Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back in time

Tivoli, Tempio di Vesta

I've written some days ago that I sent out to lab two 120mm rolls exposed last August using an old german camera, Franka (see here the weblog dedicate to its World tour), from Solida Record, that we 591ers are passing each other, making it roam around the world. Having no experience and very little memory of the "analog photography" era, I left one roll to each of the photoshops close to my house and crossed my fingers.

I was really doubtful, if not really hopeless, about the results of my first analog shooting after fifteen years. Along with the Solida Record, that day I had taken my pocket Canon Powershot, with which I took care to digitally pre-shoot and analyse the context before wasting a film frame. I remember I realized very soon how challenging the alleys of a medieval town could be in a sunny August morning. Light is stark, vivid, so vertical and umpredictable. Shadows alternate with patches of bright light that make nearly impossible to distinguish the texture of the ancient buildings walls. I write this to say that my hope to get some good pictures out of those rolls was really low. Yet, reality turned out to be even more critical and cruel.

I was told that it would have taken at least a couple of weeks before having the developed negatives back. So I patiently waited till this afternoon. What I actually wasn't aware of was the price of this game. I heard from one of the shop owners I talked to that scanning one photogram would have costed one Euro, ending up to a significant - and not always sustainable - total cost. So I decided not to have the scan made by the shops and make an attempt with my limited gears. Before going forward with my story it's worth reinforcing my previous feeling that the cost of films development seems to be nowever nearly uncontrolled: one shop charged we with 2.30€, whereas the second one asked for 7.70€. This confirms my theory that, as the analog photography is no longer the core business of photoshops, its cost is set without any reason, where the service is still provided. It makes no longer difference. Competition is made on the digital layer.

So I took the developed films and rushed my home. Almost all frames were overlapping with the neighbour, meaning that I didn't consider some important factors, yet most of the exposed frames were clean and aparently in good shade, with fine (negative) details. I made my scans and went looking into them with Photoshop.

Oh my! What a bad surprise. What a blow! All the pictures are looking tremendously blemished, burned out and out of focus. This seems to be in contrast with the delails I can see through the negatives. So I thought it could be a problem of my scanner, which is mainly meant for copying traditional documents. I can't say which will be the recovery action, nevertheless I can't deny that I feel somehow satisfied of the resulting images. The bad exposures, helped by a films scan made with an improper tool, and the soft-focusing effect added by a scanner that was not made for pictures, give the picture a strange look, as if they were shot 150 years ago.
I have to leverage on this and be not ashamed of criticisms. I will present as many pictures as I can out of those taken with the Franka. Some of the preventive shots made with the digital camera have already been posted here and on 591. If you had the time, give them a look: you'd find out how much difference betwen the two processes is.

So, before closing and leaving you to my pictures, my question is always the same: is that effort worth being spent? Should we consider having a parallel analog track, instead of pursuing day after day the digital evolution?