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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Port Blair. Andaman islands. India. Black and White and Duotone images

I have a couple of shots of this man and his buffalos that I like better but, for some strange reason I shot them at 1/15sec at f22 and they are blurred and obviously unsharp... Misteries of the photographic world. This one has been cropped a bit to improve the composition and edited into B&W, in fact the color of the water was not very appealing and this kind of vintage looks suits the image better. It is some sort of photo reportage from a country that offers to the photographer able to grab them, continous and repeated chances for memorable shots.

Port Blair, Andaman Islands. India. Wrecked house edited in duotoneCheck this other photo, a wrecked house in Port Blair again. I took it from the van while driving around the city, and edited in duotone because it looked better to me. Things like this are all over the place, on every corner, some are fully colored some are grey and dusty. I'll be back to the Andaman in one month, and I wonder what i will shoot this time. I'm a tad shy to steal people's images but I will probably make good use of the 70-200 to do a bit of portraiture

Monday, December 20, 2010

Macro shots of products with a Fisheye lens

I’ve been thinking for a while about doing some macro stuff with the fisheye, and today I finally gave it a try. I have a Nikkor 10.fmm f2.8 fisheye lens that I really love. I don’t use it as much as I would because it the pictures tend to get tiring, but every once in a while it comes handy when doing some fishing portraits or landscapes.

This is quite an interesting result.
Not many people know that this lens can focus at a distance of…. I don’t know exactly but basically, you can rub the lens against the subject, as I proved once again today. You can then imagine how special of a macro lens can be. Everything is dramatically distorted; distance between foreground and background absolutely exaggerated, and quite some problems not get in between the light and what you are shooting

Still something that at least will make you smile
Well, if I can be let's say at 2cm from the subject, and have a softbox on top of me or slightly facing towards me, I will have to do some magic trick not to have the shadow of the camera, or my head, covering half of my product. Another issue is how to trigger the flash with the CLS. If I’m under the softbox, it is quite difficult that the sparkle of the pop up on my Nikon can be seen by the SB800 remote unit that is covered by the softbox itself. I leant it today the hard way.

Here we are getting worst, nothing really interesting about it
To find a solution I had to pull the good old’ remote cable and trigger the flash with that one, while putting the other flash in slave. Too bad my chord is so short that the softbox, most of the times, was falling on top of myself and the product. 
Anyway, when I started shooting the lure I had the confirmation that another of my fear was being confirmed. The background, for as wide and tall as it could be, was not enough to cover the 180º vision of the lens. Fortunately is not big deal because the light was quite dim and at 1/200sec and f9 everything turned almost dark (and I had room to further darken it in Lightroom).

Help me say: UGLY!
So I had my happy shooting with the 10.5mm Fisheye, and the results can be seen here, some fun even interesting, some plain awful. I will give it a try again in the future, but I have to work a bit on some details, especially lighting, which can be tricky. For these shots I had my two SB800 through a Lastolite Softbox III on camera left, and an Orbis Ring Flash on camera right

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yellow daisy shot using a Orbis Ring Flash in the background and a Lumiquest Softbox III as main light

Today I had to take some studio shots and at the end of the session I stole one of my wife's flowers and had some fun. While taking some pictures of it with the Orbis Ring Flash I had the idea of using that very light modifier as a background, centering the flower in the black hole that is commonly used to stick the lens.
The how-to... Lumiquest Softbox III
on camera left, Orbis Ring Flash
as background

I adjusted the camera on the tripod to have the flower exactly in the middle of the black hole and did few test shots. The ide was cool but I needed an extra light to bring up the flower a bit. All that backlight couldn't do it by itself.
So I added an extra SB800 with a Lumiquest Softbox III and..voilá

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Too funny...

Check this out folks, is jusy hilarious!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Surrounded by mythology

When you venture on a trip to the wildest places of Egypt, legends, mystery and myths are all around you. We went there in search of a legendary freshwater predator, one of the mightiest of them all. The biggest ever recorded topped the scale at 516lb in Lake Victoria, while Nasser’s record is a “humble” 329lb….

Yet the Perch was not the only fabled subject of the trip, we really wanted to take advantage of the visit to see some of the temples that have been disassembled from the valley, and reassembled on the highest hills, before the dam was finished and Lake Nasser was created.

