As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I recently spent a week in Orlando with my family. A family vacation was a long time coming, and we wanted to visit my grandparents (who relocated to Orlando several years ago to escape the winters), and take advantage of being there to visit the Universal Studios Harry Potter world–both my wife and my son are big, big Harry Potter fans.
I did write a previous entry about this trip to Orlando, which I titled a “Travel Journal”…you can see the post here, and the flickr set here.
The heat is oppressive. In the days we were there, the daily heat index fluctuated between 110-118 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s really hot. We went to Universal Studios the first two days of our trip, and it was enjoyable, despite the heat; the park is really well done, with a lot of attention to detail ensuring that every nook and cranny holds something that Potter-ites will point out and enjoy. The HP section of Universal studios is divided into two sections: Hogshead and Diagon Alley, and you can read more about it here. I would say that if you’re into HP at all, you should go. It is hot and crowded and expensive, but you only live once, right?
Welcome to Universal Studios
At this point, you’re probably wondering if there was anyone at the park. Yes, in fact, there were plenty of people. It was incredibly crowded, but as my wife always tells me, I have a way of photographing loneliness–even where it doesn’t necessarily seem to exist. But as you can see by the cars in the parking lot, it was full of people. As a matter of fact, in the photography below there are two people.
During our time in Orlando, we also managed to see other things. We went hiking, which despite our efforts to get out early in the morning, left us pretty drained. Still, we wanted to enjoy some of the state parks that the area has to offer. And enjoy them we did, until it got too hot; then we went back inside where it’s cool. We also enjoyed some of the coast, the Kennedy Space Center, and time with family. All in all it was a great trip!
On the camera-geek side of things, this was the final trip for my Olympus EM1. After using it as the main camera all week, I found it lacking a few times, and sold it with all my lenses upon return. I kept the Ricoh GR, which also made the trip; that camera proves time and time again how good it is at what it aims to do. I’ll be continuing with the Sony A7ii that I bought earlier this summer. Ultimately, I didn’t find a place for the EM1 next to my A7ii, GR, and X100T.
Here are some other photographs from the trip. I hope you enjoy. Feedback is always appreciated. The full set of images from the trip can be seen here.
I have uploaded some shots previously about my travels to Anna Maria Island in other posts. Going through my archives again, I have begun to create a longer-term set of images that I am slowly beginning to visualize as a project that is nowhere near complete but could take many more trips to fully finish. Thankfully, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more trips to do so. This has led me to think about long-term photographic projects, which forms the basis of this post. The images in this post are ones that I have not previously shown, but are the beginnings of a project that I am cautiously calling Floridians for now. Both the title and the images contained in this project are subject to change, but I figured I should add some shots to the post. If you have comments on them or my musings within this post, please do let me know.
I think a discussion about the nature of projects and how they start, evolve, and come into being might be helpful. All I can do is share how I go about it, and there are certainly others who are far more experienced than I at this, but I reached a stage in my photography a few years ago where I wanted to stop just taking and uploading shots for the sake of it and begin focusing on coherent, complete bodies of work centered around a theme or idea. If you’re getting to the same point, this may be helpful; if you’re long past that point and have some ideas of your own to add, please do so.
I’ll cover how to start a project, choose appropriate equipment, and editing your work in this post. In a later post, I’ll cover other considerations for the later stages of your workflow if there is an interest.
When starting a photographic project, there seem to be two generally-accepted ways of going about doing gathering material.
First, one has an idea and goes out in search of this idea. This involves going out intentionally searching for things about this idea, and shooting anything that might fit. The good thing about this way of doing things is that it focuses one’s attention and output around this single theme; the bad thing is that often one can overlook other photographs since they don’t fit the conceptual thread one is presently engaged in. Additionally, I find that one’s preconceptions can get in the way in this form of working. For example, if one sets out to shoot the plight of the homeless (which is far too cliched, and please do not shoot this), one might miss things that don’t fit exactly into that, or worse, one approaches the idea with one’s mind already made up about the subject. By studying the plight of the homeless, one has already narrowed the theme to be one that is negative in tone; by simply shooting with an open mind, other possibilities might open up and take the project in different directions that initially intended.
