Victor by Hasselblad - October 2009 Issue
By Susanne Schmitt
Roberto Bigano, Italian photographer specializing in seemingly insurmountable challenges, proves the opposite true.
At the great Bugatti centennial gathering in Castiglione della Pescaia in Tuscany, Bigano and his team set about creating glamorous, studio-like images of the most beautiful and indulgent Bugattis ever built.
Using an H3DII-39MS multi-shot camera, the shoot took place right before the eyes of the many Bugatti fans beside the main entrance of Hotel Roccamare in the middle of the Tuscan countryside.
Roberto Bigano is no freshman to the Bugatti scene or the art of shooting on site. His picture book “Divina Bugatti”, published by renowned Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci, dates back to 1991. At that time, Bigano was only permitted to photograph the cars on location in the Musée National de l’Automobile in Mulhouse, Elsass. Spurred on by what most would consider severe limitation, Bigano conceived a plan and created a portable studio which he installed around his various subjects. Some of the photographs taken during that period, particularly the highlighted silhouette shot of the black Bugatti Atalante in front of the pitch-black background, are legendary today.
Thanks to “Divina Bugatti”, Roberto Bigano has enjoyed a prestigious reputation amongst the Bugatti community. He was asked to attend the esteemed gathering for a second round with these fine vintage vessels.
From May 23 to 30, 120 Bugatti owners from around the world were invited on behalf of the Bugatti Club Italy, chaired by Franco Majno, to attend the festival in Tuscany. To behold the proud classics cruising through the picturesque scenery and to see them iconified by Roberto Bigano and his lens – what a sight!
The portable set was never unattended, with curious visitors crowding around at all times. As in Mulhouse 1991, the open-air shoot in Castiglione relied heavily upon one special component: Bigano’s 20x20 foot large Avenger Butterfly Modular Frame with its white reflective tarpaulin. The tool that stole the show, however, was the camera. Full of admiration, Bugatti enthusiasts watched Bigano meticulously prepare each shot and remotely trigger the H3DII-39MS from his workstation.
Together they beamed at the reproductions on the computer. The multi-shot function powerfully dealt with the dark car paint, which is notoriously difficult to photograph.
Hasselblad MS cameras work with extreme precision. Photos burst with detail. Instead of exposing just once – whereby, according to the Bayer scheme, only one third of the colors red, green and blue are captured and the rest is interpolated –, multi-shot exposes four times. Between each of these partial frames the sensor is shifted by one pixel; every pixel is therefore registered for every color; interpolation becomes obsolete. As a result, the level of detail goes up substantially. Color is reproduced with exceptional accuracy. The photographer achieves finely nuanced images without suffering any moiré whatsoever.
The H3DII-39MS is a vital player in many of Bigano’s projects. “I use the multi-shot feature for almost everything apart from portraits. I even shoot landscapes with it,” Roberto Bigano explains. “Multi-shot makes the best of every situation. It even works for long exposures or when the air is smoky or filled with particles.”
The open-air session in Tuscany confronted Bigano with wind, leaves, and dust. None of these factors turned out to be insurmountable. Doing the prep work and choosing the right equipment were pivotal; even the instant playback function proved invaluable.
“With my professional attitude, Hasselblad and Manfrotto products I wanted to show I would be able to master any challenge,” Roberto Bigano explains. The man accomplished what he set out to do; we refer to his stunning photographic exploits featured on the preceding pages.
For his next project, Bigano plans to create a monumental photography book about Bugattis, their owners and their homes.
By Susanne Schmitt