One Roll of Film…what an amazing concept…simple, clear and without fluff….in the words of Zach Arias it would be all signal and no noise! It is the name of a photography project which is brilliantly filmed on YouTube below.
If you follow this blog you know that I have been having a particular desire to return to film…my photography actually began in the digital world but I still remember shooting my father’s Olympus OM-1. He was kind enough to give it to me so I have been learning how to shoot with film.
Everything was going well until a fateful morning on the Charles Bridge in Prague. On this particular morning there was a great deal of fog and there was a line of photographers taking some pictures of the amazing view. We were happily clicking away, enjoying the harmony of all the electronic beeps, chirps and clicks of the digital cameras when a thunder clap silenced it all. We all turned to each other and all eyes fell on a Hasselblad 500.
The proud owner of this camera had set up a solid tripod and considered his shot quietly as the other twenty photographers fired away. But when he pressed his shutter the sound that carried over the damp bridge, down to the cold water below and all around us was mesmerizing. It was as if all these young children were playing around and the grandfather walked in to teach them all how it is done. I was in love…
As soon as I got home I looked up the Hasselblad 500 and fell in love with it. A couple of days before leaving Prague I walked into a photography store and saw one laying there. It was made in 1989 and came with a digital prism/light-meter attached to it. The camera looked to be in good shape and the shutter seemed to work well. So I dropped a rather sizable chunk of cash and walked out with a medium formate Hasselblad 500cm and a couple of rolls of film.
If you watch the video you see one of the photographers that walked the streets of Hong Kong for six hours to shoot 12 exposures! On digital I would fire through 12 shots in about 30 minutes and think nothing of it. These guys are exhausted, having drained all their energy into the creative process of shooting the best 12 exposures they could.
The camera is all mechanical (no batteries to worry about) and it has a double shutter, one in the back and another one in the lens. This is what gives it the classic thump, thud sound. The film is loaded on a cartridge in the back which allows you to switch from one type of film to another mid roll. This is great is you have different ISO films you can alter based on the amount of light you have.
Everything feels solid, with the right tension on all the knobs and pressing the shutter is like firing a missile. It is a heavy camera, especially with the prism on top. I will need to find a used waist level viewfinder to really get the feel of the camera.
I tried to burn through one roll of film while in Prague in order to come home and go straight to processing. The day we were leaving I still had six exposures left to take so I went out in the rain and burned them. The goal was just to test to see if the camera was working, if there was any light leaking into the film cartridge and finally to make sure that I loaded the film properly.
The shot above was one of my first images with this camera and I am thrilled with the results. I am leaving the boarder in the image to distinguish it as I learn about the different types of film. Once I got back and had the film developed I found that all shots came out fine. There was a small issue with focusing which affected a couple of the shots but that was my fault. My goal was not to capture the images but just to see if it worked well so I got a bit sloppy.
The challenge that I had was that the scanned negatives were rather small in size and limited in terms of quality. After a few minutes on the internet I saw that there was a way to use my Nikon D800 to capture a digital image of the negative for storage and some digital post processing. But I will leave that for another post.