October of 1967. Twenty-five years have elapsed since the premiere of Casablanca in New York starring Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henreid.
The mythical Swedish actress, one of the greatest in the whole history of cinema, is on holiday in New York with her third husband the Swedish theatrical producer Lars Schmidt.
Both of them are walking across Madison Avenue holding their hands.
Lisl Steiner, an experienced photojournalist working for Keystone Press Agency and Pix Agency in New York has just seen them utterly by chance, from a distance of around ten meters.
She does know that she will have to manage to approach as much as possible to get pictures of them without being detected.
Ingrid Bergman and Lars Schmidt keep on advancing and have just crossed under the awning of the Publick House restaurant.
Adrenaline rushes. Lisl, who is grabbing her camera as low as possible to foster discretion, realizes it is virtually impossible to approach more without being seen. Both of them are already at a very short distance from her.
Suddenly, the couple slows down their walking.
They are now beginning to pass by the shop window of Essex Arts H. & E. Engel, a plush antique, silverware, porcelain and classic furniture boutique located in this area of Manhattan.
Lars Schmidt stares at an old piece of furniture with some china jars and a sculpture with two animals made in marble, while Ingrid Bergman watches different silver objects placed on the lower area of the shop window.
© Lisl Steiner
Lisl Steiner, who has her Leica M2 in hyperfocal and with Kodak Tri-X ASA 400 black and white film, shoots at 1/45 sec and f/11 without being detected, surprising both spouses.
The timing is perfect and she captures them with their feet very near the lower border of the frame while they look through the shop window. Each one has got the left foot leaned on the ground, while the right one in movement appears tremulous and slightly out of focus because of the slow shutter speed used.
Just an instant later, Lars Schmidt and Ingrid Bergman stop to behold the various items of the shop window more calmly and in greater detail.
In spite of the huge proximity, the photographer (who has modified her position with respect to the previous picture and is now behind the large glass of the shop window which makes up the corner with the adjacent one through which Lars Schmidt and Ingrid Bergman are peering) remains being unnoticed, since the couple is deeply engrossed gazing at the shop window.
Lisl is now almost at point blank range, at a distance of approximately 2.5 meters, with an even greater risk than before of being seen. And if that happens, a possible second picture wouldn´t be worth.
But she knows that perhaps she will be able to make them a further photograph before they walk past the corner, endures the pressure and once again waits for the suitable moment, which arrives when Lars Schmidt points out with his finger to Ingrid Bergmann an object that has caught his eye.
© Lisl Steiner
Lisl shoots once more at identical shutter speed and diaphragm and gets her second picture.
© Text and Indicated Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
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