Hasselblad Focusing Issues

Hasselblad Focusing Issues

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

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If at first you don’t succeed try try again!

Hasselblad Backfocusing
Hasselblad + Sonnar 180mm f4 CF

This is a big article so you may want to make a cuppa and find a comfy chair before you begin!

*Model photos included in this post were all taken throughout this period but seemed less effected than others photos by the focusing issues I was experiencing.

Recap of my history using Hasselblad V-Series cameras…

She's arrived! 😁 #selfie 3 #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #mediumformat #filmcamera #film #6x6 #hasselbladlove #ilovefilm #filmisnotdead #beautiful #cameraporn www.MrLeica.com

My first Hasselblad camera (Hasselblad 501C) + the holy trinity of Hasselblad lenses

My first Hasselblad camera was a near mint Hasselblad 501C camera with matching Hasselblad A12 film back and the standard 80mm f2.8 kit lens. As part of the Hasselblad camera bundle I got two additional lenses and that gave me what some people class as the holy trinity of Hasselblad lenses, 50mm, 80mm, 150mm (Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF, Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF, Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF). With this trio of lenses I was able to obtain sharp pleasing results with the Hasselblad 501C almost every time.

Meet the gang! My new Hasselblad trio - 50mm, 80mm, 150mm. Fresh back from yesterday's wedding in London! #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #zeiss #distagon #planar #sonnar #prism #filmcamera #filmwedding #film #mediumformat #6x6 #cameraporn #ilovefilm #ishootf

My Hasselblad 501C camera died 😦

Life was good with the new-to-me Hasselblad 501C and I was using the camera on most of my film photography photoshoots. I was then on a shoot following a full day of using the Hasselblad with a cable release and the shutter release button pushed inside the camera body and jammed when I went to take a shot. The weight of the shutter release cable had sheared off the outer housing surrounding the shutter release button meaning it was then hanging lose and so jammed inside the Hasselblad camera body. The Hasselblad 501C is still in this state until I find time to get it repaired.

IMG Paris Model

Hasselblad 500cm Portrait

Paris Fashion Week

Replacement Hasselblad Body – Hasselblad 500CM

With no time to repair the Hasselblad 501C and more film photography shoots booked in the diary I went on eBay and bought a Hasselblad 500CM camera body (only) as it looked the cheapest solution. I moved the Acute Matte cross hair focusing screen and A12 film back from the Hasselblad 501C to the Hasselblad 500CM and had my lens to attach. I then went through a phase of using my 35mm film Leica cameras more and also quite a long period passed with me not developing any film due to time constraints (training for the Ironman event). Many months later when I developed the film from the Hasselblad 500CM camera that I used on my Paris model photography trip, Poland trip and others I noticed I had misfocused a high proportion of my photos which was both surprising and disappointing (as unusual). By the end of me using the Hasselblad 501C camera I had got into a routine of using the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF for most of my portraits (see my Hamburg Hasselblad portraits blog post). When I moved over to the 500CM I thought it would be nice to go back to using a longer lens again so opted for the Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens. Once I saw all these misfocused photos I thought it must be my eye sight not being good enough at focusing with a longer lens. (I do wear glasses to drive but don’t wear them day to day otherwise). I didn’t think any more of it.

Hasselblad 500CM
Horse Model Portrait
Hasselblad 500CM + T-Max
Hasselblad Portraiture
Hasselblad Classic
Hasselblad Classic

Zeiss 100mm Planar f3.5 CF lens – Tenerife Photoshoot

In autumn 2017 I got fully back into Hasselblad camera shooting mode and invested in a new lens, a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF for my model photoshoot in Tenerife. I took the Hasselblad 500CM camera with a waist level finder (WLF) (rather than the usual 45 degree prism finder setup) and shot the camera handheld rather than with the usual monopod. (All because I was travelling light so could carry less gear). I eagerly developed the film from my shoots with Lindsay in Tenerife and to my huge disappointment most of the photos were again misfocused.

