Hassleblad 501c/m chasing kids

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Nicole

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Hi again, I was hoping that someone could possibly help me nail the focusing issues I'm facing whilst shooting children and families candidly.

For example: I want to shoot a Mum and her 2 boys down at the beach so nothing preset or formal. I'd love to use my Hasselblad, which I've been shying away from so far :sad: because I find it takes me too long to set up for the one shot and then it's gone by the time I'm ready anyway.

So, this most probably sounds like a really basic and stupid question, but how do I nail my exposure, meter and pre-focus for a set range so that I can capture Mum & kids sharp as a tack? I love shooting between f5.6 and f8 mostly.

After being spoilt and lazy with Autofocus for too long, I really want to nail my focusing manually so that as long as the subject is within a certain range and moves within only that range - I don't need to refocus or re-meter everytime.

My Hasselblad 501c/m has only a waistfinder and a manual winder with the standard kit lens of 80mm 2.8.

Thank you for your input.

Cheers
Nicole
 

glbeas

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It's called Practice Practice Practice. The aperture and shutter can be preset in such situations as the lighting normally doesn't change that fast. The focus should be left at around 6 to 10 feet, which is around the halfway point in its rotation, so you can quickly adjust for the minor differences as you shoot. Then just play with the camera till it gets to be second nature to track the proper focus as you move around. Try shooting sports with a tele and manual focus and you'll see how easy you have it shooting family.:smile:
 

rbarker

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I think it's a combination of several things, Nicole - how you hold the camera, how you focus, and which screen you have. For me, however, the tack part of "tack sharp" has always been a matter of using the little pop-up magnifier in the standard waist-level finder, or using a reflex finder and the accessory view magnifier.

The focus ring of the 80mm lens sits fairly close to the body, making it less convenient to focus (for me) than some of the other Hassy lenses. My approach is similar to what Gary is suggesting. I take meter readings first, set the exposure and pretty much leave it at that unless I see major shifts in the light. Then, I preset focus to the general distance at which I'm working, and then do "follow-focus" with my eye glued to the finder. I support most of the weight of the camera with my right hand, thumb on the top of the body and middle and ring fingers gripping the far edge of the quick-coupling tripod shoe. That leaves the index finger free to operate the shutter release. I focus with the thumb and middle finger of my left hand, using the left hand only to steady the camera, not support it.

There is also a focus ring accessory available (part #51700) that slips over and tightens to the focus ring. It adds a fold-out lever that many find handy for quicker focusing. I don't have one, and have never used it, but I've heard enthusiastic reports. Also, there are various focusing screens available. Personally, I prefer the split-image screen, as it is easier for me to see precise focus with that screen. Personal preferences vary, however. If you can find one, you might also find the older #45072 Flashgun Bracket 1 handy. It's an ergonomic handle grip with a leather strap that fits over the left hand, and has linkage that operates the shutter via a trigger on the handle. Using this, all of the camera weight, along with tripping the shutter is done with the left hand, and the right hand would do the focusing. Neither of these are listed on the current Hassy page, so I'll try to scan part of my old 1991 catalog, and post a link later.

One thing you want to be cautious of, however you grip the camera. Avoid putting pressure on the winder knob as you operate the shutter release. If the rewind has tension on it when the shutter is released, the lens shutter and body can get out of sync.
 

blansky

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Another thing you might consider is when wanting to have a "candid " playful picture is to have the participants play in a left to right of camera position instead of having them moving in a closer to father position. That way you can stay in a prefocused range.

Also having an f stop as a rigid mindset, as you stated-" I like 56 and 8", you might want to use the f stop that works for situation like maybe 11 or 16.

I think a really important way to practice is get a friend to go out with you and practice where 10, 15 20 feet are visually so you know your distances. Also learn to use the depth of field indicator on the lens to be able to know what latitude that you have.

I have a quick focus ring on my HAsselblad lenses that improves focus greatly and I would also recommend a 45 degree angle finder.

If you are just chasing behind people trying to get grab shots with no structure or predetermined camera settings you will burn a lot of film and miss a lot of great shots that you otherwise would have gotten with better preparation.

Michael
 

rbarker

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Here's the link to the old 1991 catalog page showing the grip and focusing ring.
 

rbarker

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blansky said:
. . . have the participants play in a left to right of camera position instead of having them moving in a closer to father position. That way you can stay in a prefocused range.

