As Women’s History Month continues, "Woman Lomographer On the Rise" is a celebration of the women in our Community who, through their creativity and uniqueness, inspire us every day to follow our own paths and passions. Get to know the lovely Francesca Ruberti aka trainsported and let yourself be carried away by the dreamy atmospheres of these photographs taken with the LomoChrome Metropolis film.
Hi Francesca, could you do a little introduction of yours to the readers of our Online Magazine?
Hi! My name is Francesca, I'm twenty-four years old and I'm originally from Pisa, Tuscany, but for the past couple of years, I've learned to create a place for myself to call home wherever I am. I am having the immense good fortune to travel a lot and to be able to spend long periods in different countries, which allows me to enrich myself both humanly and culturally. I study linguistics and slavistics at the University of Pisa, and I have an irrepressible passion for learning languages.
At the moment I speak eight languages, but I am working hard to learn many more! As I always say, I really like to travel in the original language, to feel that feeling of communicating with those I meet along my path in their own language. I'm finishing my Master's degree, but in the meantime, I'm teaching the languages I know best, and it's the most rewarding job that I could dream of!
I read on your blog that you are studying in Vilnius, why did you choose this city?
I spent last fall and part of the winter in Vilnius, a city that enchanted me with its forests and lakes. I chose this city for study reasons, the Baltic area intrigued me and after studying it from afar, I decided to discover it by losing myself in it. I chose Lithuania as an Erasmus destination, and I waited for the moment to leave with impatience and enthusiasm. However, during this very special year, I found my travels really tiring. At the end of August, just a few weeks before the start of my Erasmus, I was very reluctant to travel to Vilnius, the prospect of being quarantined away from home again made me unsure about what to do. The real reason why I suddenly took my decision to leave was the discovery of a camera, but that's another story!
I arrived in Lithuania at the end of August and found myself living in an old Soviet building for the first month, then moving to the city center of Vilnius, in the independent Republic of Užupis! Užupis is a place of artists, galleries, ethnic stores, ateliers, murals, and like any self-respecting republic, it has its own constitution, which someone called the most beautiful constitution in the world. Just to name a few of my favorite articles:
Art. 4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
Art. 14. Sometimes you have the right to be unaware of your duties.
Art. 34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
Art. 38. Everyone has the right not to be afraid.
I'm continuing to study in Vilnius on a scholarship, but alas, I'm doing it from remote, living elsewhere. I miss leaving home and not finding my forest and lake of trust waiting for me.
Talk to us about your photographic background. When did you first start photographing?
I started taking photos as a teenager with a digital camera, intrigued by the communication through images. I've always written a lot, both fictional stories and travel journals and reports, and the camera was initially a tool for me to create shots that could accompany a narrative.
I found my first analogue camera in my grandfather's garage, a Frankarette from the late 1950s. I bought the cheapest film on the market and started carrying it with me all the time. Partly out of a sense of reverence for an object that had survived all those years, partly out of inexperience with analogue, before taking a picture I would brood, change the frame, wait for the sun to move, for the shadows to take on a certain shape.
I began to really feel part of a creative process, the camera had become an extension of my gaze. Since then, I have almost completely abandoned digital photography, which I just use when I need a large number of poses and need to shoot quickly, when traveling for instance.
These wonderful photographs were taken with the film LomoChrome Metropolis: what are the features that impressed you the most about this film?
I had never used this film before, but after developing this roll it became one of my favorites. The white's tone is wonderful and the gray of the Lithuanian woods with this greenish note is very pleasant. Gorgeous grain!
What camera did you use for these photos?
I took these photos with a very old Belomo Vilia, patched with black tape. The Vilia is a camera made in Belarus, which I use with its most popular setup, the Triplet 69-3 4/40 lens.
Last summer, on a hot day in early August, I was strolling through the narrow streets of Veliko Tărnovo in Bulgaria, and, in order to take refuge from the heat, I walked into a store full of junk. It was even hotter inside than it was outside, but a case full of cameras, almost all of them broken, kept me there. The Vilia was hidden behind some Soviet-made camera, and I snatched it up for a mere eight euros, negotiating with the bored store owner who pretended not to see the huge hole where the flash shoe supposed to be.
If you've made it to reach this answer, this is the camera whose discovery convinced me to shed my insecurities and move to Vilnius, despite quarantine and an ongoing pandemic. Why? Because "Vilia" (Вилия) is the Russian name for the Neris River, the river that runs through the center of Vilnius! Maybe I'm an incurable romantic, but such a sign was absolutely enough to convince me that leaving was the right thing to do.
Which photographic gear you always carry when you travel?
In my backpack there's always my Zenit ET with its Helios 44-2 lens. If I can spend just a little time in each place I visit, I also bring with me the digital camera, but lately I'm giving up the opportunity to take many photos, in order to make room for my Lubitel 2.
On your Instagram profile's Bio you write "I travel alone to feel part of the world, I learn languages, I listen to stories". How much is photography your companion during your travels?
So much! All the strangers who start talking with me on the road, offer me rides, cook me something, or tell me their stories and show me the places they grew up in, become subjects for invaluable portraits. A moment of kindness in which a person makes me feel at home turns into an indelible image. Not to mention the wonderful nature that has given me sunrises, sunsets, snowfalls, thunderstorms, twilight...
Do you think there is a link between nature, which we often find among your shots, and analogue photography?
Nature changes very fast, when I try to capture it on film I almost feel like I'm forcing it to stop for me. A second goes by, and already the exposure time is no longer adequate for the light outside. Some shots succeed, others are slightly overexposed or underexposed, and this inaccuracy reveals details that remain hidden in reality. In addition, nature also participates in the moment of the shot, like that time in Russia when I took a double exposure that I love with my Lubitel 2 because my hands were too frozen to rewind!
The following photos were all taken with the Lubitel: which format do you prefer and why? 35 or 120mm?
I like to experiment with both formats. I use 35 mm film much more often, but when I have time to compose the photo with the bioptic, I enjoy the whole not-so-short process of shooting.
Who are the artists that you follow and from whom-what do you draw inspiration for your photos?
An artist who contributed to making me fall in love with film photography is Oleg Oprisco, who with his shots creates real sceneries. His images are perfect, studied down to the smallest detail, but his pictures are captured by Kiev medium format cameras that can be found at very low prices in the second-hand markets in Russia.
Among the photographers and female photographers who inspire me, I cannot fail to mention Judianne Grace, Tamara Lichtenstein, and Maya Beano, three fantastic artists!
Tell us about your plans. What does the future hold for you?
More than projects, I have many travels in the drawer. I would like to return to live in Russia, the land of camera production that I could never give up. In the future, I expect to discover places and cultures, I expect more and more films, to study other languages, to write more and more, to meet wonderful people, to feel freer to express myself artistically, but above all, I hope to never lose my curiosity and my desire to learn!