process that usually goes on from November until January, starting from harvesting the beautiful olive trees down the spilling into the metal cans.

Luckily, I was in my homeland, Puglia, at the right time, for Christmas time, and together with my dad, I went to visit a family driven factory, the “Frantoio Oleario Griseta”.

The owner did kindly open me the door of the factory line production and for me was like jumping into another world, perfectly organized and full of history.

The cold pressed olive oil

The process of making organic cold pressed olive oil is made of five important stages:

harvesting, grinding, stacking, pressing, separation.

In more details, here is the traditional procedure.

First, the harvesting, done manually from the secular trees in the iconic Apulian countryside. Then, the olives are separated roughly from the leaves and then ground into an olive paste using large millstones at an oil mill. The olive paste generally stays under the stones for 30‑40 minutes.

After grinding, the olive paste is spread on fiber disks, which are stacked on top of each other, then placed into the press. Traditionally the disks were made of hemp or coconut fibre, but in modern times they are made of synthetic fibres which are easier to clean and maintain.

These disks are then put on a hydraulic piston, forming a pile. Pressure is applied on the disks, thus compacting the solid phase of the olive paste and percolating the liquid phases (oil and vegetation water).

At the last stage, a filtering system separates pure extra virgin olive oil from the water and is poured into the tanks, ready to be sold or shipped.

My reportage with a Leica SL

And here comes my part of the job, the photo and video reportage.
To make this reportage happen, I’ve used my great Leica SL and alternate the two lenses i have, Summicron M 28mm f2 ASPH for most of the shots and the Summicron M 50mm f2, for few shots when I wanted a more close up view.

For the footage, I was using the iPhone 8Plus, handheld, just to try to document the whole process.  For the future, I want to equip it with a gimbal in order to have smoother movements. Anyway, I’m quite happy with the final result.

The video reportage

Edited completely on the iPhone using iMovie.

The Photo Reportage

 

 

The complete gallery can be seen on my portfolio website here:

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To have more information about Frantoio Griseta and order this great olive oil, please visit their website at:

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Thanks for reading,
cheers, Sabino 🙂

Milano, street life – A collection of pictures, with a Leica SL

Milano, here we are! It took me almost 13 years before I could come back to the city where I’ve studied and lived for three years, from years 2003 to 2006.

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of this city, but I cannot ignore the fact that is the only real big city in Italy, undoubtedly, the only city with a vibrant and dynamic life that flows between its streets.

Comparing to 13 years ago, Milano has grown and changed a lot, and even though it is not the place I would love to live in, it is for sure a great playground for street and travel photographer, like me.

Unfortunately, I had only 24 hours to get the most out of it, and, of course, my Leica SL and the two great lenses I always carry along. the Summicron M 28mm f2 ASPH and the Summicron M 50mm f2.

24 hours is not too much but can be a lot, If you stay around until 5 am… 🙂

Go to Duomo in the middle of the night!

Visiting the area of  Duomo, the Milano’s gothic cathedral, at night, totally empty from tourists, is a unique experience that I highly suggest you.

There is a kind mystic atmosphere, where the magnificent Duomo dominates over everything making you feel a tiny ant.

But one of my requirements, for my photography, is to always add a human being element to the scene, so I had to wait a bit for someone to cross the empty square, and it happened just very few times.

This is one of my favourites:

A city full of tourists, a challenge for myself

About my street photography, the challenge was to capture a candid moment of life, trying to avoid the tourists as much as possible and, mostly, avoid being trivial and obvious.

That was not easy at all.

To achieve that, giving the fact that I could only be in the city centre, I had to walk continuously and obsessively observe everything to find the perfect moment. And there were few captured moments, I’m quite proud of:

1. Love has no gender.

Maybe an obvious shot, but to me, it isn’t. These two girls were passionately kissing each other, ignoring everyone else all around. Pure love.

They grabbed my attention and so I’ve tried to approach discretely while contextualizing the scene adding the dominating Duomo in the background and the small pigeon in the foreground.

2. The smoking lady

Here, I like the way the light is somehow shaping the scene, guiding your eyes from the bench to the cigarette, and up toward the castle.


And here is the rest of the pictures… I hope you will find something interesting…

Milano, street life – Series of 20

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See you soon Milan, I hope to come back soon as there is still a lots of life to photograph!


