lunes, 25 de julio de 2016



From 2009, the elapse of years is increasingly magnifying the figure of Robert Capa, considered to be the best war photographer ever, founder of Magnum Agency and a man who fouguht tooth and nail to preserve the photographers´ rights.

His exceptional reportage made to the refugees of Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936, during their walking flight from the air raid by Francoist aircraft, across the village north exit, going ahead towards the Old Obejo Train and El Vacar, plodding in a real ordeal of 11 kilometers under a scorching sun during the afternoon of the aformentioned day between around 15:00 h and 18:00 hours, with a temperature near 40º C and with a number of mothers and grandmothers being bound to take the babies in arms, is now even further enhanced,

80 years later, thanks to a photograph kindly sent to by Frank Albrecht, one of the most important antiquariats in Germany, collector of original vintage copies and owner of Antiquariat Frank Albrecht in Schriesheim (Germany), an until now unknown image as to its authorship and location, made by Capa with his Leica II (Model D) in a stretch of the old way Cerro Muriano-Obejo Train Station next to the Córdoba-Almorchón railway line, at roughly 3 km from Cerro Muriano village.

In my viewpoint, this is a superb photograph, made by Capa at point blank range from a slight right diagonal and at a distance of approximately 2 meters.

In this image we can see from left to right a woman clad in a rather worn peasant dress (full of stains and a burst seam visible from the waist down) featuring a small squares design and whose sleeves are rolled up, who is taking in her ams the youngest of her children, an approximately 1 year old little girl (who is wearing a small white garment with a set of buttons on her back), whose inner area of her knees she is grabbing with her right arm, while she holds the creature´s buttocks with her left hand to be able to keep an unstable balance momentarily a bit reinforced by the right arm of the little girl, who is defensively clinging to her neck the best she can.

Because of the getaway rush and the panic brought about by the explosion of the bombs, this woman has set off leaving Cerro Muriano with her clothes on her back, without even having any time to put a diaper on her exceedingly young daughter and fit her a pair of shoes.

The distressed countenance of the mother, who does fear for the life of her very young girl, is heartbreaking, and she is focused on saving her little daughter as soon as possible, and Capa realizes it, getting the picture from within an incredibly short distance, while the mother is lost in fears, in such a way that she isn´t looking at the camera when Capa presses the shutter release button of his Leica II (Model D)  with a Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 uncoated lens.

Two fingers of the little daughter can be seen hanging on the left of her buttocks, since the very young girl is already fairly tired and she hasn´t got stamina to raise her left arm and hand and hang them onto her mother´s neck.

Capa is as always paying attention to the smallest details, taking fast decisions and capturing the most meaningful instants with a very quick shot and an amazing timing accuracy on shooting.

Five more people can be seen in the image:

- An around 9 years old boy, visible on far right of the picture, who is a son of the woman heading the group taking in arms her roughly 1 year old half-naked extremely young girl.

This boy is the nearest person to Capa when the photojournalist creates the image, but incredible as it may seem, he isn´t looking at the camera, but walking engrossed in thought and is captured unaware by Capa.

He is wearing a long sleeved dark shirt, almost wholly open (surrounded on its top by a thick string with some knots in its centre), very tattered and lacking some buttons, and plenty of smudges are visible on the lower left half of the shirt, because at that time, working conditions in the countryside were wretched, with workdays between 12 and 14 hours from sunrise to sunset and minimal payments of sheer survival by affluent landowners possesing vast majority of the lands, along with a very shoddy diet, particularly regarding the absence of proteins, a context in which besides, children usually worked in the countryside since they were six years old helping their families, and the lack of economical resources made that frequently (with the exception of Sundays) all the members of peasant families had to wear the same clothes and footwear every day (with the resulting accelerated spoiling of them), so mothers (who got married very young and often had their first child between 18 and 22), after the exhausting countryside chores, were bound to constantly wasj the clothes, so the workday of the peasant women at this time was really of 16-17 hours and they finished frazzled, getting old from their early thirties.

- Just behind the approximately nine years old boy, appears an around 5 years old girl, who is his sister and is walking grabbing his brother´s right hand with her left one. Ahe is wearing a short-sleeved dark vest.

And once again, in a stunning way, she isn´t looking at the camera, but advancing immeresed in her thoughts  and gazing out, in the same way as her elder brother, facing an uncertain future.

Capas´s shot is at the limit for not being detected, very fast, choosing diaphragm f/3.5 at full aperture and focusing in the mother being at the front and who is taking in arms her little daughter of roughly 1 year old, to turn her into the main character, leaving the background out of focus and making out in advance that the depth of field area of both the elder son and even the middle age daughter who is grasping his hand walking slightly behind him, is going to greatly coincide with her mother´s one.

- In the background and already out of focus, you can see another young mother wearing an utterly white dress who is taking in arms her very young son being approximately 1,5 years old with upper white colour attire, and whom the mother has had some time to hastily put him a diaper on and fitting him a pair of shoes.

This woman is holding his youngest son in a similar way to the woman leading the group, getting hold of the creature in his right thigh with her left hand and grabbing his buttocks with her right hand, in an even more precarious equilibrium with a risk of fall, for the fatigue has made that this around 1.5 year old child hasn´t the strength to hold onto his mother´s neck with any of his two arms and hands.

- Finally, in the middle far right area of the image, just behind the left shoulder and left ear of the around 9 years old boy walking before him (and who is the son of the young mother heading the group and taking her half-naked daughter grasped behind her kness and her buttocks), we can see the head and left shoulder of a similar age girl being 9 or 10 years old, walking in the background next to the other young mother taking in her arms his youngest son being around 1.5 years old wearing shoes.

