Tradition, pride, faith, ritual, and color: Through photographs and audio, I wanted to convey the intense atmosphere of Il Palio over four days in August 2011 in Siena, Italy.
Il Palio is a horse race held every July and August in which ten of the 17 contrade (neighborhoods) of Siena compete in Il Campo, the city's central piazza; the remaining seven are entered into the next race. There is one winner, no stopwatch, and no cash prize. For the most part, the contrade race to win extremely valuable bragging rights over the rest of the city. Il Palio is centuries old, rivalries are ancient and fierce, and the traditions are still faithfully performed primarily for the Sienese themselves; it is not merely a show for tourists.
Production notes: I wanted to use location audio to reinforce the photographs and the story, instead of dropping in some unrelated background music. To achieve this I brought along a Zoom H4N stereo digital audio recorder, which I left running while I shot photos and video. There were times when I forgot to check levels while recording, so if you hear a little bit of clipping, that's why. I'm very glad to have the audio because the sounds of Il Palio are as rich as the visuals: you constantly hear church bells, snare drums, horses’ hooves, and fight songs echo off the stones in the old medieval streets of Siena.
Want to read more about the decisions I made and what I learned putting this together? Head over to my blog: bit.ly/PalioAtmosfera
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