The other way many photographers begin a project is by shooting naturally what they are interested in, and then by later going through one’s work to identify themes and visual threads that fit together into a single, coherent project. The good thing about this way of working is that it allows the photographer to keep an open mind and follow what comes naturally to them; the bad thing is that it can mean a far less focused approach, necessitating a lot more shots to be taken, more time to be invested, and sometimes shoe-horning photos that don’t fit exactly into the theme of the project. Much tighter editing is often necessary to avoid extraneous or redundant images (but editing is necessary regardless of the approach taken to the project).
I find that I use a hybrid approach. I generally let things start naturally, but once I’ve identified a theme in my work I keep it in the back of my mind so that at any given time I might have multiple projects that are in various stages of realization or completion to keep me motivated an semi-focused. For example, my recent Summer Job project was one that I thought up before I began, but all I really went into it with was a general idea and left the final determination for the editing stage. It had a hard start and end date as well–which is important to keep in mind. I had 100 days with a clear start and finish, meaning that at a certain point it was over, regardless of what I had. While this may sound challenging, it’s actually incredibly liberating.
An important thing to consider is how to start and finish a project. Often starting it isn’t the issue so much as ending it is. I find that projects that don’t have a hard timetable are the ones that are inevitable never-ending. For example, I can use my recent Saint Paul Cathedralproject as a project that had neither start nor end date determined for me; it started when I began and ended when I decided it was enough. Of course, it’s never really enough, and therein lies the trick. I am sure I could go back now and make images that I’d find are better than one I included–and this kind of second-guessing can mean projects that are started and never wind up getting done. If your project has no set end-date, make sure you have a way to end it.
You will also need to think about equipment. What equipment will best suit this project? Some photographers only use one type of camera, one they feel comfortable with or the only one they own, for example. Others vary their equipment based on the project’s specifications. Will you be traveling for this project? Then perhaps something light is needed. Will you be printing large photographs? Then perhaps a medium- or large-format camera is needed. Digital or film; large or small; light or heavy; image quality vs. portability; these are all things to consider when choosing your equipment.
Generally, it is a good idea to keep a consistent format and visual aesthetic for a project. Changing too much can disorient the viewer and detract from the theme or idea you are trying to present to your audience. This isn’t an iron-clad rule, but it is important to think about when choosing equipment.
Additionally, consider how the medium you do choose will help you to express your ideas. From a technical standpoint, this might mean a faster film or tripod if you’re doing night-time photography, or an external light meter if shooting in difficult lighting conditions; thematically, you might want a smaller/larger grain in images, or choosing color vs. black and white is another consideration. Finally, choosing a focal length can be important in expressing a feeling to the viewer: longer focal lengths are great for portraits, while wider focal lengths are nice to get close and give the viewer a visceral, right-there-with-you feeling.
Editing Your Work
Yes, you will need to edit, and this does not mean Photoshop. Editing for a project does not mean editing the images themselves; I assume that by the time you are itching to create groups of images around themes and ideas, I should hope you are confident in your ability to create images that are technically proficient enough to stand on their own merit. Editing for a project means being ruthless and culling your images down to the smallest number possible to have a worthwhile project–or said in another way, how can you tell this particular story/idea/theme in the fewest number of images possible? Often, photographers choose an arbitrary number–say, 10 or 20–that they limit themselves to. Why? They are round numbers, but the number could be anything, depending on how you envision your project’s presentation. Do you plan to see this project in a gallery? Then the gallery that agrees to show your work will dictate how many images you can have, based on space restrictions often, but also other variables. They might only have space to hang 8 images, or this might also depend on how large your prints are. 8×10? 16×20? Larger than that? This goes back to choosing equipment.
I have found in my own work as well as in speaking with others that printing photographs is incredibly important in creating a project. Whether you shoot digital or film, print your images when it is time to choose the final selections. There is something much different in seeing images in print and moving them around physically when thinking of arrangement or display size than seeing them on a screen. Working on a computer or tablet is incredibly convenient, but unless your audience will be viewing them that way, I suggest printing photographs. You don’t have to print them all large, even simple 5×7 prints could be enough often, but having them in front of you physically is helpful.