This 9 or 10 years old girl is looking at the right of Capa and appears out of focus, in the same way as the woman with her youngest son whom she has been able to put a pair of shoes, who is marching abreast of her, being probably her elder daughter.

The picture is very interesting for different major reasons:

a) It proves for the nth time Capa´s gift for war photography, his impressive working speed and very quick taking of decisions when it came to tackling the selection of diaphragms and shutter speeds, the frames and above all, the compositively most interesting and meaningful elements, particularly the persons being innocent victims of war.

It´s a kind of image in which the image excellence from a technical viewpoint in yerms of sharpness, contrast, direction and quality of light, etc, play second fiddle and the important thing and what matters is to be in the right place at the adequate moment, to approach to the subject/s as much as possible, to choose the most defining instant to press the shutter release button of the camera going unnoticed and managing to get a good picture.

It is the dream of every full-fledged photojournalist: to become invisible just at the moment in which he is getting a good picture, and in this regard, Robert Capa has been without any doubt one of the foremost photographers in histor, as is confirmed by this imae, in the same way as in many others he made in Spain and other countries all over the world throughout his 22 years of career as a professional photojournalist.

Capa is a true top-of-the line war photographer with a formidable natural instinct to get pictures of war displaced people, who in order to create this photograph, approaches from the right and not in a perpendicular way, with great respect to the photographed persons, striving afyer not interfere their march in so gruelling and dramatic circumstances, since they are human beings who have left behind their homes and all of their past.

Capa shoots almost at point blank range, from a distance of roughly two meters, surprising them without being detected at the moment in which he creates the image, something of extreme difficulty in a context like this, getting the picture from such a short range, taking advantage during his starting approach stage of the fact that the body of the approximately 9 years old nearest the camera located on the right prevents the mother with his around 1.5 years old youngest son wearing a pair of shoes and the boy walking by her (highly probably his elder son) from seeing her before getting the picture.

Additionally, Capa has also noticed, a few seconds before, that the woman leading the group is advancing hugely worried about the security of her half-naked roughly 1 year old daughter, so she is absorbed in her thoughts and isn´t looking at the camera, in the same way as the other mother being out of focus and taking in her arms her around 1.5 year old youngest son, dressed in a white garment and with a pair of shoes visible in the background, who is looking forward and the boy in the background on the right with a fatigue and heat  and who is lookimng at Capa´s right, without detecting him either.
                                     © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

b) This extraordinary picture is a great example of the archetype of Leica photojournalistic image of thirties, forties and fifties, in which the focus isn´t 100% accurate (a side that has been thoroughly studied  by Michael Auer and explained in many of his lectures), due to the great working speed by the photojournalists with the smallest 24 x 36 mm format mirrorless cameras in history: the different screw mount Leica rangefinder cameras with Leitz lenses also boasting very small size and exceedingly low weight in proportion with the cameras and which were used throughout 30s, 40s and 50s (the golden age of photojournalism) with remarkable prowess by photographers of the caliber of Ilse Bing, Erich Salomon, Walter Bosshard, Alexander Rodchenko, Arthur Rothstein, André Kertész, Lotte Jacobi, Otto Umbehr "Umbo", Izis, Harald Lechenperg, Dr. Paul Wolff, Kurt Hutton, Balkin, E.P.Hahn, Felix H. Mann, Wolfgang Weber, David Seymour "Chim", Tom McAvoy, Agustí Centelles, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Werner Bischof, George Rodger, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Douglas Duncan, Peter Stackpole, Willy Rudge, Ed van der Elsken, Ludwig Schricker, Walther Bensen, Dr. Otto Steinert, Martin Muncaksi, Yevgeni Khaldei, Peter Magubane and others.

c) Aside from fixing in time the inhabitants of Cerro Muriano whom he dignifies and makes live in the memory during their flight from the village to escape from the bombs of the Francoist aviation, the image sums up

                                     © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

the great operative symbiosis in Robert Capa´s hands between the Leica II (Model ) 35 mm rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses created by Oskar Barnack (a masterpiece of precision, whose tiny dimensions, lack of swivelling mirror, silk rubberized horizontal travelling mechanical shutter which is a wonder of engineering and almost imperceptible noise, were the work of the German great engineer and mechanical expert in Leitz Wetzlar, Germany)

                                    © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

and the 4 elements in 3 groups with modified Cooke triplet Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 non coated lens  designed by Professor Max Berek, which yields an outstanding sharpness even at full aperture, though the  vignetting appears inevitably on the corners in the picture made at f/3.5, enhancing even more the characteristic and beautiful vintage aesthetics inherent to the photographs of this time made with very low sensitivity black and white chemical emulsions whixh included large quantities of silver halides.

On the other hand, this photographed has been vertically cropped in his left area (it can be seen the lack of vignetting on the upper left corner of the image, which has to exist in the original 24 x 36 mm format negative Eastman Kodak Nitrate Panchromatic cinematographic  with aspect ratio 2:3 and sensitivity Weston 32, equivalent to approximately ISO 40), including more air on the left, since Csiki Weisz, the darkroom expert and great friend of Capa in Paris who developed his rolls of black and white 35 mm film, used to make copies in photographic paper trimming part of the original image until rendering it in a 4:3 proportion or een sometimes 4:5 similar to the 4 x 5 " large format negatives, which were the aspect ratios that better matched the layout and pages of the best illustrated magazines of the time, without forgetting the frequent fact that when it came to providing the most prestigious publications, they often sent — however unbelievable it may seem nowadays — the original negatives of the pictures, which were a lot of times reframed and subsequently edited with the aforementioned aspect ratios to make the reproductions on the magazines pages. wishes to express its gratitude to Antiquariat Frank Albrecht Schriesheim (Germany) for the confidence placed on us, along with his sensitivity and grasping of the prominent significance of Robert Capa in the History of Photography.

