But look what happens when the Spaniards start using mannequins. They take human detail and mannerism more than a shade further than we do in the UK (or everywhere else I have ever been for that matter).
In general, our mannequins have no facial features, smoothed to cool humanoid abstraction. Spanish mannequins actually leer. You worry they are going to creep after you back to your home and murder you bloodily in your sleep. You’ll wake up to the sound of your own screaming and find some little plastic bastard’s stuck a screwdriver through your kidneys. I mean seriously, who is going to think “But yes, ay carumba, that little frock will look beautiful on young Esperanza, especially now I’ve seen it modelled by Chucky from ‘Child’s Play’”.
But come to think of it, I have an inkling of where they got the taste for these weirdly over-wrought figures…
These pictures were all taken on a Rolleiflex medium format twin lens reflex. The camera is a beautiful piece of German design, with stunning attention to detail and build quality. On the down side you only get a dozen (big and gorgeous) exposures per roll, and it is not cheap. On the up side the quality of the originals surpasses that of the best £2000 SLRs by Nikon and Canon. Not bad for something that looks like it belongs in a Film Noir.
The camera used to belong to my grandfather, and he took it all over Europe taking pictures of architecture, design, and generally anything interesting enough to be used his books on visual education. I am glad I can still put it to good use! Believe it or not, the TLR is designed to be light and compact- and it is surprisingly so, especially for a medium format camera.
Nowadays medium format is mainly used for studio work, where its ultra-high resolution makes it suitable for billboard size enlargements (there medium-format digital backs – they cost £50k). It is also very popular in lomography, where the fun is in marvelling at the weird effects of low-quality cameras with plastic lenses on the big squares of film.
I really loved the restriction of having so few exposures to play with. I am so used to indulgence of free photos in the digital format it is too easy to forget the pleasure of being made to wait and really read a situation. How rewarding it is to sit and wait with your finger poised above the shutter release for ten minutes before taking the one, precious exposure! It teaches you to really value every shot, to use all your skills of predicting human behaviour to catch the right moment, to read light and motion with your eye-brain and not rely on the thinking skills of a chip.
If I had to take a single shot of the most beautiful subject I would ever see, I would take it on this beautiful Rollei TLR.