Hasselblad Headshot
Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5
Hasselblad 500CM Fashion
Hasselblad Zeiss 100mm CF
Fuji Velvia 100 Cross Processed
C41 Crossed Processed Velvia 100

Zeiss 180mm Sonnar f4 CF lens – Poland Photoshoot

(..and for Hasselblad wedding)

Following my disappointment in Tenerife I pinned the blame of the misfocus issues on the WLF focusing being less accurate than the 45 degree prism finder and me being less stable handheld that with a monopod. I then bought a Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens to take for my next model photography trip to Poland. I refitted the 45 degree prism finder to the Hasselblad 500CM and use the camera with a monopod for every photo. I also took with me the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF lens. I used both the 180mm Sonnar and 60mm Distagon lenses in Poland and again returned super excited to develop the film. I scanned the 6×6 negatives and to my horror the photos were still not sharp and some were completely out of focus (focus not on the eyes). After closer inspection it seemed all the photos were back focused. That being, the focus point on the final image is further back on the subject than intended compared to what was seen when looking through the viewfinder. For example I focused on eyes and hair at back of head was sharp instead with the eyes being out of focus. This was the case when using both the 180mm Sonnar lens and 60mm Distagon lens. Some photos were just about postable and could be recovered a little in post processing but others were straight to the bin. What a huge disappointment (again). I need camera I can rely on and expected better from Hasselblad.

Hasselblad 180mm Sonnar f4
Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF
Hasselblad 500CM Fashion
Zeiss Sonnar 180mm Portrait
Hasselblad Model Photography

Hasselblad Focusing Issues / Misfocused images – Possible Causes

I trawled the internet for possible causes of the Hasselblad back focusing issues and people wrote about it being due to user error – perhaps tired eyes (no – not for every photo), camera shake (no – used monopod (and release cable for some photos) and shot at a shutter speed of 1/125 mostly) or the subject/ models moving (likely for the worst out of focus examples but not every photo). Other possible causes documented for Hasselblad focusing issues were – focusing screen loose and not flat / aligned, mirror not aligned / become lose, film back does not match film body or film back defective so film plane not flat to camera focusing plane. I checked the Hasselblad mirror and it seemed OK. The acute matte screen I was using in the 500CM was out of the Hasselblad 501C but it looked flat (if a little lose in the clips). The film back I was using on the 500CM was also from the 501C. Perhaps this mismatch of newer A12 film back on older Hasselblad 500CM camera body was the issue but it is the only working Hasselblad A12 film back I own.

Replacement Hasselblad 500CM camera, lens, film backs bundle

I decided to keep my eye on eBay for a bargain and managed to win an auction for another Hasselblad 500CM bundle with an older 45 degree prism finder (TTL version), an older/ smaller 80mm Planar f2.8 C kit lens and 2x older A12 film backs. I now planned to try my own Hasselblad lenses on the new-to-me Hasselblad 500CM camera body and film back combination and fingers crossed I will be back to sharp and beautiful high definition 6×6 film scans for my portraiture, fashion and Hasselblad wedding photography.

No Hasselblad Wedding Photography 😦

I had an all analogue film wedding photography booking just days after returning from Poland and I had to make the decision not to pack the a Hasselblad camera as I knew the results would be sub-standard and not 100% sharp (in focus where I planned to be in focus). I was looking forward to using the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm for Hasselblad wedding photography (part of the reason for my purchase) so I hope I get the opportunity to give more wedding couple some beautiful Hasselblad wedding photos on their big day once the camera is working again. (Below – I used my Mamiya 6 camera)

Mamiya 6 Wedding

Fingers Crossed!

The new Hasselblad 500CM camera was due to arrive soon so fingers crossed the matching camera body and film back will resolve my Hasselblad focusing issues.

New Hasselblad Camera 🙂

My second Hasselblad 500CM camera bundle arrived and had its own issues! A lag between pressing shutter release button and me having to wiggle the film advance lever to release the shutter)(annoying!). I did however do a test roll with my Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens and the resulting photos were in focus and sharp with the lens wide open! Hooray! I can see skin pores again on a models face. Back to the image quality I expect from a Hasselblad camera. So at least I now have one Hasselblad 500CM camera setup that focuses correctly.

Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF
Hasselblad +  Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5
Hasselblad 100mm f3.5

Camera Museum London

I am a regular visitor (every time I visit London for photoshoots) to the Camera Museum London which is a one stop shop for Hasselblad cameras. I had been mentioning my frustrations and Hasselblad out of focus problems over a few months and they contacted me to say a guy had been into the shop describing similar Hasselblad misfocus difficulties. Apparently he had ordered himself a Hasselblad split image focus screen so he could see better and hoped that would fix the issue. The Camera Museum suggested to me that a split image focus screen may also solve my focus issues and perhaps I should try that option next. For my close up Hasselblad headshots at least this shouldn’t be the case as I can see clearly each eye lash (but still the photo is not focused) but for further away subjects a split screen would 100% help my focus accuracy.

