Cortona Via Bencini

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Steve Aimone

This portfolio features two of my favorite things: the hilltop Tuscan town of Cortona, Italy and the low-tech medium format camera, the Bencini Koroll 24S, made in the 50s in Milan. Seeing Cortona through the lens of the Bencini contributes uniquely to the character and expressive quality of the experience.

Cortona is one of two places on earth that resonate deeply for me spiritually (the other, Monhegan Island, Maine). One of the steepest hillside towns in Tuscany, Cortona is an island in the sky, a place that vibrates with ancient and timeless vibrations and energies. Emotionally, I consider it to be home.

The Bencini 24S is a rugged little medium format camera with virtually no bells and whistles. Its body is entirely aluminum cast (I once dropped in on a steep and rocky hillside, it bounced around quite dramatically, and came up working beautifully). Its lens, 40mm at f.2.8, is sharp at times, especially near the center, and beautifully soft at others. Shutter speeds? 1/50 or B. Aperture? Choose between f/9 and f/16. And you have to employ zone focusing; that is, you guess the distance and set it! And it is a half frame camera: you get twice as many images (24) as normal on a roll of 120 film.

The Bencini’s limits and shortcomings are simultaneously its expressive assets. It filters things beautifully, contributing a singularly unique visual eccentricity. You can anticipate what it might likely do, but you can never fully anticipate what its “voice” might be. Its old and simple lens, makes a wonderful tool to collaborate with. I recommend you give one a try…

Bencini Koroll 24S

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Stev Palmieri

    Wonderful!

  2. Steve Aimone

    GrazieMiele, Stefano

  3. David Aimone

    Thanks for sharing! And for turning me on to this little unique gem of a camera. It’s not Hi-Fi, but it has a certain “mode” to it.

    Great portfolio!

  4. Steve Aimone

    Very much appreciated, Dave. And thank you for all your teaching and encouragement!

  5. Colleen Gleason

    Viewing these images is like walking through a day dream, Steve. Impeccable!

  6. Karen cole

    My heart be still. You captured Cortona so beautifully ! We would probably be there now if we could travel. Spending so much time there last year was a dream.

  7. steven aimone

    Ah, Karen… I would be there for sure in a flash is life’s circumstances were different. Sadly, that poor, neglected house just sits there. Thank you for the compliments regarding the portfolio… taken very much to heart…

  8. Garnet

    Wonderful Steve! Really enjoyed looking through them. Do you develop the film and print pics yourself? Or are these converted to digital?

  9. Hey Garnet… thanks for taking a look! I do develop the film myself. I then scan the negatives and can digitally print of have someone make silver gelatin prints from the file. I am working on developing ways to make silver gelatin prints in the studio here but not there yet. If you are interested in shooting some film, let me know!

  10. Kathryn Shagas

    Wonderfully evocative photos, Steve. I especially love the ones with the grape vines. Can feel how much you love this place.

    1. steven aimone

      Thank you so much, Kathryn. It feels good to be understood. It is great being in touch on a regular basis. Buona Notte.

  11. Tim Gottshall

    Truly evocative images, and you’re absolutely right about the camera being the right instrument for the job. I might just have to look for a Bencini to pair with my Agfa Clack. Low tech is the way to go! I’m especially fond of the first of the vineyard photos; the highlights on the leaves and grass positively glitter. That, combined with the scraggly gnarly trunks of the vines give it an almost spooky and dreamlike fairy tale feel.

    1. steven aimone

      Greetings, Tim. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and support… it is taken to heart. And yes, absolutely, get yourself a 24S. I have two and David has one and they are consistently eccentric and wonderful. I have a shelf full of low tech cameras. No Clack, but I do have an Afga Chief which has yielded some nice images, for example: https://www.flickr.com/photos/26603233@N02/40119532170/in/album-72157692192088292/ My most recent low tech acquisition? A Linden Lindar box camera. Just developed first roll shot with it. Ex: https://www.flickr.com/photos/26603233@N02/50001870498/in/album-72157714681390963/ Where’s the best place for me to take in more of your stuff? Best…

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