Useful links:

To buy as prints or digital high resolution files, please go to my official porfolio page here:

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Cheers,
Sabino

 

My London: candid moments of urban and street life – with a Leica M

Hello, folks!
Today I want to bring you in 
one of the most photographed places in the world, clearly a very touristic destination: London City.

I know, you are already thinking about the Big Ben, the London Bridge, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and so on… Do these names sound familiar to you, right? I must admit, also for me, the city was always just about that.

Stay there, don’t leave, because this time I will show you a side of London that you are not used to see, as I will try to go more local, more Britis, If I may say so…

To get more original pictures, always follow the locals.

Being a street photographer, after some years of experience, I’ve learned that the best side of a place, the real soul, is always away from the touristic paths, where the locals are used to spend their daily routine.

And so, after many many times visiting London, and coming back always with the same boring pictures, I’ve decided to get rid of any transportation and explore another side of the city, all by foot, along the entire weekend.

With a Leica M and my legs.

At the end of these exhausting but certainly exciting two days, and walking for an incredible distance of 35km, I’ve seen a beautiful and vibrant side of the city, that I’ve never seen before.

with me, other than my beautiful wife, my lovely Leica M typ 262 and the two lenses, Summicron M 28mm f2 ASPH, and Summicron M 50mm f2

All starts from Mile End.

The long walking path starts from Mile End, and continue following the Regent’s Canal, then passing through Islington and then I just randomly choose the directions by following the instinct.

It was tough, but I may say that for the first time, I’ve breath the real British side of London, feeling not as a classic tourist. I finally had the chance to see a genuine of local life that you will never see around the most famous and iconic sightseeing.

And here are the pictures…

My London, candid moments of urban and street life

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How to buy my pictures

All the photos you see can be purchased, as high-resolution digital files (different licensing options) or as a Fine Art Signed print, at my personal portfolio website www.sabinoparente.com

Please click on the button below, if you want to browse the complete gallery and/or buy any of the photos.

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Thanks a lot for reading,
cheers,
Sabino

Discovering Granada, 4 walking routes and useful tips – Andalusia on the road

The first city I visited in the Andalusian region is Granada, one of the most important provinces and home of the famous Alhambra, an ancient Arab citadel (medina), then conquered by Christians and now an UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage.
In this city, with a strong Moroccan atmosphere, there is so much to see and, above all, to explore, but beware, it is also full of climbs and downs, so be well trained!

Traffic jam, just entering Granada

Arrived late in the evening, after the desert of Tabernas desert and the beautiful landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, the impact with the city was quite traumatic due to huge traffic jam: to drive the last 7-8 kilometres, we needed almost an hour. But we are in Spain, and here it is never too late, not even to go out and eat. So, left our luggages in the great Abadia hotel, just a short walk from the cathedral and centrally located, we immediately went out to the street in search of refreshment.

Calle Elvira, Moroccan atmosphere between Tapas Bar and The houses

The most famous street for tapas and cervezas is, without a doubt, Calle Elvira. This narrow street, in the centre of Granada, is less than a kilometre long and has plenty of tapas bars, tabernas, souvenir shops, Kebabs and the houses. It feels to be in a Moroccan village and until late in the evening the atmosphere is cheerful and vibrant.

Choosing where to eat, with so wide offers is always difficult, but we had a good address for a fresh seafood and so we headed to the Bar Los Diamantes , in Plaza Nueva, right in time before it closed.
About this tapas bar, I’ll talk deeply in a dedicated post, but I can tell that the food is just great!

Walking route N.1 – Plaza del Triunfo> Plaza Nueva – 850 m

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.


Best of Granada, in one day

Having a full day available, here’s what we did to visit Granada at its best.


Morning –  Alhambra and Albaicin

After a nice and sweet breakfast in the small bakery / pastry shop La Tentacion, we walked to the beautiful Alhambra, without a ticket, hoping to find some still available at the ticket office (read below). There are obviously city bus services, as the citadel is on top of a hill, but walking, albeit almost uphill, is very enjoyable and lets you discover and photograph glimpses that you would not otherwise see by bus.

