5 Frames with a Kiev 4a and Ilford FP4 Plus – A summer love story in Italy

By fleetwoodler

My recent trip to Apulia, Italy, has been a great one. Not only did I experience the full beauty of Italian culture and landscapes, but also realized how far my photography journey has taken me. While initially struggling with technicalities and the basics of film photography, I finally feel comfortable and able to express myself through the medium. In this article, I want to share some of the black-and-white photography work obtained on a bright, hot summer day in the very south of Apulia.

The set-up:

For this trip, I took my Kiev 4a which has become my travel essential and favorite camera within the first few months of my photography journey. There is just something magical to this old FSU rangefinder camera which is hard to describe. An excellent try of such a description can be found in the reviews of James Northcote and James Szylobryt on the 35mmc website (see link below). I mounted my Helios-103 lens with a yellow filter attached and loaded some Ilford FP4+ film, later developed in Rodinal (1+100, semi-stand for 1h) and scanned with a Canon CanoScan9000F ii.

Documenting Apulia’s very south:

During my road trip through Apulia, I was passing through Santa Maria di Leuca, a beautiful city in the very south of Apulia. History-wise, already the ancient Greeks have settled in this region, and throughout its bright history, it was conquered several times by different populations, bringing different cultural influences and architecture with them. Geographically, this city is also special, as the waters of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea meet in front of its iconic lighthouse. Nowadays, Leuca is known for its beautiful summer houses that adorn Leuca’s famous coastline.

A good way to explore the city is by walking from the harbor along the promenade into the historic city center. In addition to beautiful architecture, many restaurants, cafes, and some public beaches, one can enjoy the stunning blue of crystal-clear water. Setting out to find some locals and catch some moments from their daily lives, I started my Photowalk.

My first photograph was taken looking from the promenade to the sea, where I could spot some elder locals enjoying a sun bath at the beach. I assumed they could be in good harmony with the different structures and huts on the beach. Indeed, I like the outcome with my metering (light meter app) spot-on and Ilford FP4+’s great latitude helping to avoid blown-out highlights.

A similar shot was taken a few meters away from the first spot. Here I tried to use the garlands, rocks, and jetties to guide the viewer’s eye to the swimming pool area which gives a lovely structural contrast. The photo ended up as one of my favorites of the roll. I think it represents my favorite characteristics of Ilford FP4+ in Rodinal quite well: Deep blacks, beautiful mid-grey tones, and a bit of a dreamy glow in the highlight areas.

While a lot of interesting compositions were waiting on the beach, I felt eager to frame the beauty of the architecture as memories for myself. The third frame shows a beautiful church in between palm trees. This shot was supposed as a “street shot”, but unfortunately, I was a few seconds too late to get the passing woman into the middle of the scenery. The different layers in the photography are still appealing to me. It also shows how sharp Kiev 4’s standard Helios-103 lens can be when stopped down.

Sweating out (literally) Southern Italy’s summer heat, I had to admit that my search for locals under these circumstances is more difficult than thought. Only tourists are thoughtless enough to walk around at 1 p.m., like the blokes I captured in the next photograph. They looked very touristic and walked home to do a siesta probably. My motivation and desire to shoot under these circumstances drastically reduced.

My last photograph shows an empty basketball pitch in the middle of the city center, which was also the last shot I took in the city of Leuca. The photo ended up being a bit on the bright side, with deep black shadows reminding me about the cruel heat ending my Photowalk too soon.

In the end, I was still in beautiful Apulia and put my Kiev 4a aside, cooled down took a swim in the sea, left my cares behind, and enjoyed a delicious Aperol Spritz before going back to my apartment. I love Italy. And film photography

Links to the excellent Kiev reviews:

Kiev 4 Review – It Bites Back – By James Northcote – 35mmc

Kiev 4AM Review – Perseverance is Key – by James Szylobryt – 35mmc

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About The Author

By fleetwoodler
Based in Berlin, quite new to Film Photograhy and still exploring. Nowadays, I am really fond of medium format photography, B&W development and minor camera repairs. Currently you can find me running through Berlin with my Nikon F90 or Pentax 645
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Alex G. on 5 Frames with a Kiev 4a and Ilford FP4 Plus – A summer love story in Italy

Comment posted: 03/12/2023

Apulia is definitely a rich environment for photography. I spent some time there during my childhood, so I'm aching to go back. Check out Luigi Ghirri's book "Puglia." It was shot in the early to mid 1980s (roughly the time when I lived there) and is excellent. I've never used FP4 , it looks great.

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