#youngMASTERS: Hannah Nagle

Hannah Nagle is not only a 18-years-old aspiring photographer, but also an optimistic one. Optimism is the main feature of her photography style, with a peculiar similarity with Gustav Klimt’s colors and composition in some of her shots. Her picture are a great expression of a simple teenage vision of the world. 

Different. This is the first adjective you will think about Hannah Nagle’s pictures. Different does not necessarily mean "good" or "not good", as Apple told us many almost a decade ago with a memorable TV ad. Why should her photography be different? Some of her most beautiful results are an amazing combination of photography and painting. In these picture the subject is her sister, who seems an innocent model and gives to the final results an amazing youth feeling, when you watch them. 

Hannah tend to photograph things around her, not forcing the environment around her, looking for amazing locations, finding great and beautiful models, etc. It seems like she’s looking to stop some real moments and events which happen around her; this is the reason why the subject she often “use” is her sister and everyday objects and locations. 

The impression I got is that she does not take her photography activity too seriously, but she tries to play and experiment in different kinds of situations; I think this is the best way to practice and improve one’s skills, not only in photography, but in many kind of fields. 

One main important thing we all should learn from this very young (and very talented) photographer, is that we should stop watching pictures mainly from a technical point of view, in terms of focus, composition, subject, cropping, rules of thirds, golden rule, light, no light, light leaks, light flares; we should watch pics as pieces of art, even merging photography with other kind of techniques, as collage and ink, for example. Picture could be also amazing not simply as they are from the film, if you modify them in an analog way.

#youngMASTERS: Elizabeth Weinberg

Elizabeth Weinberg is a pretty well known for how able she is to make her awesome pictures look like a film. She’s hadn’t studied properly photography and this made the difference in her composition style, because of her incredible ability to add curious personality to her portrait shots. 

Elizabeth is a 29 years old professional photographer who lives in Brooklyn (NY). She made some really interesting work, publishing some great books like «Of Recklessness and Water», which is simply amazing. 

The prettiest thing you could learn from Elizabeth is that you don’t necessarily get to a great photo school in order to be a great photographer: she has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, with a concentration in Photojournalism. According to her, technical knowledge is not so important, because you can learn a lot of that by yourself; the most important thing about photography is practicing and work in the photography environment. 


I think that is the bet way to approach photography, because your style has not always to be the one kind schools tend to teach to students. Nowadays photography schools are mostly focused on technical aspects and on teaching a descriptive photojournalist style, but this is not what most of the students want to do/learn. Developing a personal style is something possible with an introversive analysis and requires experiences that you can do only outside your school, maybe with many years of practice. This is the main kind of approach Elizabeth had. 

An other feature of Elizabeth’s approach to photography is her behavior during a set: you should enjoy the set and what you’re shooting. If not, your work won’t be so cool. I think this is mostly about not being influenced too much by editors or other people who try to change your style or approach to taking pictures. 

Elizabeth’s pictures have an original soul and a great emotional impact on the audience, maybe because they’re not obvious and have always a peculiar way to surprise. 

Film Processing is Back

According to Edgar England, the manager of the central-London-shop West End Cameras, his lab is used to process between 10% and 15% more traditional pictures than a year ago, with traditional film outstripping digital prints by a ration of 25 to one. Mister England said: «A lot of people who are too young to have known anything other than digital enjoy learning proper technique on a manual camera. With a digital you shoot ten or 20 shots, pick the best one, and delete the rest. […] And watching it develop is magical.”

Many “experts” always stated that manual camera destiny was to be part of history books once digital cameras took off, in particular after the smartphones’ camera inclusion. The analog cameras were also dropped in 2008 from the official Consumer Prices Index, used to measure inflation; no-one expected that film sales could increase so fast after 2009, including instant film and cameras (both Polaroid and The Impossible Projects refurbished ones).

Film is living the so called "vinyl effect", caused by the increase of the sales of both 35mm and 120 film. Some indie labs and camera shops start declaring that they are processing far more film pictures than digital ones. 

According to the latest Ilford stats, film sales have increased by about 8% over the last year, after years of decline. Some people at Ilford say that it may be linked with the fact that people see it as something cool. The team which rescued the company declared that «Many young people see it as something cool. They want to do something different than point their mobile camera and take a picture. […] Shooting in black and white is very exciting». This renaissance trend reflects the vinyl record sales trend; last year 243,000 records were bought. 

