Francesco Romoli: Imaginary Towns

 
The minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many. Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

The minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many. Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

Francesco Romoli tells us surreal stories in which ruined buildings, lost in some desert beyond reality, are only reflections of what used to be.

My Assignment

  • Description
    To build a city between reality and fantasy, bordering around dreams.
  • Duration
    It was easy to get the pictures… only four or five hours of work, the most difficult thing was to figure out the optimal light. Postproduction took more time, about four hours for a single image. I created the whole series in about three months.
  • Notes
    An external flash is an essential tool if you want to create dramatic light.
The last building of a ruined city and his illusions. Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

The last building of a ruined city and his illusions. Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

Things that seem to be real but are not really so have always fascinated me. My goal was to build a city between reality and fantasy, on the border of the dream. Imaginary Towns depicts ruined buildings, lost in some desert beyond reality. They are reflections of what was, of characters living in houses that no longer exist. A world cast beyond the frontiers of our own, with the adventures of fragile beings. Beings for whom a thousand years will not be enough time to grow.

An old lady waiting for it to end the night on a bench. Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

An old lady waiting for it to end the night on a bench. Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

My Perspective
I love dioramas. They are always on the border between real and unreal, like all my works. In addition, I really like to build things and do something with my hands, as it is an added value to my project. Firstly, I plan my sessions of shooting and try to imagine what will come out. Sometimes, to get an idea of what will emerge, I make some pictures with a Polaroid camera. When I am satisfied with the photos, I start the postproduction.

What can we really define real? Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

What can we really define real? Photograph/ Francesco Romoli

The Process
The most important thing is that the subject and the background lights have to be consistent and should not have differences in terms of brightness. That is when I cut out the subjects meticulously. Usually, I prefer to use the pen tool, although I need a lot of time. I use textures while processing. Experiment and play a lot with blending modes and opacity levels to get what you want.

Another important technique to show realism is the creation of shadows. Usually I create a new layer and I draw the shadow with a black brush with low opacity. The last step is to get a surreal look. I usually use the Nik Efex Pro filters.

My Equipment
I used a Canon EOS 600D with the Canon EF-S 17–55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens. The flash was a Canon 430EX II. To manage the external flash, I used a trigger. The trigger is essential; with TTL, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the desired light. The software I used was Nik Efex Pro filters and Photoshop CS6.

The Journey Towards Making Imaginary Towns A Reality

Tips on Creating A Surreal Photo Series

  • Imagine and previsualise the final image. The original pictures are very trivial, it must be clear what you want to accomplish.
  • Since the image will be manipulated heavily, concentrating on technique and quality is very important in the shooting phase.
  • The most important thing for me is to have something to say. The technique is useless without a good idea.

To view more of Francesco’s photographs, you can visit http://www.russelaid.com

Tags: better photography, diorama, Editing, Francesco Romoli, Imaginary Towns, Nik Efex Pro, october 2014, On Assignment, Photo Manipulation, photoshop, polaroid