Hasselblad Studio Shoot

Hasselblad Acute Matte D Split Image Focus Screen

Despite being able to see well close up after a distance of a few meters I do find it difficult to focus accurately. I reconsidered a Hasselblad split image focus screen (after ruling it out until now) as I love rangefinder focusing (such as my Leica M cameras). I got back on eBay and managed to pick up a boxed mint Hasselblad Acute Matte D split image focus screen ahead of my next Hasselblad photoshoot. Hasselblad focus screens are expensive even for the non-acute matte glass but I needed a screen to benefit my sight and accuracy so I invested in the Acute Matte D version. The glass should hold its value and if the split screen focusing view doesn’t work for me I can always sell it.

hasselblad acute matte d split prism focus screen

Hasselblad Focus Screen Upside Down?

Camera Museum London got in touch with me again and apparently the guy that bought the split image screen was still having focus issues. They checked his camera and his focus screen was mounted upside down (with the straight/ cut metal edges up and the rounded edge down into the camera). My heart sunk! I had already checked my first Hasselblad 500CM focus screen orientation against my Hasselblad 501C and both were the same direction. They were both.. rounded side down! I checked my latest Hasselblad 500CM screen that was focusing correctly.. rounded edges up! When I had bought the first 500CM I had put the screen from the 501C into the 500CM upside down unknowingly.

*Picture below shows the “straight /cut” metal edge which should point into the camera

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Happy Ending!

I flipped the existing Hasselblad focus screen in my first Hasselblad 500CM camera and shot a test roll. Sharp images! I then fitted the Acute Matte D split image focus screen. Again sharp images but also WOW love the new split image view! I can see beyond 1-2 meters distance and focus accurately and with confidence! This is a first in my Hasselblad photography era! Good times ahead! 🙂

Hasselblad Wedding

To Conclude and Thanks

It took a while but I got there eventually!  I now have two Hasselblad 500CM cameras that both focus accurately and I use them side by side on my Hasselblad shoots, whether model photography or Hasselblad wedding photos (see mock wedding shoot with models Harriett and Ash to follow)(preview example above). I will also get my Hasselblad 501C camera repaired once I get chance.

A big thank you to Ward at Camera Museum London for solving my issue. I highly recommend you drop in to say hello to them if you are ever visiting London. They have endless cameras to look at (and buy!), hold a wealth of Hasselblad knowledge and serve great coffee in their cafe too! (Formerly known as “Camera Cafe”).

Leica M3 Calibration

Camera Cafe

Thanks for reading!

Matt

Related Posts

Hasselblad 500CM Studio Shoot

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Hasselblad, Leica & Polish Models

Hasselblad, Leica & Polish Models

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

October 2017

Here is the blog diary I wrote to document my last model photography trip to Poland on the flight home.  Sorry it took a while to share!

10 Models in 2 days.. Poland

Leica Summilux ASPH Portrait

Choice of Cameras

I really enjoyed using the Hasselblad 500CM medium format film camera in Tenerife and before I went I replaced the PM45 prism viewfinder with the much lighter and more compact waist level finder (WLF). I had been happy the camera looked more ‘classic Hasselblad’ and that it fitted into my camera bag easier but the final photos are what matters. When I scanned the film from Tenerife I noticed I had much more photos that were sub-standard as they were not tack sharp and many mis-focused slightly. I could only think it was me being less accurate at focusing using the WLF rather than the prism viewfinder.  The WLF is certainly more difficult for me to find focus. I refitted the Hasselblad PM45 prism finder in hope that my photos get back to the standard I demand.  I think my sharpest Hasselblad photos to date were model photography images shot in Hamberg with the 60mm Zeiss Planar lens but I also had success with it in New York and Poland previously using the 150mm Zeiss Sonnar and 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar lenses.

I’ve started using a different small camera bag to my usual Billingham Hadley Digital (perfect for Leica cameras but not for the Hasselblad camera shape) as it gives me a bit more space and enough room for all of the below mentioned  cameras and lenses.  It is a really old bag I got free with an eBay film camera purchase but it does the job I need well.

Polish Girls

Hasselblad and Leica

The Hasselblad setup using the 180mm Sonnar and ISO 400 speed film will require enough light for a minimum aperture of f4 and shutter speed of ideally 1/125 or more (I will use the 500CM camera with a monopod to increase my chances of sharp photos).  I therefore packed a speedlight to boost light levels / brightness if needed.

