Hasselblad Fashion Photography – Poland
(Hasselblad 501C & Leica M Typ 240 Model Photography)
Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com
I have lost count of how many trips I have made to Poland now. This is model photography visit number 3 for Poland in 2015 I think! I will link the previous trips at the end of this post if interested. Each time I visit I make new contacts and so have more and more models to choose from. This is the first visit where there were 5+ models wanting photos but I was already fully booked. As my photography matures I get more selective with the models I work with so to try to create the best possible images.
Camera gear for Poland
On previous visits I have packed as many as 4 cameras I think from memory together with an array of lenses. For this trip I decided to try to keep it simple. The plan was two cameras and two lenses and that was all. When packing I found I then had some spare capacity so added a few extras bits! For this visit it was all about the Hasselblad 501C camera! I was so excited to get there and get started!
- Leica M Typ 240 digital camera
- Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens
- Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera
- Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens
- Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
- Hasselblad A12 film back (x2)
- Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism finder
- Yellow filter, 81B warming filter, 82C blue filter
- Bellows lens hood
- Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
- Shutter cable release
- 5in1 reflector
- 120 medium format film (see below)
- Kodak Portra 160, 400, 800
- Kodak Portra 160NC (expired)
- Kodak Ektar 100
- Fuji Pro 400H
Black and white film:
- Kodak Tri-X 400
- Kodak T-Max 400
- Fuji Acros 100
- Fomapan 100
- Ilford Delta 100
- Ilford Delta 3200
Leica digital photography
I needed one digital camera to capture instant images to give the models and also to warm them up with poses before shooting on film. The Leica M 240 sensor is quite capable but lifeless so to give myself a fighting chance of creating something I might be interested in I packed the Noctilux lens to be used wide open at f1. The Noctilux captures more filmic looking images even on the modern Leica M 240 CMOS sensor.
Hasselblad film photography
I wanted to pack just one film camera to let me focus on capturing a smaller number of hopefully better crafted film images. The Hasselblad camera slows me down so I have time to think twice before pressing the shutter. With 35mm film photography I find I now fire off a series of shots much faster than I used to. Medium format film in 6×6 format gives me 12 frames a roll rather than 36 frames for 35mm film. I planned to be more selective and therefore have less similar images and hopefully more keepers. Normally I would shoot one roll of film per model so now I want to take less overall images, digital and film per girl but hopefully a higher standard of work. Being able to pack a spare Hasselblad A12 film back was really exciting as I could shoot 120 colour film alongside 120 black and white film with the same model. My preference is black and white film but if models bring some colourful clothing I have the option to capture them in colour too.
Hasselblad Zeiss lenses
For Hasselblad lenses the original idea was to only take the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens as it lets me do close up portraits in addition to standard photos. I decided to add the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 for three reasons, well four really. It gives me a wider view closer to 50mm in 35mm terms. The 80mm f2.8 kit lens is one stop faster than the 120mm f4 Makro-Planar for when I need more light. (This is often the case with medium format photography as lenses are not as fast as 35mm film camera lenses). The f2.8 aperture also gives me a greater shallow depth of field verses the f4 Makro-Planar lens at the same distance though in practice the 120f4 vs 80f2.8 might be quite similar looking. Lastly the Zeiss Planar is reasonably small and light for a Hasselblad mount lens so was easy to fit in my bag.
Film and filters
Normally I load ISO 400 speed film into my Hasselblad in the UK as there is often never enough light (well since buying my Hasselblad in September anyway!). The Poland forecast was looking quite promising being colder but more sunny. The hotel is on the beach so the sand can act like a giant reflector bouncing light back up onto the models. As such and with my usual positive outlook I packed a range of film speeds from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. I packed roughly a 2:1 ratio of black and white film to colour film and tried to cover myself for all levels of brightness. Some films where to be shot at box speed, Kodak Ektar 100, Fuji Acros 100 and Ilford Delta 100. Kodak Portra 160, 400 and 800 and Fuji Pro 400H were to be overexposed by roughly one stop where possible and if enough light and if not at box speed. Fomapan 100 is an excellent film with great latitude and can be shot at ISO 100-400 and developed at box speed. Kodak T-Max 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are also bomb proof and I can use at ISO 200-800 easily and ISO 1600 if needed. Lastly I packed a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 to try. I read it is better shot at ISO 1600 but if I need to I will try it at ISO 3200.
