Posts Tagged ‘hasselblad’

I am both a Nikon and Leica shooter.  I shoot film and digital with both brands and the other day I sat down at my Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter–that’s where I do my best thinking on paper–and I wrote out what each camera type is good for.

For shooting street photography, Leica may be classic, but my Nikon with a 20mm, auto-focus and aperture priority beats it every time.

Every. Single. Time.

Because there’s no fuss, I have the Nikons–F100 for film, D610 for digital–set for back-button focus and -0.7 dialed for exposure compensation on the digital, so I make sure I don’t blow any highlights, or +0.7 set for film, to make sure I get a dense negative, and I can shoot out my car window and guarantee a shot.

I can’t do that with my Leicas.  I’m using an M9 for digital, which does have aperture-priority, and an M2 for film. They need attention, finessing.  It’s great for contemplative work.  But not for lightning quick.  At least not for me.

Yes, I use hyperfocal/zone focusing with the Leicas.

These three photographs were all made out my car window with the Nikon as I was passing these scenes at some rate of speed.  I can’t get these with the Leica.

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Businessmen waiting on a corner in Rochester NY.

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A vintage car driving at dusk on I-70W.

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The real people of Las Vegas on a street corner just off the strip on a Sunday morning.

The first two were shot with a 20mm f2.8, the first AF 20mm Nikon made.   The last with a 50mm f1.2 AIS manual focus lens.  They show what I saw, real life, captured in split second.

Even this one, while I was attending an Italian festival in Denver, I stopped to talk to another photographer after I noticed his Sony camera and some behemoth of a lens.  But while I was talking to him, the sausage man appeared and with the Nikon and 20mm, I could turn, focus and shoot in one fluid motion, nail the shot, then it was back to my conversation.

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A man carries his sausage, his winnings, at an Italian festival in Denver.

At the end of the day, story comes first, and it’s all about the photo.  I do love the way the Leica looks and feels, and its small size, it’s just not a street shooter for me.  That’s the conclusion I came to when I was typing out my thoughts.

As a further test, I went out to downtown Denver this past weekend to shoot street photographs with another photographer.  The shoot went so well, I came back with several photos that I’ve included in my updated street photography gallery, ColoradoFaces.com.   Photos #4-13 all came from that Saturday afternoon, all shot with the Nikon and the 20mm.

So enthralled with the results, I went back down the next day with the Leica M9 and M2 and a 21mm Elmarit.  I thought, wow, if I could do that with a Leica and a 21mm, it’s so small and light, it would make a great kit for daily use.  Guess I hadn’t used the M9 recently enough, as I ended up putting battery after battery in it, four in total, and they all quit within a few shots.  I still had the film Leica, so I could keep shooting, but I certainly shoot more conservatively with film.

I wished I had brought the Nikon.

By the way, my Nikon has five bars on its battery readout, and it can be down to two bars, and I can still get a whole afternoon of shooting with it.  Nikon batteries rock for lasting and not petering out.

So, what’s my point.  For me, it’s Nikon film and digital for shooting documentary photographs, they’re quicker and I feel more confident I’ll get the shot with them.  And I do.

Leica is a great camera for portraits and documentary coverage where you’re going to be working the scene.  The build quality is incredible, as you know.  I love documenting my friends with it.  Posing them and creating photographs.  And it’s a treat to use.

But just like a Rolleiflex and a Hasselblad are both portrait cameras in my hands, a Leica is a special camera for portraits or a day of deliberate shooting.  Not grabbing life on the street.

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A portrait with the Leica, HP5, a beautiful negative and the magic of film.

When it’s speed I need, I go with the Nikon with the 20mm.  Or the 50mm.   The viewer feels like they’re in the shot.

And I get it every time.   That’s my story.   And story is king.

As photographers, especially photographers using film, we tend to save our shots for things that are worthy of the film.  Images that are special.  Like big events, activities, parties.

I wonder if we aren’t missing out on an image possibility, capturing some of the everyday parts of our lives, things that really define us as who we are.  You know you can learn more about a person from looking at their stuff, seeing the titles on their bookshelf, than by talking to them and asking them to tell you about themselves.  But we rarely photograph it.  It seems mundane.  Uninspired.   Perhaps it’s anything but.

We recently lost a good friend, and his sculpting workshop was where we had the memorial.  And everywhere I looked, I saw things that showed him better than anything he could describe.

Look for the ordinary in your own life, and photograph it.  Maybe it’s the kitchen wall with the pictures and radio that you look at every morning.  Maybe it’s your workshop area.  There’s a story to be told in these photographs.

Try it and let me know what image shows a piece of you.

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I keep running into people who see my old Leica IIIf over my shoulder and marvel that they still make film.  And that it is readily available.  I assure them it is.

I have a standard response to their “I have a great old camera that I never use.”  I tell them to just put one roll of Tri-x in it, shoot a frame once a week or so.  And that after several months, the roll will be done and there will be 36 memories to relive captured on film.

You will have forgotten what you shot.  You will know there’s something good waiting for you after the roll’s developed, and the camera will not be wasting away.  You can always shoot more, but certainly, shooting just one roll a year is still a treat.

You’ll probably need a new battery for the camera.  Many of those with electronic shutters won’t work without them.  Run out, get some new cells, power it up, and load the film.  It’ll all come back.  The feel of those old metal-bodied durable beasts will remind you why you loved them so much.  The heft in your hand will say quality, unlike what you see in many of today’s cameras.  The viewfinder will be big and bright.