I brought along the Leica M3 to use with available light. Using the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens and Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film I can shoot at f1.4, 1/50, ISO 800 (easily) in low light.  When there is sufficient light I will use the Hasselblad as much as possible followed by the Leica M3 (moreso in less light).  For all digital photos I will use the Leica M240 camera.

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm

Final Kit List

    • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
    • Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 CF lens
    • Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens
    • Leica M240 digital camera
    • Leica M3 film camera
    • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
    • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens
    • Carbon Monopod
    • Speedlight

Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF

Day 1 Model Photography

On my first day I had 4 models starting from 8:30. It was about 10 degrees colder than when I left the UK, overcast and raining in Sopot so not ideal conditions for a beach location shoot. The first photosession was all inside and all digital. The second shoot was a new model from the local model agency, Malva Models who I have worked with before. We managed to get outside briefly but it was cold and the rain kept starting again.

For the afternoon I was to revisit a makeup artists apartment that I shot in December 2016.  The MUA had invited her friend too so I had two models and seemingly unlimited creativity in terms of hair styles, makeup styles, cool props, a few different continuous light sources, light stands, a studio backdrop and a cute little dog called Boris to help us. The first 3hrs passed really quickly and I loved the results I was seeing. Next the wine came out and the shoot got extended as it was going so well. After that there was offer of pizza and more wine before the next look but my Leica M240 battery had almost died. Not wanting to miss out on the fun I ran the 2km back to my hotel, grabbed my spare battery that I had accidentally left behind and then 2km back to the apartment just in time for the pizza arriving. After very tasty food and more wine I setup the lights for a bedroom set. Throughout the photosession I was metering with the Leica M240 often shooting at the settings set for the Hasselblad film camera, f4, 1/60, ISO400.  I used both the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and the Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 for wider shots or mainly for when there was not enough room for me to walk back with the 180mm lens to compose.  For the Hasselblad I was using mostly 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film metered at ISO 400 and 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 black and white in the Leica M3.   I used the Leica M3 camera without flash and with the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4  lens shot wide open at 1/50.  After a very enjoyable afternoon and evening I finally got back to my hotel at about 21:30.  A perfect end to the first day and I could not have asked for anything better.

Behind the scenes!

Day 2 Model Photography

Former Miss Poland picked me up at 8:15 in a little sports car then we travelled to her apartment for the photoshoot.  I managed to finish the expired roll of Kodak Portra 800 shooting on her balcony using available light and then most of the other photos were inside with digital. We even managed some lifestyle photos with her dog.   As time goes on I seem to enjoy lifestyle photography more and more and it is one of the looks/ styles I enjoy to photograph.

Next I had another agency model I had spotted on Instagram but also from Malva Models.  I thought she was local when I invited her but she actually lived 3hrs away and came by bus. The weather was a bit brighter, warmer and drier so I made use of the beach location and shot almost all the shoot outside. When the light levels are low working on the beach helps as the water and sand reflect light up onto the model like a giant reflector.  The Zeiss Sonnar 180mm telephoto lens was a joy to use out in the open and in these conditions the 40mm and 50mm Leica M mount lenses suddenly felt too short. I wish I had brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens or Leica Summicron 90mm for more of a telephoto look. Next time!

Hasselblad 180mm Sonnar f4

The third model I spotted on Facebook and had sent her an invite on the chance she would respond.  It later became apparent she was signed to a Warsaw model agency but lived closer to Gdansk. From the first few test photos I knew it was going to be a good shoot. Even as a new model she could hold a pose and eye contact better than some of the full-time models and took direction really well.  This was perfect for the Hasselblad film camera that is a little slower to operate than the Leica M3. The next model cancelled so we kept shooting and I loaded a roll of colour Fuji Pro 400H to fire off in quick succession using the last of the evening sun. I really hope the Hasselblad photos look as good as they appeared in the viewfinder!

Fuji 400H B&W

The model after that was late so I had half an hour to run to a shop to buy some fresh bread to eat to keep me going and then I walked along the beach front to the pier to meet the model and her friend for an after sunset low light shoot.  We shot until it was completely dark and then it was back to the hotel for an indoor shoot with a girl I worked with a few years ago. It was a nice catchup and hopefully give a confidence boost plus some new photos for Instagram and Facebook.  We finished about 22:00 and that was the last shoot done for Poland. I had an early flight home the next morning.