© Text and Indicated Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. Inscribed in the Territorial Register of the Intellectual Property of Madrid.

miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016



Desde 2009, el transcurrir de los años está agrandando cada vez más la figura de Robert Capa, considerado el mejor fotógrafo de guerra de la historia, fundador de la Agencia Magnum y hombre que luchó a brazo partido por preservar los derechos de los fotógrafos.

Su excepcional reportaje realizado a los refugiados de Cerro Muriano el día 5 de Septiembre de 1936 durante su huida a pie del bombardeo por parte de aviones franquistas, a través de la salida norte del pueblo, siguiendo hasta la antigua Estación de Tren de Obejo y El Vacar, caminando en una auténtica odisea de 11 km a pleno sol durante la sobremesa del mencionado día entre aproximadamente las 15:00 h y las 18:00 h, con una temperatura próxima a los 40º C y con muchas madres y abuelas teniendo que llevar en brazos a sus bebés, se ve realzada ahora, 80 años después, todavía más si cabe, gracias a la fotografía que amablemente ha enviado a Frank Albrecht, uno de los anticuarios más importantes de Alemania, coleccionista de copias vintage originales y propietario de Antiquariat Frank Albrecht en Schriesheim (Alemania), una imagen desconocida hasta ahora en cuanto a su autoría y ubicación, hecha por Capa con su Leica II (Model D) en un tramo del antiguo camino Cerro Muriano-Estación de Tren de Obejo junto a la vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón, aproximadamente a 3 km de Cerro Muriano.

La fotografía es en mi opinión soberbia, hecha por Capa a bocajarro desde una ligera diagonal derecha y a una distancia de aproximadamente dos metros.

En esta imagen se aprecia a la izquierda a una mujer ataviada con un vestido de campesina muy desgastado (repleto de manchas y un roto visibles de cintura hacia abajo), con diseño de pequeños cuadros y cuyas mangas están subidas, que lleva en brazos a la más joven de sus hijas, una niña de aproximadamente un año de edad (que lleva puesto un pequeño vestido blanco con botonadura a la espalda), cuya parte interna de las rodillas sujeta con su brazo derecho, mientras con la mano izquierda ase las nalgas de la criatura para poder mantener un precario equilibrio momentáneamente algo reforzado por el brazo derecho de la niña, que defensivamente se aferra como puede al cuello de su madre.

Debido a la precipitación de la huida y el pánico generado por la explosión de las bombas, esta mujer ha emprendido la marcha saliendo de Cerro Muriano con lo puesto y con gran rapidez, sin tener tiempo siquiera de poner a la jovencísima niña al menos un pañal y unos zapatos.

La expresión de angustia de la madre, que teme por la vida de su jovencísima niña, es desoladora, y está concentrada en salvar cuanto antes a su pequeña hija, lo cual es detectado por Capa, que hace la fotografía desde una distancia increíblemente próxima, con la madre absorta en sus miedos, de tal manera que no está mirando a la cámara cuando Capa aprieta el botón liberador del obturador de su Leica II (Model D) con objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 no revestido.

Se aprecian dos dedos de la criatura que cuelgan a la izquierda de sus nalgas, ya que la niña está ya bastante cansada y no tiene fuerzas para elevar el brazo y mano izquierda y aferrarlos al cuello de su madre.

Capa siempre atento a los más mínimos detalles, tomando decisiones de manera muy rápida y captando los instantes más significativos con un tiro rapidísimo y una precisión increíble de timing al disparar.

En la imagen aparecen también otras cinco personas:

- Un chico de unos 9 años de edad, visible a la derecha del todo de la fotografía, y que es hijo de la mujer que encabeza el grupo y lleva en brazos a la jovencísima niña de aproximadamente un año semidesnuda.

Este chico es el más próximo a Capa cuando éste crea la imagen, pero por increíble que pueda parecer, el chico no está mirando a la cámara, sino que camina absorto en sus pensamientos y es captado por Capa sin que se de cuenta.

Este muchacho lleva una camisa de manga larga oscura, casi totalmente abierta (rodeada en su zona superior por una cuerda gruesa con varios nudos en su centro), muy desgastada y a la que le faltan varios botones, y son visibles abundantes manchas en la mitad inferior izquierda de la camisa, ya que en aquella época, las condiciones de trabajo en el campo eran míseras, con jornadas de trabajo de sol a sol entre 12 y 14 horas y remuneraciones mínimas de mera supervivencia por parte de acaudalados terratenientes que poseían la inmensa mayoría de las tierras, así como una alimentación muy deficiente, especialmente en  proteínas, un contexto además en el que los niños generalmente trabajaban en el campo desde los 6 años ayudando a sus familias, y la falta de recursos económicos hacía que con frecuencia, con excepción de los Domingos, la totalidad de integrantes de las familias campesinas tuvieran que llevar la misma ropa y calzado todos los días (con el consiguiente rápido deterioro de los mismos), por lo que las madres (que se casaban muy jóvenes y a menudo tenían el primer hijo entre los 18 y los 22 años), después de las durísimas faenas en el campo, se veían obligadas a lavar la ropa a mano constantemente, además de tener que cocinar para toda la familia al menos dos veces al día, por lo que la jornada laboral de las mujeres campesinas de la época era en la práctica de unas 16-17 horas diarias y acababan extenuadas, envejeciendo rápidamente a partir de la treintena.

