Autumn Arts Festival-Travel Photography

DATES: 10/19/2021 - 10/27/2021
PRICE: $3,850.00

Tillman Crane is a photographer familiar to many for his beautiful platinum/palladium photographs. Artist, teacher, philosopher and photojournalist, Crane has been professionally involved with photography for over thirty-five years. A recent convert to the digital world, he has embraced the technology both to capture the image and make the negatives for printing. Tillman’s knowledge of the craft for making a good picture and ability to work with photographers at all levels of experience make him a great teacher. Whether you shoot in color or black and white, with a view camera or a cell phone, come join him for this wonderful opportunity to capture that magical light of Tuscany!

Tillman uses available light, texture and space to create his unique perspective of both the ordinary and extraordinary structures of our world. Using a 19th century process with 21st century materials his platinum prints have a deep, rich look. Made one print at a time, the artist’s hands are involved from exposure to the final print.

In 2020 he will be teaching workshops in the Great Smoky Mountains, Montana, Maine, North Dakota and Tuscany. He also offers a platinum printing atelier in his darkroom for photographers wishing to learn the craft of platinum printing or for those preparing prints for an exhibition.

Crane has published four limited edition books: Tillman Crane/Structure (2001), Touchstones (2005), Odin Stone (2008) and A Walk Along the Jordan (2009). He also creates one-of-a-kind, handmade books of platinum/palladium prints.

Highlights of his career include induction into the Alabama Artist Hall of Fame and a solo exhibit of over one hundred photographs in the National Art Museum of China (Beijing) in 2016.

Tillman lives in Maine with his wife, Donna, and cockapoo, Iggy.

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Artist Statement

Making photographs is my work. It is work I love, work that is at times frustrating, hard and seemingly impossible and at other times the source of some of my greatest joy. I can explain the “where’s” and “how’s” of my photographs with minimal effort but asked to explain the “why’s” reduces me to a tongue-tied teen. Perhaps looking at the world through a lens upside down and backwards prevents the brain from developing a wordsmith’s ability. More likely it is the result of being so thoroughly absorbed in the process that thoughts of “why” simply don’t break through the experience. Maybe telling you “how” I work will bring us closer to the “why” of these images.

I’m not a conceptual photographer, but rather a reactionary one. That is, I react to what I see the light doing. I often photograph in and around buildings, not for the architectural information per se, but for how the corners, windows, and doors work to bend and shape the light. Some of the time I work with the light as I find it. Other times I have to return to a place over and over again before the light is right. Every once in awhile I will be in the right place at the right time, camera and film ready when a moment of perfect light illuminates a spot in front of me.

My photographs are always about the elusive qualities of light. Regardless of the subject – stone, tree, building, machine, or object – it is the light that I am really trying to capture. I can be fascinated by an object and photograph it, but if the light is not right, the image doesn’t work.  Each object has it’s own threshold for light and a diffuse, overcast light which illuminates without creating dramatic shadows is my most favorite light to photograph under. This soft light still presents with a sense of direction but more importantly it wraps around the subject, blending with its very skin and bringing something new to a previously ordinary object.

I photograph with view cameras, from 5 x 7 to 11 x 14 in size, and more recently with a digital camera. What draws me to the view cameras is that they require me to work slowly, one sheet of film at a time. I have to take time to set the camera up, knowing that I have to compose with care to get everything right. I have to choose the “right” lens for both the format and the effect I want, check light readings and think about how I want tonal values to appear later in the print. Seeing the image inverted on the ground glass abstracts it for me and allows me to see the design and composition without worrying about what the object is. Working with these cameras is almost a method of meditation, of relaxing deeply, of seeing and working within myself. The multitude of physical and mental steps required to make an image requires that setting up the camera becomes a ritual. This physical ritual frees up my mind to focus on what caught my attention in the first place.  It allows me to stop over-analyzing the subject and simply compose the image on the ground glass.

Of late, the challenges and costs of getting the view camera gear to a distant location began to exceed budget and experiential needs. As a result I began to experiment with a digital camera package. Coming from my 35 mm days as a photojournalist the smaller camera is familiar and the digital capture makes larger negatives possible. The challenge, for me, is to slow down when working with this smaller format so that I can see what I came looking for.

I print my negatives solely in platinum and palladium these days (refer to Platinum Printing explanation). I like the color and the longer tonal range I can achieve with this hand-mixed emulsion. I enjoy the slower tempo of working one contact print at a time. For me, there is a painterly feel the process in that makes each print essentially a monoprint, exhibiting slight differences from one another, even though made from the same negative.

