Going To The Square To Get Some Air - With Hasselblad and Fujifilm

on April 06, 2015

I take pictures of belly dancers. It is a humble job but someone has to do it...I keep telling people...

Not surprisingly, dancers move around a lot - possibly to get away from the music. I, on the other hand, am fixed in place by the audience and have to stand there and endure it. Fortunately years of firing heavy rifles and cannon have reduced much of my hearing.

The visuals, however, are wonderful. Colourful is an inadequate word in the world of belly dance and Bollywood costuming. I have learned not to set the saturation of the jpegs on high as the cameras start emitting smoke. If the show is illuminated with a Fujifilm, Nikon, or Metz flash the colour return can be so intense as to require me to de-saturate it in the final image...and desaturation for me goes against my very nature.

This year's WAMED dance show at the South Perth Civic Centre will give me a larger foyer to play with and I can project my exhibition pictures with the wife's digital projector and this MacBook Pro. I've even got the old slide projector screen that so terrified audiences in the 1960's. So all is good.

Good-ish. Sort of good. Good-lite. I have the same problem that existed in the 35mm slide days - the format of the slide did not match the format of the square screen - Horizontal images left a white border top and bottom on screen and vertical images moved these blank spaces right and left.

When I projected 6 x 6 Hasselblad slides on the screen all was well - it looked perfect. Of course Hasselblad slides had the advantage of perfect lenses, too. Well, lenses aside, the 3:2 ration format of most of my 35mm and digital output is not going to do the same thing when they are projected.

I decided to dodge sideways. I've digitised a lot of the Hasselblad negs of the 1990's so they can come out square. I've started to search the image files of the last ten years to find the ones that can also be re-presented as squares. And I have discovered that - for this purpose - I have framed too tightly with the rectangular cameras.

I shall perform an experiment when taking the WAMED dance show images this year - oh, I'll be still balanced on a Pelican case in the middle of the crowd with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera and Metz flash supported on a Manfrotto monopod for four hours. I'll still hear the music...but I'll deliberately switch on Raw + Normal for the recording and 1:1 for the format ratio. If I'm correct the full 3:2 image should flood into the RAW file but the viewfinder and jpeg image should be going at 1:1. I'll keep single dancers in the square sights while settling the central green cross on the mid dancer in a line and the whole lot should be there in the RAW if I need it to spread across a 9:16 widescreen TV.

Well, that's the theory. I'll test it out in the next few days and report back. Who said digital photography isn't rocket science? Goddard? Von Braun?