IN THE VERY HEART OF THE SERENISSIMA REPUBLIC
In the broader context of communication techniques, the photographic representation is a basic element. The simplicity of this visual static factor has the effect of immediately improve the relationship between those who produce an image and those who use it.
The perceptual vision mechanism is activated automatically and independently in modern man, and when the image takes on certain special characteristics, the result can be powerful, sometimes even disruptive.
Here comes into play the Semiotics, since an author – the one that produces the picture – should be aware of the need to structure the visual message. This is to make more efficient communication. It then opens a vast field in which the photographic image is only the end product of a complex process. It is not an easy path and the action of the camera is therefore almost marginal.
This is precisely what distinguishes the common owner of a camera that shoots instinctively and the author who uses a learned method to convey a message. He acts with determination, motivation and specific communication techniques. Obviously, under these conditions, the scenario is opening up boundless and includes, for example, factors like the specializations shooting (nature, reportage, advertising, fashion, graphics, etc.), the analysis of the relationship of man with life, the places and the world, the documentation and illustration.
When a professional photographer (who usually works in a targeted way for several customers, who give him their approval and confirmation) acts as an author, producing images that match totally to his communication needs, and represent his thinking and his art, his authorship is exposed to a more general opinion, which is very different. In this case he is only himself, and it shows in his human intimacy. Therefore it is said that the author has no clothes.
CAMERAS AND SUBJECTS
Urban legends and tell tales spread news of improbable photographing truths.
I must confess I was fond of cameras and lenses. I had a crazy passion for some. I mean the objects, the machines, the lenses, for themselves. I spent all of my money to have the best, the absolute best. Well, many of them I never used, I was only proud to have them. And still am. Monomaniac, you say. That’s it, and it’s a private issue. As for my job, cameras were only tools, neither less nor more. Worth only for what they could do. I could shoot horrible snaps with Hasselblad or Sinar, and smart ones with a throwaway Kodak cardboard camera or a Polaroid. Or a cellphone today. The real truth is photography is not a camera matter. It is a complex interaction of various elements and circumstances (some casual): you only have to be there and make click. About the subjects, unless you are forced to one particular, you can try to catch the poetry of anything whatsoever. Good lights, appropriate background, and the camera you happened to have with you. Not a real mystery, tough. Just a chance to express a spark of your brain within a mirror shard. To print 18×24 cms.
FOCUSING FROM ABOVE
In my photographic life, I have taken many different technical directions, following each to the end. Two in particular were crucial for me, the use of lenses and darkroom. Postponing the second to another page, I would like to deepen the first.
Everybody knows the differences in usage and outcome between a wide angle and a telephoto lens, a macro lens and shiftable one, especially when referring to the past. Yes, because now, with the professional digital equipment, some of these limits – of which I will discuss below – reinforced or in some cases reduced.
If a photographer now has more than 60 years, he remembers the typical focusing of lenses by Carl
Zeiss Jena (in Summaron Elmarit 35 or 90 for the Leica IIIf, my working horse of the late Sixties) and their peculiar contrast and sharpness in black and white. It was a kind of signature by itself. The same you can say for the sublime Hasselblad Zeiss optics that allowed Ektachrome color slides 64 to blow up gigantic. Not forgetting the famous Tessar and Planar of the Rolleiflex, another great love of my life. Something changed with the introduction of the SLR cameras, Asahi Pentax and Nikon, to say just two. Some of their lenses gave spectacular results in particular in the series of the seventies. To me, the small Pentax to head in B & W and the Nikon in the lead in color. Once made the hand with the various kind of lenses, each
photographer showed his preference. I, for one, have always been a wide-angle photographer. I loved especially the close-ups, one meter from the subject, which involved me emotionally though they were not always perfect as I expected. Nevertheless, they were very effective.
While the wide angle made you feel inside and near, the telephoto put you away and out.
It is true that you could grasp difficult situations, but somehow deprived of emotionality. In my case, while using all the lenses, for my personal shots I used a telephoto lens as the Nikkor 105 Micro and Sonnar 150; very
frequently only my Nikkor 28 PC, which has an incredible resolution for spectacular blow ups.
Today, with digital, all these things have changed radically. Once, the real problem was the film, grain, dust, minor scratches, not the cameras and lenses.
Indeed, these were absolutely
better than today’s. After all, it was enough to set the sensitivity of the film, and then use only a couple of adjustments, focus, choice of shutter speed / aperture according to the instructions of the meter, and you were done.
A professional uses cameras with a sensor as large as the frame of
printing. The more professional cameras provide images in RAW type, which contain in full the sensor data, those intended for amateur use are JPEG compressed type, with a smaller amount of data. The modern darkroom is a computer with special software. With it you can perform real miracles.