I want a Hasselblad 203FE but I don’t need one

I’ve been feeling lazy lately and so have been preferring cameras with some form of automatic exposure. This has left my beloved Hasselblads in a lurch. I have a 500C/M for more studied, careful shots and a 503CXi which I save for use with flash due to its TTL metering capability. Still, I’ve only shot a handful of rolls in either camera so far this year, and that’s a shame.

What I’d like is to find a way to make shooting the Hasselblads easier. You know what would do that? A 203FE!

A 203FE would be a significant investment, because I’d also want an FE lens or two and some ECC-12 backs.

I don’t need any of these things. Even I’m smart enough to know that just adding aperture-priority auto exposure isn’t going to make me shoot more. That’s the goal, right?

Still, I could sell the 503CXi and that would get me part of the way there. Hmmm.

When thinking of my minimal viable film kit, the Hasselblad(s) is always on the list. I love everything about them. But wouldn’t it be cool if they were easier to use? Wouldn’t it!?

Fuji Instax Square

I love making these little square photos with the Fuji Instax Square camera.

Fuji Instax Square with Gail and Jack (2019)

I own and use a classic Polaroid SX-70. Cool and retro as that is, the Polaroids are a bit of a pain to use and the film, frankly, isn’t very good. The new Polaroid film has its own look, but unless you’re going for that particular look, I don’t much like the results.

The little Fuji is much easier and more convenient to use. The smaller format of the Instax is still square like the original Polaroids and I think they’re adorable.

Having an actual print, and only the actual print, is unique and wonderful.

I miss listening to cassette tapes

In 2009, I hadn’t listened to cassettes since buying my first CD player in the 80s. I bought a Nakamichi 500 deck that year and hauled out all of my old cassettes. I listened to it on and off until it finally broke in 2015 or so. Haven’t listened to a cassette since.

After writing about seeing the music yesterday, I’ve been feeling nolstagic about that cool Nakamichi cassette deck and listening to tapes.

My poor old Nakamichi 500 Cassette Deck and tapes (2010)

And to be clear, this is just nostalgia. Cassette tapes mostly sound like shit.

Sure, you can buy a great deck, quality tapes, record music on them, and then play them back on that same deck and it’ll sound okay. But that’s not what I do. I listen to cassettes I bought in the 1970s and played a thousand times since and that have been sitting in a box for 25 years. Those sound like shit.

Still, it’s fun. I like that I can take one out of the player and when I put it back in it’ll continue from where I left off. Cassettes were great for audiobooks for the same reason (they were, after all, called “books on tape”).

I remember being able to find a specific track simply by watching how much tape was left on one of the spools. I didn’t have a fancy deck that automatically detected the gaps between songs until quite late.

And of course there’s the magic tape-tensioning-with-a-pencil trick.

Photo: reddit

I don’t miss the days sitting next to the radio with my portable cassette player, blank tape queued up, finger on the Record button, waiting for the DJ to play the song I called in on the phone and requested like three hours ago.

But I do sometimes miss listening to my old cassettes, thinking about the past.

Seeing the music

One of my favorite things about listening to vinyl records is that I can see the music as it plays. Ok I suppose I can’t exactly “see” it, but you know what I mean. I like my old reel-to-reel player for the same reason. Even cassette tapes give me a little of that feeling.

Cropping film images

I used to subscribe to the idea that cropping film images was cheating and made the image less “pure”. This was especially true when using the Hasselblad because its frame lines have those famous notches, so not only was I proving that I had planned the shot perfectly, but also that I had done it with a Hasselblad!

Pickup for sale (2010)
Field (2010)
Katie (2016)
Jessica at photoshoot (2013)

What nonsense.

Worrying about showing the frame lines took a lot of the fun out of taking photos. These days I crop at will, without regard for the “purity of the shot”. It’s better this way.

Vinyl: Is This The Life We Really Want?

Now that I no longer live alone, I don’t get as many opportunities to put some vinyl on the turntable and turn the volume way up. I’m doing it right now, though, and it’s wonderful. Today’s selection is Roger Waters’ “Is This The Life We Really Want?”

8mm film metadata

I continue to pick at the process of scanning all of my grandfather’s 8mm films.

It’s been slow going, mostly because there are so many of them. I’m fortunate to have a scanner that scans at 1:1 speed, but it’s still 10-30 minutes for the scan, 10 minutes to render, and 10 minutes to copy the file over wifi up to my Mac. Then I have to edit out any unnecessary leaders and convert the file to a smaller format. Once finished, I write the movie’s information in a notebook. In many cases, I also upload the file to YouTube so family members have access.

Recording a film’s metadata is tedious, but at least I have metadata! My grandpa took care to make notes in each film’s canister. Things like year, subject, and sometimes detailed index of the reel’s contents.

80 years later, I still know what’s on each reel and who some of the people in the movie are.

The moral is, record metadata for you images and movies.

A couple from the Hasselblad

I haven’t been shooting much film this year, so I pulled the Hasselblads out of the closet and shot a roll at my parents’ on Easter. Just some quick, hand-held outdoor portraits.

Gail. (Hasselblad 500C/M. Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4. Tri-X in HC-110)
Mom. (Hasselblad 500C/M. Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4. Tri-X in HC-110)


Out of Wite-Out

A coworker just came into my office and asked if I had any Wite-Out and when I told him I did not he said, “I thought you were the ‘paper guy’?” and now I feel like I’ve let everyone down.