Category Archives: Film

hasselblad: summer in MA and NH

Hasselblad Summer 2016

As always, you will find us on the beach in Boston and on the little strip of beach with friends in NH. These pictures are from last summer, because this summer, I’ve been far to busy to take a vacation. I take pictures for two theater companies: The New Century Theatre and The Chester Theatre. I also work for CISA, an organization that promotes local agriculture. That and weddings and Camp Elizabeth, otherwise known as Camp Mommy to my six year old, and there’s no time to take a vacation, even a weekend one. I will be missing the Irving Penn show at the Met. Still coming to terms with that. Maybe I’ll be able to take a little trip in August. Though school starts at the end of August. Shortest Summer ever.

We also picked blueberries, went hiking, and visited Paul in Cambridge. When in Cambridge, we also visited the Semetic Museum at Harvard.

When I am with friends and family, I give the digital cameras a rest and use my vintage cameras. These were taken with a Hasselblad 500C. It has since broken, in several places, and I spent about a year upset about the future of film cameras. I went a long time without the camera, and considered repairing it. I decided not to though, because the old parts are hard to find and the cameras are phasing out. Still though, it’s the most fun camera to use, and the camera I have used the longest in my career. I love everything about the camera, and especially the lenses and act of picture taking. Someone described it as a zen moment. They are right. As an aside, Hasselblad official on instagram continually posts images of the V-Series (old film cameras) and plays on our nostalgia, yet refuses to re-introduce them, despite their popularity.

Desperate, I spent months looking for a vintage Hasselblad on ebay. Finally, the dream came true. A retired couple cleaning their attic. He bought several cameras in the late 60s. New. Thought he might want to be a photographer as a second career. (Don’t know what his first career was.) According to his wife,  “never got into the Hasselblad.” I miraculously won the bid, and the camera, along with accessories in an original aluminum suitcase, came to me professionally packed from Eagle Idaho. I wept at the sight of it. It really was essentially new. I had to unwrap original packaging off certain accessories. That was a few months ago. I’ve been afraid to use it. I’ve run a few rolls through it but have been scared to process the film. Well, we also moved house and I haven’t unpacked my equipment for processing yet. So yes, dreams do come true. I’ll let you know how the film looks. And show you the pictures.

are you ready for the future? try film photography

My film camera is up and running again after a brief repair hiatus. I have to check myself when I run away with the convenience and clarity of digital photography, which I like to call pixel phtography. At first, it was horrible. Especially the separation of pixels with color, but now, it’s wonderful, so if you love pixel photography go crazy. But my film camera is where my heart lies. Film is wonky and imperfect, the grain is sometimes dramatic. Why spend hours in photoshop trying to achieve the effect of film grain when you can simply get the real thing by dusting off your old cameras and having fun? Photography was never broken. In fact, it was better. That’s why you treasure the prints from your grandparents, and risk losing your current photos in the cloud.

With a digital camera, I complain about the weight when I use one that’s too heavy. But with the film cameras, I marvel at the weight of the lenses, and the quality of the glass. If you oohhh and ahh about traditional film photography, call me and I’ll show you my old cameras.

I hope that film remains alive and well for a long time. It used to be so easy to turn in your film canisters to the drugstore. Much easier than remembering to make prints from your iPhone. I hope that it becomes the future of photography.

Sandy Hook NJ photo shoot

Sandy Hook, NJ is a place that I used to keep secret, but in recent years I’ve had a more generous spirit.

It was 7 years ago on August 8, 2008 that I took these photos at what I used to call my secret beach, which is actually Sandy Hook NJ. It’s a gorgeous spot, accessible by ferry from Manhattan, or by car. It was originally a military outpost, serving as a protectorate of New York City from Southern invasions. The northernmost tip of the Jersey Shore, and a natural barrier.