Avoid falling in love with certain shots. Often this can be a pitfall of projects. You have a set of images you like, and you are near the end of your realization of this particular project but there is one shot you’re in love with. It’s a great image, even–but it doesn’t fit in with the visual, stylistic, or thematic thread you’ve established with the other shots. Don’t be afraid to let go of shots and detach yourself emotionally from a certain image if need be. It can be a delicate balance: you have to stay emotionally connected to the project to create a strong project that resonates with your audience, while at the same time allowing yourself to be disconnected enough to sacrifice certain shots you’re in love with. In my experience, allowing your work to sit for a while before looking at it can help with this; allowing it to sit without looking at it even after you have looked at it can help you examine it more critically and objectively as well.
Of course, one of the most important parts of creating images, and a photographic project, is critique. You need to show your work to others whose opinion you trust and respect. Unless your mother knows a lot about photography or art, she may not be the best person to show your work to (sorry, mom!) since she loves you, and, by extension, your work. Asking others, who are familiar with your work, or whose work you respect, to critically examine your work will help you figure out where the project is going. I would recommend doing so along the way, not just at the end. Getting pointers along the way of where to take the idea or things to incorporate can be invaluable.
I hope that this was helpful for you all. If it was, please let me know by leaving a comment below. If you anything else to add, please do so–I am by no means the final authority on this, but I figured I’d share what I do know with others.
The project contained in this post–as I mentioned, it is called Floridians for the time being–is not fully formed and has a long way to go. I’ve given the images preliminary titles but that could change as well; in fact, I often find that titling an image is one of the hardest parts for me. Too cute, and it’s cliched; too clever and it can be trite; too dull and it can detract from the image. Finding a balance, and conveying the concept and idea of the image along with a descriptive, short name is not as easy as it might seem. Anyone have a way to help with that?
Here is a set of Max’s Florida adventure in 2008. As I have mentioned previously, my extended family generally meets on Anna Maria Island, Florida, for a week of vacation in July each year. I have posted my own shots from these trips in other posts, but going through my archives recently, I found some rolls of Max’s that I scanned from 2008. Here they are.
Little did I know that my son is quite the street photographer! He is definitely developing his own visual style, although things have changed since he took these over 4 years ago now.
I really love the grainy look that a lot of these have, coupled with the flash. It has a certain Martin Parr quality to it, like something out of his supermarket series maybe.
These were all taken with a small disposable film camera, on his own, at the age of 3.
Here’s to unbridled and uncorrupted creativity!
And here he is shooting the shooter. Gotta love it!
Honestly, I think that if I hadn’t told you these were taken by my son, you might not have known. They stand together as a set well, don’t they?
Honestly, after reviewing these two rolls taken that summer, and then a few other rolls that he has taken over the years, I really think I need to get him taking more photographs. I love these shots.
He has been shooting more of his little Fuji Instax Mini lately, which he really enjoys. Since I got mine out, he did the same; he really likes getting the shots back immediately, and at his age and experience level it is nice to get prompt feedback on what is and isn’t working.
He spent the day at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving sneaking around and trying to catch candid shots of everyone doing their thing…I think we may have a miniature Bruce Gilden on our hands.
Perhaps a future in street photography for my boy?
I hope you like today’s images, which are much more fun and carefree than the blog has been lately.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here is another reason to shoot film: it’s cheap. Get your kid some disposable cameras and let them go at it. They won’t break them or lose them, and if they do, you’re not out much money. Secondly, not getting instant feedback meant that for this group of images, the imperfections stayed around; had they been taken on digital he might have attempted to delete some and correct some of the shots.
I’d love to hear what you all think down below in the comments!
As loyal readers know, I took my Hasselblad 501CM with me on my annual trip to Anna Maria Island, Florida in July of this year. I had recently had my appendix out, and as a result I was unable to swim, giving me lots of time to make photographs. I decided that I wanted a challenge and brought along the ‘Blad in order to make some different kinds of shots for the book that I planned to make (you can see it here) once I returned home.