It’s a treat.  And the folks I’ve mentioned it to say, “I think I’ll do that.”  I hope they do.  Bring some new life to those wonderful cameras of days of old, er, not that long ago.

How about you?  Have a sweet old camera that isn’t getting used?  How about getting it out and loading it up, just one roll of film.  You’ll be creating a time capsule.

lcpac1If you know you’re never going to shoot it again, donate the camera to a local photography school or art center.  I have one called the Lyons Photography Art Center in Colorado where you can send them.  Address is PO BOX 69, Lyons, CO 80540.  I use them to teach kids to shoot black and white film, to slow down and carefully compose images.  I give them the camera loaded and ready to shoot.  No excuses for lack of equipment.

If you do end up shooting some film, post the links here and let’s have a look!

She was sitting alone on the park bench.  I saw her immediately, sitting alone, looking very content.  Two people came up to me to ask me about the Hasselblad 500c/m I was carrying.  I enjoyed talking to them, but was keeping an eye out on her.  When they finally said goodbye, I turned to see her still sitting there, in a column of shade on an otherwise unseasonably warm, sunny autumn afternoon.

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I sat down and asked her if I could take her photo.  She said yes, or course.  I love that answer.

A few years ago, I was visiting a good friend and his Father was over visiting.  I asked him if I could take his photo.  He said, “Yes, I think it’s an honor to have someone want to take my picture.”

It was the same for her.  She asked me where I would put the photo, and I told her about this new photo project I was working on, called TheWisePhotoProject.com.  I told her I’d put her on there.  She seemed flattered.  I set up the shot and took two frames with the old Hassy.

Her daughter came over and saw me.  I offered to take a photo of them together.  And I did.  Here it is.

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I came home that day and thought that was about as good a day as I can think of, one where I got to document this sweet older face, and then get her connecting to her daughter.  This is about the most important work I do.  Documenting real people in real places.  Capturing them without knowing how I would be touching their lives.  The spontaneity of it all.

It was truly a good day.  When I see these photos, they make me smile.

She asked me a few times where I would put the photo, and each time I answered that I’d put it on my site for The Wise Photo Project.  I don’t know if she had a bit of dementia, but in any case, I got the opportunity to make her smile, make her connect with her daughter and create photographs that will last for generations.

I want to print them large, like 20×20 and frame and mat them for them.  The magic is in the print.  That is where the photograph lives, and lasts, forever.

singerSo, while this blog is titled 6×6 Portraits, I have a variety of interests in different film formats, not just 6×6.  I have a love for Leica 35mm, too, and shoot regularly with an M3, M6 and IIIf.  The photo at left was the first shot made with my first Leica in 2010, an M6 with a 50mm f2 lens.

I think when you love film, you can’t not love many different formats.  Because they are all useful for different subjects.  I have a 4×5 Speed Graphic, and a 126 Kodak Instamatic 500 with a Schneider lens that I’ve loaded with 35mm to shoot sometime.

I started with film.  I was a staff photographer at a daily newspaper for 15 years starting in the late 80s.  Film is all I knew and it became very dependable.  People on assignment would ask, “Do you think they’ll turn out?”  And I’d say, “Yes, they always turn out.”  They better, it was my job to bring back a photograph for a story.  Failure was not an option.

Anyway, nowadays, I love my Rolleiflex.  I love the large negative.  I carry it everywhere I go, but I also carry 35mm cameras, so this blog will also feature photos shot 24mm x 36mm, despite being called 6×6 Portraits.  It will have a special emphasis on portraits on 6×6, but you never know when I’ll have a great 35mm or large format image I just have to share.

Thanks for following my blog, you film fans, all of you!  🙂

10635715_353070061511327_7101815245125633271_n 10614109_353073384844328_8281921563532218903_nVictor Hasselblad and Reinhold Heidecke in Sweden, 1955.  I am a big fan of these two, for working so hard to make such beautiful, even artistic pieces of machinery.  Their cameras still inspire to this day.

While I’ve never shot a Hassy, I suspect I will one day.  I have quite the love affair with my Rolleiflex, for the camera is so small and still manages to create such large negatives.

There’s something about good build quality that makes me enjoy the process of shooting film in these cameras.  I was making a portrait of a friend, shooting at 1/500 and he said he didn’t think it fired.  It did, it’s just virtually silent. 

Apple products, Mercedes and BMW cars, they all have that thing that says, “quality”, when you feel them.  That’s where the inspiration comes from for me.  Leica does it too (And I shoot 35mm too, and will include some Leica shots in here at times, too.)

But these two help me realize we should all strive to stick to our dreams and see them to fruition.  Like these two amazing men did!

Untitled-4What is it about 6×6 film portraits that make me like them more than any other type of portrait?  I shoot with a Rolleiflex and a Bronica SQ-A and it’s pure joy to work with film and create legacy images.

My name is Kenneth Wajda, and I’m a professional photographer in Lyons, Colorado.  Been shooting for a living my whole life, and just turned 50 this year.  I was a news photojournalist at a New Jersey daily newspaper from 1987-2001.  Now I shoot portraiture in Colorado and wherever the work takes me.

I am going to use this blog to be the definitive dialogue on all things 6×6 film!  If you love your Hasselblad or your Yashica Mat or even a Holga, this is the blog that will speak to you.  Because we know the language here.  And it’s name is film!  Sized 6×6!

I’d love to get your input on what you’re shooting too.

I shoot a lot of street photography–I use digital too, for this–and some portraits on film in the street, too.  I’ll share them with you in posts to come.

Thanks for visiting and I hope if you like what you see, you’ll visit again.

Kenneth