Check all the Alessandro Panelli's pictures HERE: 

#youngMASTERS: Maud Chalard

You could just watch one of Maud’s latest series “Lovers”, in which the viewer is suddenly touched by how intimate some of the characters were. Some of the subjects in her album “fucking beautiful” seem to be genuinely in love with one another. This kind of feelings are possible through photography only with a profound and personal relationships between the photographer and the subjects, not ruined by the presence of a camera. But surprisingly, she didn’t know the couples before she made a online calling for non-professional models couples; she talked to them, trying to understand why they were willing to pose for her. 

Everything started withe her partner, both in work, play and life. Théo and her have a huge amount of romantic content spread all along the internet, some of the most jealousy-inducing of all time is posted in their Instagram accounts. 



The aim of Maud’s photographs is relaunching the trust in love, something which is (according to her) missing in the everyday life, due to the way people behave nowadays. Thanks to photography she was able to get a cool job in advertising and a good-looking boyfriend, until now. You could think that Maud is nothing but a hippie - and maybe she is - but her pictures are meant to be genuine; she shot pictures with real couples, many of them are picture of her and her boyfriend. If it was possible to describe her photography lifestyle in a word, that word would be “sentimental”. 

The majority of her work is made with a Nikon FM2, with medium format film. When she saw the first Instagram pictures, with that typical vintage shadow and analog aesthetic, she thought: «Fuck, I can do that as well. I want to do it. I started spending hours transforming my digital pictures to make them look like if I used analog… That was ridiculous! And did not work at all. Two years ago, in March, when I first started using analog it became natural. Now I digitally change the contrast but that’s pretty much it». 

Maud admits she tends to prefer natural light and that she doesn’t actually know that much about how to manipulate artificial light, since she never attended any photographic formation or classes. «I’m more about the tiny corners, beds, near a window. And skins, the expression of a body. I care about the light, but only a bit». 

Maud and Théo are planning a trip in the US for the next months, escaping from Paris for a while. We are sure they’re going to come back with a lot of brand new sentimental shots…

some Maud's pictures...

Pushing / Pulling

Don't be afraid if you always felt confused by the concept of pushing or pulling film, because it's quite normal, since it's not intuitive as many people stand. Yep, it's a matter of overexposing or underexposing a certain film, but still it's not so intuitive understanding how to take advantage of these ways of shooting film. It's not easy to manage how to learn it, seeing all these people commenting "TriX 400 shot and developed at 1600" or "Kodak Portra 400 shot @ 100"; this kind of approach doesn't help so much. 



You’ll need to pull your roll when you only have a 3200 ISO film and you’re shooting an outdoor session at bright daylight. In this situation the camera only goes to very high speed and no-one is happy to have not the freedom to choose the aperture you think it’s better (sometimes is awful to shoot at F/16). So you can shoot the roll like it’s 400 ISO and the ask the lab to pull. 

The lab is going to develop that particular roll for less time, corresponding to the time needed for 3 stops less than the labeled 3200 ISO. Pulling is less common since it’s really not that frequent to have a higher ISO film than you wished; moreover, modern film rolls (like all Portra) have a hugely wide dynamic range, so the still look great even when overexposed by 3 stops.



The typical situation in which you should take advantage of pushing is in low light conditions, for example when you are the one in charge for photographing a party at night. In the external locations, a Portra 400 could be the best choice ever, that's right; when the ceremony starts, a Portra 400 roll is not the best because of the very low light conditions inside that environment; once outside, the party could start after the sunset, when a 400 iso of your beloved Portra is still not enough. The risk of blurred pictures lets you understand that you need a different film, but is unpleasant to travel with tens of different roll types in your bag. 

In these moments, pushing is the only solution you have to prevent blurred images (because you could be the best photographer ever, but everyone has hands shake). When your lightmeter says to shoot at 1/15, you cannot let the risk win. The solution is quite simple: use your 400 speed film as if it was 1600 iso, setting the lightmeter at 1600. Those 2 extra stops would make such a difference in those situations, letting the lab know that you used your film at 1600, as an off-label indication. Needless to say you have to mark that on the roll somehow, so that it won’t get mixed up with all those Portra 400 you shot before the ceremony at their regular 400 ISO. The lab will consequentially develop longer than the not-pushed Portra 400. 

Pushing means chemically extend the ISO of your film roll, previously underexposed. In the previous example, the film roll was underexposed by 2 stops, making it an "imaginary 1600 roll". The lab will then chemically compensate for this off-label use of your film roll. This management of the iso started an endless misunderstanding about underexposing, because usually we all overexpose by 1 stop in order to get a better final result, but pushing film is a completely different story. We all know that color negative film looks great when overexposed, getting all those creamier skin tones with more detail on the shadows. While pushing, you could still overexpose half stop, your behavior should be the same. 

