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Winter lights
in the gardens of the Reggia di Venaria


Text e photographs by Cristina Archinto

Went to the Reggia di Venaria to see the John Constable exhibition, I found myself with my nose pressed against a window entranced by the beauty of its winter gardens.

The absence of sun due to a blanket of gray-white clouds increasedits charm. I often repeat that I feel more like a photographer of light than of gardens but in front of so many geometries I confess that I found myself back in time, to my first great passion: architectural photography. Determined not to miss this opportunity, I find myself in the park, two months after having already done a photo shoot, this time accompanied only by the Leica camera but certainly sufficient for the occasion, and above all with no work obligations. Present at the situation only a very cold and no soul. Perfect. 

Inaugurated in 2007, the Venaria Gardens are a good combination of a recovered geometric 17th-18th century past and an artistic present with works of art by Giuseppe Penone and Giovanni Anselmo harmoniously inserted into its landscape. The entire city complex of Venaria develops in length, and the garden follows its course with the very long Allea Centrale which goes from the fountain of Hercules to the temple of Diana creating a single axis as a whole. Along the side of the Citroniera and the Galleria Grande is the Grand Parterre with tones of grandeur given by the proportions, full of cylindrical yews, citrus pots and real rooms with walls, groves and vegetable vaults along the perimeter with many flowers, mostly of the year. In the eighteenth century it was a representative area, where strolling with an umbrella while gossiping was a must. Unfortunately, over time it has also been a place where nature has been replaced by soldiers from everywhere, during various wars. There are also various gardens, such as rose gardens, flower gardens and Potager Royal gardens with vegetables and orchards, but they are certainly not an attraction in this season.


Photo notes


In the Venaria gardens

anyone who loves to observe is certainly fascinated by the beauty of the almost completely bare hornbeam avenues which, instead of hiding, only veil the Great Palace or the branched structures of the majestic trees along the avenues and next to the Peschiera pool which are reflected on the slightly frozen.

Even the birches with their white branches and a very few brown leaves blend in the light of the landscape as if they were Japanese silks.

The long perspective avenues cut the photographic frame in two,

the pyramid box trees and the hedges trimmed in steps or semicircles impose themselves on the image as abstract art.


Works too from the rigid forms of Pennone they underline the geometric aspect of the landscape.


Perhaps at first glance it seems easy to photograph these gardens,mainly thanks to the geometries that easily tell the space, you have to be careful because the rigor of the axes must be absolute, even a slightly inclined photo would be a distraction for the eyes.Furthermore, using the central focal point there are no difficulties, otherwise if you want to vary it, you have to be careful of the balance of the shot which, if distorted, risks breaking the harmony of the photograph, making it unpleasant.

The colors of winter and with light uniform tend to maintain similar and soft shades ranging from beige to green. In this case we wanted to give a strong contrast  with red or yellow peaks due to the branches of the white cornelian salts present in the garden.

The uniform light of the day is the reason for the total absence of shadows, fact that in more natural contexts would create a lot of discomfort, in this case it proves successful not only because it can easily be photographed from any side but also because the geometric shapes are not deformed by the dark of their shadows.


Experimenting photographically with these gardens and in these conditions is magical, I recommend it to everyone, whether they are gardens or even a landscape in the plains, in winter or with a uniformly colored sky. A great master was Luigi Ghirri who, for those who by chance do not know yet, I strongly recommend going to Parma until February 26 to see his exhibitionVision labyrinths. Luigi Ghirri 1991.Go there and find out. Or go to the Reggia di Venaria, you will certainly find very stimulating panoramic points in other seasons as well. The important thing is first of all to observe, observe and observe again, then elaborate the shot and finally take a picture that is truly yours.




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