Last summer Adam and I took a beautiful drive along the Italian and French Riviera. Our first stop was Cinque Terre, we've heard so many wonderful things about the five villages we had to see for ourselves. We stayed in Monterosso and took the train to each of the villages. We spent our days eating and exploring. Riomaggiore was my favorite because of Tutti Fritti, a small concession stand serving delicious street food: fried squid, mussels, shrimp...yum! Riomaggiore is similar to the other villages in that it sits right on the water, but there was one distinguishing feature, a curved rocky pier extending from the port. I knew the moment we arrived that I needed to climb the pier for a photo of the village from the water. Adam and I made our way to the middle of the pier and picked the perfect spot for our afternoon photos. What Adam didn't know was, I wanted to go back at sunset and stay until after the blue hour to capture low light images.
I made the decision to embark on our trip with only film, it was definitely scary and caused lots of anxiety, but I figured this was as good a time as any. I packed my Pentax 645N, loads of film (Kodak Portra 400), and my tripod, but I forgot my shutter release. The tripod was very important since I was going to be taking long exposures. The shutter release was also very important, but since I forgot to pack it, I just practiced holding my breath.
We planned our evening around sunset and the blue hour. After we ate dinner, we gathered the camera, film, tripod, snacks, and a flashlight. We took the train to Riomaggiore and made our climb to the middle of the pier. The pier was not crowded so we were able to set up in our spot. I used a mobile light meter app to obtain reflective light readings as the sky grew darker and darker. From the start of the blue hour until the end, I took a series of three photos every five to ten minutes. I took my first picture in the series at the metered shutter speed, then one at a faster shutter speed, and one at a longer shutter speed. Being so new to film, I didn't know to account for reciprocity failure. Luckily for me, the images turned out amazing, but looking at them now, I know they could've been exposed even longer. This was definitely a lesson learned for my next low light/nighttime photography adventure.