However it must be clear that pushing film has its own “side effects”: you’ll assist at an increase in contrast/grain and a general detail loss in the shadows. Some films lend themselves better to pushing, like all Kodak’s Portra. Moreover, pushed color negative film results vary a lot, even with Kodak Portra 400, the colors can get a little funky when pushed at 3200 ISO. 


Ferrania History

To speak about Ferrania one must go back to the genesis of the company, in 1882 when the Società Italiana Prodotti Esplodenti (Italian Society of Explosive Products, SIPE) was founded in Cairo Montenotte, in northern Italy. It is during the First World War that SIPE reached its first pinnacle, producing nitrocellulose-based explosive powders for the Russian military.

Towards the end of the war, in 1917, after the Red October Soviet revolution, the SIPE lost a major customer and was well inspired to diversify its activity. Because the chemical properties of explosives and early film were very similar, the SIPE, in partnership with the European leading manufacturer of photography chemicals and materials, the French company Pathé Brothers, launched a firm called FILM – an acronym for the Italian Lamination Factory, Milan.

In 1920, with the support of external investors and the glass manufacturing company Cappelli, the group was able to manufacture products for still photography and cinema at a very reasonable cost allowing FILM Ferrania to raise to a worldwide leadership position in the film production industry. Under the management of Franco Marmont, from 1923, sales began a steady and fast growth thanks to, in particular, their great value for money.

The success of Ferrania coincides with the launch of the first Leica cameras, in 1924 by Ernst Leitz, which turned celluloid-based photography into the blockbuster product it was destined to become, putting an end to the glass-plates era. In the following years, the meeting of technologies minds and human enterprise has brought the world its share of very ground breaking products including X-ray technology, 16mm cinema, 35 mm and 120 mm film formats.


To crown its success, Ferrania reached new heights with its P30 black and white film which became a legend, in part because of a heavy marketing campaign in the United States, in part after being used in the movie Two Women, staring Sophia Loren and directed by Vittorio De Sica, which won multiple awards but also greatly because of Fellini’s success with staring Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Surfing on the general acclaim, Ferrania launched soon after a 35 mm and 120 mm version of the P30 enabling photographers to discover it and get that “Fellini feel”. 

The first color emulsion, Ferraniacolor, launched in 1952, was poorly welcomed. In fact the criticism was quite hard; directors and photographers felt it lacked sensitivity in its first versions. It took Ferrania several years of R&D to bridge the gap between its color technology and the one of Agfa or Kodak. 

However Ferrania remained the trademark of the Italian school of photography and cinema just as Sofia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale symbolized Italian style. The dominance of Italian cinema was very obvious, winning multiple awards and coining through an artistic renaissance Ferrania as the grain of Italy. The brand’s global awareness was equal to the likes of Olivetti computers and Fiat automobiles. 


SIPE - Società Italiana Prodotti Esplodenti


The 30s have seen FILM continue its growth by acquiring Cappelli, the former partner company, and extending its offering to the camera market, becoming a world leader in both the film and camera industries with more than 500 employees and a 90,000 square meters factory.

As it goes, biographies of long lasting companies cannot be told without mentioning the political environment in which they have arisen, which in the case of Ferrania was very relevant. The 30s and 40s Kingdom of Italy was governed by the autarchic and nationalistic fascist regime that imposed Ferrania films to the movie directors in the country creating a very unique imagery; a decade of opulent and fanciful movies that became classics. 

Just after the war, many Italian filmmakers developed a close relationship to the products of Ferrania developing the typical urban style that will be known as Neorealism. The technology developed by the Ligurian firm, a rendering very close to reality, allowed these iconic filmmakers to develop some of the main themes they were delving into and dwelling upon.

What started as an imposed constraint was masterfully turned into a trademark not merely used but clearly looked after by the Italian school of filmmaking. The likes of Pasolini, De Sica, Rossellini and Fellini used Ferrania for most if not all their career influencing generations of artists and movie makers. Although it isn’t necessary to validate the work of masters, simply as a point of reference for younger generations, we could say that Fellini’s movie , entirely shot using Ferrania stock film, is still today mentioned by Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorcese, Roger Ebert and many more, in their all-time favorite movies. 


In 1964, 3M acquired Ferrania in a stock purchase for some $55 million and created Ferrania-3M, becoming the largest acquisition by 3M in its 62 years of existence. With the new policy and R&D effort, Ferrania made huge upgrades to its products and also to its producing machinery. The pinnacle of the venture was the launch of the daylight-balanced color transparent film, a prodigious film whose quality was never equaled by the competitors. At that point, the campus in Liguria was growing fast, developing new products and reaching milestones, like the X-ray film that didn’t need a darkroom for processing. 

