Gianluca Ricoveri is a photographer from Tuscany, the beloved region in central Italy that many painters and poets have celebrated in their art for centuries. Gianluca is currently a dedicated iPhone shooter; he became acquainted with his iDevice’s camera after years of refining his skills with totally different equipment and formats and after learning photography’s ins and outs. Even with his artistic background, Ricoveri had no problem embracing the new mobile technology for his creative purposes. “I have always used many camera formats since I started taking pictures,” he tells us, “From 24×36, to 6×6 and the 13×18 optical bench.”
Gianluca describes his encounter with mobile photography as accidental. “I discovered iPhone photography by chance, after finding a catalogue of pictures taken with Hipstamatic. This showed a brand new world to me and the countless possibilities given by such a great app, so I started to experiment with various films, lenses and flashes by taking massive amounts of pictures. Since then, it was all about discovering new apps both for taking and editing pictures.”
The first and foremost aspect that stirs the viewer’s interest in Ricoveri’s images is the poetic atmosphere of the places he captures. These open spaces and marshy recesses are imbued with a mysterious, timeless beauty. The still serenity emanating from the pictures is suggestive of solitary wanderings in times bygone. The palette Ricoveri adopted, with its luminous and sometimes almost evanescent hues and enriched with textural detail, is reminiscent of the works of pre-impressionist landscape painters. The countryside of Tuscany, Ricoveri’s homeland, is for him endless source of inspiration. “In my pictures I try to catch the beauty of my region, Tuscany. Its hills, grapevines and fields are really hard to resist to. These have been my main subjects for a long time and I often like to go back to them.” However, as Ricoveri explains, his subjects have been evolving over time, “Lately I am trying to focus on more peculiar and less wide subjects such as lakes, channels, swamps and tree groups, as they allow more control over the image’s composition and the post-production phase.”
Regarding his shooting habits, Ricoveri says that sometimes images are almost waiting to be discovered, it just takes the keen eye of the photographer to find them. “I plan my photo sets looking for landscapes right out the main roads, I don’t go too far; you can easily find beautiful subjects quite near your place, it only takes to look around a bit.” In other instances, Ricoveri pursues his subjects by straying off the known paths: this is where he finds some of his most fascinating sceneries. “I shoot some sets, especially those who take place in swamps and places like that, by studying the maps and trying to reach the most hidden and secret spots.” But not only reflective waters, sunlit fields and vegetation are for Gianluca material for photography. Light and everything related to it are also essential elements. “Taking pictures or not depends on the time of the day, on the light quality and on the clouds,” he states.
As for the apps capable of bringing out and intensifying the mood of his pictures, Ricoveri affirms he has several favorites and likes to work with different tools, depending on the situation. “I experiment with many apps in order to experience which has features that would fit my pictures,” and he continues, “For shooting purposes I mainly use 645 pro in the 6×9 format, which gives me great control over exposure and has great ‘unprocessed’ images. I also use 6×6 for the same reason, but with a square format. Hipstamatic I mostly use for the last Tintype SnapPak.”
He then proceeds to give us an idea of his post-processing workflow. “For editing purposes, I use an iPad,” he tells us, “Photogene as first app because of its flexibility and ease of use. [Processing with] Snapseed is the second mandatory phase for each picture for its ‘Tune image’ and ‘Selective adjust’ feature that reminds me of the ‘burn and mask’ technique I used in the darkroom. Laminar is the app for applying textures and a fantastic control over light and shade. Procreate is my last discovery but it is already an app I can’t live without, as it allows me to apply painting actions directly on the picture itself with great tools and infinite layers.” Finally, among the others he lists, “Photo FX Ultra if I need to apply some filter, and PicGrunger and Vintage HD if I need some grunge effect.”
Gianluca doesn’t seem too concerned with specs and limitations of the iPhone camera, factors that are often matter of debate among fans and detractors of mobile photography. Speaking of his current camera of choice he simply says, “The image quality reached by an iPhone is really high, using one lens length for shooting is really challenging and can lead to great satisfaction. I don’t feel the need to use an extra lens.” Actually, as Ricoveri’s photos demonstrate, constraints can be very stimulating for inspiration. “One can look for creative effects at the very moment of the shoot, and the creativity that can be reached during the post-production tuning is almost unlimited.”
Gianluca Ricoveri concludes his talk with us with some useful advice to neophytes of mobile photography, which sounds a lot like a thought Turner himself could have conceived — if he were a mobile photographer, that is. “Experimenting is the only way,” he says, “The same subject shot in different periods, different times of the day and by using different apps can give unexpected results.” But that’s not all: encouragement can come from the work of other artists and from their ideas. “Sharing photos with the iPhotographers community is really great, and doing it in a place where there’s such a dialogue and a matching with the experiences of other people from around the world is even better.”
All images courtesy of Gianluca Ricoveri.