Over the past year, I have become mostly interested in what is generally known as “street photography”, or “documentary photography”. This mostly involves approaching a scene and photographing it as it unfolds organically–not altering the scene at all. It is candid, unposed, and can yield great results, if done well. It’s also not easy. As the style has become more popular, the genre has been watered down with a lot of silly snapshots that have very little, if anything, to offer artistically. “Photography is nothing,” a founding father of both street photography and photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, once said, “it is life that interests me.”
“Kelsey & Kristin” – Anna Maria Island, FL
The Hasselblad is not really known for excelling in this type of photography, but is renowned as an excellent system for portraits and landscapes. Landscapes are particularly strange to me, and the results that I got while in Florida proved as much; portraits were a different story. Having shot some portraits in the past with my SLRs, I have a bit of experience with the medium, but I would not really classify myself as a portrait photographer. Armed with 50/4, 80/2.8, and 150/4 lenses (medium format focal lengths are not equal to those of the more widely-known 35mm format; as a rough rule, if you divide the medium format focal length in half, you get an approximate 35mm focal length value) I set off to make some portraits.
I did not venture into making portraits of strangers, or what are known as “street portraits”. Striking up conversations with strangers is really not a great strength of mine–which is one reason I think photography, and street photography in particular–appeals to me. Be that as it may, the Hasselblad was not the only camera system I brought along (since I had so much time to shoot this year), and I enjoyed exploring a new type of photography, and getting more familiar with the Hasselblad 501CM. It is still relatively new to me, and its intricacies still amaze me. So does the output.
“Mom” – Anna Maria Island, FL
The camera is relatively large and bulky, although not incredibly heavy. My Nikon D700, as measure of comparison, is heavier, and about as bulky. The newer lenses for the Hasselblad V-system, like my 80mm f/2.8 CFE T*, are more plastic and far lighter than the older CT* lenses like the 50mm f/4 and 150mm f/4 I also brought along (borrowed from my father). The 501CM is solidly-built and robust; when using it I do not feel as if I need to baby the camera (but then I remember what it cost, and I do baby it a little). My 501CM was made in 2001, my father’s was made in 1998; the 500CM has been made for decades, and is essentially the same camera; the 501CM introduces a few minor changes that you likely wouldn’t miss unless you were a hard-core Hasselblad shooter.
Holding the camera at such an angle where you look down into it, as opposed to the more traditional in front of your face, when you make a photograph of someone is strange at first. Actually, I’m still not really used to it. By looking down at the mirror through the focusing screen, you also learn that the image is reversed, which can take some time to get used to. Due to the position that you have to hold the camera at, and its size and weight, a tripod is highly recommended. I haven’t gotten one yet, and there are some times I wish I had one. Then again, lugging around a tripod makes the whole rig even bulkier and heavier, so there is a balance to strike. The slow focusing, film advance, and general operation also ensure that each photograph is carefully selected before the frame is exposed. As someone I’m quite fond of would say, it’s a very “deliberate” pace.
The larger negative of medium format film can yield detail that a 35mm negative would not show you. The resolving power and sharpness of the Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad V-system have a reputation that precedes them, and for good reason. They are truly excellent from shots I have seen, both of my own and from others.
“Kids” – Anna Maria Island, FL
For anyone looking at the Hasselblad system, would I recommend it? Well, that’s a tough call. This is only the second medium format camera that I have used (not counting the cheap, increasingly hipster-ish Holga). My first was the Mamiya C220 TLR, which is a twin lens reflex (TLR). A twin lens reflex camera is similar, yet different, in operation from the Hasselblad SLR (single lens reflex) camera. One key difference is that the TLR has two lenses, which allows the photographer to see through the lens even after the exposure and before the shutter is re-cocked. This is not the case with the Hasselblad, where the viewfinder goes black until the film is advanced and the mirror has been flipped back down. This may not be a big deal to some, but it can be to others.