Leica Summilux ASPH 50 Portrait

Summary

October is probably too late in the season to plan for lots of outdoor photos on the beach in Poland so I was happy I could use the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm outside as planned. In all my previous visits to Sopot, the longest lens I have used is the 120mm Zeiss Macro-Planar so it will be good to compare the look of the 120mm vs. 180mm lenses at the same location.

I was very lucky to have been invited to the makeup artists apartment for most of the first day as we had heavy rain and not much light. My plan for the two days was to shoot inside the hotel as little as possible (as I have visited it so many times) and to instead find different backdrops to use.  I did reasonably well to achieve this goal I think.  My previous visit to Poland was mostly models photography with flash against a white hotel wall so I think this visit should hopefully bring more interesting pictures.

Leica Model Photography

I have high hopes for the Hasselblad 500CM film photos (especially with the new Sonnar 180mm lens) so I shot 7 of the 8 rolls of 120 film I took with me.  I used the Leica M3 less and shot 2 1/2 rolls of 35mm. As with all my model shoots some models screamed out ‘need to shoot this on film’ (because of the pose/ look, the clothes, the location, the light or all of them combined) and other less so. As such I think most of the film was shot with 3 or 4 models of the total 10.

Doing a shorter more intense two days rather than four days in Poland worked better as I had almost no time wasted/ down time compared to previous visits. I enjoyed meeting / and discovering some new faces and I will certainly keep in touch for future visits.

Polish Girls

Thanks

As with all my model photography trips, a huge thanks to the models, especially those that didn’t know me previously and who trusted me to give them some nice photos in exchange for their time. In no order thank you to models Dorota, Kinga, Pola, Marta P, Marta W, Weronika, Marysia, Paulina, Natalia, Kinga S, to Malwina at Malva Models agency and to Monika at the hotel.

I still haven’t developed all the film and I have held back some of the developed Hasselblad film images for a Hasselblad specific blog post that will follow this one.  As always more photos will be shared to my Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and my Flickr as I get chance.  Thanks

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Model Photography – Tenerife

Model Photography – Tenerife

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Intro

This morning I woke up tired, still smiling, and more tanned than I was a week ago. I had landed back in the UK in the early hours after three full fun packed days of model photography in warm sunny Tenerife! As with all my overseas photoshoots here is the usual summary of what I got up to, some camera specifics and a few thoughts thrown in too.

Olympus Pen-F Film

Camera Bag

  • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
  • Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Olympus Pen F film camera
  • Olympus Zuiko 35mm f1.8 lens
  • Olympus 35RC film camera
  • Leica M240 digital camera
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux 109) digital camera

 

L1002867v2crrop

Cameras.. including dusting off my Hasselblad 500cm for a trip away

I edited a Hasselblad film scan that I had taken in Paris back in February and I forgot quite how good the detail is in the 6×6 film negatives compared to 35mm. When I bought my first Hasselblad, a 501c, I really struggled to focus using the waist level viewfinder (WLF) so bought a PM20 prism viewfinder. I found this easier to use and the Hasselblad became more similar to the Contax 645 in that regard. I absolutely love the magic of my Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 WLF so I’ve always been a bit disappointed that I didn’t get on well with the Hasselblad WLF and the acute matte bright focusing screen (glass). I think I often use the excuse that I’m not taking the Hasselblad as it is too big as this can be the case but it doesn’t need to be. The PM45 prism does add both weight and size to the camera and the Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 is bigger than the kit lens. I’ve never been a fan of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens as I think it is softer than the 50mm, 60mm, 100mm and 120mm Hasselblad lenses in my opinion (the 150mm is buttery soft but in a great way). In 2015 when I was in full Hasselblad swing and fast become Mr Hasselblad rather than Mr Leica I bought a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 because it is almost as small as the 80mm yet crazy sharp and with little distortion. I had it a week then decided it was a lot of money when I could just use the 120mm Macro Planar instead to achieve equally sharp results yet also get closer to my subjects without the need of an extension tube. I saw a classic shot of a Hasselblad 501c on Instagram and it reminded me how pretty the camera looks with their WLF compared to with a prism finder. A Hassy just doesn’t look quite the same without the WLF and it just seems right to see the image on the top of the camera. I decided to put my WLF back on my Hasselblad 500cm (the 501c awaits repair) and if I centre my subject on the ground glass cross hair for the part I want critical focus I can see to focus. On most of my other non-rangefinder cameras I can see to focus anyway within the frame but the Hasselblad Acute matte screen goes a little pearlescent/foggy if look at some angles. I practiced focusing with close up subjects and it seemed doable. I then switched back to view the same subject with the prism viewfinder and noticed the view was much less magnified. That made me like the WLF more and then main two advantages of having the WLF fitted is 1, it packs much smaller (and lighter) and 2, it just looks right and how it should be used (and very cool too!).