In today’s world of digital photography my methodology is often viewed as that of the “old school” meaning “like back in the days of the dinosaurs”. In reality, the world of photography has made enormous leaps and bounds since the first documented permanent photographic image was made in 1839 and each artist gets to choose how they want to work with the medium. There is no “right or wrong” to these choices, they are simply preferences. For my process, as long as the materials are available – film, platinum and palladium – I will continue to focus my work in the more slow, completely hands-on way that I have chosen because it works for me to do so.  However, where necessary I will adapt my process to the equipment at hand.

Tillman Crane, 2017

The Platinum/Palladium Print Process

For people who collect photographs, platinum/palladium prints are known for their beauty, archival stability and unique, one-of-a-kind print statement. Made from the salts of platinum and palladium, these prints are also called “platinotypes” or “platinum” prints. Platinum and palladium are noble metals on the Periodic Table and are resistant to oxidation. The platinum salt emulsion is imbedded into the fiber of the paper during the printing process.

As with most historical photographic processes, a platinum print is made by placing the negative and emulsion-coated paper in direct contact. Therefore, the size of the photographic print is equal to the size of the negative.

Platinum prints have a different “look” from silver gelatin or digital prints. All platinum prints have a matte, not glossy surface, because the sensitizer is absorbed into the paper rather than sitting on the surface. A platinum print also has a more gradual tonal change from black to white. To the eye accustomed to the punch of a silver gelatin print, a platinum print will often feel “softer” or lower in contrast. In reality there are actually more steps between pure black and pure white in platinum prints than in a silver gelatin print. This contributes to the deeper, richer feeling you experience when looking at these prints.

My platinum prints are made from hand-mixed and hand-coated emulsions. These sensitizers are mixed just prior to use, coated on the paper with a brush or glass rod. Once dry, a negative is placed in direct contact with the paper, and then exposed to “actinic” or ultraviolet light. Exposure to the light source takes a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the density and contrast of the negative.

The image tone of a platinum/palladium print can vary widely in color. These prints can range from a cool, slightly purple black to split tones of brown and warm black, to a very warm brown. The proportions of platinum to palladium in the emulsion, choice of developers and the temperature of the developer control the final color.

As these emulsions are mixed and coated by hand no two prints are exactly alike. I like to think of them as “monotype” prints from the same negative. Some practitioners of these historic processes leave brush strokes plainly visible. My goal is to make prints as smooth as possible, but occasionally brush strokes can be seen in some of the prints. They should be seen as the marks of the artist.

Tillman Crane, 2017

Soft Focus Does NOT Mean Out-of-Focus

My interest in soft focus photography may seem incongruent with my earlier view camera work, which has been more in the style of the f/64 group. For almost thirty years of working with large format cameras I have worked hard to create images of fine focus and detail. However, I have always had a soft spot for the Pictorialist photographers who created and worked with lenses that added an Impressionistic quality to their images. Aside from the obvious softness in the image, when the best features of a soft focus lens are used, a luminescence occurs in the image that I haven’t been able to create with my other lenses. It is this burst of light that creates, for me, the tension and excitement in these soft focus photographs.

Working with a soft focus lens is very different from working with the anastigmatic, rectilinear and apochromatic lenses found on most cameras today. To begin with, most soft focus lenses are either of a normal or slightly long focal length for any given format. In addition, there is no specific point of focus with a soft focus lens but more of a zone of focus. The effects of soft focus lenses work because of the spherical and chromatic aberrations. (The earliest manufactured soft focus lenses used both spherical and chromatic aberrations but later lenses were corrected for chromatic aberrations.) Although soft focus lenses can give a sharp image within their prescribed field of coverage when the apertures are completely stopped down, most do not have the resolving power of anastigmatic lenses, contributing more to the softening effect. Furthermore, outside the field of focus the image degrades rapidly to the edge of the negative.

The earliest designed soft focus lens, the Dallmeyer Patent Portrait, was made for portrait work in the 1860s. Though some believe soft focus lenses were made in direct response to the Impressionistic movement in paintings, records from Royal Photographic Society meetings of the 1850s show that photographers had already begun looking for lenses that gave a less literal rendering of a subject and more poetic one. By the late 19th century amateur photographers became a bigger market in photography and their artistic interests, rather than commercial needs, resulted in the development of lenses designed specifically to give a softer effect.

Regardless of their history, soft focus lenses work differently than other lenses in how they record subjects on the ground glass and on film. Each lens requires patience and experimentation to master, owing to a variety of traits, which make them distinct from each other and all other camera lenses. Even two lenses manufactured at the same time will have different personalities due to the differences in their naturally occurring aberrations. When you learn the “character” of your individual lenses you can begin to have more control in the use of these lenses. What is important to remember is this: a soft focus image produced using soft focus lenses is NOT the same as an image produced with a fixed focal length pinhole or plastic camera or other manipulation (physical or digitally created) causing an overall out-of-focus or “fuzzy” effect. These are completely different processes and should be examined and evaluated on their individual merits and not clumped together as “soft focus”.

