As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with the Hassle-Blad (hyphen intended) for the past year, because of all the technical issues with the stupid thing (you can tell I really love it).
To be fair, the system is extremely old, and I doubt it’s ever been serviced properly, if at all. So If you can recommend someone who knows what they’re doing (Hassleblad UK seem to want to charge me £400 alone to just service two film backs – I don’t think so), please do get in touch.
I seem to be attached to the system right now though. I love composing in square, although I know it does not work for everything. If I look at my ‘style’ of work, I often shoot portrait orientation and I believe this is because it allows me to use a lot of foreground as well as sky in my shots. Square does not allow for this, unless you get further back, or let a lot more ‘stuff’ come in the sides of the frame.
In the above set of four images, I made a beautiful study of Laguna Colorada on the Bolivian altiplano. At 4,500 metres, the air is extremely thin here, and we were all struggling for breath. But the light! Those intense red evenings seem to be something that happens a lot there. My guide did say though, that we had an exceptionally beautiful evening there. Still, the subject is rather minimalist, and when you consider making four images – to work as a set, rather than individual scenes, a story forms – and for some reason, the entire set becomes stronger than the sum of its parts.
While I was running the Patagonia trip in the southern hemisphere winter, I made these studies of the Perito Moreno glacier. We had a very wet journey out there and everything was looking very gloomy. There was most definitely a low mood to everything and the cloud had come down to obstruct the backdrop view. Years ago, I would have been disappointed, packed up my camera and headed for the cafe, but I feel I know my subjects and light better. I loved the tones that the cloud were producing. Everything was glowing – the glacier had taken on an eerie luminance in the soft morning twilight.
Seeing these images only confirms to me that I need to continue with square – it is something I am growing into.
I still love 4×5 very much (which is what the Mamiya 7 is – the negative has the same aspect ratio as 4×5, despite being labeled a 6×7 camera). So I’m fully aware that I will continue to shoot 4×5 aspect ratio as well as square. So often we think of replacing one thing with another (I’m thinking of that phrase – ‘have you gone digital yet?’ ).
It’s been about a year now of getting used to the Hasselblad and the square format. When introducing something new into my workflow – I feel I need to give myself time to grow into it, in order to find out if it’s for me. I can’t tell straight away if it’s not.
I think that we need to give ourselves more than a few months, perhaps even years to discover if we have the aptitude, or leanings towards a certain format – patience, and allowing ourselves the time to get fully into something, can only help reap artistic dividends, I feel.