Bologna, and the M10

Bologna la Rossa. I had last set foot there 30-odd years ago, a lifetime. I went back to spend a weekend at a workshop on photobook making organized by SpazioLabò and led by Eva-Maria Kuntz of Ceiba Editions and Mayumi Suzuki who came on purpose from Japan (her "Restoration Will" exibition will run at SL for two months, go check it out; poignantly, it opened on the very 7th anniversary of the Tohoku quake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011). But the workshop deserves a separate post. Back to Bologna...

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What a pleasant re-discovery. Laid back, young (with the oldest operating University in Europe, founded in 1088), epicurean, with a magnificent downtown area with arcades-lined streets and, yes, plenty of red mortar and bricks to give it its nickname (well, red also stands or rather stood for communist; but those days are waning).

It's difficult to start photographing an unfamiliar city straight away, before its character and rhythms start making a deeper impression on you and you can start projecting yourself in your surroundings, make them a little bit yours. On day one, it's mostly about superficial impressions, not quite postcards maybe but certainly not deep. It's a kind of frustrating regression to reptilian-brain reactions, going back to the way one may have photographed at the very beginning; it takes a few hours to shake the eyes back into seeing the way they do now, and even then of course it all remains a bit of an academic exercise, very distant, formal and composition- rather than emotion-driven; impossible to capture the soul of a place so soon.

All of that red was demanding attention, so here it is, a brief experiment in color photography again. Perhaps I've been watching too many Joel Meyerowitz images, recently, he's made me thirsty for color. Maybe this is an experiment, maybe this is the start of something. I've been shooting BW exclusively for the past six-years-plus. Maybe I need a challenge to raise my game...

Oh, for those who care about gear: I had brought my Leica M9 with me, with the good old, pre-Asph, Summicron 35mm to stay light and flexible. Some of these images, however, have been shot with a Leica M10 borrowed for a couple of hours from the Bologna Leica Store (courtesy of my friend Luca Bottazzi  — grazie, Luca). No way to make comparisons as I did not use the two cameras on the same subjects at the same time of day. I did not push the M10 sensor beyond 800 ISO, where they say it leaves the M9's CCD in the dust; it sure feels crisper, and a tad colder, but not in a way that a reasonable amount of post-processing cannot cure. Operationally, a total pleasure of a tool. Thinner, a 'real M' as it is promised to be. Not as quiet as I thought, but a totally different, less metallic shutter & rewind noise. Beautiful viewfinder indeed. And a more immediate useability of exposure compensation, a big weakness in the M9 in my opinion. Great camera...