Sean\’s Sicily

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Demons of DSLR

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Well it’s pretty clear that using a dLSR has it’s good points and it’s bad. The good of course is instant review of the shot I’ve just taken, and not having to pay to develop the film.

The bad is taking 500 shots and not one of them is publishable. I read somewhere that anyone can take photos, the skill of a good photographer is choosing the one photo that should be published. Not having to worry about the correct exposure (as I can check it straightaway on the LCD) means that I’m snapping all sorts of crap, some of which I immediately delete, others which I delete when I download to the computer. Not having bothered to read the manual (‘cos it’s in Italian!) I didn’t initially know what the other settings on the dial were for 😦

But now I know. I have to say I still find the Program setting too pernickity, so I’m usually shooting in Aperture or Shutter modes. Messed up quite a few pictures at the festival in Modica (more in another post) but also got a few that I really like and will probably post to Flickr when I get half a chance.

The other thing I’m learning is that it’s really really hard for me to explain SLR technique in Italian! Sonia is keen to learn, and is quite a good shot with the Nikon compact that she has, but going from a compact to a dSLR is a big leap (unless you want to use Auto all the time) and I can’t get across important info about shutter & aperture, which is very frustrating for me, ‘cos I’d love to help her, and frustrating for her, ‘cos she sees me getting annoyed (at myself). The other thing is that I’m suffering from a serious case of new-toy-syndrome, and get all fidgety when the camera is out of my hands, worried that someone will drop it or something! 🙂

Well we’ll just have to see how we get on.

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Written by seancasaidhe

August 15, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Sicily

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Into the Heartland

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Making Pasta


Strong Hands Required


Katia invited us to her grandmothers place for dinner, in a tiny sunbaked hamlet next to the railway line a good 20 minutes from the Syracuse-Pachino road, in a big old farmhouse with a surprising modern electric gate. We found everyone in the middle of making pasta – Katia’s aunt had bought a little table-top machine for pressing the dough, and she wanted to try it. While I tried to keep out of the way, and Sonia talked with the nonna, Andrea, Katia and Katia’s aunt got down to the business of mixing the flour and eggs, kneading the dough and making the pasta.

After the first few goes at the machine, the Nonna laughed “Let me know when you kids are done playing so I can make some pasta!” (said in Sicilian of course, so Sonia had to translate for me). But at the end it was a success – the dough had to be just right for the machine to press it correctly, not too thick nor too thin. After this we said our goodbyes and went on to Marzamemi, stopping off in Pachino for a huge 5-litre bottle of wine, poured straight from the vat.

After returning, I got sucked into a game of draughts with Katia’s uncle (but only after he’d bested Andrea twice in a row), and managed to hold my own against him for a good 20 minutes – probably largely because he couldn’t figure out my strategy (me not knowing what I was going myself, I didn’t have one!). I only lost after Sonia interrupted me with a question about the dSLR and I made a stupid mistake. Thanks Sonia! 🙂 And then the call to dinner came…

…and what followed was simply heaven – quite easily the best bloody lasagna I’ve ever tasted. I normally don’t like lasagna too much – too much cheesiness for me – but this was divine. I was too busy stuffing 3 portions into me to take any photos, more’s the pity. Thoroughly stuffed to the gills, we returned to Marzememi with the car creaking under our own weight!

Written by seancasaidhe

August 13, 2007 at 8:23 am

Linga franca

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You know what the problem is?  Now I know too much Italian.

When I was more ignorant, I quite happily blundered along with my limited vocabulary and thought that I was a fine linguist indeed, even if these dim natives don’t quite catch what I mean.

After a few months of study though, now I’m realising how terrible my Italian actually is – I’m in that awful awkward stage where I know enough to realise what I’m getting wrong, but yet not quite enough to be able to speak properly without having to correct myself endlessly.

A typical sentence might be “Where are the keys?”  “Dov’e  la chiave?”

Ah, but keys is plural, so it’s “Dov’e le chiave”.

Oh, no, because it’s plural I’ve gotta use “where are they” instead of “where is it”; “Dove sono le chiave?”

Ok this isn’t a very good example because it’s beginner’s Italian.  At the moment I’m struggling with conjunctives – I’ve got the present conjunctive down pat, and I’m pretty sure I’m cool with the imperfect conjunctive.  The conjunctive remoto and conjunctive trapassato – WTF???

Written by seancasaidhe

July 31, 2007 at 10:16 am

Posted in Sicily

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