- Justo detrás del chico de unos 9 años de edad, aparece una niña de aproximadamente 5 años, que es su hermana y camina agarradando con su mano izquierda la mano derecha de su hermano. Viste camiseta oscura de manga corta.

Y de nuevo, de modo asombroso, no está mirando a cámara, sino que avanza absorta en sus pensamientos y con la mirada perdida, al igual que su hermano mayor y su madre, ante un futuro incierto.

El tiro de Capa es al límite para no ser detectado, muy rápido, eligiendo diafragma f/3.5 a plena abertura y enfocando sobre la madre que va en cabeza y que lleva a su hija pequeña de aproximadamente 1 año de edad en brazos, para darle todo el protagonismo posible dejando el fondo desenfocado y percibiendo por anticipado que el plano de nitidez tanto del hijo mayor como incluso de la hija mediana que va agarrada de la mano ligeramente detrás de él, va a coincidir en buena medida con el de su madre.

- Al fondo y ya desenfocados se aprecia a otra madre joven con vestido totalmente blanco que lleva en brazos a su hijo muy joven, de aproximadamente año y medio, con indumentaria superior de color blanco, y al que la madre ha tenido tiempo de ponerle unos pañales y los zapatos apresuradamente.

Esta mujer sujeta a su hijo más pequeño en una posición similar a la que encabeza el grupo, agarrando a la criatura de su muslo derecho con su mano izquierda y sujetando sus nalgas con su mano derecha, en un equilibrio aún más inestable y con riesgo de caída, ya que el cansancio ha hecho que este niño de poco más de un año no tenga fuerzas para agarrarse al cuello de su madre con ninguno de los dos brazos y manos.

- Finalmente, en el extremo derecho central de la imagen, justo detrás del hombro izquierdo y oreja izquierda del chico de unos 9 años de edad que va delante de él (y que es hijo de la mujer que encabeza el grupo y lleva a su bebé semidesnudo agarrado por detrás de las rodillas y de sus nalgas), se aprecia la cabeza y hombro izquierdo de una chica de edad similar, unos 9 ó 10 años, que camina al fondo junto a la otra madre que lleva en brazos a su hijo pequeño de aproximadamente año y medio de edad con zapatos.

Esta chica de unos 9 ó 10 años está mirando a  la derecha de Capa y aparece desenfocada en la imagen, al igual que la mujer con su niño pequeño al que ha podido poner zapatos, que camina a su altura, y de la que probablemente es la hija mayor.

Le fotografía es muy interesante por varios motivos:

a) Confirma por enésima vez el don para la fotografía de guerra, impresionante velocidad de trabajo y muy rápida toma de decisiones por parte de Capa a la hora de elegir los diafragmas y velocidades de obturación, los encuadres, y sobre todo, los elementos compositivamente más interesantes y significativos, muy especialmente las personas víctimas inocentes de la guerra.

Es un tipo de fotografía en el que la excelencia de la imagen desde un punto de vista técnico con respecto a su nitidez, contraste, dirección y calidad de la luz, etc, pasa a un segundo plano, y lo importante es estar en el lugar adecuado en el momento adecuado, acercarse lo máximo posible al sujeto/s, elegir el instante más definitorio para apretar el botón disparador de la cámara pasando desapercibido y conseguir hacer la foto.

Es el sueño de todo fotoperiodista de raza: volverse por así decirlo invisible, en el momento en que hace una buena fotografía, y en ésto, sin ningún género de dudas, Robert Capa ha sido uno de los más grandes fotógrafos de la historia, como queda demostrado en esta imagen, al igual que en muchísimas otras hechas por él en España y diferentes países por todo el mundo en sus 22 años de carrera como fotógrafo profesional.

Nos hallamos ante un fotoperiodista de guerra de altísimo nivel y un formidable instinto natural para la fotografía de damnificados por conflictos bélicos desde una insólita proximidad y con gran discreción, que para hacer esta fotografía se aproxima desde la derecha y no de modo perpendicular, con mucho respeto hacia las personas fotografiadas, intentando por todos los medios no obstruir su marcha en condiciones tan penosas y dramáticas, ya que se trata de seres humanos que han abandonado sus hogares y todo su pasado.

Capa realiza el disparo prácticamente a bocajarro, desde unos 2 metros de distancia, sorprendiéndoles sin ser detectado en el momento en que crea la imagen, algo de extrema dificultad en un contexto como éste, disparando desde tan sumamente cerca, aprovechando en su fase inicial de aproximación desde la derecha el hecho de que el cuerpo del chico de unos 9 años más próximo a la cámara ubicado a la derecha evita que la madre con su de aproximadamente año y medio de edad que lleva zapatos y el muchacho que camina a su lado (probablemente su hijo mayor) le vean antes de hacer la foto.