RW_151v2.jpg

So with that I now had a compact (standard rather than enlarged) Hasselblad 500cm camera body and film back ready to go. I was then back to the debate of what lens to take. The 120mm is big but very sharp and lets me go close but I find it makes me take mostly headshots as it sucks me into the subject. The 60mm focal length was my standard lens when I used my ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) in my earlier photography days. It let me go closer than an 80mm and the 35mm field of view was perfect for environmental portraits and street scenes when I was shooting in India and other places (search ARAX on my Flickr feed for examples). I bought the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF when I got the Hasselblad 501c and have used that for perhaps 50%+ of my photos. At the time I liked the images and for portraits of men I love the distortion a 60mm lens gives up close. For girls however I’m now starting to prefer the flatter less distorted view of a slightly longer lens (to avoid the big noise look!) the 60mm is also smaller than the 120mm Macro but still bigger than the 80mm. I was then back to deciding whether I would be happy using the little 80mm lens or not. I viewed a few 80mm lens photos I could find and didn’t hate them and then I viewed the few 100mm photos I had taken when I had the lens for a week. Wow they were sharp, almost too sharp even at f4-f5.6. Two days before my flight I got in touch with my friend at the now called Camera Museum in London and they kindly shipped out another Zeiss 100mm f3.5 CF lens for me. So I was all set with my new compact Hasselblad 500cm setup with WLF and uber sharp yet compact 100mm lens. My Hasselblad was looking sexy again!

IMG_4644.JPG

After taking my Leica film cameras on almost every overseas model photography trip I decided to mix it up a bit and pack my pocket size full frame 35mm Olympus RC35 as I was hoping it would be bright conditions and the camera is super sharp stopped down a little. I also packed another camera I have a real soft spot for, the amazing Olympus Pen-F half frame film camera. As I shoot 99% models/ portraits I often find I don’t photo other subjects on film as I think I will never use the images. The real beauty of the Pen-F is with 72 photos per roll you can be snap happy and photos anything and everything. I’ve started including a few non people photos on my @MrLeicaCom Instagram feed so I thought I could try to get some little arty shots with the camera in addition to portraits. Considering the Olympus Pen-F is half frame you would expect the film scan of the tiny negatives to be really low resolution but in reality it seems the opposite. I have made some crazy sharp photos with the Olympus Pen F camera. The effect can be made even more dramatic I you load fine grain film like black and white Ilford Pan F 50 or the amazing (yet pricey) Fuji Provia 100F E6 slide film. I decided to treat the Pen-F to a roll of 35mm Provia 100 and would shoot more black and white film in the Olympus RC35. For the Hasselblad I packed both colour film and black and white film and even included a roll of expired E6 Fuji Velvia 100 to shoot and then try cross processing it in my C41 Tetanol kit chemicals. I have two Sekonic lightmeters but I find because I am always shooting digital and film together I meter with the digital camera LCD instead. I packed the little Lumix LX100 (Leica DLux109) as a backup and my Leica M240 as the main digital camera. For my workflow with models I like to use a digital camera to warm them up first rather than shooting film straight from the first pose. The digital LCD also helps me show models what I am trying to achieve and often gives them a confidence boost once they know they look good on camera. If I was shooting only film I think a new model especially would struggle to not be able to see how she looks plus they can’t see what I am doing nor if the results are worth their time in front of the camera. Models can also spot things on the back of the camera LCD images I may not such as clothing malfunctions or hair not behaving itself or need for more makeup etc. As such this hybrid style of shooting using both film and digital side by side works well for me. I also find digital very beneficial when I am using strobes as you can’t quite visualize how a photo will look when flash lit compared to using available light.

