On Rephotographing

A very busy and successful day yesterday, if I do say so myself. Well, its in relationship to the past few weeks and actually making any rephotographs. I went out and made (captured) four out of five images attempted! The fifth one had Christmas lights in it and the original did not, so that one will have to wait until Santa passes on through.

Yesterday the skies were cloudy. I was waiting for some clouds (can you believe it) because I want to make some rephotographs were the original had clouds in it. I still am not quite sure if I want to match the light in the originals or not. For the images that have sun, it is best to match the light. For the ones with overcast skies I am not sure. So what I have done is to match one made in an over cast sky and also to make one with sun. The sun adds such dimension to the photograph. It also appears to make the image sharper, crisper. How this will look in the final presentation I am not quite sure. Now the thing to do is to print both and compare.

Of some of the rephotos I've made so far some seem kind of boring to me. I hope that this is not an indication of the entire project. One made on Viale XII Giugno shows the avenue turning to the left. The scene is rather dull in the rephotograph. The main building in the right side is no longer there (whether it was bombed or why it is gone I am not quite sure). The new building in its place is very ugly. The rephotograph shows that ugliness. The rest of the scene is also rather dull. How that will work I am not quite sure, but the prints will be the proof. I feel that the images with the more intimate rephotographs of specific people and business will add a good balance to the project. I feel that at this point (i.e. the time I am here in Bologna) it is best for me to work hard at gathering the 'raw material', as many as I can and then edit them down once I am back in Rochester. As I always feel, it is better to have too much and edit it down.

Of the ones made so far the rephoto of San Bartholomeo seems the most interesting. It was made with a wide angle lens (47). It shows the porticos vanishing in both directions. The point of their convergence just goes out of the frame on either side. Just under the central widest point is what appears to be a family with two children. A horse and buggy stand just to the left and the street is completely empty. In my remake of the scene there are cars parked all along the other side going out of the frame.

As I was photographing a handicapped woman drove up and parked exactly where the horse and buggy was in the original. I could not get a family to stand in the same place (which I think would perhaps compare the culture better, but language is such a damn problem for me!) When I started to rephotograph this scene there were two old gentleman standing in the scene having a discussion. I got a few shots of them. Also I waited for the traffic to back up to a solid line. That showed the contrast I was interested in. As I was setting up my camera a bus was stopped in the left side of the frame. The riders were all are packed in. I thought it could make an interesting addition to the rephoto. The riders all looked at the camera. They would have been interesting models, packed like sardines looking at the camera. (they were only about ten feet from the camera). I started to break the set but thought about the sardines and reset the camera and waited for about an hour. No luck, it started to rain, so I stopped. I thought I would process and review the results to see the similarities, then if necessary, do it again.

I have often thought about the idea of getting the same amount of people in the rephotograph as in the original. I wonder if that would show a greater comparison of culture. I imagine a family in the scene as mentioned above. The kids with their new clothes. The shinny car parked perhaps with a driver. That would be a greater 'true' comparison. But at the same time I wonder about that approach. In today's society it seems that no one really cares about the camera. I wonder if in the original scene the photographer was just making the photograph and the family happened to be passing by, or was it a commission to make a 'likeness'? Although I do think that having a similar number of people in the scene in the same place would give a greater(or different?) interest to the image.

As I mentioned, in today's culture we do not seem to care about cameras. For they are everywhere. There is such a hurry to get 'there' that things do not matter as much, especially cameras. In the 'good old days' it was a honor to have your likeness made, now most unknowing are suspicious.

As I was waiting for the bus to get in the correct position I was approached by some gypsies. Three woman with babies strapped to them. I have been told and have read that they are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. They will harass you and steal you blind, as the saying goes. So here I am with my gear all spread out on the ground and they approach. I just stood up tall and said no and ignored them while keeping an eye on them over my shoulder. They also always reach out and touch you. I shrugged them off and raised may hand as though I was going to slug them. After a short while the went away. I think the fact that I am about 8-12 inches taller than the average Italian really helped in this situation. I am now thinking that I should have paid them to get in the picture. Would that have made a good comparison to today's society? I am not sure. But when I saw them I just wanted them to go away. I did not want to get ripped off by them.