Far away

PHOTO (April 2013 – Canon 1000D – Los Angeles)

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– Totally personal post so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Plus I just downed some pre-dinner whiskey –

Million miles away from where I stood (Photography-wise) a year ago. And this picture came up in my mind. I was casually browsing through my files from January 2013 and I can’t believe I’ve made so much progress. And it’s not so much from a practical or technical (maybe) standpoint rather than it is in my newly acquired mindset.

I can remember I felt empty, no inspiration at all, shot because I felt i “had to”. I can clearly remember waking up on a Saturday morning at my hotel back in April, having stayed in Seattle for over a week and having shot no more than 30 pictures, which was ridiculous to me considering the environment I was in (I’m so in love with that city, but I’ll touch on that at another time..). So I got out of bed with just one idea on my mind. Fill up my 4 gig SD card before lunch time. And so I got on the streets, and started shooting away carelessly and randomly. I walked without a specific destination with one thing on my mind: “fill that bitch up!”. I just took a peek at those shots right now…. of course a few of them I would save but that’s not the point. It’s the intention. And this is finally one thing that film has taught me, to shoot with intention. I can get out at any time without knowing where to go or what to shoot. And that’s fine! The point is recognizing, understanding, thinking about what I want, and trying to capture it. And this is what I’ve been doing in the past months.

Not much

PHOTO (January 2013 – Canon 1000D – Grottaglie)

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Not much these days besides a lot of work…a LOT. Probably nothing too absorbing but just a lot of things going on and complicated situations to deal with.

This shot belongs to the session that I dedicated to my previous project – Abandon. I was walking around with that one set on my mind but I bumped into this scene, and with the light directly behind the windows I knew I would never leave without a decent picture. Good thing the mechanics were in the room right next to it, working away and busy so no way they could hear or see me sticking my nose (lens) in their environment. Don’t think they would’ve taken it well…  But I’m really happy with how this shot turned out and I didn’t even play too much with the settings.

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to dedicate to this blog in the upcoming days, but I will definitely try my best to keep up. Maybe not many experiences in terms of shooting, maybe just slightly more introspective…I know myself quite well at this point.

Confirmed my friday night trip to Pistoia.

And a long distance in a relationship is a motherfucker.

 

Quite Impressively for my standards

Quite Impressively for my standards

SET – Abandon (January 2014 – Canon 1000D – Grottaglie)

IMG_5115 IMG_5127 IMG_5130 IMG_5131 IMG_5140 IMG_5143 IMG_5147 IMG_5149 IMG_5152  IMG_5155 IMG_5157 IMG_5158 IMG_5160 IMG_5164 IMG_5169 IMG_5173 IMG_5179

Above is the result of my Saturday morning walk in Grottaglie, my adoption town for this past year and a half and for the time being.

I can finally state without a doubt that it is indeed important to set projects and goals (even if they are mini goals) in Photography. And this blog really helps… So if I think about it and go back 6 months, I would have just slept in, but instead I behaved. I went to bed relatively early (00:30 am) and set my alarm clock to 8:30. The mini-goal was to dedicate two mornings of this weekend to my project which I came up with on my previous post.

I woke up 30 mins earlier than the alarm clock at 8. MARVELOUS. I got back to bed and got up again when the alarm went off. I stretched, made some coffee, checked my mail, randomly surfed my RSS reader. 9:15 I was under the shower, 9:45 I was walking in the streets (amazing). So I decided to take my digital Canon EOS with me, after exactly a 2 month break. The only reason i did this is because I wanted to make sure I started and accomplished my project during the weekend. I brought with me one lens, my Tamron 28-75 f2.8, my favorite. I did not feel rusty at all with the digital camera in managing it, but I did find myself more “economic” in shooting than ever before. In this way film photography has definitely taught me the economics of shooting which is the opposite of what I used to do, which was randomly take shots here and there that I would not give any attention to when I was editing.

Lets get nerdy for a second here. I shot a total of 128 pictures during my walk; 18 made it to the set (of course they are not shots I would candidate as picture of the year, but they all “belong” here). That’s just a little over 14%. I know it looks low, but it really is not if you consider that 3 good pictures out of a 36 roll is 8.3% which is my average. And mind the fact that the shot of the gas station is 1 among 20 so I did not start off good 🙂 Ok let’s stop being nerdy.

I started of course going to the place that started off the idea, the “abandoned” gas station. After walking around on the outside for a while I grabbed by courage and trespassed the fence and got close. After a few minutes I could hear over my headphones somebody yelling. Of course, at me. I put on the best smile I could while an old man approached me waiving his hands and cursing at me. I was still smiling. He asked what i was doing there. I explained I was a Photographer (first time I have ever told that to anybody out loud in almost 5 years) and it did in fact help when he understood I was doing it for my own pleasure only. I also told him the “abandoned” gas station fascinated me and he immediately interrupted me and said “No! It is NOT abandoned, it’s been attacked and so I had to shut it down but it’s  going to be fixed, up and running very soon.” That’s when I understood he was the actual owner. So he explained to me that his was the city’s first gas station. We chatted for a few minutes (made me laugh how is biggest concern appeared to be not understanding why kids would spend so much money on paint cans), I took a couple more shots including the one above before I continued walking.

I went off south through a country road (the unfinished building), wandered off to the old train station where a homeless guy did not see me go in, saw me come out and asked “Who brought you here?!” I didn’t see a train coming!!”

I continued walking and at some point I decided I was done, I had enough and had accomplished what I had set for myself. I got a coffee in a bar, had a smoke, and walked back home.