All stories, they say, must come to an end, and all empires will fall, and surely enough Ferrania entered a very difficult era in the 90s with the increasing number of competitors – Ilford and Fuji among the major ones. In an attempt to try a different marketing strategy Ferrania started selling their films under multiple brand names, including Imation Chrome, keeping simply the “made in Italy” label. In 1995 3M decided to restructure the company, moving the film, audio and videotape production to a new entity called Imation. 

The rest, to paraphrase Nabokov, is rust and stardust. Obviously the spread of digital photography was very detrimental and Ferrania was sold, in 1999, to an investment company. The brand was kept alive, but the resources, know-how and technology to raise to the challenge of a quickly moving global market were lacking, Fuji, Ilford and Kodak were just too powerful already.

Today, the new developments in the life of Ferrania give flickers of hope to the souls of many film lovers out there. Hope for what could be accomplish but also trepidation in the face of all that will be lost in the case of a failure. The Italian government salvaged and financed the maintenance of the industrial estate and machinery of Ferrania. A decade later, Nicola Baldini and Marco Pagni are thinking of ideas to give (re)birth to this fantastic phoenix… Let them tell you more about it and how you can help.

Anna Wintour, you Said?!


Let's start to analyze what my math teacher said when I was attending the high school: «In the 60s all girls looked like the A class models we saw on magazines, even me!». The 59-old-woman was right! And there's a reason for that. There's something that changed a lot in the last 50 years, in our lifestyle, in our way to mean fashion, in our vision of how should be the icon of beauty. 

In the 80s the turning points were make-up and weird clothes. Stars like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper are some perfect examples of how the first transition started. Women started noticing the difference between them and the pop icons: no one would adopt those hair colors or those fancy clothes. The gap between the magazine and real life started being huge and the two lifestyles were completely unmatchable. But still, they were real people with real bodies in realistic pictures. 

The next and last turning point occurred in the 90s: the digital tsunami. This phase definitely signed the difference between real people and VIPs: models became unreachable. Digital photography and postproduction changed the way models were used, in particular in fashion photography: both products and models had to seem perfect, made of plastic, as they're not in reality. 

The last era is the one we are living now, with the reemerging of film photography and a huge number of photographers who both still work with it and are starting to work with it. The appeal of authenticity is becoming a real value, moreover the look of film is the feature people appreciate the most about analog photography. Even Anna Wintour says that... 

Fashion and fashion photography had a huge and fast evolution (or revolution?) in the last 20 years, also thanks to the transition between analog and digital photography. People started getting used to false pictures, retouched ones, with a lot of corrections in particular in women's bodies. I already spoke about selling lies and selling truth, so you can continue reading: I'm not going to speak about that again. This is just an historical analysis. 


[ read my old article clicking below... ]


Facebook is Prude

The Facebook article was definitely a bomb. I discovered many experiences from people who had the same issue with artistic nude photographs. I'm surprised (or not?!) to know that I wasn't the only one to be the victim of Facebook policies, which, I know, I silently accepted Facebook policies, as all of us did. I really appreciate Facebook service, in particular using AdBlock Plus which block all those hateful ads. Ads are one of the ways which Facebook uses to gain money, with paid promotions. 

Now what can I say? Facebook is prude, as many US companies are used to behave. I don't get the point of behaving like this, or better I understand that being "politically correct" is a way to not "insult" people beliefs and culture. But this goes way beyond the limit of the understandable. Art is art, porn is something completely different. There's no religion or philosophy that can justify this. As many photographers documented borderline lifestyle, transgender prostitution or drug addiction, people know that that's not sex or drug abuse propaganda. 


Facebook has to change.  

In the meantime, I started using hello.co

[ https://ello.co/alessandropanelli


If you need an invite, just write me your email address.

wtf?! - What the Facebook

I'd like to speak about something happened the last week. I published an album, a controversial one, I know.  It was a male nude portrait photography album, but I didn't think it would have generated so much "noise" among my followers and public. People were really amazed about that, saying that it was inspiring and very original; the only exception was some few people who expressed their disappointment, for political and ethical reasons: their point was that two naked boys together in a shooting represent, according to them, a homosexuality propaganda. I personally don't agree with that, but everything is ok until it limits my freedom of expression: I left them tell whatever they wanted, some of them reported my posts, but it was fine. 

The shit happened when Facebook arrived. I never posted nude pictures in Facebook, I just linked my albums in my public page. If someone reported my links, it's fine. I didn't like Facebook's reaction: I was accused of pornographic propaganda and they tried to block and delete my public page. Finally they didn't delete it, but I was severely warned about that. Probably they understood it was just artistic nude photography, but I think that their behavior was unacceptable and unfair.

