Develop the First Batch: The Hasselblad SWC/M Camera

Life continues to be crazy. School is starting the final ramp-up towards exams; I am looking to plan my summer travels. Spain and Morocco look like it will begin with Madrid for four days, then off to Casablanca to meet up with an adventure tour for fifteen days before ending in Marrakech, which will mean a flight to our end in Barcelona for four days. Civilization and the desert for three weeks, but I am not sure if I am Don Quixote or Sancho Panza. I also decided to take my mother to Chicago for three nights. She needs a break, and Chicago should be a nice balance between the American Dream and nothing too heavy. I thought that I had said I was going to slow down this summer?

Tax time is also this week, and that means I have to open my big box of receipts to figure out how the business side of my photography did this year. Certainly, I was successful on quite a few levels, but the money is something that I have to pay attention to. I want this business to last so that I can keep following my dreams.

Dreams count. One of my dreams is to travel far and deeply while I can, and to take photographs of my journeys in the style of a National Geographic photographer. National Geographic will always have the best artists working for them, and they are people who have devoted their lives to capturing moments to tell stories. I may never reach that level, but I am working hard each day to build on what I learned the day before; I have invested serious money in buying beautiful tools and I spend the time to develop my skills with each of those tools in a logical sequence. This year is the year of the Hasselblad SWC/M camera.

The SWC/M is a mythical beast. It has to be focused manually through hyperfocal distance guesstimates, needs to be exposed with an external meter (I use a Sekonic 758DR), has no through-the-lens viewfinder and costs about the same as two weeks travel in Russia. The only reason to use this camera is that the photographs as spectacular…once you master the aforementioned techniques.

I decided to take the SWC on my recent trip to Peru’s Amazon region. Given the climate, I cannot imagine a more difficult place to learn to use a camera like this. Dealing with the humidity changes between the cabin and the boat deck was enough to make a grown man cry. I bundled the camera kit into a Pelican 1300 case, and hoped for the best. Most of the time I metered from other people’s cameras or from my Canon 1DmkIII, but by the end of it I was guessing the proper exposure combinations.

Flare appears to be an issue with the SWC, but it could just as easily be a bad roll of film, the humidity, a poor darkslide technique or a bad exposure. What I see from the first set of images though is quite a few odd over/underexposed areas when I was not using a meter. When I used a meter on Prince Edward Island, there was not flare. Certainly not a deal-breaker for the camera, and most likely user error on my part.

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