Definitely out of focus

Slightly Out of Focus is a diary by Robert Capa, the title itself is kinda joking on his job as a photoreporter. This week I somehow managed to reinterpretate it, in a tougher way.

As you may (or probably may not) recall, I was in Rome few weeks ago. In that time I could only bring one quick camera with me, since I was travelling with a group of youngsters and carrying my fuji was somewhat risky since they’re an explosive compound. So I decided to carry only my medium format camera, the rocky Lubitel 166B and a roll of Portra 400 (colour film).

Given the restricted amount of free time for myself, I managed to snap some quick pictures and the process went like this: see the picture/scene, push the guys on while thinking about exposure, deploy, pray for focus, snap, go. Focusing on the lubitel is a pain in the ass (you know what I’m talking about), and so watching the developed negatives today I can only think about a reinterpretation of Capa’s diary. We’ll say it was all intentional, all of that.

Foreword, the camera shows some marks of use and it’s not perfect, therefore you’ll see some backlight effects (those rectangular brighter areas, in which light reflects after passing through the film and shoots it back) and a thin darker line (which I still have no clear idea, but will work on. Also, the most beautiful picture, in my humble opinion (imho), is the last one, so hold on to it.

Ready, set, go.

On the day before departuring it was a spectacular day, shining blue sky, not a single cloud, and a camera to test (just because), so I took this first picture, which is somehow a memorandum of my home, and it turned out kind in focus, despite the awful resolution of the lens. Don’t get used to this level of focus, it will get much worse but will come back with an amazing last-focused picture.

Roma Ado-15
Home

One can’t just go to Rome as a tourist and skip the coloseum. We had some group pictures with this background, lots of teenager selfies with spreaded fingers and blatantly faked smiles and cheesy cheeks, then just kept walking on the street crossing famous ruins like “foro” di Cesare, Augusto, Nerva etc. As a perfect tourist I wanted a picture of this monument but didn’t have much time to get a good composition, nor a clear shot since it was infested crowded with people, so I decided to get a diagonal angle and cut out those smiling folks. Suddenly, as I was clicking the shooting lever, two extremely happy and jumping  japanese girls decided to get in the frame, and so you can see their forehead and some hair at the bottom. Being honest I forgot to chech the focusing distance (hyperfocal), I tried to prepare it before approaching the coloseum but in the backpack the focusing optic must have moved and so you can see the higly focused result.

Roma Ado-13
Coloseum and japanese foreheads

This is one of the ruins mentioned some lines above, it is Nerva’s one. Like before I didn’t have much time, so the picture is clearly not parallel to the horizon, but sticazzi

Roma Ado-14
Foro di Nerva

Here we come to the inner part of the city, where people actually live. I was in line for a sweet ice cream, but got struck by this manifesto and the background (eligible for the Wounds project); so I left my place leaving my precedence right to a teen and went shooting. The sky was cloudy and exposure was not so easy to calculate, but I got lucky! I was attracted by the meaning of the poster, which translates in “disdain comfortable life” and the picture of a guy with some crazy outfit riding a horse on the desolated background.

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Disdain comfortable life – I

Truth must be told. I was so intrigued by the affission that I decided to investigate its origin, turns out it’s a fascism motto. Kinda weird, but taking out the political meaning I like the concept and it is nicely rendered in the picture. (This is also the most focused picture imho, so it’s all down from now on,baby)

Roma Ado-11
Disdain comfortable life – II

This picture is the worst of the roll, but provides the frenzy of the visit and the little time I had to set up the shots. It’s taken from the interior of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. We could say the shot effectively represents the fugacity of life aspiring to a deeper meaning and sense of consciousness shining through the darkest deeps of the human nature, but we won’t.

 

Roma Ado-1
Untitled

This is still the same church of the previous picture, but from a different angle and with something like 30 seconds of shooting time more. It is not really what I had in mind, talking about the color rendering, framing (still have to understand the correct distance to look into the prism); but as before, I like this messy result. And you can have an hint on the ceiling’s nature.

Roma Ado-2
Untitled

Lastly, a picture which is the composition I had in mind. This is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, it’s one of the four churches holding a Holy door and we visited it not only in the “commonly accessible” areas, we also went through the façade and the private rooms keeping memorabilia of more than 1000 years ago. While walking our way we passed over an opening facing the exterior of the entrance side and this scene opened up. The first thing to notice is the marble door sided by two sculpted angels, revealing a beauty which goes all the way beneath the building. Then this dude came up to my attention, he’s a priest taking a moment of relax, he’s reading the daily mass planner, very slowly, while keeping a tired but sweet eye on the city freaking out in front of him. Traffic jams, clacsons, crowds, noise; all of these concurr in the music of the city, which is frenetic but punctuated. And he’s just there sitting in the chill of these ancient stone walls, hearing this music while dancing in the rythm of his slowness.

Roma Ado-8
Rome – II

If you reached this point reading all the 1049 words written upon now, congratulations!
See ya in a week, more or less.

 

 

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