I visited Sopot, Poland again for four full days of model photography. I planned to work close to and inside the hotel to make the best use of the time. I looked forward to lots of close up portraits and interesting 6×6 crops using the Hasselblad as this is what I enjoy the most. I can’t do close up photos easily using a Leica M camera and standard lenses so this is what I really miss from my Nikon days. I am loving the Instagram ready square format of the Hasselblad camera so will enjoy composing as a square rather than the usual rectangular format.
Models include catwalk agency models, non-catwalk specific agency models and non agency models with a mix of perhaps 50:50 new faces and familiar ones. My models were Marta K, Marta M, Marta P, Marta W, Irmina, Natalia, Agnieszka, Weronika, and Teresa. Lots of Marta’s!
I am especially excited to work with some of the girls as we have been planning the shoots for weeks online. It is crazy how many hours of planning are involved ahead of a trip. I dread to think the total number of hours I have spend writing on Facebook to the different girls trying to coordinate everyone so as many girls as possible get to have photos. It doesn’t feel a chore but it does take time.
Leica M Typ 240
I found the Leica M 240 camera much more enjoyable to use with the Leica Noctilux 50f1 lens attached but I always wanted to get closer than the 1m closest focus distance. The original plan was to bring the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens that works at 0.7m but it gives a more modern look to the images. Taking only one lens for the Leica M 240 worked well as I could concentrate on using the Hasselblad.
Hasselblad 501C Camera
The Hasselblad 501C was such great fun to use. I found the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar lens pulls me in close to the action for most of the photos. I really had to make myself step back for photos further away. My eyes find it far easier to focus more accurately when I am in closer. I used the 120mm Makro Planar lens for perhaps 11 of every 12 images on average apart from the last shoot where I loaded ISO 100 film so needed the speed of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens. I am glad I shot some photos with the 80mm as I am interested to see the Zeiss Planar depth of field at f2.8. I found I had to use my lenses wide open at either f2.8 or f4 to achieve a 1/60 shutter speed inside. Outside we sometimes had more light so I did some close up portraits at f5.6 and even a few at f8 to see how the 120mm Makro-Planar lens performs. For a few photos at the end of one day I shot the Zeiss Planar 80mm at f2.8 at 1/15 shutter to get the necessary exposure so it will be interesting to see if the photos are usable. All photos were taken with the Hasselblad 501C camera mounted directly on the Sirui carbon monopod and with a shutter release cable to try to give me more keepers when at 1/60. We shall see. I didn’t have much experience using a Hasselblad camera ahead of this trip to Poland so I am still working out my limits.
Hasselblad and Kodak film
I asked some models to bring bright coloured clothes and they did so I took the opportunity to shoot some Kodak Ektar 100 film. I think Kodak Ektar film can captures some of the sharpest colour film portraits so I wanted to pair it with the equally high performing Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad. I also used some expired Kodak Portra 160 NC and fresh stock Kodak Portra 160 and 400 film.
Black and white film and filters
For black and white film photography I paired the film with either the yellow filter or the blue 82C filter if not interchanging with colour film also. When switching between colour film and black and white film using two A12 Hasselblad film backs I used no filter or sometimes the 81B warming filter instead.
Keep it simple
When I am normally juggling multiple film cameras I often don’t use any filters for my black and white film photography as have enough to think about. Using just one film camera is so much better as I can stay more focused and therefore make less potential mistakes. Switching Hasselblad lenses and film backs is a recipe for disaster if I am not concentrating! I made detailed notes (for once!) of what filter and film combinations I was using and the lens choice so can refer to this once the film is developed to see how the results compare. It may be that I start using filters much more again if I like the results better with filters than without.
To speed up my photography and again to simplify everything I captured all photos with available light only. I will look to introduce strobes when using my Hasselblad camera for model photography and fashion photography to make use of the 1/500 flash sync speed but for this trip I relied on daylight and worked during daylight hours.
Without doubt this was my best trip to Poland to date. I was extremely happy with the camera choice. In particular the Hasselblad 501C was just a dream to use and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens did all I asked from it. In future I could easily make do with one Hasselblad lens only and if I had to choose it would be the 120mm rather than the 80mm for me. I don’t think I have ever been more excited to see the film photos developed from a trip away. Expectation based on the view I saw through the viewfinder is so high I just hope I am not disappointed. I will get the colour film negatives lab developed and scanned so I will post the results here once received. I develop my own black and white film so tend to post photos one at a time to Flickr as I get chance to work through them. I plan to share the results using the different colored filters, the various film stocks and comparing the 120mm vs. 80mm Zeiss lenses. Fingers crossed the results are OK!
As usual with my trips abroad I am wondering when next to visit Poland!
(Please note all photos included were using my iPhone and the ‘real’ photos are to follow!)*