Along with NEOPAN 100 ACROS, ILFORD FP4 PLUS was one of the first BW films I tried back in 2004, when I started to take photographs. As a consequence, even today I find myself imagining the scenes I see as fine-grained pictures, with the vast midtones of grays these two film stocks produce.
Recently I’ve been digitizing my old negatives with my mirrorless camera (a Fujifilm X-E3 + Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 “macro”). While scrambling over my drawer, I found some strips of a 120 format negative I shot back in 2013, when I was unemployed and used to take long walks through São Paulo, photographing my hometown.
I always enjoyed small cameras and, around that time, eager to try out medium format photography, I bought a Walzflex, a Japanese copy of the famous Rolleiflex, but considerably smaller than the German TLR. I still have a lot of fun with this camera, especially because it allows me to look indirectly to reality, as a submarine sailor looking at the sky through a periscope.
Aided by the frame numbers at the negative’s margins, I remember taking the subway from downtown to the eastern part of the city. At Belém neighbourhood, a place with an industrial past, I took two shots.
I can’t recall if it was on the same day, but the following photographs show Largo da Memória, a place downtown São Paulo where horses and mules used to drink water back in the 19th century, as we can see in a photograph by Militão Augusto de Azevedo called “Paredão de Piques, Ladeiras da Consolação e da Rua da Palha, 1862”.
I took two shots of the square from Quirino de Andrade street. Afterward, I went to Viaduto do Chá, a historical viaduct that crosses Anhangabaú valley. I wanted to have a broader view of the city, which isn’t something easy to achieve with the 75mm lens my camera has (something like a 50mm in terms of 35mm photography).
Up in the viaduct though, while framing the skyline, I started to talk with a fortune teller, her white coat shining under the autumn sun. Her name was Dona Marisa and she asked if I wanted to have my future read on the buzios, a divinatory practice brought to Brazil by African cultures. I agreed and asked to take a portrait of her. She agreed. Looking at this picture now I wonder if back in 2013 she could see what I’m living now in 2021.
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