Tillman Crane


Il Chiostro celebrates the harvest time of the year in Tuscany with The Autumn Arts Festival. We offer 4 separate workshops that all overlap throughout this week-long celebration of the arts, the harvest, the wine and this wonderful region of Italy.  The workshops are:

In addition to your workshop we offer Italian Opera Appreciation lectures with Prof. Patricia Pease each evening before dinner.  This is open to all participants.

Sorry, this class is full!
Let us know if you would like to be put on the waiting list for photography.
Please consider one of our other programs of painting or cooking.

Program DescriptionTravel Photography:

Spirit and Structure of Tuscany

This eight day experience is about enjoying Tuscany in the autumn. With inspiration around every corner, your images will come alive with instructor, Tillman Crane.

As one of the workshops of the Autumn Arts Festival, the photography portion will be about making images in and of the fabled Tuscany. Based at the 900 year old Dievole winery, we will explore the spirit and structure of the small towns and villages, wineries, churches and monasteries that comprise the area. Between every structure is the land and light that are the  heart of the Chianti wine country.

Dievole Winery in the fall, photo by Linda Mironti

This workshop is for photographers of all levels:  for those advanced photographers Tillman will give guidance and assistance when asked.  For beginners or even those totally new to photography, he will work with you at whatever level you bring to the class.

These 8 days will be about you looking, seeing and capturing your Tuscany.  There will be no assignments and no formal critiques.  We will, however, have a classroom studio to look at images together, to share what we have seen and review techniques. You will be amazed at how differently everyone sees the same places!  You may learn as much from your fellow classmates as you do from the instructor.

For those of you coming with a partner, they can sign up for the concurrent workshops of painting or cooking or they are welcome to join us on our photography excursions.

Tuscan sunrise, by Tillman Crane

What Will Our Days Look Like?
  • Sunrise is about  7AM. It’s optional if you want to join Tillman, but this is possibly the most beautiful light of the day to photograph.
  • After breakfast:  on the first day we’ll stay close to home to photograph around the stunning Dievole Winery surrounded by the Chianti hills.
  • Duomo, by Tillman Crane

    On most other days we’ll leave for an excursion to one of the classic hill towns to photograph for the day. We won’t need to travel far to get terrific inspiration.  Nearby towns include Siena, Radda-in-Chianti, San Gimignano, or even Pienza or Montepulciano.  All transportation will be provided.  We’ll have an independent lunch wherever we are.

  • When we get home there will be time to relax and review our photos of the day.
  • Each evening before dinner there will be an Italian Opera appreciation class for all music lovers. Patti Pease, who leads the workshop, is a true expert having sung in opera houses around the world and taught in various university programs.
  • Afterwards we’ll meet in the dining room for our Tuscan dinner prepared by Dievole’s chef accompanied by plenty of Chianti wine from the surrounding vineyards.  Don’t forget about the pig roast – the real celebration of the fall harvest!  That’s an event to be photographed, then eaten!

Chianti vineyards in the fall, photo by Chris Corradino

Come study with Tillman in this beautiful region of Tuscany! All levels of experience welcome as well as all camera formats. The only requirement is that you know how to use your camera of choice. Participation encouraged but not required.

Price: $3,850 p/p

Cafe vines, Tillman Crane

  • Single supplement – $695 (limited number available)
  • Suite supplement  – $450 p/p (limited number available)


  • Room (double or suite) with full bathroom
  • 2 meals per day (dinner with wine and full Tuscan breakfast)
  • Workshop tuition and fees (except where noted)
  • General activities (except where noted)
  • Transfers between Siena train or bus station and Dievole

General Activities Open to All Participants (in addition to workshop):
Most activities take place in and around the 900 year old Dievole estate & vineyard.

Chianti cask, Tillman Crane

  • Winery tour and tasting, featuring Dievole’s Chianti Classico
  • Italian Opera Appreciation classes every evening before dinner
  • Excursion to Siena
  • Dinner in the old cantina
  • Various topical excursions with your class
  • Special evening concerts and surprise entertainment, TBA
  • Pig Roast celebrating the harvest and the arts

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Museum admissions
  • Gratuities

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Dievole Chianti Classico Winery, Tuscany

Participants in the Autumn Arts Festival will stay in Dievole’s 16th century inn and guest houses floating in the magnificent Tuscan hills. We take over the whole winery so it will begin to feel like home after a few days.  The entire facility recently underwent a major facelift transforming all rooms into spacious, luxury lodgings.  Rooms are doubles or suites with modern bathrooms and heating.

