The Luminous Landscape Grant
The southern Ancient Guardians
Vincenzo Mazza - Rome, Italy
Pollino’s National Park is a protected area in southern Italy. Despite its unique environment, due to the presence of an endemic species of trees (the Pinus Leucodermis), it has never been significantly photographed in the last 30 years.
My proposed project is to continue an already ongoing personal project aimed to show a new vision of that environment: an ideal, one yearlong tale of the life of Pollino's pines through the different seasons.
My dream is to publish a book about this work.
I'm a 40 years old professional landscape photographer living nearby Rome where I teach photography. Furthermore, I regularly run photographic workshops in Italy and photographic tours in Iceland.
My personal approach to photography is founded on the ethic idea to narrate the Nature without exceeding in using post-production techniques. All my images are made on the field through a single exposure.
I focus my work on the Italian nature environment but because of the harsh economical crisis I must struggle every day against the lack of money.
Thanks to the Luminous Landscape Grant my dream to finish my work on Pollino’s National Park could become true.
I want to concentrate my photographic efforts on the Leucodermis Pines which are Pollino’s Park symbol. They are glacial leftover species forced to grow, after the end of the last ice age, only on the exposed ridges of the mountains. Pollino's pines, shaped by wind, snow, and lightning, are kinds of natural sculptures.
Their bark, made of hexagonal tiles, recalls the ancient Roman soldier’s armor, the "Lorica". From this characteristic derives their Italian denomination: "Pini Loricati".
To me they are the exemplification of the original beauty, pride and strength that had characterized Southern Italy and its inhabitants.
I want to photograph the pines in the beautiful autumn light, showing the contrast between them and the surrounding yellow-red beech forest.
I also want to be there during heavy winter storms, when the exceptionally strong winds and the temperatures (that can easily drop below -20 Celsius degrees) turn the pines into ice sculptures.
In order to accomplish this task I should be staying there for at least 15 days in autumn and 20 in winter.
The pines are 3 hours walking (in summer) from the nearest parking area.
I have been photographing the pines using various ways: reaching them before sunrise by a night time walking or setting up a camp carrying 30kg of equipment.
Both ways are tough because if I want to capture particular photographic atmospheres I must be prepared to expose myself to storms and lightning.
To photograph the Pines in winter, I plan to set a base camp at 2000 meters of altitude with an Himalayan expedition tent, photographic equipment, camping and mountaineering equipment, food and fuel enough to survive and photograph several days stuck in a snowstorm.
I need help to carry up and down all my material (about 80 kg) through snow paths and ice slopes.
As I wrote before my main purpose is to publish a book for a worldwide public, a book that can narrate at least a part of the story of those trees; the story of centenary living beings and their ability to stand there, in silence, against all odds.
The sample of images attached is only a small part of the photographs I have been taking in Pollino’s National Park during the past year.