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James Arlen Gillaspie
Industry Professional

Location: upstate NY
Joined: 10 Nov 2005

Posts: 587

PostPosted: Thu 15 Dec, 2011 8:30 am    Post subject: Carlo Paggiarino's work; a review         Reply with quote

Mr. Paggiarino’s idea of how to approach armour as a photographic subject is one that I have had, but didn't have the skill to do. Dario Lanzardo, in his book, The Iron Guest, did some nice work, but fell far short of Paggiarino’s. While armour might seem to an ideal subject for black and white photography, I do not think it shows it best, particularly when fire gilding or dealing with the blue-black surfaces of some armours. I think most photographers do not understand how much difference color can make when photographing armour; as someone who knows steel intimately, the hues I see in old armour are one of my favorite things about it. There is a richness to the patinas that just does not come across in black and white. The first time I ever saw Wallace's A 21 the lighting was just right, and I could see the different colors and textures of all the parts! I did not need to read Dr. Williams' report on the armour to tell me the associated nature of the pieces.

There has been some complaint about how Paggiarino frames his photos, often clipping off bits of helmets and other objects. Some prefer a more clinical approach, standard reference shots showing the whole object. Consider this, however; if he puts a full harness on one of his pages, which measures 12 ½” (318mm) tall, that puts you maybe fifty feet from the object. You are looking at it across the room. Obviously you could see it better by going to the museum and walking across the room to it. But Paggiarino is taking you far closer than you could get just by paying the harness a visit. He is not just taking you up to the glass case; he is taking you inside, and putting the object in your hands. Often, his images are larger than lifesize; he is showing you things you could not see without a magnifier. He does not seem to want to have much blank space on the page, which would be wasted, so he fills the page. There is some frustration at not being able to move one’s eyes to the parts of the object outside the boundaries of the page, but then, the only solution to keeping you as close as he wants you to be to show you the details he is interested in (and you should be, too!) is to make an already big book much bigger. Bigger than an atlas. Ah, now there’s a fantasy… But just imagine the shipping charges!

Such large, magnified images are priceless to those who really want to know something of the techniques and craftsmanship that were employed to make these objects. Sometimes, he shows us the inside surfaces, too. Those of us on the boards who routinely handle real pieces are often amused or annoyed by those who don’t, as they so often think fake pieces and restorations are real or even think real pieces are fake! Paggiarino’s books could help with that, if people really study the photographs carefully.

For those interested in weapons, Paggiarino’s Wallace Collection and Royal Armouries books have many pages dedicated to them, particularly sword hilts (though he does cover a couple of poleaxes that are very dear to me!). Anyone who is interested in them will not find better photos anywhere.
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