Now the Bessa had proved itself a viable option for travel. It was time to pack the gear for a Roman hoilday of some description – an adventure! A trip in the black’n’white media to capture the nostalgic feel on film. So what better to use than a camera from the late 1930’s to do the job! In my previous blog post, I’d mentioned the use of two types of film Neopan and PAN F. Neopan from Fujifilm proved more useful with it’s higher ISO at 100 than Ilford’s PAN F. Both films are wonderful to use, but for a little more speed the Neopan wins for handheld street and tourist shots with the old Bessa
I had. Remember it’s a big film surface of 6×9 in centimetres unlike 35mm so shutter speed becomes a little more important.
In the age of digital from DSLR to smartphone the magic of the moment is all too brief. There is a time of course for this. However when every moment is just another sequence in a series of snapshots. Soon there little to differentiate from what is truly special. The moment to savour or the lunch burger meal we’ve just share on Instagram. Its noise and clutter of hundreds of images on our many devices.
Wouldn’t it be nice to take time to make pictures see just one thing ? So the idea of film and a foldable camera, a night train to Rome to me is like being on a kind mission, a step back in time. To capture a couple or a few images. Really decide and take time. To relax! I’m no after pristine images, shiny and glossy. No not at all, no way. I want something real and something made.
The imperfections and details are what makes life’s everyday composition. Even in Rome where everything is a little worn over the years and centuries. There is a sense of all the events in history gathering together for a time conference in the capital city of Italy. And as if the speakers of this time conference were the tall columns we find around Rome. Seeming not to have any order or have any preparation to speak. Each of them commence to to stand up and talk. Talking aloud from their assigned corners and designated squares across the city of Rome.
Even the back streets of Rome have plenty to say too. They offer too photographic gems for their play of light and casting shadows on Roman walls or door ways.
Rome is full of hidden things to unearth. Even the metro couldn’t be completed every time a hole is made a discovery is found. But that’s another story entirely. I had found a courtyard here and there with amazing sculptures and decorative facades. Just so many treats for camera and especially appeasing in monotones too. I had managed well with the Bessa rangefinder and external light meter until now. Through my wondering in Rome. I felt it was now time to try something more daring, with larger range of light. On the second floor of the Palazzo Mattei. I discovered without the aid of a guide book which by the way I really enjoy just getting immersed in city without the bother of such things. I may read one in the morning to get a sniff of a direction and from there I just want to get lost and ramble along for hours. This is my favourite way to do cities at least in Europe. Now it doesn’t work for every city but for Rome it certainly does. This is what happened then with the exposure below at the Palazzo. A bit dark but the idea I had executed well in film.
Palazzo Mattei di Giove – Ilford PAN-F ISO50 ƒ/5.6 1/25
One of the areas in Rome that is a must visit is the old protestant cemetery. Where the non-Catholics are buried. It’s very beautiful and peaceful place to walk and reflect. Lust with scrubs, bushes, and various slender trees. The English poets, Keats and Shelly are to be found here. From here the Pyramid of Cestius can be seen and makes a good capture through the trees in silhouette. I am pretty contend how this turned out after self developing the image. The silhouette of the trees came through as I had imagined.
Using along side the Voitglander I took with me a notebook, pen and the necessary light meter to achieve the film exposure. It should be mentioned, how important it is to record and note down details such as the exposure, the place and time. I realise now how very much that I take EXIF information for granted on the digital side of things. No such thing on medium format rollfilm exists well not on this foldable camera anyhow. So I would recommend carrying a pen and notebook around for this purpose. Old style and old school, it does slow you down and finally you get the message across. That it’s about taking time. Asking yourself – Where am I ? What light is it ? What time is it ? all these things make up a photograph and how these attributes affect the final negative.
Pyramid of Cestius – Ilford PAN-F ISO50 ƒ/8 1/50
Columns at Teatro di Marcello – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/11 1/100
Swiss guard at the Vatican – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/5 1/25
Elephant and Obelsik by Bernini, Piazza della Minneva – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/5.6 1/25
Gavin at Riverside, Ponte Sant’Angelo – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/8 1/50
Iris at Piazza Capranica – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/8 1/50
Iris sitting at the lamppost, Tiber river – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/8 1/50
Ponte Sisto / Via Pettinari – Fujifilm Neopan Acros ISO100 ƒ/16 1/50
I do hope you enjoy these images, feel free comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Do you like the Bessa and Medium Format? Would you consider film and self development ?