Además, Capa se ha dado cuenta también, pocos segundos antes, de que la mujer al frente del grupo avanza enormemente preocupada por la seguridad de su niña pequeña de aproximadamente 1 año de edad que va semidesnuda, por lo que está ensimismada y no mira a la cámara, al igual que la otra madre desenfocada con su hijo pequeño de alrededor de año y medio de edad, vestido de blanco y calzado con zapatos visible al fondo, que mira hacia adelante y el chico del fondo a la derecha con rictus de cansancio y calor y que mira a la derecha de Capa, sin detectar tampoco a éste.
                                    © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

b) Esta extraordinaria fotografía es un gran ejemplo del arquetipo de imagen Leica fotoperiodística de los años treinta, cuarenta y cincuenta, en la que el enfoque no es perfecto al 100%, (un aspecto estudiado en profundidad por Michael Auer y explicado en muchas de sus conferencias), debido a la gran velocidad de trabajo por parte de los fotógrafos con las cámaras mirrorless de formato 24 x 36 mm más pequeñas de la historia: las Leica telemétricas de montura de rosca con objetivos Leitz también de muy pequeño tamaño y peso en proporción con las cámaras y que fueron utilizadas durante los años treinta, cuarenta y cincuenta (la época dorada del fotoperiodismo a nivel mundial) con gran pericia por fotógrafos de la talla de Ilse Bing, Tim Gidal, Erich Salomon, Walter Bosshard, Alexander Rodchenko, Arthur Rothstein, André Kertész, Lotte Jacobi, Otto Umbehr "Umbo", Izis, Harald Lechenperg, Dr. Paul Wolff, Kurt Hutton, Balkin, E.P. Hahn, Felix H.Mann, Wolfgang Weber,  David Seymour "Chim", Tom McAvoy, Agustí Centelles, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Werner Bischof, George Rodger, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Douglas Duncan, Peter Stackpole, Willy Rudge, Ed van der Elsken, Ludwig Schricker, Walther Benser, Dr. Otto Steinert, Martin Muncaksi, Yevgeni Khaldei, Peter Magubane y otros.

c) Además de fijar en el tiempo a los habitantes de Cerro Muriano a los que dignifica y hace que pervivan en el recuerdo durante su huida del pueblo para escapar de las bombas de la aviación franquista, la imagen sintetiza

                                     © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

la gran simbiosis operativa en manos de Robert Capa entre la Leica II (Model D) telemétrica de 35 mm con objetivos intercambiables creada por Oskar Barnack (una obra maestra de precisión, cuyas diminutas dimensiones, ausencia de espejo basculante, obturador mecánico con cortinillas de seda engomada que es una maravilla de ingeniería y ruido casi imperceptible, fueron obra del gran ingeniero y experto alemán en mecánica de Leitz Wetzlar, Alemania)

                                     © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

y el objetivo Leitz Elmar de 4 elementos en 3 grupos y esquema óptico triplete Cooke modificado diseñado por Professor Max Berek, que consigue una notable resolución incluso a plena abertura, aunque el viñeteado aparece inevitablemente en la foto hecha a f/3.5, potenciando todavía más la característica y bella estética vintage propia de las fotografías de esta época hechas con emulsiones de blanco y negro de muy baja sensibilidad y que contenían grandes cantidades de haluros de plata.

Por otra parte, esta fotografía ha sido recortada verticalmente en su zona izquierda (obsérvese la ausencia de viñeteado en la esquina superior izquierda de la imagen, que ha de existir en el negativo original Eastman Kodak Nitrate Panchromatic cinematográfico formato 24 x 36 mm con aspect ratio 2;3 y sensibilidad Weston 32, equivalente a aproximadamente ISO 40), que incluye más aire a la izquierda, ya que Csiki Weisz, el laboratorista y gran amigo de Capa en París que revelaba sus rollos de película de blanco y negro de 35 mm, solía hacer copias en papel fotográfico recortando parte de la imagen original hasta dejarla en una proporción 4:3 o incluso 4:5 similar a los negativos de 4 x 5 ", que eran los aspect ratios que mejor se ajustaban a la maquetación de texto y fotos en las mejores revistas ilustradas de la época, sin olvidar el hecho frecuente de que cuando se trataba de las publicaciones más prestigiosas, se enviaban con frecuencia — por insólito que pueda parecer hoy en día — los negativos originales de las fotografías, que eran muchas veces reencuadradas y reproducidas con los mencionados aspect ratios en las páginas de las revistas. desea expresar su agradecmiento a Antiquariat Frank Albrecht Schriesheim (Alemania) por la confianza depositada en nosotros, así como su sensibilidad y comprensión de la obra de Robert Capa en la Historia de la Fotografía Mundial.

© Texto y Fotos Indicadas José Manuel Serrano Esparza. Inscrito en el Registro Territorial de la Propiedad Intelectual de Madrid.

sábado, 9 de julio de 2016


Enea Entati, one of the foremost restaurators of classic Ducati motorcycles in the world, featuring a experience of more than fifty years in his trade, holds an amazing unit of the Ducati 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine manufactured in 1949 and currently in excellent cosmetic condition and perfect working state, which has been painstakingly preserved by Ducati throughout 77 years.

In 1948 (two years after the introduction into market of the original 48 cc Cucciolo 1, designed by Aldo Farinelli and Aldo Leoni as a four-stroke with over head valves, two speed gears and chain drive small engine to be attached to pedal bicycles and which sold well from 1946, manufactured by Ducati under S.I.A.T.A — Società Italiana Auto Trasformazioni Accesori, based in Turin— licence, at a period in which vast majority of the other clip-on engine assemblies from other brands were mostly two strokes), Ducati decided to utterly redesign the Cucciolo 1, creating the Cucciolo T2 engine. designed by the Chief Engineer Giovanni Fiorio and the first project tackled by Ducati in the motorcycle engine sphere, that featured a number of advantages over its predecessor:

- A modified cylinder head.

- The oil filters are in a different position.

- A more stalwart structure of both metallic components and assembly groups.

- A more accessible drive mechanism.

- A superior powerplant performance.

- A raised rating.

- A revamping of the single cylinder, which was made removable.

- An increase in power.

- The engine was cantilevered.

- The crankcase splits in a different way.

- A first-string reliability in comparison to the Cucciolo T1 that was a bit temperamental and sometimes suffered from overheating.

