The Exhibition at the old Hospital and the Zeiss Touit 12mm for X-Pro1
I’ll be honest, I’m not that much of a super wide guy. My preferred focal length is just a little wider than normal view. The 28mm to 35mm is pretty perfect for me. Back in May, I got two lenses from Zeiss to try out, the 35 1.8 and 12mm 2.8 Touit lenses. I walked with the 35 1.8 around NYC for a few weeks testing the lens before I passed it on to Gabe from Ruinism and wrote about it on my “Part 1” of the Zeiss Touit tests which can be found here in this earlier blog. I then began to shoot with the 12mm and actually had trouble making images I was excited about. It wasn’t that the gorgeous lens was anything less than a great optic, it was I who had issue with the lens. For those who follow my blog, its not just words, the images have to back up what I’m saying. The environments that I was testing the lens in were just not coexisting and the lens wasn’t working for me. Well, all that changed yesterday when I took the 12mm and mounted it on my trusty Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the aim of checking out some exhibitions at the Cortona On the Move Photo Festival in Italy. All of the images are shot using the 12mm 2.8 at ISO Auto 1600, color shots are Velvia Film Sim Mode unless I chose the B&W Y mode (I used film sim bracketing so I was able to capture it all).
This photo festival is really unlike any other that ever existed before. Taking place is Cortona Italy, a hilltop medieval city made famous lately by the Frances Mayes book, “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Mayes tells the tale of being an expat American and finding herself while rebuilding a Tuscan villa) the festival consists of a series of exhibitions that are found in odd locations throughout the city. By using spaces that are currently unused or abandonded, the festival curates photography with a theme of movement, travel and exploration. It’s a super cool way to explore the old city and see some photography and also, gain entry to spaces that would otherwise not be available.
The festival for the second time was able to procure the old hospital and transform it to a gallery featuring edgy and stimulating photographers as well as a retrospective look at the now defunct Newsweek magazine. For me, hospitals are associated with death, and I found it fitting that Newsweek (which ended publication in December of 2012) a perfect fit to showcase multiple news themes that it was known for, along with some of the brightest documentary shooters. Indeed, the exhibition is aptly titled, “An Autopsy”. RIP Newsweek.
I have a new hero, Zed Nelson, who over 5 years shot in 18 countries across 5 continents the diaspora of western concepts of beauty being exported as a new manifestation of aesthetic globalization. His work is akin to Lauren Greenfield and Erwin Olaf but has a technical savvy and execution I was moved by. The room that Zed is displayed in has wide-open windows that over look the city and the valley below. Visitors are torn between looking at glass jar containing fat taken during a liposuction procedure and a view to die for. The dichotomy is exquisite.
Sol Neelman is a North West photographer who couldn’t cut it as a jock, and became a photographer. His are larger than life shots of extreme and weird sports. The subject matter is instantly interesting and his timing for the camera frame impeccable. I look forward to purchasing his book of the complete project, the exhibition left me wanting more.
Salvatore Santoro documentary of his childhood home and despotic local of Campania was what I felt the weakest of the exhibitions, yet still the spirit of the festival pervades the curation of work. While Salvatore’s work is solid, the subject matter is sad and the locations simply run down from the effects of mafia and pollution. I preferred to look at weird sports and go back in history with the covers of Newsweek.
The crazy Italian photographer I met at Photo Show Milan, Antonio Manta led a workshop at the opening of the festival. This wild spirit and master printer always works with a quirky twist on his portraiture and his workshop embodided that spirt. He set up a red carpet with an inspired throne in front of the signature building in Cortona, the Palazo del Comune and had his class photograph tourists and while choosing the theatre location for the Cortonesi (locals) to be photographed. A selection from his class is on exhibit and shows the organic nature of the festival, work from students attending on display.
I loved how with the use of Newsweek large proofs the festival was able to make a political commentary on thier home country and the world at large. Seeing a Tim Hetherington print as well reminded me what a genius we lost in Libya and I lament that we can’t have Tim’s eye look at current events any longer.
Walking the corridors of old hospital and looking at great examples of photography is inspiring, but doing so with the super wide 12mm Zeiss Touit was the icing on the cake. I wanted to take it all in, not just a slice. What better way to examine it all than with a larger than life lens? After all the trying with the lens, I found its home in my bag, as I travel. All the shots in the blog entry are shot with the 12mm, I’ll let the images do the talking.
The super wide is great at taking it all in, and perhaps if Cortona On The Move festival is about travel going places, then its official lens should be the Touit 12mm.
David Brommer on August 22nd and 23rd will be conducting a Composition seminar in Cortona that is part classroom, part portfolio review, and part photo walk. A trip to the old hospital will be in order!
David – interesting and compelling piece. Thank you. I wonder if you have used the Fujifilm 14mm? If so could you compare the experiences. The Fuji has been very well reviewed, and it is no surprise that the Zeiss lives up to its name. Do you have an opinion as to whether the Zeiss is worth the extra dollars?
When it first came out I got my hands on it for about 10 minutes, not enough time to do a good review for sure. As far as the 12 vs 14 and the extra $$$… remember the Zeiss are “luxury” lenses and the feel and fit has to be factored in. The extra 2mm is certainly nice so I think I would go for the 12mm for about $200 more. Really though, I’m sure you would be happy with either, but if you would like to try something a little different than the Fuji.. go for it.
hi, nice review, Palazzo however has 2 Z… 😉
And La Repubblica has 2 B… 🙂
Hello David. Wish I had known the 12 would be available before I got the 14 Fuji. I do like the 14 but the extra 2mm would have been worth the extra bucks. And the build quality I’m sure is more solid. Hope all is well with you.
Wish I had know the 12mm Zeiss was coming before I purchased the 14mm Fuji. I love the Fuji but for the $220 I would have loved the extra 2mm. Good review David. Hope all is well with you.
Wish I had known the 12mm Zeiss was coming before I purchased the 14mm Fuji. I love the Fuji but for the $220 I would have loved the extra 2mm. Good review David. Hope all is well with you.
Hi… Thanks for the review and the pictures.
Please don’t take this negatively, even without seeing your previous blog, I can see you are struggling with this lens. Wide angles are not easy especially for people who use normal lenses all the time. Your compositions above in most cases are amateurish (again, try to take this constructively). As an architect, I have used wide angle lenses on medium format, full frame and CSC cameras for years. I have friends who do amazing stuff with their ultra wide lenses. Suggest you do some comprehensive research and see good wide angle architecture/building photos online. I would not put the above pictures on my blog or any blog.
The 12mm Touit is a great lens in the right hands. I have one, although I myself haven’t gotten the best out of it yet.
As I said before, please do not take the above constructive criticism personally.
I always welcome feed back even if it’s a bit harsh. Perhaps aside from suggesting I look up archi blogs you could post some links for us?
David, once again, your writing and thought processes are inspiring-I daresay as much as your photos. What you have behind (oh, and in front of any ones to come!) your photos is such a high intellect and palette of tools to analyze, use, act on…so far beyond my resources. But yet, you still always offer inspiration and creativity to walk away with after reading and viewing. Thank you.