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Author Topic: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga  (Read 2642 times)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« on: December 03, 2017, 08:31:40 AM »

http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/books/article/2122079/how-michael-kenna-dumped-his-hasselblad-holga-hong

Quote
The Holga is proof, Kenna suggests, that expensive gear isn’t vital for good photography.

“It’s like a pencil,” he says. “You can use it to do an incredible drawing or write some amazing verse, or be an accountant. It’s the same with a camera. It’s about your vision.”

pegelli

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2017, 08:58:06 AM »

Nice pictures and indeed proof that expensive equipment isn't everything, but I bet he didn't "dump" his Hasselblad  ;)
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pieter, aka pegelli

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2017, 09:24:36 AM »

Given Kenna's aesthetic, I'm not surprised that a Holga would be a comfortable and appropriate tool. Given the aesthetic of, say, Vieri Bottazzini or Steven Friedman, I'm not surprised that they use Leica or Phase One medium-format cameras. But neither Holga nor Leica nor Phase One alone makes one a Kenna or a Bottazzini or a Friedman.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2017, 10:30:22 AM »

I might have left the impression that the article, and my reason for posting it, is about Hasselblad vs. Holga. The title certainly grabs everyone's attention, as most of us are gear-junkies, at least to some extent. However, there are deeper thoughts in the article, some of which resonate with my own approach of "what else is there" (emphasis mine):

Quote
Kenna prefers not to be in total control of his photography, allowing accidents to hap­pen as he attempts to capture the “unseen”, which hints at the supernatural, sacred or spiritual.

“When you photograph a tree or a mountain,” he says, “there has to be some sort of exchange of energy and sense of life in what you’re photographing.”

About equipment and creative process:

Quote
While Kenna started using Hasselblad cameras about four decades ago, working with Holgas injected new life into his photo­graphy.

“The Hasselblads I work with are heavy, cumbersome,” he says. “They make you really think about what you’re doing. The Holga is a very whimsical, instant, unpredictable piece of equipment. You can carry it in your pocket. With anything you do for long periods of time, it becomes a bit predictable. If you can somehow throw a wrench in that and allow another influence into your creative process, it helps.

On modern technology, post-processing, and professional photography:

Quote
Excessive processing of images is another bugbear.

Photo­graphy’s absolute power used to be its tie with reality: what you photographed was real and existed,” Kenna says. “That has now gone. With advertising and photography, most of it leaves me cold because I know it’s been done with techno­logical tinkering, Photoshop and after-effects. The ubiqui­tous nature of photo­graphy has also changed the way serious photographers work. The market has all but disappeared. Most professional photographers can’t exist any more.”

RSL

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2017, 11:12:36 AM »

At one point after reading that the reason he was able to make the photographs he made was because of the fine cameras he used, Walker Evans took up a box camera and made a few exceptional pictures with it. What matters is what's in your head, not what's in your hands.

Rob C

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2017, 12:31:24 PM »

Certainly wouldn't crave a Holga, but perfectly happy with 10 or 12 megapies. Cameras are able to do two things: they can help you and they can get in your way. Old ones usually helped me, but newer ones bring the little problem of editing out, once and mostly for always, all the functions they have which I know that I will never want to employ.

If there's a bonus, today, it's autofocus that makes my life easier than it would otherwise now be.

Computers and their influence? Once I was able to convince myself that digital darkrooms and wet ones have almost nothing in common, I learned to embrace the enemy and take from it that which I want.

Works pour moi.

Rob

RSL

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2017, 03:08:11 PM »

I'm with you, Rob. I hate the fact that nowadays my cameras have to have a moving picture capability. If I want to make a bloody movie I'll buy a movie camera. There are too damned many bells and whistles on the things. The kitchen sink is included, even though you don't intend ever to go near a kitchen.

And speaking of automatic focus: When the Leica M8 first came out I was panting for one -- until I began to read about the fiascoes people were experiencing with the camera. I loved my rangefinder Leicas in film days. Now you wouldn't be able to drag me, kicking and screaming, to any sort of manual focus camera, including the Leica, which, in my own estimation has become a sort of overpriced retro art object.

And yes, 12 mpx is more than enough unless you're planning to make wall-sized prints.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2017, 05:21:27 PM by RSL »
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Telecaster

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2017, 03:09:19 PM »

Substitute iPhone (or similar) for Holga and much the same approach applies.

-Dave-
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Telecaster

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2017, 03:13:27 PM »

And a Leica is just a camera. What other peoples’ impressions of it are, and how they do or don’t treat it, don’t matter.

-Dave-
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Rob C

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2017, 04:42:42 PM »

I don't know if it will happen, but if the Leica lenses do eventually embrace af, then they may well attract a wider market capable of the entry fee. I am aware that af exists within that brand, but I'm thinking of the M rangefinder system. It's all very well to explain how you can, after a lifetime on the street, judge focus by the position of the little knob on the ring, but hey, that's useable at f8 and be there, but what about the guy who, like me, would want to use those dream lenses wide open? Guess just ain't gonna cut it. From the relatively brief time I've used af, it is another dimension: put that central mark on the subject, and unless you are playing Saul games with windows and reflections, where even you become confused, you can get it as quickly as you spot it. No fiddling necessary.

It's great theorising on about careful, controlled and well-considered framing etc. but when you are in the heat of the moment, that's a different proposition. The use of anything as careful as judging sharpness on a screen becomes pretty useless. Sure, on a tripod, the game is something totally else.

