I realise that in most of my blog posts I complain a lot about the poor light. I guess that’s to be expected living in a city that is bathed in semi-darkness for 99% of the year. So I decided that in this post I wouldn’t complain at all. Except…if you go to Italy in the height of summer, you expect a little sun. You expect that a 400 speed film will do the trick, even indoors. That’s what I had in mind when I arranged this shoot with the delightful and beautiful Effplume in Umbria, who, incidentally, is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. I thought I’d get to do a sunny summer shoot in the beautiful light for which Umbria is so famous. What I got was a sky as black as night, storms, rain and so little light that I had to push the film to 1600 and shoot everything wide open at 1/30th…way below what is safe to hand-hold.
I did realise one thing: the light right after a storm, just as the sun battles the cloud for dominance but loses, is rather lovely. That was the only light in which I could shoot the Tri-X I was using at box speed and below. Great, except I only managed 15 frames between rain showers before we had to head for shelter…which in this case was some sort of ancient Roman storage facility built into the Perugian hill side that I’d scoped as a possible location a couple of days earlier. I fired off a roll of Delta 3200 (bought the day before…yes, Perugia has that rarest of things, a camera shop with a good selection of pro film), pushed to 6400. We then moved back to my rented apartment for the boudoir shots were I was limited by a single window as light source. Having said all that, I like the way the shoot turned out and the theme that fell into place. So, rather than the Italian summer I expected, I give you instead a metaphorical (and literal) journey into the dark heart of Perugia: …We follow a beautiful young girl who fears nightfall for the dream world she will enter…lost in an ancient city, she seeks shelter from the storm only to find herself in a cavernous maze from which there is no escape.
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