While many move toward carrying only an iPhone or small, mirrorless system, I’ve been thinking bigger.
A Hasselblad is big enough on its own, but add a prism finder, longer lens, and that big awkward flash unit and it becomes downright unwieldy. It’s also awesome. Most of my favorite images from recent years are from the Hasselblads. I blame the Zeiss lenses. I love the look they produce and have yet to find anything matching it.
The flash, a Hasselblad D-Flash 40, is a recent addition. With the 503CXi body, it’s fully TTL and meters directly off the film. This means getting a decent exposure every time without doing much of anything. I just set the camera to f8 and 125th second and shoot.
This is terrific for shooting indoors. I just don’t have the eye or the hands for handheld natural-light shooting indoors. I’ve always preferred natural-light photography, but using the Hasselblad handheld with an on-camera flash creates a different look, and I’m learning to enjoy it.
Carrying around a Hasselblad and flash unit makes for a cumbersome kit.
See what I mean? It’s a monster. Shooting handheld with a big camera in natural indoor light makes for a nearly impossible situation. Using a flash dramatically reduces the number of blown shots and with medium format film the higher the hit rate the better.
While the rig is bulky, it’s also dead simple to use. The Hasselblad 503CXi offers TTL metering when used with the D-Flash 40 so the whole thing ends up being sort of a giant point-and-shoot. I just set the shutter speed to 1/60 and the aperture to f/8, focus and shoot.
B&H has discounted one of the most ridiculed cameras in recent memory, the Hasselbad Stellar. Originally selling for $3,299, the Stellar isn’t something a sane person would buy. At $999 in a nicely accessorized and boxed special edition? Almost.
I love my Hasselblad film cameras and would love them even more if I could drop a digital back on them. The new CFV-50c looks like just the ticket. Now, if I only had an extra $15,000 around here somewhere. Still, wouldn’t it be cool to shoot digitally with a camera from the 60s?
What I usually say is that I just don’t care for photographs using artificial light (flash). What I usually mean, however, is that I just don’t understand how to use flash to make interesting photographs. Basically, it’s a copout.
I’m slowly trying to change that.
The above image of Zim was taken with a new (to me) Hasselblad 503CXi and the Hasselblad D-Flash 40. Not terribly convenient, but with simple TTL operation I can get some practice without having to over-think everything. The rig looks like this…
Yes, it’s a monster. I’m probably going to need a proper bracket, but for now this works. I still may not know how to make an interesting image using Flash, but it’s not going to be for lack of trying.
It seems like I post a photo of one or more of my dogs every week. This is not because I think my dogs are especially interesting or photogenic (although they are that,) but rather it’s because I can’t think of anything else to photograph.
Some days I walk around the house or neighborhood looking for things that might make interesting photos. Nothing. Then I play with the dogs. They’re so energetic and fun that I’m reminded how much I enjoy photographing them. Out comes the camera. Yesterday, it was the Hasseblad, which is the worst camera I own for taking photos anything that moves, but I still love the way it renders.
Spending time with a copy of Edward Weston: Life Work has been inspiring. I’m normally not interested in still life photography, but Weston’s photos are so good and the book’s reproductions are so well-done that I’m thinking still life is worth considering.
Above is the result of deliberately setting up a “scene,” fixing the Hasselblad atop a tripod, and carefully metering before each exposure. I normally do none of those, so this is new to me.
It’s no Pepper No. 30 but it does nicely document a pair of shoes I wore for years, and which I bought under duress from my daughter, who at the time was still thinking she could make me cooler.
The Hasselblad can be a pain in the ass to use. Focusing on a moving subject is impossible, and unless I’m using the prism finder, everything in the viewfinder is backwards. I swear a lot when using it.
On the other hand, I just love the way the Zeiss lenses render. And I love the square format.