A limited number of single rooms and suites are available for a supplement.

Dievole will seem more like a family inn rather than an impersonal chain hotel.  Dievole is located in the town of Vagliagli, about 12km northeast of Siena and 40km south of Florence. If you wish to explore the area independently during your stay we recommend renting a car. The link below will give you a glimpse of the winery:

Click here to visit Dievole’s web site…

Visit them on Facebook:


Die vole vineyards, photo by Jim Palmer

Dievole wine bottles-GRios

Dievole wine bottles, photo by Gilbert Rios

Gianni pouring-2014

Gianni pouring for a tasting, photo by Andy Holtzman


Dinner in the old wine cellar, photo by J Michael Sullivan


Dino ready to carve at the harvest pig roast


Early morning at Dievole, photo by Gabriella Pascoe


Orientation in the vintners’ room, photo by J Michael Sullivan

We will pick you up in Siena anytime between 1 and 5pm on the first day of the program. The recommended arrival airports are Florence or Rome from where you can take a bus or train to Siena. Florence is closer, but there are no direct flights from the US. You would have to change in another European city. Rome provides more flight options.

The bus/train from Rome to Siena is about 3 hours.

We can also arrange for a car to pick you up from Florence or Rome. You pay the driver directly. Just let us know a few days in advance so we can make the arrangemenst for you.

If you are departing from Rome on the last day, remember it is 3 hours by car or bus from Siena so try to book an afternoon flight.

If you have time, you might consider lingering in Italy for a few days extra on either end of the festival. Allow the Italian rhythms to seduce you. A few days in Rome or Florence upon arrival is a wonderful way to get over jet-lag. For other travel help check our Travel to Italy web page.

  • If you like dealing with a person, try our travel consultant, Nancy Schaffer with Travel Solutions, Inc. in Westborough, MA.  You can reach her at or 508-836-0143.  Mention that you are traveling with Il Chiostro.
  • For this trip and whenever you travel, we strongly recommend personal travel insurance. It protects you against penalties should you need to cancel your trip at the last minute. If you don’t have a policy, contact Travelex (800) 5047883 or [Note: Travelex requires that you take out a policy within 21 days of registering for a travel program.]

Specific Travel information to get to Dievole:

By Train: There are regularly scheduled trains from all major towns and cities in Italy. Head towards Siena. From Rome there are several trains daily from the main station (Termini). You don`t need a reservation. Although you purchase a through ticket, it is necessary to change trains at Chiusi. The ride takes about 3.5 hours (approximately 240 km.) and the cost is around $20.
NOTE: in Italy it is the law to stamp your train ticket in the little yellow meter near each train platform. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines, even if you plead ignorance.
By Bus: There are also buses from almost anywhere in Italy to Siena. These are modern and comfortable coaches.

From Florence: buses leave the SITA terminal (next door to the train station) nearly every hour. If you take Siena Rapida, the ride is direct on the highway and should take 1 hour.

From Rome: the ride takes 3 hours (non-stop). If you plan to arrive at the Rome airport and plan to come directly to Siena, this is the quickest method. From the airport, take the train on the left-hand track to the Tiburtina station (NOT Termini). From there, go outside into the parking lot.
If you are already in Rome you can take the Metro to the Tiburtina station. Take the B (blue) line towards Rebibbia. Follow signs to Pzle. Stazione Tiburtina.
With the long side of the station at your back, cross under the overpass into the parking lot. Buy your ticket from the building marked Biglietteria C (17.50 Euros, approx. $20); the bus usually leaves from Gate 8. These buses leave every day at regular intervals. To get current fares and schedules for the SENA bus you can check their web site:

Once in Siena, get off at the Siena train station (Ferrovia). Don’t get off in the center of Siena.

Tuscany in autumn is a sensual feast. Russet and golden hills. Crisp air. Trees weighted with olives. Woods rich with mushrooms and chestnuts. The scent of grapes hangs over the valleys like mist. The harvest is the soul of the Tuscans. In autumn the hilltowns revert to the locals. Their art is to prepare the bounty: prosciutto, nuts, olive oil and especially Chianti. Traditional festivals celebrate every phase from the vendemmia (harvesting of grapes for wine) to the wild boar. Music, folklore, dancing in the piazza.And there, in the heart of Tuscany, is Siena. The legendary medieval town packed with history and art. In autumn, her museums and churches relax, uncrowded. The streets echo her architecture, art and heroes.

IC pix 07-425

Surrounding Vineyards, photo by Linda Mironti