There is still a Coast Guard station off limits to the public, but most of the military remains are accessible. Crumbling gun platforms of the Proving Grounds, ghosts of mortar battery installations. Tall grass. Eerie quietness. Empty houses with rickety front porches. Surprising lack of tourism, or visiting, probably because of its scarcity of refreshment stands, and because you have to hike into most of the beaches (except for the one next to the big parking lot at the beginning of the peninsula.)
I went with my muse, Haley, on August 8 2008. It was the second time we’d been there. The first time, I lost a couple of rolls of film. So upsetting. This time, we borrowed a friend’s Mini Cooper and entered the park during a thunderstorm. We sat there in awe while the little car shook. I told her, “As soon as it stops, it will be amazing.” Sure enough, after the storm, the air cleared and the sky turned deep blue/purple, punctuated by puffy dense white clouds. The light was warm and soft, but so vivid. This created a surreal atmosphere that provided me with a magical setting for a photo shoot.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy beat the little peninsula something awful. I haven’t been there since, but I heard that the restaurant, The Seagull’s Nest, was destroyed. I’m not sure if they made any efforts to repair it since this article.
It was a place that sold cheap weak margaritas and beer in plastic cups. There was often Americana music. At sunset, each night in summer, everyone would turn their eyes to the horizon and honor vets and public servants by singing “God Bless America.”
The last time I visited Sandy Hook was via Seastreak,
on July 4, 2011, with the family.
There are a couple of token pictures of her in the city, at home, reading James Joyce.
I will always treasure the time in 2008 and prior,  that I was able to visit
the special little place in America, and enjoy the beauty of nature and our history, in a desolate peaceful place so close to the craziness of NYC. And I look back fondly at the time when I used my vintage Hasselblad camera, which created so many beautiful square images. Thank you storm, thank you Haley, thank you Sandy Hook Beach, and thank you camera!

Do I need a Tripod? Or Bye Bye Tripod?

Do I need a tripod anymore? Over the years as a photographer, I’ve gone from using a Pentax K1000, a Yashikamat  (think Rolleiflex), Hasselblad C series, Holga,  Nikon D70 DSLR, to new(ish) Canon DSLRs. I love dark situations, night-time, dark rooms, window light in a room on a cloudy day, the beach right before sunrise. In short, the low light on subjects without the use of studio lighting or flash. This is what my photography, and many others, different from people just snapping photos. Why? Because I use a tripod. It’s been the only way to have access to creating these images, that which is already there. Until recently.

Now, cameras are created to see in the dark, and to enable low light photography and high ISO ratings that have never been seen before. Now, I hardly use a flash, or studio light, or a tripod.

There are lighting situations using on-camera flash which result in a wonderful, a retro photo journalistic feeling. There are even new gadgets that try to emulate this. Just for the memories, I’m going to be posting a blog of an event where I used my flash, and a lot. Coming up next.

Here’s an example of a photo I took last night with my phone. In this case, I wish I had a tripod. Or, I wish I’d remembered to stop walking, and lean up against a signpost. Exhale slowly and click.

photo

Infrared Wedding

 

This was a picture I took when I was just starting out with wedding photography. I used infrared film. I was a second photographer for this wedding, and when the first photographer saw me taking this photo, he said, ‘that really isn’t going to turn out very well. The lighting is all wrong.’ I really like the photo. Just goes to show: don’t listen to others.

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It’s August first, the ‘school side’ of summer. This is the first summer I’ve been a camp counselor to my children. It’s been fun, but a lot of work, especially because normal camp counselors can simply grab some food on the way home and catch a movie. For me, it’s shopping for groceries, cooking and dishes. Maybe a shower every so often.

Have a good day!

Ratso Rizzo

All of the photography is by us, and the music is Adam’s, under the name Babakool.

We shot it in New York City, Los Angeles, and Tuscon AZ.

It’s not supposed to be a narrative that is easily understood. Think of it as a powerful dream that you just can’t exactly remember.

To me, it’s all that, and a collection of beautiful images.