Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hasselblad

When I went to Ueno Kōen this weekend to see cherry blossoms, I wasn’t expecting to see something even more beautiful – for, truth be told, few things are more beautiful than cherry blossoms. But as I stood on the shore of Shinobazu-Ike trying to take photos of tree branches silhouetted against the setting sun (not with much success), I noticed a girl trying to shoot the same scene with a medium-format camera. Curious, I decided to take a closer look (at the camera, not the girl). And then I saw it was a Hasselblad. With a Carl Zeiss lens.

I had never seen a Hasselblad before, but I knew about the marque. It was my father who first told me about Hasselblad, before I was even old enough to use a camera, and he spoke of it in hushed, reverential tones. Not everyone is a fan of the waist-level finder which is a standard feature of the Hasselblad medium-format (the inimitable Cartier-Bresson, a lifelong Leica devotee, once said, “If the good Lord had wanted us to take photographs with a 6 by 6, he would have put eyes in our belly.”) But for many photographers, Hasselblad is the Rolls-Royce, the Moët & Chandon of medium-format cameras.

So I asked her if I could look through the viewfinder. She agreed immediately, and extended the camera towards me.

Now my Japanese, while good for asking for directions and ordering at restaurants, is not yet good enough to convey what, to me, the Hasselblad stands for. Still, what I saw at first did not impress me much – the image looked blurred, and the contrast wasn’t great. But then she adjusted the focus ring. The branches which I had been trying to photograph, dark and crisp against the orange sky, swam into focus. The world became a more beautiful place. And at that point, words became unnecessary.

9 comments:

The Reluctant Rebel said...

Some people have all the luck. Cherry blossoms, a beautiful girl and an Hasselblad all in one day. Its worth a flight to Japan just for that.

beej said...

you have been missed. glad to have you back :)

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Won't you show us your cherry blossom pictures? Or were you so overwhelmed by the Hasselblad and the girl that you forgot to take them? :P And Cartier-Bresson, hahahaha.

Sroyon said...

@Saha: It's worth it for the cherry blossoms alone.

@beej: After the torrent of posts in March, I was giving readers a chance to recover.

@Shrabasti: There are some on Picasa, but they're not that great.

Kaushik Krishnan said...

I got to hold a Hasselblad for the first time two weeks ago, in New York. It feels so sturdy and sure. I don't think I have seen anything clearer than what I saw through the viewfinder.

And I loved that there is no auto-correct for the rotation. When you rotate the camera right, the image in the viewfinder rotates to the left. Isn't it really funky?

Ravis said...

I was terribly surprised when I read the first two lines and thought you were writing about a girl. I didn't think you were the sex driven sort.

Ravis said...

Wait, I was sleepy last night. That was a weird way of putting it. What I meant is that it is unlikely that you would fall in love with a random girl on the road and then blog about her on such melodramatic terms. :)

Anasua said...

since i am quite a retard with cameras and photographs the only thing that was of interest to me was your bracketed words "... not the girl". Why not? she's looks pretty enough! you need to consult an ophthalmologist soon.

Anasua said...

and i second shrabasti.. where are the pics? u r so engrossed with the camera and its owner that after alluring your readers with the cherry blossom pictures you put up pics of this lady. anyway, she was cute. ;)