Back to the question I just posed. So you know your way around a camera, and are interested in a medium format film camera? Perhaps you’ve shot film before, or even a different medium format-system, like the Mamiya TLR line, the Mamiya rangefinder system, or others. Perhaps this is your first inroad into the medium. Well, the Hasselblad does come with a few drawbacks. First, it does not have a meter built-in; you’ll have to bring your own external meter to this party. If you don’t know what a meter is, or what that matters, please stop reading now, head to your nearest Best Buy, and ask the salesperson to recommend a good camera for taking pictures of your dogs.
Still reading? Great, then let’s continue…
“Papa” – Anna Maria Island, FL
The Hasselblad also has other cons beside the lack of a built-in meter (which isn’t that big of a deal, since you can get a free light meter app for your smartphone which will do the job). There is no autofocus. The lack of AF may get some, but chances are if you’re willing to go without a meter in your camera and are already thinking of the Hasselblad, then you’re probably focusing a camera on your own without the assistance of a computer. The manual focus isn’t particularly fast on this line of cameras–unlike, say, my trusty Leica M rangefinder. Rangefinder focusing is really apples-and-oranges, however. I’m just using that as a way to compare.
So, we have a list of pros and cons. Let’s refresh our memories:
Image quality is stunning!
System is well-developed, meaning there are lots of accessories, lenses, etc readily available
Excellent for the portrait and landscape photographers out there
Shoots film–and the larger negatives are great for prints (but digital backs are available)
Body and lenses are comparatively large and bulky, and can be heavy
Lack of built-in meter, autofocus, flash
Slow to operate
Shooting at slower speeds necessitates a tripod; actually, a tripod is probably a good idea most of the time
Maximum shutter speed of 1/500 can be limiting (and may necessitate the use of ND filters)
Bodies, lenses, and accessories cost a premium
Qualified repair-people can be hard to come by, and are expensive when you do
“Salute” – Anna Maria Island, FL
You’ll notice that I listed the fact that it shoots film as both a positive and a negative. That’s because it is…sort of. I happen to love film, and the look it gives. I also love shooting with film cameras more that I do with digital cameras (if you have to ask, I can’t explain it). But film is getting expensive, and with medium format you only get 12 frames per roll, as opposed to the more traditional 24 or 26 exposures that you get with 35mm film. Additionally, processing and scanning add to the time–and cost–of shooting film. With a roll of medium format film costing around $5 these days, and processing anywhere from $5-12 per roll (depending on the vendor used and if you get your negatives scanned, to say nothing of prints), there can be a considerable cost involved. And that is after you already shelled out your hard-earned money for the equipment.
So…that is quite a list, with arguments for and against. The biggest barrier you’ll probably find is the cost of getting into such a system. There are no two ways around it: Hasselblad is expensive. Is it worth it to you? I can’t make that call. All I know is that I love mine, even though it is a bit of a “specialty” camera for me. I don’t take it everywhere with me, and it isn’t an all-purpose camera by any means. If you are looking for one camera, look elsewhere. If you want a camera for really anything but portraiture or landscapes, you should also look elsewhere, as the Hasselblad system isn’t suited to much else. But that isn’t to say that you can’t use it for anything else, just that there are better options for you.
“Elliot” – Anna Maria Island, FL
I have illustrated this post with portraits, but I have done other things with it as well. I used my old Mamiya TLR for years before finally investing in my Hasselblad 501CM when I stumbled on a great deal earlier this year. For me, the Hasselblad is a camera that I use for certain things. I love the results I get from the camera, but for most things it’s too large to carry around with me. When I am traveling light, or even just heading out for a day with my family, I much prefer the size and weight of my Leica MP and a lens or two.
All in all, I’m quite happy with the Haasselblad 501CM. I look forward to years of shooting with it, and I am already planning a vacation with it in the near future so that I can work on my landscape photography 🙂
“Self-Portrait” – Anna Maria Island, FL
If this review was helpful to you, leave a comment and let me know. It’s not scientific by any means, but it’s as thorough as I can likely be. I’m not a qualified camera-reviewer, just a guy who actually uses the equipment and enjoys it, and figured some others might benefit from some thoughts I had on it.
If you enjoy my work, I’d love it if you took the time to comment, or told others about my blog. You can find my website here if you want to see more of my work.
