I got to borrow a Hasselblad 500c!
Shooting with the Hasselblad is other-worldly. In fact, modified Hasselblads were the Apollo mission cameras used on the moon.
Everything I know about cameras has culminated into a comfort with this amazing camera. It takes 120 film, with 12 photographs per roll, each negative image measuring 6cm x 6cm. 35mm film is 2.4cm x 3.6cm, so medium format is substantially larger. I have written a lot about 4x5 cameras, too, a negative size of a whopping 10.2cm x 12.7cm. The Hasselblad is a luxury camera and a thrill to hold and shoot. Preparing to shoot with this camera eclipsed my excitement of the pickup of my 35mm film. These were only the second round of full-manual film rolls for me; the first color negative I’ve shot with any confidence.
In a very neat twist, while at camera shop, a fellow came up and walked me through shooting with the Hasselblad. It was none other than Zeb Andrews, himself lately a passionate Hasselblad shooter. He gave me the most perfect 5 minutes holding the 500C I could hope for. Check out his photostream. Also, Mat Marrash of the Film Photography Podcast was very helpful when I wrote to him about my (short-term) dream come true. It was only August, or maybe late July when I started to think about medium format and specifically Hasselblad.
I picked up a bunch of Portra film because I thought I was going to shoot a concert. I have heard good things about that film and loaded up one back with asa800, and the other with asa400. It was hard to contain my enthusiasm, and yet, what to shoot? I had the best intentions to see a concert on Friday night, but unfortunately I caught a cold. I shot a few frames of downtown Camas. And then I rested.
Saturday morning, after a long rest, I retraced some of my own first steps in the region on accident. I turned to ditch a tailgater, who followed me anyway. I ended up at Lacamas Lake. The clouds broke and could see a worthy composition for the asa400 film back.
Above: The Nikon P6000 is ready for retirement; nothing seems to be in focus.
Shooting with the 500c is a meditation in elegance and craftsmanship. It is without peer for cameras I’ve used. I made some indulgent self-portraits to document the occasion.
The light was incredible on Sunday morning. I was so under the weather that I didn’t get on the road until noon. I could see the haze starting to envelop the region, but undeterred. I went to the coast on Highway 6. There were some wonderful snowy and forested scenes passing by as I rushed to the edge of the continent. My thinking was that I knew how to shoot at the sea.
I was wrong.
Sometimes I photograph things that give me the creeps. Anyway, once I got to the ocean at Pacific City via Sandlake road, it was a silver gray sky above, and quite a lot of people on the ground. I stopped immediately arriving at the edge, and moments later the Coast Guard helicopter blew by.
On the long drive I had time to think. Recently I have been saying a few things about photography: I like the act of taking the picture. I like looking at life as if through a camera, that any moment may be magic. The pictures themselves are secondary, though ironically, become primary in this format. Sometimes photographing a new place is filled with zeal and enthusiasm, particularly on occasions that the light is special. Lately things have seemed overwhelming with light that is rarely good, or not really being tuned into it and free to go shoot. I will have to change that, and it brings me (finally) to my point: it is hard to recon a busy, people-filled new area. I think of Ansel Adams, who was usually intimately familiar with the areas he shot, and was very much after certain images.
I take this photographs to keep practicing my framing; to keep seeing what is before me as a photograph. With such nice cameras now in my keep, the refinement of subjects and light will keep my image count lowering. I drove all the way to the beach, about 120 miles one way, and with all of my cameras, shot maybe 20 frames in total. I should have taken more if only to document the miles.
As I once elaborated, the journey is the destination. I look forward to preparing scans from my 35mm images in the coming week!
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