It’s been about 1 month since I purchased my Hasselblad 500 C/M and I finally have something to show for my efforts. When they say “3rd time’s the charm” maybe it is true. This was my third roll. The first two were in color, as was the fourth and I haven’t really even cracked into looking at them yet.
I think it is worth talking about how different it is processing a film scan versus digital RAW file. Film is different. Film is smooth. Film has years of expertise baked into how it is going to react to light. When I process a digital RAW file it is too easy to go beyond reality. I only need one weak lapse in judgement to push a slider too far – and there are so many sliders. I have no background in how light works from a physical perspective or the special properties of light sensitive silver gelatin. Only me, my two eyeballs, my screen, and that gray matter between my ears that too easily seeks stimulation over subtlety.
When I worked with my film scans, the tones were set. The tonal relationships were set. Sure, I could push the pixles around a little – a bit more contrast, a dodge here, a burn there – but the scanned file didn’t posses that Gumby-like elasticity of a RAW file that allows us to morph our image (almost) to infinity and beyond. Instead, the film engineers are our guides with a century of so of expertise painstakingly refined to respond just right to the light. Dashed are those thrill-seeking voices in my head.
Then there is the view of the camera. Medium format is different. My one and only lens is an 80mm focal length. When we shoot with our nifty dSLRs, we are used to thinking about the compression and field of view of an 80mm lens – whether on a full-frame or cropped. Only in Medium Format 80mm gives you the field of view of 50mm (in 35mm land) and 25mm (in micro four-thirds land), but the compression is different. The perspective is different. It is more accurate to think about a 35mm frame to be a cropped version of a Medium Format frame (and remember, Medium Format is just a cropped version of 4×5, etc…) And yes, today we have good rectilinear corrected lenses but the compression is different. The feel is different. The expansiveness is different. And it is this expansiveness that peaked my interest in Medium Format to begin with. The fact that I’m shooting film was pure economics (who can afford those digital backs?) – until now that I see the results.
Here I present my first of 4 images of Disney Hall in Los Angeles. A beautiful elegant building with trademark Frank Gehry styling. Each image will be posted separately, because each image deserves its own page.
Hasselblad 500 C/M, 80mm, Ilford Delta 100