The conclusion of Facebook's policies  is that Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj butts are LEGAL in Facebook, but nude portrait photographs like Helmut Newton ones are ILLEGAL and people like me are banned.

Let's see what kind of pictures they asked me to remove, in comparison to the ones they usually let stay in Facebook and go viral without any problem.


[ check the gallery below... ]


Lubitel 166+ Main Tech Specs



Thank to the 166+ viewfinder you can experiment a different new kind of shooting approach. The viewfinder is surely more luminous than in the predecessors: it’s easy to create images just as they are in your mind: the viewfinder is really big, with the same dimensions of the picture it will be impressed on the medium format film frame. This feature is useful in order to have the real idea of how much density of information (i.e. the proportion and relationship between the subject area and the back panorama area) is going to be impressed on your film frame.

The big difference between the original Lubitel (the 166U – Universal) is that in the new one the viewfinder is completely renewed and really improved. The original viewfinder was made by a curved glass, so it was a little difficult to understand what was inside the frame and what was not in the frame: the viewfinder covered only the 80% of the real image on film. The Lubitel 166+ viewfinder is made by a perfectly flat glass, which covers completely the real image (100%). 


Limitations of the TLRs

All the TLRs (Twin Lens Reflex cameras) have the problem of the parallax error, just as in all cameras that have a separate viewfinder (rangefinder cameras and zone focus viewfinder cameras): «in such cameras, the eye sees the subject through different optics (the viewfinder, or a second lens) than the one through which the photo is taken. As the viewfinder is often found above the lens of the camera, photos with parallax error are often slightly lower than intended, the classic example being the image of person with his or her head cropped off. This problem is addressed in single-lens reflex cameras, in which the viewfinder sees through the same lens through which the photo is taken (with the aid of a movable mirror), thus avoiding parallax error.» (source: Wikipedia)

So in the Lubitel 166+ you will reduce your errors in composing the picture, thanks to the better lens and the better viewfinder. I think that this is a very important point in favor of the choice of this really amazing camera… 


Since I started working with the Lubitel 166+, I tried to explore the main features and functions of this amazing camera. It’s easy to realize the change of user experience in comparison to other camera models, due to the lack of an automatic setting (it has no battery) and the absolute freedom of settings. Since it's a fully manual 120 camera, I started exploring all the different technical features: let’s start from the basic ones. 


The first amazing thing you should know about the Lubitel 166+ is that it has glass lens: the shooting lens is the Triplet-22 f/4.5 75mm lens; I’m pointing out that it’s glass, because of the fact that usually Lomography cameras have plastic lens (the so called “toy cameras”). The Lubitel 166+ is not responsible of the usual color shifting effect present with other Lomography cameras, due to a correct refraction of light.



Shouldn’t the Lubitel 166+ be a 120 film camera? Sure! But one of the most important feature is that you can also load the 35mm in it. This really cool feature is possible thanks to the Lubikin set (which is fully included in the package), so that you can convert your Lubitel 166+ into a 35mm camera: the really amazing thing is that the format of final images is a vertical panorama, with exposed sprockets holes. That’s a really unique and peculiar result, because it’s a frame format that simply doesn’t exist in the entire analog camera catalog. The use of 35mm film in this camera it’s entirely different, because the final image will be 58x33mm, with exposed sprockets. 

Once you put all the pieces of the Lubikin set inside your Lubitel 166+, you can upload your 35mm film: there’s a frame counter on the right side of the camera, but you should set the 35mm Film Counter to “S” by rolling the 35mm Film Counter Wheel forward. The sprocket holes should be lined up evenly on the gears.

It’s really important to use the rubber hood to cover the 120 film Counter Wheel’s red window, because 35mm is more sensitive to light, so it’s really important that all light windows are completely closed! If you don’t do that, your pictures will have a lot of light leaks, or the entire film will be exposed. 

Next to the 35mm Film Counter there is a small window where a white dot appears. As you shoot a new image and advance the film, the white dot will indicate when to stop advancing the film. Each time you see the white dot, you have advanced one full frame. 

Introducing the Lubitel 166+ Series


What I’m going to speak about in this series is how to first approach to a camera which is still quite simple to use (like all Lomo cameras) but infinitely customizable, from a setting point of view. The real power if this camera is not the design, but a group of different features that only this camera has: an amazing and very peculiar history, the philosophy which is behind the camera (and many times is not so easy to recognize it), some really cool additional accessories that you can find in the box (with the camera), the amazing and stunning all manual shooting styletechnical features which you cannot find in other cameras, easiness to improve your shooting with this camera (in a very fast way), the ability of discovering some really cool experimental techniques. 


