This month was dizzying. Due to family emergencies (now mostly resolved), I was called home from my workshop with Sam Abell before it even begun. I did, however manage a couple of nice images up in Whidbey the night I landed while explored the local neighborhood. While this same emergency kept me more than busy for most of the month, somewhere during this time I managed two outings to downtown LA and to explore using my new, to me, medium format Hasselblad film camera. (Medium format uses film that is 6 centimeters high, or 2 1/4 inches, but vary in their aspect ratio including 6×6, 6×4.5, 6×7, 6×9, and 6×17 panoramic.)
I’m shooting film, not because I want to shoot film, but because I want to explore the perspective of medium format. I call it looking at a larger chunk of the world. I’ll try to explain. Instead of thinking about effective focal length with a multiplying of the actual focal length by a crop-factor, think instead about the actual focal length. 80mm is 80mm. 80mm is the distance over which your lens brings the light rays into focus. An 80mm lens has a certain look with respect to perspective and compression – no matter what sensor you put it against. The size of your sensor doesn’t change the perspective, the size of your sensor (err film plane) only changes the size of your window into the scene. Or as I put it in less technical terms, the size of your chuck of the world.
As I shoot film, and look for others shooting film, I notice the same syndrome as with digital. There is a lot of junk out there. At first this surprised me. Shooting digital is certainly easier (for me) than shooting film. If you are just going to take snapshots, why do it in film? But this doesn’t stop with just film shooters. Every photo gimmick – iPhone, Instagram, pinhole, lens baby, motion blur, toy cameras, tilt shift, and film – have people who are doing serious work and other people who are riding the cache of the gimmick to somehow prove that they are working harder or having more fun or just better because they use the gimmick.
So I am setting off on my quest to shoot medium format, I am using film, and I promise – I promise – to shoot film on my cool vintage Hasselblad 500 C/M medium format camera to make some seriously elegant work. That’s my plan.
Hasselblad 500 C/M, 80mm, Ilford Delta 100.