Yesterday’s post on Anna Maria Island, Florida was all about Fuji Acros 100, which is a black-and-white negative film. Today’s shots are all using Fuji’s Provia 100F, a medium format slide film which I really love. In addition to the Fuji Provia, all of the shots in today’s post were done using my Hasselblad 501CM. I touched on the strengths and weaknesses of the Hasselblad somewhat yesterday, and won’t do so again. Instead, I’d like to let the images to the talking today!
Anna Maria Island, Florida, is about an hour’s drive south of Tampa, on the Gulf coast of Florida. I have only ever been there during the summer; perhaps the winter months would yield much different results, from a photographic perspective. The light is incredibly bright during the day, but the evenings and mornings can give great results, as the light softens up and generally gives a great, golden glow that is harder to get up north. While it is possible, there is a much smaller window for getting such wonderful light.
“Flag” – Anna Maria Island, FL
I wish I had been able to get around more while I was on the island. Due to my recovery from my appendectomy, I was forced to rest more than I had wanted to. Still, I did have some opportunities to get out and shoot around the island–mostly in the places we usually go to when on vacation there. We stay around the north end of the island. The south side of the island is where the town of Anna Maria is, but I can’t say I have ever gotten down there to see it.
“Beach” – Anna Maria Island, FL
Ever since I started shooting film, I have enjoyed using slide film. When shooting on medium format, this is even more the case. Looking at the huge, square negatives of medium format slides are truly incredible. Even in that smaller size, the level of detail is evident. The colors are rich and vibrant, and without a loupe and simply holding it up to the light you can get a great experience!
I tend to favor the Provia over Fuji’s Velvia line of reversal film. I find the saturation too high, personally, on the Velvia. The colors are too bright, and too saturated, for me. Provia hits the spot for me with a range of colors, and skin tones. Though I haven’t ever tried Fuji’s Astia, I have heard rave reviews from others who have used it, particularly in portraiture.
“Florida Flora” – Anna Maria Island, FL
I am still getting used to shooting with the Hasselblad. I find that I often don’t take it with me since it is rather large and bulky (compared to my smaller rangefinders and the like), and so taking it out means that I have to be focused on it. I also carried a second lens for it–the 50mm f/4–and that is incredibly heavy and large, meaning that the whole kit needs a dedicated space. It’s not something you can just squeeze into a corner of your carry-on, as I can with my Leica rangefinders.
For anyone considering the Hasselblad system, the slow operation, and limiting maximum shutter speed of 1/500 are also an issue to keep in mind. In fact, using a tripod is almost a must when using it in anything other than bright light as well; you can lock up the mirror to reduce camera shake with each exposure, but that means that the focusing screen is useless, since with the mirror locked up you can’t see (it is an SLR after all–this is less of an issue with TLRs like my old Mamiya C220).
“Exploration” – Anna Maria Island, FL
On the whole, I am glad that I took it to Florida. I got images that are different from what I can get with my Nikon DSLR. I enjoy using the Hasselblad, and I am glad that I have it for those times that I want to shoot medium format–the results you can get with this system are truly spectacular, if you keep in mind its shortcomings/weaknesses. My Nikon D700, in contrast, is incredibly versatile and can perform in a variety of settings, light conditions, weather conditions, and always gives good results. In fact, you can shoot that thing in near darkness and you’ll usually get usable results. It really is nothing short of a technical marvel.
Then again, it doesn’t always have that bit of magic that you can get with medium format. Call me romantic, but I really think there is a certain je ne sai quoi with the Hasselbald, and film more generally.
“Mother” – Anna Maria Island, FL
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your experiences with the Hasselblad system. Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Put them in the comments below!
As always, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you like my work. If you like my work, consider clicking the link at the top right of the page to check out my books that I have made, or stop by my website to see other work of mine. Also, let others know about my work by sharing the link to my blog, or by using the social media links down below to let others enjoy my photography!
This summer, as every summer for the past several years, I went to Anna Maria Island, Florida, for a week of vacation. Extended family all descends upon the small island each summer for the final week in July to enjoy each other’s company, the beach, and the hot weather. This summer was no different, except that due to my recent appendectomy, I was not allowed to be in the water in order to make sure my stitches did not get wet.