We did all this travelling with the Nubiana MV, operated by the guys at, perfectly organized. Simple yet tidy and comfy. The silence of the lake was our travel companion, adding an incredible atmosphere to the trip.
Fishing was average, nothing spectacular but we had our chances and landed some decent fish. Yet, I believe that my friends and I had a truly enjoyable trip, one to be remembered or repeated
Dekka temple
Sunset fishing on the lake
Small Nile Perch
The mother vessel, Nubiana
One of the biggest Nile Perch
Releasing a small fish caught from shore
The hike
Sphinx' Avenue. Es-Subu temple
View of the lake at sunset

Monday, December 6, 2010

Save Our Sharks

I'd apreciate if you could watch this video. Is quite dramatic and for the faint of heart, but is truly worth a considerate look

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Front cover shot for the magazines: Voyages de Pêche, Mundo Pesca and Pesca&Barcos. Sb800 through Orbisflash

This image has already become the front cover for three different magazines: Pesca&Barcos in Spain, Mundo Pesca in Portugal and Voyages de Pêche in France. Is a shot that I love, perfect timing around sunset, great smile and amazing Sea Bass. I lit it with the SB800 through the Orbis Ring Flash, a wonderful combo for my fishing portraits

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The end of the line movie

Where is the truth about Bluefin Tuna

Monday, November 29, 2010

The work in progress

Sometimes, when I shoot I'm not sure of what I want to achieve, but when I see the image in Lightroom I start thinking about it and the ideas start flowing to my mind while I play with the software. Thus, there are other situations when by the moment I glue my eye to the visor that I know what I want to say, what the image means to me or what I can do with it during the editing process. 

This image, when it happened, it was quite clear, even though I understand it can give room to many different interpretations. The simple and plain idea was: a lonely man walking away from the camera in a sad and moody autumn’s afternoon. If you give it a deeper look, you will notice that at the end of the walk is not exactly clear what he will find. The trees are quite thick and apparently there’s no sign of another track going anywhere else. Is he about to get lost in the park or swallowed by the dark trees? This uncertainty probably adds a bit more of pathos to the frame, but the main thing, if we don’t want to get too far and clever in the interpretation is that is sad and moody. 

This is the key scheme of the shot but to achieve that I had to work on the best composition, even before the man arrived. I had the camera on the tripod because I was working on a slow shutter speed (1/4 sec) and had to wait until the man was a tad farther from me, right in the place where I wanted him to be. At home, later, I had to convert the shot to black and white, quite gloomy and blue, while it was originally a decent afternoon with the sun setting nicely.

Not every time I have the chance to think so much about a photo and to be able to explain it decently, as I hope I did here. Usually is my gut that keeps me pushing the shutter button, and the brain start working later, especially when I’m on the “reporter” mood. Every once in a while I will post some “image with a thought” and comment it for those willing to read about it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another great fly fishing video from NZ

Fly Fishing New Zealand DVD Video Trailer. what can I say... I want to visit New Zealand and I want to fish for those huge Brown Trouts, even though I have never been a Trout fisherman... The scenary is just stunning, NZ must be a photographic heaven, I cannot believ I haven't bene there yet. A terrible mistake I have to fix asap

Check this out folks...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lumiquest Softbox LTp

Lumiquest has another cool light modifier for us, chek this video, it looks like a pretty darn good idea

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall and the light

Fall is here, this week we had the first severe whip of the season after some beautiful days around 21C. My daughter came back home with a bunch of fallen leaves and she is pretty serious about painting them: “Before you paint them – I asked her – wouldn’t you like to take some photos of it?” She happily accepted and helped me setting up a transparent tray with a flash underneath it. To get a more even spread of the light, I put a Lumiquest Softbox III and on top of the flash a white piece of paper on top of the diffuser.

Nothing especially fancy of complicated, a very basic backlit studio set, just what I needed. I took the D90 with the Tokina 100mm f2.8 A-TX Macro and a small ladder and started playing with the light power on my CLS control. My daughter eventually lost interest in what I was doing and anyway had to do her homework, and the little old kid started shooting. The result is here, a “group” shot and a lone leaf, enough before we had a blackout and had to light up some candles to fix dinner….