But, Michael, doesn't "training" the client involve using the left hand to hold the chair, and the right hand to operate the whip? How do you do that and hold the camera, too? :wink:
 

mikeb_z5

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I'm no pro but I have on occasion set the focus at say 6-10 ft and when the subject moved, I moved to keep focus. A little easier to do than constantly refocus.

Mike
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I find the quick focus ring indispensable with my Bronicas, and I'd imagine they would be of similar value on any manual focus MF camera. Those big helicals just need more leverage than a 35mm lens.

Don't meter every shot. Unless the light is rapidly changing, you usually only need one reading, and you can set your camera and not worry about it. If you're outdoors in the sun on a partly cloudy day, you can often take one reading in full sun, one reading when the clouds come in, and just be aware of what the light is doing and switch back and forth between those two settings.
 

Melisa Taylor

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this is all very good advice... i would like to add, that if you are shooting kids at the beach, PLEASE be careful that they don't accidentally kick sand up into your camera. I had that happen once, luckily it only got in the viewfinder part and i was able to clean it out well. In fact, if I ever do that again, I will use my 150mm instead of the 80mm and that way I won't have to be as close.
 

arigram

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Nicole, I too use a Hasselblad with only one lens, the 80mm. I remember your question when I wrote the handholding thread.
The way I handled the children party was to pick a spot that was either next to the kids playing or it was a place from where they passed often. Hasselblad's focus I found was much slower than my 35mm so first I had to get used to it.
Second I chose a "target" area and pointed the camera to it, measured the distance and focused on something. The "target" area would be a place that the kids would gather, like the counting wall on the hide&seek. I knew that no matter where they run, they would return to it. Then I would make quick adjustements when the moment came.
I shot for a year with a Nikon F90X and the autofocus did spoil me. Before that I was using a manual Nikon F and when I had gotten good at focusing it had an accident and put out of work for a while. So, getting to Hasselablad with a focus not only manual but slow as well took some time to get used to it, but I do believe its about practice.
At the beach from my experience people especially families stay on their spot. Even when the kids run around gathering sand for their constructions or just chasing each other, they tend not to move to far way from the family spot, that applies to the water too. The adults move a lot slower, getting slowed by the sand or water and by the laziness of the general ambience, so I do believe you can sit down, focus on the general area and do minor adjustments if you like. Even if the mum and the child are taking a walk on the sand, they would move quite slowly, so you can pick a spot ahead in their path and aim at them like a sniper!
Ofcourse we have to consider the angle which if you sit down with the waist finder it would be possibly too dramatic, but I don't think it would be a problem with you to approach the family standing. You are quite pretty, I am sure you look good in a swimsuit and plus you are an experienced photographer of children so you can always bring a couple of photos if your charms don't dissolve their mistrust at first!
I don't know how are the beaches over there, but I assume that you have lots of sunshine so choosing smaller appertures wouldn't be a problem, unless as you state you prefer larger ones and shallower depth of field. That is not a big problem as I shot the indoor party pics handheld at f5,6 or f8 and I was still pleased with how I could handle the situation.

Check out her:
http://www.photocircle.gr/portfolios/economou/thumbs_economou_03.htm

I am sure others on that school have taken photos at the beach.
 
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Ara Ghajanian

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Nicole,
Aren't you concerned about the salt in the air affecting your camera? Years ago, I took a 35mm SLR to a beach in California to photograph surfers and I had to have it CLA'ed when I got home because all the moving parts felt sticky afterwards. I'd check into this first, after all, it is a Hasselblad and you don't want to ruin it just for one assignment.
Ara

Arigram - I was laughing over the sniper comment!
 
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Nicole

Nicole

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Ara, I know what you mean. But at the same time, what's the point of having a Blad and leaving it indoors. I prefer to 'live a little' :D.
I also live just 3 minutes from the beach (gotta love it!!!) and everything is 'under threat'. With tender loving care the survival rate is better than average. :D
 

benjiboy

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Hi,
Cant you take a cheaper camera on the beach?, I use an old Yashicamat,I keep for this purpose, and wouldn't worry too much if the sand got in it, If I had Blad. I would.
 

Claire Senft

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Switching between two different cameras with different control layouts etc helps to slow one down. A person cna get used to many things. I believe that the pop up magnifier is very handy. I believe the left to right reversal is very unhandy when working quickly. A prism is less handy for focussing due to both brightness and magnification but it does get rid of the left to right reversal. While you can improve your technique with the Hasseblad it is unlikely that it will ever become as handy as a motor driven auto focus 35mm.
 
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