Category Archives: hasselblad

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.

black and white photography

Black and white photography- never out of style

I love black and white photography and I still love film photography– portraits, landscapes, all of it. I choose black and white when the color doesn’t add to the image, or when it actually takes away from the image.  Some people say it looks more real than a color photograph. I disagree. It accentuates certain things that may be the most real part of the image: the person’s eyes; the bubbles in a wave; the geometry of a building. But it takes me to a more distilled, strange world that is not only comforting but interesting. A blanket of color in an image can tell our brains to simply look at the scene. It is what our eyes see all day long. But a black and white images asks us to pause, and to see certain things in a different way. Black and white also reminds us that we are part of history, because so much of the imagery of the past is in black and white.

Last night I saw the movie, Mauvais Sang or at least part of it until I fell asleep,.
The director chose to create a theatrical atmosphere by making the movie black and white, almost. There was also a splash of color, usually either blue or red. This created a visually pleasing effect and felt almost as though I was watching a scene from another world. A far cry from the pastel hand colored photos of children during their Easter photo sessions. A more interesting use of “hand-coloring.” I photographed San Francisco in black and white, and as seen below, I hand colored it. To me, San Francisco is a city of pastels, even at night.
Below you will see some of my favorite black and white photos I took using my medium format camera, the Hasselblad, with the exception of the can which is from a large format 4×5 camera. I only wish that I could have the opportunity to shoot like this for weddings. Call if you’re interested.

Fashion Photo Shoot, NJ

This Sandy Hook NJ visit in October 2008 was more of a fashion photo shoot, headshot,

portrait than a surreal artistic magical mystery experience. See the photos from that gorgeous day here. I actually recruited a male model from Q modeling agency to help tell the story. Hala owned Hala Vintage, a lovely store in Jersey City, and I believe an online store for all things beautiful and vintage. I walked into her store and showed her the pictures from the previous photo shoot and asked if she’d be interested in using some of her clothes. Until I showed her the photos, she was ho-hum about it. After I showed her the pictures, she told me that she liked to style fashion shoots. I worked with her on this photo shoot with Danielle Zaragoza from Q. Wonderful day.

Then I asked if she’d be interested in being a stylist and a model. She got her hair and make up team over to Sandy Hook NJ and we had a great day into evening. The clothes were very Gatsby. I usually don’t have a pre-conceived story board. I let it unfold as I perceive the subjects in the environment.
It became the story of romantic lovers in a fairy tale relationship that turned disfunctional, and ended up in a zombie-esque wedding on the beach at night.
I used my regular Hasselblad and burned through an obscene amount of film. I also used my superwide camera.
An amazing camera that few people use anymore, due to its price and niche wide angle style. One camera and one lens. Over 5,000 dollars.
Bruce Rosenblum miraculously appeared on the set, to offer his help with lightning. He held my reflector, and painted in light as the sun disappeared. Thanks, Bruce!

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!