Tickets purchased (€ 14 per head), we spent a couple of hours visiting the Generalife, the wonderful outdoor garden, crowded with tourists. The visit to the Royal Palace, Palacios Nazaríes, the most important and scenic, is set by fixed entry times and our turn is at 2:30 pm, so we split the Alhambra visit at two different times of the day.

Walking route N.2 – Plaza Nueva > Alhambra – 1.5km (mostly uphill)

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More Options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.

Pastelleria – La Tentacione

Pastelleria – La tentacione

The view of the city on the actual Alhambra route

A nice graffiti art of Alice in Wonderland, along the path to the Alhambra

The beautiful gardens of the Generalife within the Alhambra

The beautiful gardens of the Generalife within the Alhambra

L’Alhambra

L’Alhambra

After leaving the Alhambra around 11 am, we headed, always by foot, to the Arab district of Albaicin, along with a long and deep descent leading to the banks of the Darro River. From here, it begins to climb through a labyrinth of narrow, clean and decorated lanes with flowers hanging on the walls. We are in the Arab quarter. The most frequented area in this neighbourhood is undoubtedly the Mirador de San Nicolas, from where you have a stunning view of the Alhambra and where most panoramic photos are taken. But it is not yet the right time, so we continued to explore the area around.

Walking route N.3 – Alhambra > Albaicin- 1.5km (long descent and then uphill again)

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.

The long descent that from the Alhambra brings to Albaicin

The long descent that from the Alhambra brings to Albaicin

 

The view over the Alhambra from the Mirador San Nicolas

 

Plaza Aliatar, a nice spot in the Albaicin

Detail of a Moresque style window, in Albaicin

Albaicin

Albaicin

Before returning to our visit to the Alhambra, we had lunch at the Tabernas La Cueva de 1900, with great tapas based on Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, tomato sauce, bread croutons with ham and a glass of red wine. A very good restaurant near Plaza Nueva I recommend for a stop & go.


Afternoon – Alhambra (Royal Palace and Alcazaba)

At about 2pm we returned to the Alhambra, this time by bus (1.20 €) for the visit to Palacios Nazares and Alcazaba. Despite the time, we still found many tourists, confirming that this site is always crowded, regardless of the time of the day. After a long wait under a burning sun, we finally entered the Royal Palace and the wait was gratified. The interiors are gorgeous, in the typical Moorish style made of arches and gorgeous stone ornaments. The visit is very pleasant and the halls are very photogenic, as well as fresh. Too bad, because of the presence of so many tourists, it was difficult to take particularly interesting photos …

After exiting the Royal Palace, we visited the Alcazaba, the military area, the Alhambra defence and surveillance centre and represents the oldest part of the complex. To get in there, you need to show your ticket.
From one of the towers you have a great view of the city and suburbs of Albaicin and Sacromonte, so it’s worth it.


At the end of the visit, at around 4 pm, tired by the heat and the intense half day we had, we returned to the hotel, walking for about 2km for a well-deserved rest of almost 3 hours.

Details of the wonderful Moorish decorations inside the Royal Palace


Evening – Tapas in the Albaicin, sunset at San Nicolas and Zambra in the Sacromonte Gypsies district

Refreshed and rested, at around 19:30 we went out to walk back to the neighbourhood of Albaicin with final destination the Sacromonte gitano district where we will attend the  Gypsies Flamenco called “Zambra” in the tabernas Venta El Gallo.

First, however, we stop at the Mirador de San Nicolas for the classic Alhambra photo at sunset. The route once again is beautiful but everything is uphill. It starts from Plaza del Triunfo, where there is a beautiful Moroccan door, Puerta de Elvira, the starting point of the famous tapas road (see below). This door reminded me of Bab Boujloud in Fes, Morocco, which is, of course, more beautiful and scenic, but for a moment brought me back there.

Arriving at the San Nicolas Mirador, I found a huge crowd of tourists and photographers ready to capture the sunset scenery. With a pinch of difficulty and with the experience gained on so many trips, I managed to make room for me and take a spot in the front row, but I had to wait almost an hour without doing anything before the sun began to fall.

But now I’m no longer a landscape photographer, or rather, this is not a picture that I’m thrilled as in the past, so I left the place before the sun was completely over.

The Zambra show waited for us in a few minutes, and for me it was much more important from a photographic point of view, or at least I was hoping for it.

