How I shot pictures (sometimes on request) underwater.

One month ago I had the chance to exchange a lens that I was not using anymore for an underwater camera – the Minolta 35DL – in a camera shop, and I took the deal. I immediately used it a few days later during a pool party that a friend threw in his house on Elba. Before that, I never used an underwater camera – at least that I can remember – and the results enchanted me. Once I got back in Milan I immediately developed the two rolls of film that I shot in such occasion.

More than anything such an automatic camera that can go underwater without any concern immediately involved everyone at the party, and tons of pictures were requested. The unusual context helped me capture a few unexpected pictures, as a result of me experimenting outside of my comfort zone.

The surreal look of the light casted heterogeneously by the water ripples immediately throws the pictures in dreamy realm.

It was also very interesting to play with the internal reflections of light against the edge of the water, isolating what is inside of the water from the outside – which is even more interesting in a pool, an element that is inherently separated from its surroundings.

Yet more than anything else, it is a fun way to take pictures in all situations – unafraid to ruin the camera and free to enjoy the moment at its fullest.

Thanks to Giuditta Fullone for reviewing this article.

All the images included in this article were shot on Ilford HP5 film on a Minolta 35Dl, home-developed and home-printed in my bathroom/darkroom, and then scanned. The cover drawing is made by me.

How I walked around Tōkyō (twice) for unusual pictures.

During my latest trip to Japan I decided to make a small photo-project based on infrared pictures of brutalist buildings around Tōkyō. I previously did much research on which buildings to photograph, and Blue Crow’s map really helped me. I ended up drawing a sketch map of the route I would have taken, to understand whether it would have been possible to make it in just one day – also considering that I would have been able to make it only during the first few days in Kyōto, since they were more relaxed. Luckily I managed to plan a round trip around the city starting from outside the Tōkyō station and ending a few train stops from it, and taking the shinkansen back in the evening proved to be easy.

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How I organised (and survived) a group trip to Japan.

This was my fourth trip to Japan. Seven years have passed since my first time there, and photography has always been one of my main drives while travelling there: the way people react to being photographed, they fascination for something that still is ‘unusual’ to my eye. It still is and I kept experimenting with it even during this trip – as I did more and more during each of my previous visits: in 2012 it was with digital, in 2015 it was with film in a rangefinder camera, in 2017 it was with both film in a reflex camera with a flash and instant pictures. This year I decided to try taking both portraits and street photographs on the same camera, in order to capture different perspectives on how people live and behave there, might they be turists or locals. I wanted to be able to show people both as individuals, and as part of the environment they live in and influence with their actions.

“(…) Being able to reach such a mental state doesn’t imply that one has managed to create a masterpiece. Yet, to create a masterpiece one has to know such a mental state.”

Soseki Natsume, “Kusamakura”
(草枕, Grass Pillow)
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How we channeled all the stimuli (and the heat) in the never-ending city of NY.

New York is an immense city. It’s the so-called “city that never sleeps” – and that’s my favorite nickname for it. We went there for a 14-days trip, and that still wasn’t enough. Considering that at the beginning I was planning for only 10 days there, I’m happy that Giuditta convinced me to add more days and that we had the chance to spend the most time possible in such a wonderful and multi-faceted city.

Over the great bridge, with sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Great Gatsby’
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How I always end up having more and more pictures (and thoughts) to share.

By developing and printing pictures in the weekends and spare hours at the end of the day, I noticed that more and more extra pictures are piling up – waiting for some recognition. Single pictures that don’t fit into any themed article I share on this blog, but still portray a moment of everyday life – which i mostly spend with a camera around my neck or in my pocket. Some of these pictures even date back years, while others are more recent and just were previously underappreciated and only now noticed.  Since sorting through sleeves of negatives is time consuming – as much as setting up the dark room is – I need to focus on discipline and consistency. And I have to accept that I might not ever be able to print all the pictures I take. Luckily, this thought does not frighten me: I believe that such acceptance of the incomplete power that all of us have over the events of life is an underlying element of any aspect of life itself; accepting the limits of what can be done. Therefore, time management and satisfaction. I have tons of hobbies and interests, and I’m happy even with the little I can get out of any of them. Having at least some pictures to look at, to remind myself of the moment I took that picture – in a visually appealing photograph, giving me the chance to see, or at least imagine, the life of the people portrayed in it –  is enough.