Here is a selection of images I took with my Hasselblad 501CM this summer, and a few words to accompany them. Enjoy!
“Relaxing” – Anna Maria Island, FL
Each summer I take along a selection of cameras. As readers of the blog will know, I take photographs of virtually everything, all the time; vacations and trips are of particular visual interest to me. This summer, I took along my Hasselblad 501CM, my Nikon D700 (the workhorse!), and my iPhone. I ended up using my iPhone quite a bit, and even put together a travel journal on flickr which was then published into a small book.
“Afternoon” – Anna Maria Island, FL
My big DSLR was used quite a bit as well; the versatility and durability of it always reminds me why I still have it. While I don’t particularly enjoy using it (I much prefer the rangefinder experience), it always gives great results and never misses a shot. Lastly, my Hasselblad. For those of you who don’t know, the Hasselblad 501CM is a medium format film camera–meaning it produces negatives that are far larger than those of a 35mm film camera, giving richer details and dynamic range to the image, and allows it to be printed at a far larger size–that has a fantastic suite of lenses. If you have never tried a Hasselblad, you really should. It’s amazing.
“Swimming” – Anna Maria Island, FL
The Hasselblad does some things really well, and other things not so well. It is not a street-shooter’s camera; while it can be used for street scenes, it is large, with a pretty hefty shutter, and is not designed to be quick, or capture that fleeting “decisive moment”. It excels at portraiture, due to the lenses and details that it captures. Landscapes are also one of its strengths. Unfortunately for me, both of these are not my particular strength, so the Hasselblad does require some getting used to. But the results are worth it.
“Spring Breakers” – Anna Maria Island, FL
For the series of shots in today’s post, I used Fuji Acros 100. It was my first experience using this film, so I was unsure what to expect from it. Luckily, print film is pretty forgiving with exposure latitude, and so I really had nothing to worry about, despite the harsh, bright afternoon sun in Florida. I also took several rolls of Fuji’s Provia 100F, and that film is less forgiving; the few times I got the exposure wrong by a bit, it showed–more on that in the next post.
“Dark Clouds” – Anna Maria Island, FL
I have been to the same small island, staying at the same beach-front resort, so many times now that the familiarity can prove a hindrance in my photography. The shots I have taken there that have worked, especially the stunning shots in the evening sunsets over the ocean, have been largely well received. However, I challenged myself to do something different this year. Because I was recovering from surgery, I was not able to venture out across the island as I had hoped. Still, I resolved not to take any sunset shots, and instead focused on portraiture, and a few landscapes, with the medium format. I am reasonably happy with the results, and I hope you are too.
“Self-Portrait” – Anna Maria Island, FL
I hope, at some point in the near future, to do a round-up/review/my impressions of the Hasselblad 501CM. I’m not sure if there is any interest in that out there, but if there is please let me know.
If you have questions about lenses, cameras, or film–let me know!
If you wonder about Anna Maria Island at all–let me know!
If you have any feedback or comments on my words, or photos–let me know!
See you soon loyal followers…thanks for staying with me and continuing to make the blog a success.
As you know, I spent the last week in Florida, on Anna Maria Island. The island is a bout an hour south of Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. This trip is sort of an annual tradition, and my extended family gathers there the same week in July each year, at the same resort, for a week of relaxation and catching up with the rest of the extended family. This is a tradition that pre-dates me, and even my parents; my great-grandparents started the tradition decades ago. They used to own property on the island, but sold that years ago as it became increasingly built-up as a tourist destination. Much has changed, and much has stayed the same.
Here is the account of my trip.
I got to the airport in Minneapolis, and was not greeted by the best of weather.
I settled into my seat and waited for takeoff, knowing I had a layover in Atlanta before traveling on to Sarasota, FL. My layover passed without any incident.
Once I landed in Sarasota, it was a short car ride to the beach, and my home away from home for a week every July.