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Light trails

There are amazing things that can be done using your camera’s slow shutter speed properly; one of them is taking pictures of car light trails. What you need is pretty basic: camera, lens, tripod, maybe a graduate filter and a remote control to release your shutter when you are in “bulb” mode, or at least you need it if you own a Nikon. I like these images especially when is not 100% dark, in fact at twilight you get the best colour of the sky, far from being black it turns into an amazing blue. Put your camera on the tripod and secure it properly, compose your scene. Take an exposure reading of the ambient light; let not the car’s lights fool your meter into underexposing the scene. The light will be burned anyway, and that’s what it is, just light that will decorate your scene.

If you need to balance the sky use a grad filter but I don’t think you will need it unless you have a strong backlit image with the sun too high. Now, I assume that if you are like me you are in manual exposure; if not maybe you should try. A (aperture) is ok too, but you will need to compensate the exposure through the exposure compensation button, hence in manual will probably be faster. If your shutter speed is within the 30 you will probably be able to use the self timer to trigger the camera, but if you have very little light and need to go over 30” you will need to put your shutter speed to “bulb” and then you will only be able to take the shot using the remote control (no worries, is not an expensive gimmick).

When everything is set, with your ISO as low as you can, the lens clean to reduce the problems with flare, and the tripod well set you start shooting, Most of the times is a trial and error business, until you find the right light and the right “traffic” to get the image you need.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Retiro Park, Madrid

For somedody who live sin Madrid and loves photography paying a visit to this beautiful park is almot a duty, or at least it should be. During my stay in this city, now since 1995 I have been to the Retiro several time, yen never with my camera. I fixed this obscene issue last week, a short visit during abeautiful fall's afternoon: my D90, the Tokina 100 f.28, the Nikkor 18-70 f3.5-4.5 and the tripod, here to follow the result of the visit

Backlit iamegs are my favourite, and if there's a human being in the shot much better
Fall is quite a romantic or depressing season, is just a matter of taste. For me is the "Antipasto" of the winter, which I hate... The lone man walking on the park adds something to the shot

Sidelight, almost backlit I should say. Warm and beautiful
Light and water, a combination that always attracts me

The "classic" Retiro shot, the pond and the monument to Alfonso the XII

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slow shutter speed maybe... ?

No way, it wasn’t necessary at all. Usually to get an image like this you need to put your camera on a tripod and go for the slowest shutter speed you need in order to achieve the effect you need. In this case the wind was so strong that I managed to shot hand held with the Nikkor 70-200VR at… 1/2000sec

Weeds shaking under a strong wind. Backlit image shot with Nikkor 70-200 VR I
This is just weeds, ready to dry and fall under the winter freeze. I could barely stand and my Nikon was shaking like a leaf, this is why I wanted to use such high shutter speed, but is not the only reason. I also wanted to have quite a narrow depth of field using a very wide aperture, I shot at f2.8 and that gave the extra boost to the shutter.

The whole idea was to make an image with not many defined shapes, where personal interpretation could play an important role. In Lightroom the main job was to put the white balance at 10750kto add warmth, play with the blacks, whites, and contrast, boost the saturation and most of all bring the clarity down to -100. A bit of vignetting added the final touch.

The result, a very high….slow shutter speed image

Friday, October 29, 2010

First test of the 70-200VR I and Kenko 1.4 extender

I recently got myself a second hand 70-200VR I f2.8, the "old" version of this famed lens. Since I sold my 18-200 I was a bit lost on the long distance stuff and I needed to find a replacement. As soon as I could I went for a short test in a park near home, not far from sunset hor the light was not so strong and I had the chance to concentrate on what interestd me the most, the VR system. Being a used lens I just wanted to make sure it worked properly.

In the following images, not fancy, not nice, just plain ugly (but the subject was in the right place) you will be able to see the difference between the shots with th VR on and off, and those with the Kenko 1.4 converter. I took all these shots sitting on a bench to help me support the camera at 1/8 sec. The distance between me and the subject is always the same and the exposure too.