These are all the things I'm going to speak about in this series. I hope you will enjoy it… 

I bought a Lubitel 166+, which was in my wishlist from a very long time. The Lubitel 166+ one of the Lomography-produced cameras, inspired by the original Lubitel 166 Universal. I’d like to share all the things I discovered about it, after using it for two years. 

The price of this camera is not so attractive, but I really suggest to save up for it because it could seriously change your shooting philosophy.

Risen from the ashes of the old project of the Lubitel 166+ Universal, the Lomographic Society took the ancient project and improved it. It has no auto mode at all, so you have to set all the shooting parameters yourself and manually, before pressing the shutter. Surely the old fashioned aspect is very attractive; I personally think that twins lens cameras (TLR) have all a really cool design, but I particularly love Lubitel 166+ design, because it's quite minimal. 

The Rule of Almost Thirds


The Golden Ratio

The “golden ratio” is defined by this formula on the right. I’m sure this is just what you wanted to know!

The important thing to get from this is that the ratio of a/b is close to 1/3rd (0.38 instead of 0.33): the “rule of thirds” is really a simplified expression of the “golden ratio.”

The “golden ratio” is sometimes confused with the term “golden mean” which is really a philosophical term so we will stick with “golden ratio.” 


The golden ratio used repetitively forms an interesting curve that looks like a nautilus shell.

The sweet spot is where the curve and bounding boxes get smaller and smaller in the lower right portion of the image. Look what happens if we superimpose our “Rule of Thirds” lines...

The red sweet spot for the “Rule of Thirds” is very close to the blue sweet spot predicted by the “Golden Ratio”. For all practical purposes we can consider these the same. Isn’t that great? Now you only have to remember one rule!

You may wonder if this is that important. I will tell you that it is very important, perhaps even critical!

Great artists have followed the principle of the “Golden Ratio” for centuries. There may even be a biological basis for why we find compositions with these ratios more pleasing. It is the way we

are wired! This ratio is found frequently in nature and some have postulated that we find faces more beautiful or handsome if their features follow the “Golden Ratio”! Often people cannot put their finger on the reason they like a particular composition but it is typically because ratios and key elements in the image follow this rule/s.


Always remember that there are other alternatives to these rules such as a symmetrical, centered, or exaggerated composition. However, if you ever decide to break the “Rule of Thirds” or the “Golden Ratio” do it with a particular purpose in mind and never mindlessly!

You may have heard of two important and closely related composition guidelines, the “Rule of Thirds” and the “Golden Ratio”. Let’s examine these and see how to incorporate these into creating more powerful photographs.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds divides the canvas or photograph in to 3 parts vertically and horizontally. The most prominent features of the image are best placed along one of these lines with the subject or most prominent object in the photo placed at the intersection of these lines. 

The horizon, for instance should be placed 1/3 of the way up or down the image. A prominent rock, tree, or face would be best placed at the intersection of one of the lines or at least on one of the vertical or horizontal lines.

It has not have to be perfect, but all several important components of the image should be pretty close to the lines and intersections. You should always be conscious of these relationships when choosing how you will compose the image. 

Ferrania, a Kickstarter Opportunity

Finally the salvation army of Ferrania released a Kickstarter campaign. I think it’s the best way they could save the factory and the film business, set in northern Italy. Giving new life to the factory thanks to the help of their future customers is, in my opinion, a great way to avoid the influences of investors who are not interested in photographic and movie film industry. 


So now we have the chance to be Ferrania’s partners, collaborating with their team in order to save Trixie, Walter and Bad Boy. No, I’m not going crazy: they’re simply the names of the three machinery Ferrania needs to produce high quantity of film at a low cost. These machinery already exist and belong to other companies which bought the former Ferrania’s buildings. 


In order to maintain a sustainable production, Ferrania needs to save these machineries before the buildings’ demolition.


Support on Kickstarter: 


Ferrania, the Phoenix of Film Photography

It happened again, guys. Since 2009, sales of film steadily increased. The effect? The reemerging of past companies in a brand new way. This is the case of the former Ferrania Technology, an Italian company which was one of the European industry leaders of professional and amateur photography film.


Born near Savona (Liguria, Italy), the company was recently bought and renamed Ferrania FILM; they already started working on new films’ production, which will be ready in the end of 2014. The company has a very long history and gave the technology support not only to film photographers, but (just as Kodak) also to some of the most famous Italian movies, like Fellini’s “8½”.  