And this high expectation has been fortunately confirmed:

The Zambra’s dance, the Gypsies flamenco, overwhelmed me and I left with the goose bumps at the end of the show. Wonderul, full of suffering, passion and rithm. Unforgettable. I would see it again and again, a thousand times.

Obviously in Granada there are several shows of Zambra, more or less touristic places are all along the Caminito de Sacromonte. Now I do not know how the others are, but that of Venta el Gallo has been incredibly beautiful and nothing touristy. I talk about the show itself, not the place, anyway cute. But I will discuss this in more detail in a separate article.

Walking route N.4 – Plaza del Triunfo > Sacromonte – 2.1km (mostly uphill)

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.

Waiting for sunset on the San Nicolas Mirador’s Alhambra

The stunning view over the Alhambra

Zambra dancer in a relaxing break

The “Venta El Gallo” restaurant in the Sacromonte gitano district

A gitanos Family

The stage, a few minutes before the show


By summing up, the best of Granada and some helpful advice

The Alhambra 

Of course, the main attraction of this city is undoubtedly the Alhambra, although afterwards, after my experience, there is another attraction for which I would happily return to Granada, the Zambra.
If you look around the various sites, they will tell you that you need to buy the ticket for entry several days in advance, online, because the number of accesses is limited every day.
This is true, especially if you do it like me and try to buy the ticket a day earlier, probably finding it all sold out. However, it’s also true that the limited number of entries relates only to the visit to the Royal Palace (Palacio Nazares), while the whole citadel and then the gardens of Generalife and the Alcazaba are always available.

Now, I do not know if mine was just lucky, but considering that the ticket office opened at 8:30 am, I arrived around 9:30 am and there were several still available tickets for entering at 14:30 (There are 3 pre-established visit slots). Of course, it’s not the ideal time of the day, either for the heat or for a photographic point of view, but I always like to think that any situation can offer great photographs and I do not have to force the case.

My best pictures are always the most casual and instinctive ones.
So do not be discouraged if you can not book the ticket in advance, you probably will find one at the tickets counter desk.

5 useful notes to remember about the Alhambra

  1. Opens at 8:30h
  2. Always crowded and very large. Consider 3 to 4 hours for the visit.
  3. There are fountains with drinking water at various points.
  4. With one ticket you can go in and out several times in the day, except for the Alcazaba and the Royal Palace where you can only enter once.
  5. We arrive from the center of Plaza Neuva with the C3 minibus at the cost of the bus ticket (1.20 € on the bus) (much better to walk on foot, 30 minutes walking)

The arab district of Albaicin

The Arabian district of Granada, also named UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage, stands on a hill in front of the Alhambra. Losing yourself into its beautiful streets is the best way to explore and photograph it.

5 useful notes to remember on the Albaicin

  1. It is advisable to visit it from 19:30 onwards when the light is warmer and the temperature is less strong
  2. Very nice walk from Albaicin to Sacromonte.
  3. Do not miss the sunset on the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolas
  4. Great tapas bars or restoraunts, from Plaza Larga to Calle Panaderos
  5. Souvenirs. Negotiate the prices, high for tourists. I’ve got a magnet, from 3 € to 2 €

Accomodations in Granada

Here I can only bring my (great) experience with the hotel Excellent our Abadia hotel, central located and with a coffee machine to use for free in the lobby. The rooms are not large but very clean and overlook a beautiful patio where you can relax. The Hotel staff is very nice and helpful. Highly recommended.

The nice patio of the Abadia hotel

My photography, in Granada. How did it go

Unlike what I expected, I did not take a lot of street photography here in Granada. The Arabian quarter, Albaicin, where I expected a more local and genuine life, is actually a tourist area, with well-groomed streets and postcard scenarios. This aspect has disappointed me a bit, which does not mean I did not like it, indeed, but from a photographic point of view it turned out to be uninteresting. I did mostly panoramic, landscapes and details, especially during the visit to the Alhambra.

The most beautiful photo opportunity?

The most beautiful and intriguing photos I made during the Zambra show where, thanks to the fact that I sat in the front row, I had the opportunity to photograph the artists without having other tourists in between. Here I used the Voigtlander Skopar 21mm to capture the whole scene, but also the Summicron M 28mm and 50mm f2, and even the Pentacon 135mm f2.8 to try to capture some details. You will see the pictures in a dedicated article.

