Photos show real Tuscany
Posted November 18, 2005

?Marliee Lorusso
Staff Writer

On Nov. 10, the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography held a reception celebrating the photography exhibit “Miele Luce di Toscana” by John Richardson.

Students, faculty and friends joined Richardson in a viewing of his photographs.

“Having people view (the photos) completes the whole process,” Richardson said.

Rather than just having the photos pile up, he said, he likes to share them and hear from other people about what they think about his work.

Everyone has a different favorite and he enjoys the feedback.

The 36 photos in the exhibit were taken by Richardson while in Tuscany. These images take viewers inside Italian culture capturing a moment in time. Richardson shows the Tuscan lifestyle in its most original and genuine form.

Richardson, who has a background and education in religion, wanted to visit St. Francis of Assisi in Italy to see the art.

Richardson learned and first began to develop and print his own photography in 1974 while he was in the Army.

He received a full scholarship to study religion at Chapman University in Orange but took every photography class available.

Richardson attended General Theological Seminary in New York to continue his religion studies. While living in the dorms, Richardson set up his own darkroom in the basement.

Still in college, he later bought his first large format camera but the large film size could not be accommodated by the enlarger, so he made contact prints.

Richardson began attending UC Riverside to pursue photography rather than returning to New York to study religion.

He realized that he had a passion for photography rather than religion. His love for taking photos has led him to Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
Richardson made the trip to Tuscany, where he mainly focused on the northernmost part, known as the Garfagnana, six times.

Richardson faced various set backs while visiting Tuscany. He said that during his first trip he crammed too much in and didn’t know the language. ?Richardson was also in an accident two years ago that stopped him while attempting to photograph Tuscany.

He knew that he wanted to go back though after finding a little village in the middle of nowhere.

The Garfagnana is a valley formed by the Serchio River is hardly ever seen by tourists and is surrounded by the Apuan Alps and the Appenine Alps.

This village, Richardson said, feels like stepping back 200 years because the people’s lives are relatively unchanged by the outside world which he captured in his photographs.

“To me they express the simplicity and relaxed life in northernmost Tuscany,” Richardson said.

For these photos, Richardson used the process of platinum printing which he works from 11x14-inch and 8x20-inch black and white negatives.

The negatives are put together with the platinum/palladium material. He mixes his own emulsions to coat the paper in a careful process. Ultraviolet lighting is used for exposure.

This process is one of the oldest and most durable forms of capturing photographs.

He was taught this process of platinum printing by a co-worker at the store he worked at while selling cameras.

“They are really unique because of the process he uses,” Francine Gobert, a sophomore communications major, said.

Gobert said that she was inspired by the abstract photography. She also liked the fact that Richardson mixed scenery and abstract in his photographs.

“It gives me a taste of Tuscany because I’ve never been there,” Megan Lomeli, a sophomore business major, said. “It looks really beautiful.”

The exhibit will be on display in the gallery at Miller Hall until Dec. 2. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Marilee Lorusso can be reached at


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