Brown's Algorithm to Make even more Untrue Pictures

I already spoke about selling lies and selling truth, but now we are going to face a brand new kind of postproduction technique I don’t like at all. I have never been a anti-tech guy, but I think technology research can be focused on something better than this; Brown University developed a software which is capable of automatically changing a landscape to every climatic and seasonal situation. An example: you shot a sunny landscape and this software modifies it in order to look like winter and snowy, or autumn and rainy, as the user prefers. It works like applying filters in Istagram.


What’s the meaning of this feature? Why are we losing the taste of an authentic and true picture? This behavior has less perspective of the one commonly used in commercial photography: in the latter you have to sell a product (so you try to Photoshop both the product and the sponsor VIP), in the former it doesn’t make sense at all.


Let’s look at some examples available on Brown University’s website. 


If you want a snowy landscape, go and shoot it. If you want a warm and spring landscape, do the same. I don’t get the meaning of changing it, maybe the photographer is lazy or not good enough. If the photographer is not capable of shooting in a specific climate condition, maybe he is not the photographer you should rely on.


Just to remember you what I mean about the exciting feeling of looking at a photograph you can rely on, which information is expression of truth, look at these shots; they are made by Sebastião Salgado, a photographer who represent one of the best expressions of nature photography, even ethically speaking. 


Even worse, if you want a sunny day photograph, all you need to do is type in “more night” and voila – your photo will now have a typical and night look, or better it will be a night shot. This is a one-click algorithm to alter and cheat your images.


Maybe I’m a fool and romantic, moved only by pictures which express a true piece of reality. I don’t even feel surprise when I see a landscape photograph which makes me think “Am I watching a document or a Photoshop work?”. Even more if the snow I’m looking at is fake. 

World's Smallest Instant Portrait Studio

Here in Italy some people say «there’s good wine in small barrels», in order to say «good things come in small packages». This was certainly not true when I bought my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II from Osaka: actually it was a pretty big package and the camera was more than simply “good”. For the amazing studio “Siste Skanse”, in Tromsø (Norway), that sentence sounds pretty true. 


Built in a 100-years-old abandoned tobacco and newspaper kiosk, after 20 years after its closing, Kristian O. Gundersen brought it to live again, showing us how determination can create the most original and difficult projects even in 2014, in the golden era for digital photography. The challenge was even more hard, due to the fact that «Instant photography is more dead than analog photography», due to the devotees of digital photography. In fact, the name of this tiny studio means “The Last Stand”; the founder of this tiny piece of analog passion, explained the choice of the name saying «I’m holding a defensive position with instant analogue photography in the face of the overwhelming digital era». 


The former-kiosk’s father, Kristian, started working on the studio project 20 years after the tobacco and newspaper kiosk closed and stoop empty. Nowadays it can host maximum 5 sitters due to the presence of Polaroid cameras and film, but the record of sitters so far is 10! The founder is an amateur 30-years-old photographer, who never formally studied photography in his whole life; his love for analog photography started trying a 35mm pinhole camera, he than evolved to medium format and instant photography. 


This space is still the self-claimed world’s smallest instant portrait studio, but I guess there’s no other studio small like this: just 35 x 43 inches of floor space. 


When Film Hits the Fan - an Industry


Sales of movie film stock have dropped from 96% since 2006 and many studios started planning to stop buying film stock in the next few years. Now this perspective is gone, due to Tarantino, Abrams &co action. Kodak said that even though the film stock is expected to account for less than 10% of its $2.2 billion total revenue/year, closing the entire film production line would be a huge loss. 


After this financial commitment, Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of Weinstein Co. stated something really curious: 

«I don’t think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn’t do it».
 - Bob Weinstein - 

We know, now, that occurred a secret negotiation in the last months, in order to establish the future of film stock and its business for the next several years. 



What’s even more interesting about this secret lobby is how this financial deal influences film photography’s destiny. Is no secret that the 2010 Portra new generation of photographic film was a direct evolution of the Vision technology, which was created, previously, for movie film stock. No surprise that Portra 400 and Portra 160 have 14 stops of dynamic range, just as Vision-based film stock. 


Film stock business influences photography film business not just because the two technologies evolve and live together, but also because it doesn’t make sense to keep alive an industry that it’s not worth enough for a gigantic company like Kodak, which recently signed for bankruptcy. Life of film photography and analog filmmaking is strictly linked, more now than ever…

When Film Hits the Fan - an Art Lobby

The secret endless war. With the exit of competitor (Fujifilm Corp.), Kodak is the last company to manufacture film stock for Hollywood, while the entire movie industry is shifting to digital recording and projection. Today’s battle is the one when Kodak strikes, forcing the main movie studios to seal a deal which will ensure the next long-term film stock production. This deal is so amazing, that these companies are going to commit to boy a certain quantity of film stock, even though they don’t really know how much they need for future productions, or how many movies are going to be shot on this medium in the next several years.  

