First light in the Senesi

One of the many reasons it's good to be social is that others will at times clarify casually in a conversation something that the mind has been wrestling with to no end.

It happened to me recently when a German photographer noticed my wandering eyes as we made small talk, standing at a vantage point with stunning views of the Tuscan countryside all around and volunteered "Photography in Tuscany can be excruciating". A strange comment to the casual observer considering this is perhaps the world's most accessible landscape, a treasure trove for anyone armed with a camera, civilian or pro, requiring little skill beyond point-and-shoot and spray-and-pray, to unlock its riches.

But here's the thing: from the moment the sun rises to the moment it sets, the rolling hills – la colline – to be more precise, and the surrounding undulating, rippling land witness a dance of light and shadow that, for a fleeting moment, unravels vistas that are positively otherworldly. Emphasis, though, on fleeting.

And that's the photographer's challenge, to be at the right place at the right time at the right moment. A moment that may never come, or come at the wrong time, or vanish as soon as it appears. If the stars align, the rewards are bountiful but first the stars must align.

I had never quite put my finger on it but realized then, after hearing it put that way, that whether or not I have my camera on me, I'm never at peace in that setting (the irony) because at any given second I may be witnessing the shot of a lifetime slip away.