Working With The Big Pixels: Shooting Base Camp X with the Hasselblad CFV 16

Apex Pioneer

Summer time is upon us. I live for the time when I am no longer beholden to my employer to provide my full day to earning a living. Summer is a season when I hit the road, meet back up with old friends, sleep more than six hours a day, and exercise for the pleasure of using my body for what it was built for. Some days I find extra work projects with new clients, while on other days I shoot for my main clients and learn how to use my extensive equipment collection in new and exciting ways. This week has me mostly resting and colour correcting the white background shots that I shot for Base Camp X the week before.Flame Pioneer

A large majority of my portfolio has been based on shooting products on white backgrounds. While that may seem simple, white backgrounds are an art form that demand a photographer who is aware of shadows, white balance, perspectives and accuracy. You will be hired for one session if you have equipment, but unless you are accurate, then you will never be hired again. Case in point is Base Camp X: for the past year I have built a solid partnership with the company based on my ability to provide photographs of axes that are accurate and do not manifest the problems faced by most product shots of items larger than twelve inches. Perspective warping in no one’s friend, and to shoot Graeme’s axes demands that I balance my camera on top of a six foot ladder, handholding it until an overhead shot is complete. This was difficult with my Canon EOS 1DmkIII, but it is nightmarish with the new Hasselblad CFV 16 digital back. However, the quality…the quality is far, far superior.

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Yes, you can take clear, accurate photos with your cellphone. The preceding image taken at Brother Jimmy’s Ribs in NYC is pretty darn solid. If you are blogging, building a travel album of your adventures or using things for social media, then I am a big fan of the iPhone. If you want to shoot, and I mean where you make money, then I would ignore Chase Jarvis’ iPhone assertions and accept that you need to invest in a camera system and lights that will provide consistent colour, speeds and resolution. For me, the Hasseblad system is the one I invested in for a myriad of reasons, and, frankly, so far it has been the best choice I could have made for my studio needs. All of my gear is based on the now discontinued V System, and all of it has been purchased used from KEH.com in Smyrna, Georgia.

CarbonFrom this shot of a carbon-tinted Pathfinder axe to the first shot taken outdoors in the afternoon sun, the CFV 16 back has delivered both a superior resolution and a depth of field unattainable in a dslr set of lens/camera body. I cannot shoot sports or wildlife in the jungle with it, but for fashion and products it has met all of my actual needs. Next month I will shoot my first wedding with it, and hope for the best. I will be carrying lots of film, and a few digital options to ensure nothing is lost should failure of batteries or lighting issues occur (the CFV is not for low light shots), but I am confident that it will crank out one hell of a wedding book collection.

Tonight has me watching my bass hero, Me’shell Ndgecello, sing Fats Waller/Nina Simone standards at the Horseshoe Tavern with Jason Moran as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. I can only hope that the tattoo I had done today does not start paining while I am crammed inside on a hot night. Regardless, it is better to know the pain of life than the numbness of death.

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