IMG_4643v2

Overseas photoshoot with UK model

Normally when I do model photography overseas I work with local models at the location I visit. The problem my Coventry UK regular models have is we normally shoot in the house or home studio. I think I have used every wall, doorway and window so many times I now need something more inspiring. In addition to this, some clothes can look amazing on a model but they need the correct setting or backdrop to look their best. I asked Lindsay, a model I have work with quite a lot in the last 12 months if she’d like to do a photoshoot in Tenerife and to my delight she agreed. When booking flights and hotels with a model the key criteria for me is reliability. Many models have highs and lows so one week they will be really keen then they go off the radar for six months. That doesn’t really work for overseas trips. I visited Tenerife once before so I picked an area I was slightly familiar with. The difference this time is I have a model there to work with so I’m excited to see what we can create.

Available Light Portrait

Photoshoots – Day 1

Lindsay and I arrived into Tenerife late morning and got started straight away. Luckily for me Lindsay is great at doing her own hair and makeup and we’d discussed clothes beforehand so we had a pile of cool garments to work with. The weather was around 21 degrees in the morning and 27 degrees in the day with blue skies and strong direct sunlight. Our hotel room had a balcony with a sea view so we had that as an additional location to use. Being situated right on the coast we had a sea breeze which worked well for hair moving in the wind pictures. I started using the Hasselblad quite quickly and soon got to grips with focusing via the WLF (I think anyway!). The camera felt stable to use without a monopod or tripod and I was using shutter speed of 1/60 or faster. I realised there was some Kodak Vision3 50D Motion Picture film in the Olympus Pen F so I finished that roll on the first day. We went to the coast for sunset but the light dropped quite quickly and too fast for me to use my Hasselblad and f3.5, 1/60, ISO 100 film. It was a pity as Lindsay created some amazing hair for me and wore a red outfit I was looking forward to shoot. We got some shots in the low light but almost all on digital. Once the light had faded we went back to the room then I went out for a quick moonlight run just along the sea front. Not far as it got too dark to see my feet but I still loved it.

Olympus 35 RC

Photoshoots – Day 2

We set our alarms and walked down to the coast before breakfast to catch sunrise at 8:00. It was not that easy to shoot into the sun and correctly expose the model but we tried a few different setups. Once the sun was up we walled back and enjoyed an amazing hotel breakfast. Lindsay changed clothes, hair and makeup and headed outside again and found this fantastic derelict building. This was to be our playground for the next 2-3 hours. I was whooping every 5 minutes the light was that good and Lindsay just got better and better. I give models directional pretty much constantly throughout a shoot to fine to a pose before I click the shutter. I think models have to be quite patient with me barking orders at them and continually shouting “wait wait wait, again again” as I swap between cameras, and tweak my composition or point of view. Hopefully the pictures are worth it though and Lindsay mentioned she has got a lot more keepers (photos she likes) when shooting with me in the past so I guess that’s good. In the afternoon we did a lingerie shoot in the hotel room and then had a bit of downtime before the golden hours so I made the most of it and went for a run along the coast. As sad as it sounds it was one of the best experiences of 2017. I absolutely loved it! Running on single track routes weaving between the rocks and cactus, hopping across boulder fields and the beautiful coastline alongside. One of my wild ideas is to get into Ultras. These are 50K-100K plus endurance fell running events often on similar terrain to what I was enjoying. I just love the exploring aspect of it all. Running on tarmac roads around Coventry doesn’t really do it for me but I will try to build up a base fitness in the meantime. It will also work well for future Ironman events.

runv2

I got back from the run then we went straight out the door again for a sunset shoot. The sun was setting inland to where we were situated so only really gave us some low direction light rather than pretty classic sunset shots. I decided to load the Fujicolor C200 film into the Olympus PenF for an extra stop of light (verses the Fuji Provia 100 film). Once the sun had gone down we continued to shoot until I was at ISO 6400 on the Lejca M 240, f1.4 and 1/30. By that stage I couldn’t really see Lindsay anymore to focus so we finished our days photos and went for some well-earned food and drinks.

