The Magic of Medium-Format

A new obsession has begun.

While briefly at home during winter break, I tried to photographically document particularly beautiful aspects of my surroundings both with my (admittedly glorious) Canon 5D Mark ii digital camera, and an old medium-format Hasselblad that I had borrowed from school.  Totally unaccustomed to the finicky, hard-to-focus film camera, I had no idea whether any of the photos I took would turn out, especially with the color film I had never previously tried.  With temperatures dropping to as cold as -10 degrees Fahrenheit, my experiments with the Hasselblad were quick and impatient, and it took me a couple weeks to even care to send in the exposed film to be developed.

To my delighted surprise, the negatives turned out beautifully.  It’s hard to define what makes these pictures, in my mind, so much more beautiful than their digital counterparts.  A lot of it resides, perhaps, in my personal knowledge of the intense labor involved in creating these images – the difficulty of focusing, the time-intensive processing and scanning, and the 2+ hours required to retouch the dust specks from each individual negative scan, not to mention print time (and these images, in my opinion, look almost infinitely better as large matte prints).  There’s something else, too, that I can’t quite put my finger on, a product of real film grain and light tone, something that comes from the source of the image being a tangible object rather than a digital file.

It’s sort of ironic that with such an amazing digital camera, I should become so excited about analog, but there is still plenty of subject matter that simply can’t be captured in the same way with medium-format.  In any case, I’m very excited about this new working method, despite being incredibly labor-intensive and time consuming.  Can you see a difference?

In other news, the weather has considerably warmed up in the past few weeks, bringing longer days and a happy excitement for summer.  I’ve spent the past few weeks either doing homework, hanging out in Bar Harbor, or more recently in Boston, where Zach is taking a Wilderness First Responder course at Harvard.  Although now that I’ve started writing about India, the desire to continue, and eventually finish, is always in the back of my mind, but I’ve made a conscious decision to spend free time enjoying life more than working on personal projects.  With a slower working method, I have fewer images to post, but within a month I should have had more wilderness adventures and stories to be told.  Spring break, a few weeks from now, will consist of a Wilderness First Responder course as well, and I couldn’t be more excited.  Until later!

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2 thoughts on “The Magic of Medium-Format

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