What I appreciated the most of my walk was the fact that I didn’t care about people watching me, which is a really great improvement. Maybe the headphones in my ear helped me get away from the environment and separate me from the surroundings but I was able to disconnect. It was just me and the camera, and nothing was separating me from the shots that I was looking for.

My editing has changed as well. No presets here, just small adjustments to bring back the tones of the cloudy day that had accompanied me during my walk, applied to all the photos pretty much in the same way since they were shot in the same places, pretty much at the same time.

Well, at least for once I did bring to completion what I had set for myself a couple of days ago. Even though Sunday morning I slept in. And the weekend does not seem so useless and empty after all… I’m sure more are to come, but for now I hope your weekend was as fruitful as mine. It’s a good feeling. Next week I finally get to see my girl. Maybe some pics in Pistoia. Going to bring my film Pentax along with me with the 50mm and my compact Canon A3400, just in case.

Ciao

A new Set

PHOTO (November 2013 – Grottaglie – Minolta 7000)Image

I almost forgot. Since plans have changed, I’m spending another weekend at home. This morning while driving to work I drove by an old abandoned gas station that struck me. I have a set planned for this weekend. It will be about abandon. Saturday/Sunday morning. And fuck it. I HOPE it’s gonna rain.

Space for improvement (and generic ramblings)

PHOTO (January 2014 – Taranto – Pentax SPF)

man_between_boats 1-2I’m nailing it down, one attempt at a time. Vuescan will not be an option in my workflow, at least for the time being.

The part I always loved about Photography was the shot, the moment when I clicked. Even more, with film, I appreciate it above anything else. The search, finding what i like, capturing it. The shot stays in my mind and sometimes I could care less about downloading/developing/archiving/posting. But, end of the day I’m still an engineer that likes to fiddle with whatever electronics I have at my disposal. And even though my inner core is dominated by chaos, my yang sometimes just wants to see thing nice and tidy.

Ok. I’ll admit I’m rambling. But this is what this is for, right?

The shot above was taken in Taranto, during an early Sunday afternoon walk. Everybody is already at home waiting for boiling water to give back a nice meal. I was just walking carelessly, thinking about composition. The attempt was well worth it although the result is not exactly what I pictured in my mind. Oddly enough my eye was able to distinctly see the ships on the background and I was just waiting for something to be added to the composition. That’s where i waited for the man to come into the frame. I got what I wanted even though the final result is not as good as I thought it would turn out.

I guess it was a helpful exercise, and that I will refine my ability to get a well composed shot. So it’s all for the better. I ain’t goin nowhere and I really do feel like I have space for improvement.

….Oh yeah – and stay away from crappy film FFS!!! It’ll just make your life more complicated when scanning, and you’ll regret not having some precious memories with something worth saving for the future.

Laters

Scanning negatives is not an exact science

…at least according to Lightroom 4.

Of course I’ve done my research during the last few weeks, and the fact that sometimes I really would like to do something else rather than sticking to what I love, is because there is a lot of experimenting I need to do before I nail down my method.

So lately it’s not been about shooting, scanning, collecting. What it’s really been about is find a photo I like from a roll and start trying to get the right program, the right settings, the right color balance. This of course for every type of roll I shot…. quite annoying and I finally understand my detachment in these past few days. This is work!

So here’s a good example of what I’m talking about. First here’s a shot that I scanned as a positive, which i simply inverted in LR4 without touching color balance and with zero adjustment settings (like auto color, dust removal, backlight correction and so on).

8 5Negative scanned and inverted

Here’s the same shot scanned as a negative so automatically inverted as it’s scanned. Mind the fact that settings are the same (none) and the program used is just Image Capture (OSX).

scanned as a negativeFor easiness of discussing let’s just call them ONE (top) and TWO (bottom).

It’s pretty evident by this demonstration which is the path to continue to go down from now on (and don’t mind the fact that this shot would have needed a couple of adjustments here and there at least to bring the father and the son out of the dark, we’re just focusing on color balance here).

So I understand LR4 may not be the best tool to invert a negative, understandably, but can simple inversion really give this bad result?

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 00.58.10

The answer, coming from a still ignorant mind on the subject, is that I would be better off letting my scanning software guess a best shot (TWO) to start from rather than losing my head starting from scratch (ONE). None of these two pictures reflect the real colors that I witnessed when I took the picture but definitely TWO is much closer and would require less work to improve.

Yeah, I guess giving Photoshop’s Invert tool would be the next option but before that I will try another scanning software. Maybe VUESCAN, just because I heard so many positive feedbacks on it although I did not have a good first approach with it. And I hate those annoying watermarks from the demo, so before I spend the money I will want to make sure it’s really worth it for my workflow.

On a personal note, the wisdom tooth removal is postponed because of work, I’m staying another weekend here at home. So I’ll have to decide whether I want to invest more time in refining my technique (unwillingly I must say) or start scanning away and build my film archive the best way I can (for the time being).

I may choose the latter… I plan to stick with film for quite a while.

nite 🙂

Think fast

PHOTO (Napoli – December 2013 – Minolta 7000)

man-3Probably as fast as I need to write this post. About to go for dinner with colleagues (still amazed I get this word right everytime i spell it) but I wanted to stop by “my place” first.

I have to think fast also later and tomorrow. I got a “surgery” coming up, a pretty messed up wisdom tooth i need to remove thursday and I’m going to be away from (my) home for a few days but I don’t want this to be affecting my ability to post something if I want to and I’m soooo behind with scanning my negatives.

Having slides would be a benefit now, but anyway I need to understand what negatives I want singularly scan and bring back with me so I have something to do while I’m at my family’s house.

ttyl