5 Frames with Rolleiflex T – Still Life in an old house – by Costas Papageorgiou

I’ve been thinking for a long time about taking a photo trip to an island in the Cyclades, under the light of the Greek summer and its reflections on the whitewashed houses and blue waters. The days in summer are long. And warm. You plan a lot and you may want to do a lot, but idleness overwhelms you and limits you to the minimum.

So, I threw a few clothes into the backpack and my photography gear with the absolute essentials, my beloved Rolleiflex T with Carl Zeiss 3.5/75mm and some Ilford and Kodak Portra films. The tripod permanently in the car, so everything was ready. Destination, Kea. Not one of the well-known and popular tourist islands of the Cyclades, but definitely one of the most beautiful. Unique landscapes and amazing rocks with almost figurative volumes and bright colors, shining from the metal oxides that enrich the subsoil of the island.

I know this island well. But it has always something new to reveal to me. This time it was not the landscapes or the sea nor the trees or the rocks. It was a house. An old traditional house in the village of “Chora”, large and proud, from the middle of the 19th century exposed to salt and winds. This house has hosted me many times but now it spoke to me in its secret language. This time I was touched by the aura of its history and of the people who lived there. And it happened in the simplest way; While I was enjoying the view from the open window of “Chora” at dusk, my eye fell on an old wooden bedside table, with its drawer, its cabinet, its dull brass knob. And I began to see household objects parading over it like actors in a theater.

In a few minutes, I had already decided that I would shoot a collection of still life photographs with any object I could find in the house and had some story to tell me. I got up, I loaded the camera with an Ilford HP5+ and set it up on the tripod shooting the objects & artifacts and the combinations I created with them. I decided to keep each frame simple by setting the objects usually in pairs.

I felt like I was leaving more space and time in the stories they could tell. I imagined each object like an actor who came on a dark stage to say his monologue or his own lines of dialogue interacting with the space, with the camera, with me. I chose a piece of dark wall stuccoed as with Venetian plaster and found an old lamp to illuminate the scene from the left.

I used my trusty Sekonic L-308X light meter and for hours conversed this way with the house and its spirits.
So here, I present to you my five most favorite shots from this quirky one “Séance”!

You can find more of my work on Instagram or on my web site.

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23 thoughts on “5 Frames with Rolleiflex T – Still Life in an old house – by Costas Papageorgiou”

  1. I’ll admit straight away that still life isn’t my thing so I didn’t immediately click on this.
    I’m glad I did now. I love the understated serenity of these images. The recurrent theme of the cabinet with the eclectic artifacts is incredibly moving.

  2. What a lovely series. The image of actors coming up to say their piece is poetic, and your execution really does justice to the concept ????

  3. You hooked me in with the opening pic of the Rollei, the film & the meter. “This guy’s a player” I thought.
    The images make up a cohesive series. The composition, direction of light and the tones all work perfectly together. Well done.

    1. Costas Papageorgiou

      Thank you very much Dan! I appreciate your comments! I’m very happy that you find my photos so interesting!

    1. Costas Papageorgiou

      Oh, I also love still life Jerome! Josef Sudek, Irving Penn and Christian Coigny are my heroes! Thank you for your comments!

    1. Costas Papageorgiou

      Thank you so much Michael! I am very glad you liked my Instagram too! For these captures I used a Yongnuo YN300III Led Light with a cooking paper in front of it as a diffuser – I had to travel light 😉 ! The Sekonic was set to ISO 400 and I shooted them at f/8 or f/11. As the camera was set on a tripod, I had no worries about slow shutter speeds.

  4. Alasdair Mackintosh

    I like the approach of using the same setting, but with different objects each time – it really turns this into a body of work rather than just five random frames 😉

    The final shot looks darker – had the light changed by then?

    1. Costas Papageorgiou

      Thank you so much Alasdair for your comments! The final shot is darker indeed, but didn’t happen any change in lighting – as much as I can recall… I just wanted a kind of different frame so I moved the camera a bit closer and underexposed a little in order to have less light reflections on these metal surfaces.

  5. The camera pictured at the top of this article does not have a 75mm f/2.8 lens. It has a 75mm f/3.5 lens. Which camera did you actually use to take these photos? Where did this image at the top of the article come from?

    1. Costas Papageorgiou

      You are absolutely right, Lee! My apologies for the mistake I made! It’s the 75mm f/3.5 indeed! I will fix it immediately! The image at the top of the article is mine (a digital one, though…), is my Rolleiflex sitting on on a shelf of my library! Thanks so much for noticing and alerting me to my mistake!

  6. I do love these images, by the way. They look like they could have been taken at any point in the last 125 years. Strong work.

    1. Costas Papageorgiou

      I’m very happy that you liked them! – and as you can see, the correction has been done ????! Thank you again Lee!

      1. I know it’s pedantic, but I appreciate the correction. Your Rolleiflex T does have a 75mm f/2.8 viewing lens, but the taking lens is the 75mm f/3.5. Timeless shots.

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