35 or 50

I have the biggest dilemma. I’m torn between subject and context, between one message and a full asemblage, detail and atmosphere. 50mm or 35mm focal lenght?

Here are two very recent examples:

Javier, shot from aproximately 1 meter distance with a 50mm f1.4 wide open.

Javier, shot from aproximately 1 meter distance with a 50mm f1.4 wide open.

And Rocío, shot from aproximately 2m away, with a 35mm f1.4 also wide open.

And Rocío, shot from aproximately 2m away, with a 35mm f1.4 also wide open.

See what I mean? Please, ignore the difference in light –which obviously favors the second photo– and focus on two things: how there is much more context on the second image and also how the background is less blurred, since the longer the focal lenght the easier it isolates the subject.

I know purists will say that context, background and surroundings are part of the message and that an experience photographer sould be able to integrate them in the visual narrative but… Sometimes I find detail to be richer, to provide more info than background.

See? I’m drowning in this dilemma. What do you think? Do you have a preference yourself?



What's wrong with black and white, instagram?

One of the reasons why I’m angry at instagram (as a community) is the fact that black and white photos tend to get way less likes than the color ones. I have not checked that empirically but it is something I see in my own uploads. No matter the subject or the message the photo conveys, color always gets more love. That makes absolutely no sense in terms of visual narrative, which leads me to believe that most people express appreciation based on a primal infantile instincs.

Rant aside, I’m trying to practice a bit of portraiture in black and white, experiencing with different lenses. One of my favorites is the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM, also known as the “Japanese Summilux”. I like how in BW photos are better when there is more expression. It’s more difficult to cheat pleasing with the usual tricks (macros, textures, bokeh, color gradients, you name it). I like the softness in the rendering as well as the pleasing bokeh. I have to say I had to push the contrast a little bit in post, since this lens flattens the images a little bit too much for my taste.

Here are some photos of Jara and her friend Alba from our last trip to Sevilla. All of them were taken with the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM

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Holy Week

I wanted to do justice –a beautiful justice, I believe– to those old places taking photos of them with a camera as old; and those aged roads with equally aged film rolls. I wanted that ruggedness of the cracked asphalt to naturally be in the grain of the film images, those bumps reflected in the light leaks of the camera and in the stains that time creates in the expired 35mm emulsion.

Photos were taken with a Contax Quartz 139 and diverse lenses with Afga Agfapan APX 125, expired in 1982. The music used in the videosequence is the startling  "Descansa" by David Cordero y el Niño de Elche.


Under construction

My girlfriend Jara is an architect. She is currently working on the restoration and reconstruction of a hotel in Madrid. Part of her job is to go around the construction site checking that all the works are being done according to procedures. When doing so, she brings her tiny Fujifilm Tiara and documents the atmosphere, the work in progress.

Fujifilm Tiara, Kodak Color, developed at  La Peliculera .

Fujifilm Tiara, Kodak Color, developed at La Peliculera.

I very much enjoy these photos. They bring me her sight, the way she sees beauty in something I would have never put muy eyes on. She sometimes refers to the construction site as “my office. It couldn’t be farther from the type of workspace most of us have. So open, rough, analog, dusty and grainy, as film is most times.

Fujifilm Tiara, Kodak Color, developed at  La Peliculera .

Fujifilm Tiara, Kodak Color, developed at La Peliculera.

This little (big, beautiful) project of hers is still under construction (pun absolutely intended here) and most photos are not yet published or even developed. I am always excited when I see new ones coming, convinced that they will make a delightful exhibit somewhere in the renewed hotel when they reopen it.

This is Jara, in her working attire. Fujifilm Tiara, Kodak Color, developed at  La Peliculera .

This is Jara, in her working attire. Fujifilm Tiara, Kodak Color, developed at La Peliculera.

You can follow some of Jara’s photos at her instagram

Fly or sail

Lisbon’s waterfront has a silverish quality when it’s partly cloudy. That or perhaps the games my Mamiya 6 likes to play with light, left me with a few takes that bring me nice memories. Isn’t light —certain types of light— a very powerful memory retrieval instrument, second perhaps to the evocative qualities of smell?

Both photos taken with a Mamiya 6, Kodak Portra 400 and reveloped at  La Peliculera . 

Both photos taken with a Mamiya 6, Kodak Portra 400 and reveloped at La Peliculera

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Back to digital

Yes, I’m weak and I’m back to digital. And no, this is no April Fools Day joke. I’m really going back for a number of reasons that I cannot prioritize and include, among others, the urge to have quick results of my photo sessions, the crave for certain colors and tonality and the conveninece of low light photography with digital ISO management, which is way better than having to deal with high ISO film.

I took this random photo today; nothing out of the ordinary, perhaps even boring, but to me it was rewarding. The color rendition, the fantastic ISO management, the ability to enjoy it on the spot... 

Summicron C 40mm f2

Summicron C 40mm f2

Perhaps I should change the title of the blog. Truth is I don’t plan on stopping shooting analog, it brings another type of rewards. But expect a bit more digital from now on.