Enea Entati grabbing the Ducati 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine unit made in 1949 beside Gianfranco Zappoli, Head of the Ducati Office of Mechanical Works and a world class authority in bike engines mechanics and motion physics along with the energy aspects related to the transformations involving thermal phenomena in engine operation. Gianfranco Zappoli has worked in Ducati for 43 years and features more than thirty years of experience in the production departments of Ducati. He is presently the Secretary of the Ducati Historical Register and likewise a remarkable expert in motorcycle engine efficiency resulting in less consumption, as well as having implemented a very important and praiseworthy teaching labour as a Technical Head of the Ducati Physics Laboratory in Moto.

Emotions run high while Enea Entati (collaborator of Ducati Group as a skilfull restaurator of classic and vintage Ducati motorcycles), Giuliano Golinelli (avid Ducati motorcyclist boasting an experience of twenty years as a restaurator specialized in Scrambler models as well as being a Ducati collaborator in the historical register), Gianfranco Zappoli (in Ducati since 1973, when he began as a worker until becoming plant engineer and subsequently turning into an internationally recognized authority in motorcycle engines efficiency, being at present Head of the Ducati Office of Mechanical Works and Technical Head of the Ducati Physics Laboratory in Moto, in addition to being a frequent guide in the tours to the Ducati Borgo Panigale factory in Bolonia), 
Gianluigi Mengoli (Director of Ducati Research and Dvelopment and current Honorary President of the Ducati Historical Register, father of the Desmoquattro powerhouse along with Massimo Bordi and designer of many of the most famous powerplants for Ducati bikes, among them the mythical 90-degree V-Twin Ducati Pantah with the genius Fabio Taglioni in 1976, the Desmoquattro Ducati 851 — which pioneered the use of four valve heads, liquid cooling and computerized fuel injection in the company´s twin cylinder engines— and Ducati 888 engines in 1987 and 1991 respectively, with the Desmoquattro valvetrain concept bringing about a four valve per cylinder engine working through desmodromic valves in synergy with cams opening and closing them, with four rockers placed between the camshafts to improve the port design and with which Ducati would start its halcyon days in SBK, managing to win the record figure of 15 Superbike World Championships between 1990 and 2011, the Monster 1000 Dark and 1000 S engines in 2003 with increased power and optimized cooling as defining parameters, being nowadays the greatest authority on desmodromic valve control systems and efficient combustion chambers and one of the most relevant personalities in Ducati History, together with Mario Recchia, Fabio Taglioni, Franco Farné, Massimo Bordi, Massimo Tamburini, Pierre Terblanche, Miguel Galluzzi, Giandrea Fabbro, the Ducati living encyclopedia Livio Lodi, etc), Giuseppe Di Marco (in Ducati since 1976 and a man who saved a lot of corporate historical material in all sectors), and Isa Baraldi (Enea Entati´s wife and also a Ducati heartfelt enthusiast) pose for the camera with the Cucciolo T2 engine.

The gorgeous 48 cc Cucciolo T2 engine, a masterpiece of engineering precision and miniaturization, which already in late forties and early fifties epitomized the love for the product, optimized performance and obsession for perfection that has since then been Ducati´s raison d´etre. On top we can see the valve operating rods painted in black, the intake being grasped by Enea Entati, and behind it are the crankcase cylinder and cylinder head, both of them made with aluminium alloy and heavily finned for efficient cooling. The cylinder is detachable from the crankcase, which simplifies the inspection, decarbonizing, valve grinding and reboring. 

And in the lower area of the cylinder runs the three-ring aluminium piston — here in down position — with oil scraper ring (inside an iron sleeve onto which the alloy finning of the cylinder is diecast), linked by a steel connecting rod running on needle rollers to the crankpin, which is held between two cranks running on ball-bearings. 

Enea Entati making the three-ring aluminium piston go to its up position in the lower area of the cylinder.

On its turn, the middle and lower area of this side of the Cucciolo T2 engine is occupied by the crankcase (complete with bearing races, washers and tapped guides) and reveals the two-speed gearbox system transmitting the primary drive from the crankshaft pinion through the cam driving gear to the multiple metal plate clutch, then through the mainshaft gear pinions to the lay shaft pinions, with the inner end of the lay shaft being the bearing spindle for the single profile cam and the cam gear, and the outer end of the key shaft passes through the crankcase casting and carries the driving sprocket. This way, the two cogwheels visible are the driven sprockets for first speed and second speed.

This wise and visionary entrepreneurial decision by Ducati of designing the new Cucciolo T2, strongly inspired by the Cucciolo 1 and its two-speed gearbox drawing the full potential of the powerhouse and primary transmission by gears, but providing the aforementioned highly significant upgradings, proved to be a key movement for the future of the brand,