In this situation I discovered the convenience of the zoom function in the Leica SL electronic viewfinder, which facilitates the manual focusing even in moving actions and with complex lights as in this case.

 

Conclusions

I liked Granada? Yes, of course, even if I expected, as I said before, to find more real and true traces of an ancient Moroccan medina, which unfortunately is not. That said, the Alhambra remains a wonder to see and the Zambra show worth a trip to this beautiful Andalusian city. I did not mention the Cathedral of Granada, because unfortunately, for lack of time, I only saw it from the outside and quickly. In one day and a half, you can see the best of Granada, but the ideal would be to stop for two full days.

My rating: 6.5 (9 for Zambra only) 🙂

If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact me, I will be happy to answer you.

Thanks for reading,
see you soon, Sabino

Food photography with a Leica M? Yes we can!

Italy is the heaven for genuine food and whenever I travel to visit my family in my hometown Mola di Bari, Puglia, I’m always tempted to organize a Food photography shooting taking the chance of having fresh fruits and vegetables from my parent’s farm and amazing prepared food from the best chef in the world: my mom! :-p

But I always change my mind as I’m annoyed to carry over big and heavy equipment as for instance, the Canon 5D III, the EF 100mm macro and the EF 24-70mm IS II, for a short and relaxing stay of few days. Recently I’ve paired my DSLR equipment with a Leica M typ 262 and, whenever I travel, that’s my camera to go, other than I want it to become my only equipment for any usage.

I know this will be a challenge, but the more i discover the rangefinder world, the more i love it, and the more i use it.

I was enjoying the time in my sunny Puglia and my father, who knows what I like and what I need, showed me a picture he took whit his iPhone, of a little pomegranate on a nice, old, “ugly” wooden banquet. The overall look and feel of the picture was really interesting for me as for long time I was looking for a wooden background like that, with a natural feel but strongly marked by the time.

But I was there, with “only” my Leica M and a Summicron M 50mm f2 and the Tele-Elmarit M 90mm f2.8 in my bag and I could not take the banquet with me on the way back to Luxembourg… and the good fresh food was there too… the opportunity was too tempting…

why not give the Leica M a try? Even if i could not get close without a macro lens…

So I’ve prepared a very simple set, with the banquet, a light reflector made with a standard aluminium foil and mounted the camera on the tripod right on top of the food.

Food photography set

 

In this video i’m just showing some behind the scenes and the final result, after some post production improvements with Adobe Lightroom.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGGdg_k1OsQ[/embedyt]


Fresh raw walnuts on a wooden background

Fresh raw walnuts on a wooden background

Fresh raw chestnuts on a wooden background

Fresh raw chestnuts on a wooden background

Fresh raw tomatoes on a wooden background

Fresh raw tomatoes on a wooden background

Fresh raw tomatoes on a wooden background

Fresh raw tomatoes on a wooden background

Raw fresh zucchini on a wooden background

Raw fresh zucchini on a wooden background

Delicious slice of fresh pecorino cheese from Italy

Delicious slice of fresh pecorino cheese from Italy

Natural leaves of Aloe Vera plant

Natural leaves of Aloe Vera plant

Cute small pomegranate on wooden background

Cute small pomegranate on wooden background

Fresh raw red mullet on wooden background

Fresh raw redfish on wooden background

Traditional pasta with stuffed mussels and tomato sauce, typical from Puglia

Traditional pasta with stuffed mussels and tomato sauce, typical from Puglia

Traditional stuffed mussels with tomato sauce, typical from Puglia

Traditional stuffed mussels with tomato sauce, typical from Puglia

Typical taralli snack from Apulia region in Italy

Typical taralli snack from Apulia region in Italy

Typical taralli snack from Apulia region in Italy

Typical taralli snack from Apulia region in Italy

Sasanelli, delicious traditional pastries from Puglia, Italy

Sasanelli, delicious traditional pastries from Puglia, Italy

Fresh baked bread on a wooden table

Fresh baked bread on a wooden table

Bocconotti, traditional home made pastries from south of italy

Bocconotti, traditional home made pastries from south of italy

Bocconotti, traditional home made pastries from south of italy

Bocconotti, traditional home made pastries from south of italy

 

You can see the complete set on sale on

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