blow up, revisited
Still with the old negatives I tracked down on the hot day during the week, I decided I’d do a series from our first trip together to Venice in 1986. Subsequent research into our journal from those days reveals that these photographs were taken Monday, October 27 of that year.
Amongst these pictures, none of which have ever gone further than being on a proof sheet, was the general view (top) of the Piazzetta San Marco which I photographed from the balcony of Saint Mark’s Basilica. I did some detective work on flickr and concluded that I’d have been using my 70-210 lens at about 135mm - it would have been on my F1, as that is the camera I was using for black and white back then. I wasn’t really all that interested in this frame per se, but I’d been scanning a few that had a ridiculous number of pigeons in them, so I thought I’d add it to the list.
Following scanning, I habitually go through and “spot” dust marks and other blemishes from the picture. To do this I view the picture at 100% so that a small part of the overall picture fills the screen at any one time.
That is when I began to notice a whole lot of smaller dramas going on within the larger frame. I wondered how it would look if I cropped out some of these individual moments, so I rescanned it at the highest quality available to me and started looking for interesting cameos.
This is my favourite of the eight or so I cropped last night - if my maths is right, it occupies just 0.85% of the 35mm frame. The woman’s gesture, of holding tightly onto her partner whilst being obviously distracted by something off to her right, reminded me a lot of the role played by Vanessa Redgrave in Antonioni’s great film. I followed the line of her sight through the rest of the picture area but couldn’t really discern anything that might have caused her to be as preoccupied as she seems here. Certainly no bodies hidden under the hedge.
As an aside, a few years ago I visited Maryon Park in Charlton, England where the famous park scenes from Blow Up were made. It took me ages to find but to my surprise it is exactly the same - even the tennis court and the wooden picket fence things are still there - so I was able to vividly imagine the scenes being put together. I obviously got quite engrossed in it all as I ended up getting locked in, and to get out I had to jump a wall near where the old antique shop used to be.
Anyway, I love the way a scene such as this can play out. This is the first time I’ve met this couple, even though our paths almost crossed 27 years ago. In my FP4 negative they are still wearing their 1986 clothes and would have been talking in their 1986 vernacular. I doubt that there are quite as many pigeons visiting St Mark’s Square these days.
I do now wonder what has become of this grainy, timeless couple, and whether the little mystery that remains unsolvable in this picture was to become a significant part of their story.