Nothing new, I know, just a reminder for those who are still confused when it comes to buy a new or used lens: VR or not VR?

Nikkor 70-200 without VR

Nikkor 70-200 with VR

Nikkor 70-200 with kenlo 1.4X and VR off

Nikkor 70-200 with Kenko 1.4X and VR on

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Using 2 Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe's and a TriFlector

There are videos around who are good enough to explain how to work with certain tools, and show how effective they are. For the little strobes lovers the Lastolite EzyBox is a great light diffuser, that should be in our bag all the time. I use it a lot for my products stuff because is easy to set up, fast to use and delivers a great light. Here's Mark Cleghorn at work showing how to properly use it fo a double portrait session.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A top ten Olive Oil

I have friends working on many different things, and I’m fascinated by the fact that some of them have developed qualities and skills to create something different. Among them my friend Vicky, pure Tuscan breed, wonderful woman and energetic person.

She lives in a beautiful farm on the Tuscan hills, her husband takes care of the day to day business with agriculture, hunting and livestock and she pulled up her chemistry skills to create something pretty unique and ultimately extremely valuable, olive oil. Not the regular greenish liquid we use day after day. She created something special, THE olive oil, winner of many different award and most likely than not, one of the 10 best olive oil available in this planet.

I love olive oil; I use it a lot and appreciate a good one, even though I’m not an expert. Before opening the half litre bottle that Vicky gave me, I took my time to shoot some photos of it, trying to figure out all the things I have learnt from the book Light science & Magic.

One SB800 went behind a white translucent plastic panel and the other on top of the bottle through a Lastolite 40” Umbrella box. Two white reflectors helped distributing the light evenly and in Lightroom I just whitened the white and added a bit of contrast and sharpening.

I finally tried the oil with some good friends at home. It gave life to a good Turbot and Tuna Carpaccio, but to get the pure taste we had to put it as it is on fresh bread…. Is not cheap stuff, as you can imagine, but is truly worth a try. You can find it here Fattoria di Monti, and by the way, is a magnificent place to stay if you want to visit Tuscany; they rent a very nice house.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Macro Photography, a .... sparkling idea from Bryan Peterson

That is, a sparkling idea, and is easy to understand why. Check this video from Bryan Peterson, who's books really opened up my mind as a photographer, and see what you can do with some very basic stuff.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Lamiglas Tropic Pro Evo TP5660 meets the Bluefins

In the Cantabric Sea things have been a bit hectic lately. Every two days I was receiving an e-mail or an sms with images or stories of large tunas hooked on popping or jigging tackle. Some of them didn't even got a chance to smell the boat's hull, breaking off with smoking runs, but few have been landed and they were well over 200lb. Is a tough deal because you're fishing in 3000ft of water, and pulling such beasts with that kind of tackle is a hell of a tug-of-war.

One large Bluefin in the 78" range (ext. 270lb) have been landed by a friend of mine on one of the new Lamiglas Tropic Pro EVO rods, the TP5660SJ. The guys started with an 18lb drag to increasinghly get o to 26lb, hard to handle both for the fishermen and the rod. It took the crew three hours to land the fish, and they had to pass the rod to withstand such pressure. I'm glad to see that the new series is being successfull, especially after the problems we had in the past with a couple of batches. The blank has been re-designed, or better say that layers of material have been put together in a different manner. The guides are the Fuji Alconite with chrome foot, new color for the blank too and a thin modern handle complete the make up.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tokina AF100mm f2.8 AT-X Pro D Macro

Today I had a bit of fun with my new macro lens, the Tokina 100 f2.8 AT-X Pro D. It feels good in your hands, sturdy and with a professional finish, I like the lens hood too, looks pretty cool when mounted, I left it on all the time.

The lens is a joy to use, the autofocus system is ok, a tad slow but I mostly shot in manual while doing the extreme close ups. As usual, wide open is quite difficult to find the right focusing spot, especially if you are a dork like me and don’t use the tripod, but his is truly not an issue, is normal.

As far as Photozone concerns, probably among the most qualified sources on the internet for camera lens reviews, the resolution is excellent from wide open up to f11, it is ok at f16 and goes down dramatically due to diffraction at very small apertures. Today I used it between f2.8 and f14, and the out of focus area you get at f2.8 is very nice, in fact I’m very much looking forward to use this lens for my next portrait session.