The conspicuous international sales success of the Cucciolo T2 engine, enabled Ducati to get the necessary prestige and cash flow to grow as a firm within the motorcycle scope and deal with more projects and the creation and manufacturing of new increasingly better models of bikes until getting an exceedingly far-reaching influence in the worldwide market, specially since the introduction of two state-of-the-art bikes designed by Fabio Taglioni: the Ducati 250 twin-cylinder Desmo in 1960 (with which Mike Hailwood made the fastest lap at Silverstone circuit, reaching a speed of 147 km/h) and the Ducati 750 GT bike (with desmodromic 90º V-Twin engine and round crankcase), followed in 1979 by the Pantah 500 which inaugurated the use of engines featuring toothed belts instead of the classical bevel gear powerplants of the previous Ducati motorcycles.
since sales skyrocketed not only in Italy but also in other worldwide countries where as early as 1949 the Cucciolo T2 began to be imported by foreign firms in United Kingdom (imported by Britax), France (built under Ducati licence by M. Rocher, as well as being offered by other firms like Alliot Bergerac Dordogne, Breton Baby Moto in Saint Etienne, Elvish Fontan in Pau, Foucas et Rochas in Toulouse, Gottfried Mulhouse in Haute-Rhin, and even the prestigious French firm Productions AGF sold its own top class Le Poulain moped in two configurations: with its own engine for a price of 55,500 francs and with the Cucciolo T2 engine adapted for 66,500 francs, for those customers craving for the best possible performance, speed, reliability in every weather condition and the lowest fuel consumption, without forgetting the major fact that the French manufacturer of top quality bicycles M. Zwang offered its push-bicycles with attached Cucciolos T2 engines between 1950 and 1955 ), United States (with massive sales in New York City), Australia (whose first Ducati importer was Rene Joseph Bregozzo with his firm R.J. Breg & Co in Sydney, and with other major importers like Nock & Kirby´s Ltd in Sydney, Mayfairs in Brisbane, W.J.Lucas Ltd. in Perth, Eddys Ltd. in Adelaide), Argentina (imported by Mario Franchini). Czechoslovakia ( imported by Jaroslav Juhan ) and others, in which the Cucciolo T2 engine attached to different bicycles became an exceedingly versatile means of transport both as a daily workhorse or to travel between villages and cities, with an incredibly low fuel consumption and ease of handling.

Another view of the 48 cc Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine unit from 1949 showing on top of it the induction pipe protruding on the left, the valves operating rods painted in black, the crankcase cylinder, the cylinder and head with valve guides, the exhaust pipe painted in black colour and coming out of the round outlet located in the external middle zone of the cylinder, and under it the crankcase complete with bearing races, washers and tappet guides. The massive presence of first-rate aluminium alloy and the great mechanizing and polishing of the metal in different sections and components confer this engine an unutterable timeless beauty and vintage appearance.

The British specialized motorcycling magazines recognized the superior level of engineering, reliability, fuel efficiency (1 litre/100 km !), quality of materials, maximum speed of 40 km/h and top-notch mechanizing of the Cucciolo T2 and hailed it as the best cycle attachment engine in the world.

The international success of the single cylinder 1.5 H.P at 5.500 rpm Cucciolo T2 engine was so big that Ducati also launched into market a 2 H.P sporting version, able to reach a top speed of 60 km/h.

Therefore, the 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 featuring a bore x stroke of 39 mm x 40 mm was considered to be the Rolls-Royce of the auxiliary motor units for pedal bicycles, a real masterpiece of greatly handcrafted precision, reliability and power, to such an extent that it was used replacing the not very good cyclemotors engines of the time like the ones sported by the elegant British made Phillips motorized cyclemotors and being attached to their frames.

Besides, the 48 cc Cucciolo T2 engine also gained a deserved international fame thanks to feats like:

- The victory of the Ducati pilot Mario Recchia in the Viareggio Circuit race on February 15, 1947, with a Cucciolo engine adapted to a bicycle.

- The world record of speed in the 50 c.c category achieved by the Italian pilots Tamarozzi and Zitelli in Monza Circuit in 1950.

- The travel in Australia in which Rene Joseph Bregozzo rode 631 miles on a Cucciolo T2 attached to an Advance push-bicycle from Sydney to Melbourne with only 2 3/4 gallons of gasoline.

- The world record of uninterrupted march with 48 cc engines, working flawlessly for 47 hours and 10 minutes, attained at the sports facilities of Ferrocarril Oeste, Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1949.

- In late 1949, a bicycle with a 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine won the Australian Tour of the West A class competition, covering 1050 miles within the inner New South Wales State between the towns of Dubbo, Narromine, Tullamore, Peak Hill, Parkes, Forbes, Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow, Capertee, Kandos, Mudgee, Dinedoo and Mendooran, on gruelling roads filled with creeks, ridges and irregular ground without any problem and less than 4 gallons of petrol.

- In January of 1950, Ernesto Che Guevara made his first travel across Argentina after attaching a 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine to his bicycle, going from Buenos Aires to San Francisco (Córdoba), Córdoba capital, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Salta, Catamarca and La Rioja, and coming back to Buenos Aires across San Juan, Mendoza and San Luis, it all without any powerplant failure.

Detail of the timing system of the 48 cc Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine where we can see the pull rods and superior arms that in symbiosis with the inferior arms make the tiny overhead two valves (placed just under the valves springs)

work with amazing accuracy, setting up a system in which the valves are driven through linkage and rocker arm.

Here is an enlargement of the sturdy springs of both valves, which are located under them. The valve timing features a clearance of 6/1000th of an inch between valve stems and operating arms, in such a way that the inlet valve opens between 5 degrees and 15 degrees before top dead center and closes between 25 degrees and 30 degrees after bottom dead center, whereas the exhaust valve opens between 45 degrees and 35 degrees before bottom dead center and closes between 0 degrees and 20 degrees after top dead center, always understanding that in a four-stroke engine inlet timing accuracy is more important than exhaust timing, because the outgoing gases look after themselves, albeit the Cucciolo T2 features a very good mechanism of two cams fixed in relation to each other that makes both exhaust timing and inlet timing work like a charm.

The 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine meant an innovation in the field of motorcycles, because nobody had ever before had the dazzling idea of applying a propulsion motor to a bicycle.