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How we filmed two trailers (and I shot instant pictures for backstage).

Back in March this year me, my girlfriend and some other cinema-loving friends filmed a teaser trailer for the new theatre show produced by the amateur company iBirbanti – company founded by some high school friends  and in which I also help  as a technician. This is the second year since attending the Civica ‘Luchino Visconti’ cinema school in 2016 during which we have the chance to write, produce and shoot a short movie. Satisfied with our previous results, we attempted an even bigger challenge: making two different trailers, with different tones and styles, in order to fit them into the promotion campaign. Giuditta and I were in charge of the first one, and I decided to test out during the shootings both my vintage Polaroid instant cameras (i.e. Spectra Full-Switch and SLR680) for some backstage candids.

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How I spent my winter holidays in Paris with my girlfriend (and a total of 5 cameras).

Ahead of this trip, I went to Paris only few times and did not manage to create enough memories of it: the first time was about 20 years ago, so I was too young to fully comprehend the experience this city gives. The second time was for just one night in 2014, while driving back from our theatre company’s show for the Camden Fringe Festival. Therefore this can be considered my first proper visit in Paris and its beauty stunned me nonetheless. Looking down on the city from midway to the top of the Tour Eiffel and from the verge of Montmartre, and viceversa getting glimpses of the sky through the glass vaults of the passages: not something easily done anywhere.

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How two friends and I went (along with heat and typhoon Noru) on my third trip to Japan.

I suggest reading the article listening to this great piece of japanese jazz – to sync your mood with what we felt during the trip.

Since any of my first two trips to Japan (i.e. in 2012 and 2015) were not enough to satisfy my hunger for experiences in that amazing country, I decided to head back to the narrow streets of Tōkyō and other cities once again. As I did during my previous trip, I went with people I care a lot about and with whom I can share my interest for the country. We chose a wide array of cities to visit, and added Kanazawa and Aomori to my usual tour plan. Moreover we all went on the trip with cameras – and a total of 25 rolls of Ilford HP5 and 10 cartridges of I-type instant film to shoot in a 24-days trip – so everything pointed to it being first and foremost a photo-voyage.

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How I had (a rough time choosing 15 pictures for) an exhibition with a friend.

Back in June 2016 me and a friend, Pietro Consolandi, decided to consider making a joint photo exposition – focusing on the pictures we took during our respective trips to Japan in that same year: I went with a friend for new year’s eve holidays while he went later in spring by himself.

We both had also previously been to Japan – my first trip was by myself, his in a group – and we shared the belief that a certain degree of knowledge of a country is required to enjoy it. I don’t mean that one has to have a complete understanding of the place one is travelling to, but the aim of the trip should not be just discovering it: it should not be solely history and social matters, but even just the everyday dimension of how the inhabitants live their own streets and country.

Speaking for myself, I tend to try being invisible – not to catch what they wouldn’t want to show a tourist, but just to be perceived as one of its own by the country itself, the shops, the streets and the poles, being given the chance to experience the same calmness and silence one feels when at home.

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How I managed to print pictures in my bathroom (against all odds).

Feel free to advance any critique, as all the images included in this article are taken by me. Only two are not, and the author is cited.

It’s been more than two years since I first decided to only shoot film [ITA], and things are yet to be completely mastered. On my way to pursue a personal creative style, I started developing film in bigger batches, and on a steadier routine. I experimented with more developers (i.e. HC-110) – and more will come (i.e. Caffenol C-H) – while I moved to another home. Until the day one thing came: a Durst M605.

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