Here’s few images of today’s session: being able to stay as close as 30cm from the subject with an effective 150mm lens can deliver pretty impressive close ups, you will tell me if you like the result

Friday, October 1, 2010

Already available the # 3 issue of

My friend Pepe Weigand already released the third issue of his on-line fly fishing and photo magazine Flymage

This month there's  a special guest  whom you might know :-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Magic Strait

Truly magic, and I really mean it. How many times in your life the stars are aligned to the point that everything, and I really mean EVERYTHING goes well ? Such it was for us last week and if you care to listen, here's the real story.

Two entire days of fishing in the Strait of Gibraltar, a bit of jigging (almost nothing) and a lot of popping, so the Master Paquito decided for us. he knows his home turf (and surf). Two smal boats left the harbour Monday morning, 12 meters the pair, you don't need a yacht for this kind of fishing. 4 fishermen, Paquito and Nelson (well his name is Félix but we have re-baptized him Nelson, the Cuban skipper, but this is too hard to explain) at the helm and Vincenzo and myself, pretty much looking forward to see what the Strait of Gibraltar was going to deliver. Dani and Fran, the cameramen, with as much expectation as the rest of us.

The one who's writing this report has been the first to cast. the first to have a strike, right on cast one. And it never stopped! Two days in a row of non-stop fishing, cast after cast until the sun, too high in the sky called for the quits. Lunch break, a little siesta and back to the battlefield for more hours of amazing action. I have fished few and far remote seas all over this darn planet and believe me, very few times I have seen anything like that!

We landed four different kind of fish, Barracuda, Bonito, Amberjack and Sea Bass. Most of them on top water and few with swimming plugs and minnows. We used the magic Habano for the top water action and it killed the Sea Bass, the Brugas again for the Bass in the foam from as well as the T-jerk and Finder Jerk this time for Barracuda and Bonitos, Surface Cruiser and Roosta Poppers completed the arsenal and as wild card the Trairao, Imakatzu top water star, that landed the big Amberjack.

I used my Lamiglas travel rods, the 7025 up to 1 1/2oz, both for casting and spinning. They worked wonder, casted flawlessly, fought like Spartans and handled the roughest situation at the best. Three pieces, lightweight and just perfect, a lot of fun to fish with them. Two daiwa reels completed the tackle department, both rigged with 30lb Tuf Line, always MY line of choice. We rigged a good deal of lures with single hooks, and they worked wonder. In fact, Vincenzo landed the Amberjack only because he had a Decoy Sergean' in the rear, the belly treble just opened up like a banana skin...

Paquito told us it was probably going to be good but he didn't say it was going to be THAT GOOD1 Awesome. Amazing! Just one (or two) of those days. I will never forget it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gregory Heisler whiteboards his Rudy Giuliani Time Magazine cover

Now, if you think that shooting Bruce Sprinsteen sitting on a stool was an easy task, check this one. Rudolph Giuliani 65 stories up, with Heisner making it look as if he is lit by the New York lights instead of a complicated Prophoto set of artificial lights.

I'm amazed looking at the image and thinking of what has been put in the making of it. Incredibly smart and somehow logical. These videos are of much help for someone who is trying to learn how to deal with lights, thus the creativity must be there, for any different situation that might arise. That one, either you have it or not.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gregory Heisler whiteboards his Bruce Springsteen Time Magazine cover

Gregory Heisler is one of those photographers that can make look simple the most difficult shootings. He's a regular on the Time Magazine cover, and in this short video he explains his set up for the session with Bruce Springsteen. You listen, you follow his sketch and you think is easy, then you try do do the same and it sucks...