Leica Location Shoot

Photoshoots – Day 3

Last day already yet we’d done so much in just 2 days we felt we had been in Tenerife much longer. For sunrise I still had black and white film in the camera so had to use that first. I might pack 2 Hasselblad film backs for my next trip (one film back loaded with colour film and another film back with black and white film). I then wanted to try shooting a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 with the intention to cross process in C41 chemicals. From my research I believe the film scans will look completely red, with a lot of contrast and not much detail. I don’t know if the photos will be a success but I tried to compose some simple compositions and fired the 12 shots off in reasonably quick succession. After breakfast we did one more indoor shoot to use our hotel room before we had to checkout. I loaded a roll of 120 Kodak Ektar 100 and really hope the photos look as good as they did through the viewfinder. Fingers crossed! Prior to check out Lindsay accepted my look request of curly hair, my favourite retro looking red swimming costume and makeup to match. We went out and shot the red outfit against the blue sky and finished with my sunglasses the look was complete. I loved it but what photographer doesn’t love red! I finished my roll of Ektar film and that was the last photos for the Hasselblad. Six rolls of 120 film shot in total. I didn’t think we’d use all the 120 film so it shows how well we had done (I don’t shoot film unless I like what I see). I will bring more rolls of 120 film next time if these images turn out OK. I also finished the Fuji C200 in the Olympus Pen-F but we were mid-way through some amazing photos so I loaded the Fuji Provia 100F slide film to make the most of the red outfit and cool hair / makeup. Lindsay changed clothes and we took a walk along the coast. I saw some photogenic steps coming out the sea so we shot there first then Lindsay decided she wanted to lie on the rocks with the water around her. I said she was crazy but we got into position to get the shot. 30 seconds later a big wave came along engulfing Lindsay and washing her straight off the rock. I must have instinctively pressed the shutter as it happened and managed to catch the just before and the aftermath. Poor Lindsay was a bit scrapped and battered but saw the funny side. A few wet hair photos then back to hotel reception to rest. I made the most of my last free hour in Tenerife and went out for one last run, determined to reach the summit of a distant hill within the allotted time. I did it and even managed to shoot some video on my iPhone for my Instagram feed. I think I will finally buy a GoPro camera soon to capture some behind the scenes footage from our photosession and my various antics.

Leica Fashion

Conclusion

Tenerife was my first photoshoot trip where I travelled out with a model to an overseas destination. I did a debrief with Lindsay at the airport while we waited for our flight as to what we could do better if I was to organise a similar overseas photoshoot trip. Overall it had been a huge success and for me personally it was a near perfect mix of photos, sunshine and training and with great company too. Working 1-2-1 with Lindsay for 3 days really pushed our creativity to keep producing different looking photos time and time again. It’s quite impressive what you can think of when you try and have an environment that inspires you to shoot. Lindsay and I were both very keen to get to most out of our trip and as a result didn’t visited the hotel pool once to relax in the sun. We both agreed we are very keen to do it all again but next time also look to invite at least one more model and for a larger event the possibility of makeup artists and a stylist/ wardrobe person too. More models would mean individual models would get to relax a little between shoots. Makeup artists would be beneficial for models not as confident as Lindsay at doing their own hair and makeup and a stylist can bring unique garments that can’t be found easily on the high street. As a minimum, Lindsay and I will be going back to Tenerife for another 3 day shoot as soon as we can!

Sunrise

For me personally next time I would try to pack two Hasselblad film backs and more 120 film, using it as my main film camera for all key images where there is sufficient light. I would probably replace the Olympus 35RC and Olympus Pen-F cameras with my Leica M3 to capture high quality images when there is insufficient light for the Hasselblad. I could use the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens on the Leica M3 for low light and then use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens on my Leica M240 for more unique looking images. If I had more people on the photoshoot I would pack a reflector for someone to hold and then not bother with taking any speedlights. If it was only me and Lindsay (or one other model) I may try to take my digital Hasselblad H3D and use it with strobes. Why take the H3D? Because it has a flash sync speed of 1/800 vs. 1/180 for the Leica M240.

Are you a model and potentially interested in joined me on a future shoot? Is it for you?

In summary if you are a creative (and reliable!) model that enjoys creating TF images in your free time and are happy to cover your own expenses plus put up listening to me for three days then get in touch! If you are good at hair and makeup that is ideal, if not I am open to models bringing their own makeup artists along if the MUA is happy watching or relaxing during our shoots. If you are a model with an interest in clothes then your creative mind can only help enhance our photos and you are very welcome. For anyone interested please get in touch and I can give you more details including approximate costs (based on this trip).

*Update – January 2018 Tenerife trip is already booked with limited availability for models but if it goes well with this bigger group then I will organise more model photography location shoots.

Sea View

1-2-1 Model Photography Workshops – Overseas

I could also look at potentially organising overseas 1-2-1 model photography workshops. If you want to shadow me working with Lindsay or another model and have the opportunity to take photos to build up your portfolio I’m sure I can arrange something. I have done 1-2-1 photography workshops in overseas cities before such as New York or Zurich but working with local models rather than UK models.

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