And from a historical viewpoint, it is a wonder of traditional mechanics featuring incredibly smooth start and halt thanks to its prime multiple metal plate clutch running in oil bath in the crankcase, besides delivering awesome performance and reliability for such a small and light powerplant (its weight was 8 kg) and being so simple to operate, with just two levers, a  very well devised gear transmission system substantially rooted in Leonardo da Vinci´s 1490 stepless continuously variable transmission concept, the throttle and clutch making work the powerful 2-speed gears and foolproof automatic change.

Furthermore, its positive chain drive resulted in no extra wear in tyres, ensuring maximum power and positive non-slip traction, with the added benefit of avoiding any wobble once the Cuccilo micromotor was fitted to the cycle bottom btacket, so perfect balance was retained.

Glittering aspect of the induction pipe of the 48 cc Ducati Cucciolo engine. The mechanizing, polishing and overall finishing of this aluminium component — as in the rest of pieces — is really superb and particularly noticeable on the lower left area of the image in the gasket for joining the intake to the carburetter body (kept apart, in the same way as the flywheel magneto lighting system at 6 volts, 12 watts), with a stunning allure of the aluminium alloy as a noble metal boasting a great aesthetic gloss. The small dents are fruit of the 67 years elapsed and the inevitable bumps.

The single-cylinder four-stroke 48 cc Cucciolo T2 engine features a maximum power of 1.5 HP at 5.500 rpm and bore x stroke of 39 x 40 mm and proved to be an important tool in late forties and early fifties to solve the transport needs of many people in the five continents, in an exceedingly cheap and practical way, transforming their bikes in motorcycles, and any person was able to adapt this micromotor to his / her push-bike using pliers and a screwdriver. 

In addition, its four-stroke nature makes that no oil has to be mixed with fuel, since engine lubrication is fully independent and automatic, so refuelling is simple and fast.

On the other hand, the Cucciolo T2 sports chain transmission. This way, the bicycle chain is used for the drive, which reduces wear on tires to a minimum and prevents wheel-spokes from braking and any possible twisting of frame, as well as featuring a two-speed preselection gearbox whose ratio enables to negotiate uphill gradients up to 18% at speed without the aid of pedals, with the adequate back sprocket ratio.

It also excels in its efficient cooling provided by a number of slots and fins where the airflow is maximum.

Back view of the 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine crankcase, where can be seen the two cogwheels working as driven sprockets for 1st and 2nd speeds, and above them, slightly on the right, through the crankcase hole, we can watch the layshaft with its adjustable steel selector fork.attached to a rod, whose movement in and out has the mission of selecting the gears. And the driving sprocket, carried by the layshaft, has fourteen teeth engaging the chain. A fixed-type back wheel sprocket with from 17 to 21 teeth could be used, with the 17 toothed higher ratio sprocket being ideal for general level road use, while lower ratios were more adequate for hilly places or for heavy riders.

And whenever it was put through its paces, the Cucciolo T2 engine performed seamless, whether in streets, normal roads, A-class races or hillclimbs, thanks to its four-stroke torque qualities that begot a major advantage over the two-stroke powerplants of the contending bikes from other brands.

Longitudinal back view of the 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine, a prodigy of engineering for the time and a riveting sight for any observer. The beauty, innovative design and breakthrough performance of this jewel of the motorcycle mechanics and Italian ingenuity was the first step of the mythical Ducati motorcycling path that would yield in future a host of world-class performance bikes in the single cylinder (Ducati Supermono from 1993) and 90º V-Twin desmodromic (Ducati 888 from 1991 and Ducati 916 from 1994) fields alike, with their fabulous Desmoquattro engines.

Moreover, the smaller than normal multi disc clutch of the Cucciolo T2 results in a quicker acceleretaion and deceleration of this engine, in such a way that you can drive the motorized bicycle deeper into the turns and have the powerplant rpm drop quickly, and on accelerating out of a turn, the engine is able to reach peak rpm faster than with a heavier clutch, and the reduction on discs diameter is compensated by the greatly increased total area of the surfices provided by the multiple discs to hold maximum feasible power, gaining smoother engagement and attaining even more force. 

Ducati Cucciolo bicycle petrol tank with capacity for two litres and an autonomy of 200 km, with the added bonus of an automatic reserve supply always available from the right lower part of the tank, which should the machine run out of petrol, a slant of the bicycle to its left side would transfer this extra fuel to the tap side, allowing another 5 or 10 miles running of the 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine.

Cucciolo T2 engine attached to an original Ducati Cucciolo bicycle. Now the powerplant is complete with the crankcase cover, the magneto flywheel with the word Cucciolo engraved on it, the carburettor body with Weber 14 MFC on the right of the induction pipe, and the exhaust pipe with low pressure silencer on the right of the lower area of the crankcase cover. 

Detail of the magneto flywheel, whose mission is making the ignition rotating at 1/1 ratio with the crankshaft and also to produce 6 volts electric current through its lighting coil when the engine is running, enabling the illumination of both the bright headlight and tail light thanks to its 12 watts generator.

Detail of the small tank for lubrication, with a capacity of half a litre of oil carried in the bottom of the crankcase.

Aerial view of the Cucciolo T2 engine attached to the frame of the original Ducati Cucciolo bicycle.

Detail of the Weber carburettor with 14 mm choke of the Cucciolo T2 engine. It features a single lever automatic operation and is flange fitted to the induction pipe. Two jets ensure easy starting, smooth running and economy at all engine speeds. The carburettor has two adjustment screws: A to adjust the ratio of petrol to air for idling mixture and previously adjusted at the factory for normal running, and B, which is simply a stop to prevent the full closing of the butterfly valve and makes possible that the speed of idling can be adjusted.

© Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza