By Mark Kronquist
Cannon Beach is Oregon’s “Pacific Wonderland”: miles of flat beaches with fascinating tide pools, basalt rock formations including Haystack Rock Bird Sanctuary and the annual (cancelled this year thanks to Covid-19) Sandcastle Contest.
Normally, weekends in May, June, July, August and September see thousands of people at the beach…not this year. The coast was indeed clear. We have had a family cabin there since 1964. I made a quick trip to check on it. The cabin has been under-used because my father passed in November and then Covid-19 travel restrictions hit. Packing light, I took two cameras…a Leica M9 with the superb TT/A 11mm Fisheye and the Hasselblad SWC.
After making sure the cabin was okay, I started looking around and I found a couple left over, long expired rolls of film from my dad’s stash in the freezer and I used them. A roll of Kodak TMax 100 vintage 1991 and Czech Fomapan T800. In 120. It expired in April 2001. I went for a walk on the beach with a Hasselblad SWC with the superb 38mm Zeiss Biogon lens.
Dad started shooting with an Argus C-3 which I have, moved to Minolta SR-Ts and on from there and he had a Hasselblad 500C kit which used to belong to a friend of my maternal grandmother’s, a noted photographer and Oregon Photographer Laureate. I have shot the same beach thousands of times with good to superb results on everything from a Minox to 8 x 10…Nikon FX, Fuji X Pro and Leica M film and digital. The lighting as partially overcast, perfect and normal for the Oregon coast, exposure was ingrained like sand from decades of experience but the film, frozen for decades, was the wild card.
I am sure I gave my dad the film decades ago (the Fomapan came from a camera store closing in San Francisco in 2000 or 2001, I bought 100s of rolls at $.50 USD each of 100-800 35mm and 120 rolls and, over the decades, I used or gave away all mine…how does 20-30 year old BW work these days?)
As you can see from the attached images, quite well for capturing the mood and sultry beauty of a Covid empty beach.
If you are not familiar with the Hasselblad SWC, think of it as an expensive, glorified point, guess and shoot. I was fortunate to have found mine at a garage sale years ago for $600. They are a bit more now. I love the Hasselblad V System and if I win the hundreds of millions in Lotto I will see about bringing some of it back.
I have a goodly number of bodies and lenses from 38mm to 500mm. Back in say 2008/9 ProPhoto, an awesome store in Portland, and barely hanging on today, turned down a bag of V gear. Out of politeness I asked the used camera guru if I could look at it…sure “no one will ever use the V Series again”… the price was $125 (quick trip to ATM and many bodies, backs, finders and lenses were mine and the seller was thrilled. I still have and use them every week.)
The SWC is guess focus, the peep-sight finder is mediocre at best and the painfully slow but STUNNING 38mm f4.5 Carl Zeiss Biogon makes it perfect. I do have a Hasselbad CFV digital back for the V Series and it is well appreciated and I hope Hasselbad keeps it in the line!
Want your own FREE SWC? I believe Nasa Astronaut Michael Collins, whom I had he awesome pleasure to meet at an airshow in Hillsboro in 1999, “dropped” a Hasselblad SWC on a project Gemini spacewalk. I would guess it is tracked in orbit. I want that camera and Buzz Aldrin’s 500EL Lunar Data Camera (all but one left on the Moon at the landing sites and their weight replaced with Moon rocks). Maybe I can shoot them with their cameras.
Nothing anyone does or says can measure the true impact Covid has had around the globe. These photos bring home the emptiness and they keep me focused on the beauty of the world and the promise of a better tomorrow rather than the awfulness surrounding us right now.