I dare you to stop a coalition made by Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams; their behavior seemed a class action of pro directors, against the death of a format used to produce art, like Kodak’s movie film. 

«Digital projection is the death of cinema, because it’s just television in cinema» 
- Quentin Tarantino -

A-list directors who love shooting their masterpieces with film started lobbying the Hollywood industry. That’s what happened and is a historical landmark Tarantino’s philosophy never was a secret: back in 2011, he stated [video, below]

«Digital is not for me. I don’t think that it’s better something shot in digital or projected in digital […] I’ve always believed in the magic of movies. The magic of movies is connected to 35mm, because when you shoot a movie on film, you’re not recording movement: you’re just taking a series of still pictures, there’s no movement in movies at all! When these pictures are shown at 24 fps (frames per second) through a lightbulb, they give you the illusion of movement: you are all watching an illusion, a film-print, and this illusion is connected to the magic of movies.» 
- Quentin Tarantino -


In the last months, J.J. Abrams started shooting “Star Wars episode VII” on film and this is an artistic choice, because it’s like painting with oil colors or pencils: it’s up to the artist to choose the technique. The same concept fits directing movies. 35mm film stock has never been a limitation for Sci-Fi or special effects; it offer a unique grain and feeling that is not reachable with digital recording and projecting. Moreover, when speaking about Star Wars, film is mandatory due to its legacy, history and philosophy. 1999’s “The Phantom Menace” was the first movie played in digital and 2002’s “Attack of the Clones” was the first movie shot entirely on digital; in that era George Lucas’ will was, as a visionary director and CEO as he’s always been, to experiment with a new medium, with great results. Both digital and film deserve a place in future productions, leaving the artists the freedom to choose. «However, I think film itself sets the standard for quality. You can talk about range, light, sensitive, resolution […] There’s something about film that is undeniably beautiful, undeniably organic, natural and real». Nolan clearly expressed his opinion, too: «Film stock still represent the gold standard». 


That’s what the art lobby thinks, stay tuned for the industry to speak…


Sell Lies, Sell Truth

Lady Gaga is just the last example of a very long series of cases, nowadays we live in a world of digitally enhanced photographs. This is not a piece of news, for sure, and it’s no secret that publications and promotional material use photoshop to “look better”. I’m not the one who accepts a reality in which photographers are sellers of lies, I still believe in images that spread a true and trustful information. 


Not all celebrities, models and subjects approve how their appearance is altered and manipulated by photoshop, but often this is not their decision: it’s the client (magazine, brand) which ask the photographer to alter reality, in order to fit their “beauty standard”. Luckily few of them speak out against this widespread industry practice; I’m used to call it the perfection police. Kate Winslet was probably the first one top celebrity to decry this habit, back in 2003, when she stated «The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly, I don't desire to look like that». Photoshop is a wonderful mean, if properly and ethically used. We reached the point of abusing of this software and we, the audience, don’t rely any more on what we see printed out there. 


This is not simply a philosophical matter, I’m speaking about how do we want the advertising, fashion, information industries to be in the next decades: the unrealistic body standards can be detrimental for us, the ones belonging to the “normal” world. I don’t belong to the crowd who thinks that Photoshop and skinny models improve the anorexia phenomenon and its increasing rate, but I refuse to support this behavior, dictated by the perfection police. Perfection is not meant to be human and our evolution as a living specie on this planet would not have been possible, if not through a series of fortunate imperfections and flaws. I’m not stating that only because I’m an analog photographer and I don’t use Photoshop (I just remove some dust and use it as a darkroom to improve contrast, when needed). I made an exhibition, called “Looking for the Error”; I realized that all my best pictures had huge imperfections and I decided to celebrate and underline this aspect of my art with an exhibition. And guess what?! I found out that there were people like me. 


When you don’t like something, try to change it. Sooner or later I’m going to start a truth-selling company, and you’ll be thrilling to know how it works. 

Book in Progress and...

Simply announcing that 'Reckless Serenade' is 75% ready. 

You will be able to buy the book soon, with some secret pictures from many underground projects I made in the last months! 

As you might deduce from the image I uploaded in this post, I have to announce a new important detail. 

It wasn't enough to release only one book. I could not decide between a huge format and a normal size one. So I decided to publish TWO amazing versions of 'Reckless Serenade'. 

  • 'Reckless Serenade' - 25x20cm (10x8in) in Softcover. 

  • 'Reckless Serenade Deluxe' - 33x28cm (13x11in) in Hardcover, with ImageWrap. 

Stay tuned...