The next morning, I was up early. It gets so hot during the day that early morning and late evening are the only times of day that are remotely pleasant to be outside. So, I took my coffee at the beach.
There was lots of swimming and fun in the water all week long. My son in particular never really wants to get out.
We had some inclement weather, as we do every year. This year did seem to have more, however.
When it is raining and thundering, you can’t be in the pool. Instead, we all huddle under the overhang in front of the units and wait out the storm. When it rains in Florida, it rains. Hard.
Of course most of the time, it is sunny and hot. The beach is literally at our doorstep, and so people like to walk down and enjoy the Gulf of Mexico all day long.
And it’s not just the water that is an attraction. The sand has a certain allure, as well.
We got off the beach, and away from the resort at times too. The local ice cream shop is always a favorite.
The bay and the local pier are also fun to visit. The bay is on the opposite side of the island, away from the Gulf of Mexico, and is full of people and wildlife.
There are always great sunsets over the bay.
Mornings are great for walks on the beach!
There are always great things to see, if you take the time to look.
Of course, as hot as it is, I wasn’t allowed to swim. Having just had my appendectomy two weeks previous, I wasn’t allowed to submerge my stitches for risk of them bursting. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t.
Venturing out for some shopping can be nice, but always be aware that people here are on a different schedule–“island time” as it is known.
Heading into town isn’t frightfully exciting. Despite the palms, a parking lot is still a parking lot. And a strip mall is still a strip mall.
Of course, most of the time everyone just relaxed in the pool, and enjoyed being on vacation and being with family.
No swimming, but I had to get a tan somehow…so out I went in my suit to stand in the heat.
Everyone else wanted to get some sunshine on their skin too. We don’t get as much as we’d like up north!
There are always good sunsets at night. Everyone gathers on the beach to watch the sun fade, capping another day of vacation. The last sunset of the week is always tinged with the disappointment of another vacation come and gone, and another year to wait for the next sunset.
Eventually, we all packed up and headed for home. Some drove.
And I flew.
See you next year, Florida.
If you liked the post, check out the full set of the travel journal over on my flickr page. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the post, the full set, or anything else you want to say! If you enjoyed it, please consider following the blog. If you already follow, please consider telling someone else about the blog who might also enjoy my work.
I’m off for a week of sun and surf on Anna Maria Island, Florida! I will see you all when I get back. I may be blogging down there, and I may not be. Honestly, I’d say it’s 50/50. I kind of like the idea of unplugging for a week…
So we’ll see. If you don’t hear from me, then I’ll see you all on the flip side.
Part three of the series on my 2009 trip to Anna Maria Island, FL comes to you from my lovely Mamiya C220 TLR (twin lens reflex). It was my first medium format film camera (Holga notwithstanding), and until the last few weeks, my only medium format camera. I have really loved medium format since I started shooting it. The clarity and detail you can get out of a 6×6 negative is really stunning. My favorite is Kodak Ektachrome E100G…it’s a really, really, great film in 120 (it is also very nice in 35mm, but it is my favorite only in medium format).
Tomorrow there will be more shots from the Mamiya C220, from this trip. I hope you like them!
Another series from the archives is coming…and again it is from Anna Maria Island, Florida. If you are just joining the party, you should take a look at both the 2008 and 2011 (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) Florida retrospectives. The year is 2009, however, and this time the trip was documented on film. I took my Nikon SLR and my trusty Mamiya C220 TLR (Twin Lens Reflex), and a load of film. This was my first real experience with slide film, and I was instantly hooked. I haven’t looked back, honestly, and slide film is still what I prefer if given the option.
Going back to the same location every summer, with (for the most part) the same group of people, does have some benefits. The familiarity does allow some latitude for photographing the place, and the people. I can feel free to take risks with what I shoot, knowing that I will be back again the next year. It also lets me see things differently; once you’ve seen the same sunrise and sunset, year after year, you don’t shoot the same shots with (and I do mean with, and not of, the sunset) it. That doesn’t mean the sunsets become any less magnificent–in fact, they remain breath-taking most of the time–but you do see it differently.
I hope you like the series on Anna Maria Island, Florida, 2009. If you do, I’d love to hear it.