Have a look at the video and take notes :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Palio di Siena

One of my highest wishes, since I started spending more and more time behind the camera, has always been to be a photographer at the Palio, Siena’s and one of Italy’s most beautiful tradition. For those who don’t know what it is shame on you, Google it a bit and you will find tons of valuable information. For those who haven’t been there, I strongly recommend you to go. If you manage to understand what’s behind it and how deeply is in the heart of the “Sienesi” (the citizens of Siena), you will just love it to death. If you have been there already, you know what I’m talking about, and if you didn’t like it, too bad, I’m sure you missed the plot.
Anyway, thanks to my collaboration with the Spanish monthly magazine SuperFoto, this year I managed to get my photo pass and what a day I experienced! From my humble point of view, getting the job done at the Palio requires a lot of experience, and I mean experience of the Palio itself. Having been there as a visitor helps, but is not enough, really not. Having a couple of days to dedicate to the before-during-after event helps a lot, and I didn’t have those at all. Having a guy from Siena guiding you, and he must be one who is truly from there and belongs to a “Contrada”, is a sure bet, and I have friends there but there was no time for me to get them involved finding one fit enough and willing to spend the whole day with a crazy photographer. Anyway, you always pay a price for being a rookie, and I’m no exception.
Before the start of the parade I met with an old friend from Florence who now lives in Siena for a quick lunch and then it was all running. Run to get your photo pass done, to go to the press office, to shoot the atmosphere of the city, and get a grasp of what the heck is going on that crazy day. Is a flood of people roaming from one place to another, following the parade that swarms up in the streets, slowly filling the Piazza del Campo, the square where everything takes place. Locals and a lot of tourists; not so hard to distinguish ones from the others. The poor, the mid class and the rich; the latter easy to spot at the most exclusive balconies of the ancient buildings facing the square.
At 16:00 is time to get into your assigned area, and mine was both a very good and bad one, as I will soon learn. Few meters from “La Mossa”, the starting point, I had the parade slowly moving in front of me at close distance, with the sun sneaking between two buildings and few chances for some backlit images when the clouds would allow me to. This was the good part; not many odds to shot images with a long depth, as you can see from these photos, but close enough to allow me to work with the longest lens I had, the 24-70 f2.8. So far so good, I even grabbed some decent details and boy, that lens rocks! 
Thus, once the Carabinieri started galloping for their opening charge, I realized that I was in trouble for the race. On my left hand, about 10/12 meters I had a blind turn hence I could only see the horses when they were already on my face, and on top of that, they would run SO CLOSE to the fence that it was EXTREMELY dangerous to lean, as it proved later. No mean to complain, it was my first time at the Palio with a photo pass and I got that spot, again great for 3 hours and quite odd for 5 minutes, respectively the duration of the parade and the race.

Anyway, at 7 pm the horses showed up from “Il Comune”, the building of the county and started the alignment for the start. This is one of the most exciting moments of the day because there are many things going on between those two ropes. There’s always somebody among the jockeys creating trouble, moving from one place to another, bugging his most direct enemies, trying to mess everything up. This is part of the game, is allowed, and the director of the race only has the chance to try to calm the spirits down or finally send everybody out to start the alignment from scratch. Finally the ropes go down, the horses stretch into a wild gallop on the compact dirt and everything goes ballistic! Now, your photog is well behind the fence, trying to guess when the horses show up behind the blind turn and shooting in continuous like a mad man. Three turns and is done, there’s a winner (Tartuca, on the Palio dell’Assunta August 16th 2010) and no seconds or thirds, everybody else looses.

The crowd swarm into the track when the horses are still running and from now on is hell on earth. On my side one of the crew is on the floor trembling in convulsions. She leaned too much off the fence and a horse (or a jockey’s knee) hit her in the face. Doctors everywhere, is quite a dramatic moment, the girl looks like is in real pain. I become a reporter, grab few images and finally, knocked down I leave my position and head top some friend’s house to pick up my family.
The Palio is now over, at least the one going on in the square, people slowly leave, happy, sad, sweating, crying, yelling and mostly tired. There’s a big party at the Contrada of la Tartuca, the winner. It will go on all night long, a major celebration. People said it was easy to predict, they had the best horse and the best rider, but they had to run  the race, and in the track of “La Piazza del Campo” everything can happen, is a very hard game. Looking at my LCD I can see no decent images of the race, just the start, then for me it was all chaos. Again, you need a lot of experience to do a good job at the Palio, I have jumped the rookie step, now I’m only thinking of the next one, either July or August 2011.
Special thanks to Isabella Neri of the Press Office of Il Comune di Siena