Another thing that's silly (IMO) is the way people sometimes bad mouth slr cameras because the screen goes blank when you make the shot. If you were working at 1/25th of a second, you may have a point, but most of the time folks shoot a helluva lot higher up the scale, if only to stay sharpish. Return is so damned fast these days that I'm sure these folks are still quoting remarks made about those wonderful cameras of the 30s. Anyway, if your shot isn't the one you were trying for when you made it, what happens next doesn't much matter anyway - you were gonna blow it. Most of my working life was with hand-held cameras, and any shots I missed were because I didn't think fast enough. On a tripod, mostly with a 6x6 of one sort or another, yes, things were missed because of the flash recharging, not to mention the winding on process. The mirror didn't play much of a part in those losses.

There's so much crap thrown up in the air in photography these days.

Rob

Telecaster

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2017, 05:41:13 PM »

There’s a gizmo, the Techart Pro, that can autofocus M lenses (and other manual lenses too via adapters) on Sony A cameras. This tech could be built right into a camera if there was enough interest in doing so. Kyocera made a Contax SLR in the ‘90s that AF’d manual Zeiss & Yashica lenses using kinda the same approach. (The Contax moved the film plane rather than the lens plane.)

It doesn’t interest me personally. RF cameras are what I learned with so I find ‘em second nature. And my eyes are still good enough to focus with an RF, which is one reason why I’ve lately returned to ‘em. Do what you enjoy doing while you can still do it. I actually have a rough idea where my old 50mm is focused by feeling the focus/lock tab position. Doesn’t apply to any other lens, though.  :)

Growing up I had no impression that a Leica was anything special. My dad had one, which my mom used as much as he did (he preferred his Retina ‘cuz it was pocketable). His photojourno friend Ben had one just like it. My Uncle Jim had a Reid, which my young self assumed was just another model made by the same company. Looked pretty much the same. I thought my Brownie was the coolest of the lot ‘cuz it was the biggest!

Anyway I can get along with pretty much any portable camera. The pleasure and discipline of using it is the thing. Even the photos aren’t that important, particularly now that we’ve been awash in photos for over a decade. I was there and I saw…that’s what I carry with me.

-Dave-
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RSL

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2017, 06:58:36 PM »

Leica still makes marvelous lenses. I use a Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25 mm on my Pen-F. I think I get the same quality I used to get with Leica lenses on my Leicas, and it'll auto-focus.

FranciscoDisilvestro

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2017, 09:45:58 PM »

With the advances in EVFs (Electronic View Finder) and the use of focus peaking, you'll be able to focus manual lenses more accurately and better than most AF, except in situation like tracking action/sports

RSL

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2017, 08:47:58 AM »

The Pen-F has an excellent EVF system, but I wouldn't try to use it for manual focus while I'm doing street. And if your eyesight is good, I can't see how focus peaking really helps. I used to be damn fast with split-image focusing on my Leicas, but not as fast as the focus I can get with the push of a button, which, with the way I've set up the camera, is right under my finger on the front of the Pen. Shooting landscape is one thing. Shooting street is something else.

Telecaster

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2017, 05:48:30 PM »

I like the PanaLeica 25/1.4 a lot on my little GX8. Their 42.5/1.2 is lovely as well, but I like the tiny non-Leica f/1.7 version for the same reason my dad liked his Retina.

I recently picked up a copy of the 40th anniversary edition of Nancy Rexroth’s Iowa. She took the photos with a Diana camera. I’m guessing Michael Kenna’s approach was more precise than Rexroth’s, but then again I haven’t (yet) seen his Holga book.

-Dave-
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FranciscoDisilvestro

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2017, 05:52:24 PM »

I don't know about the Pen-F, and agree that Street could be closer to action/sports in regards to focus. Having said that, focus peaking allows to focus on any area of the image, so no need to recompose, and it is getting better with every new generation of cameras. Ever tried to focus a tilted tilt-shift lens handheld?

Telecaster

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2017, 06:12:37 PM »

Ever tried to focus a tilted tilt-shift lens handheld?

Isn’t that in the same why? category as focusing a Deardorff 8x10 while hanging from a tether connected to a helicopter?  ;D

-Dave-
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pearlstreet

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2017, 06:26:02 PM »

Kenna prefers not to be in total control of his photography, allowing accidents to hap­pen as he attempts to capture the “unseen”, which hints at the supernatural, sacred or spiritual.

I never thought of calling my lack of total control intentional,   ;D

Thanks for posting, Slobodan.
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Two23

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2017, 06:29:23 PM »

I've been having a lot of fun using cameras that make a Holga look like an upgrade! ;D  It's far too easy to get hung up on camera gear, to the detriment of creativity.


Kent in SD
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Rob C

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Re: Michael Kenna dumped Hasselblad for Holga
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2017, 04:20:31 AM »

One of the reliefs in being an am these days is that I have found a different mindset - at last - and all thanks to digital.

As long as the focal length suits the desires, then ideas of 'reality', can be thrown out with the water and the friggin', screamin' baby, all in one gigantic swooosh!

Use the cameras you have, get the basic image into PS and then look at it for a while and think: where can this mother go? That's when you can get to elaborate the score and let your imagination play. Were it not so, then all the versions of White Christmas would sound exactly the same.

;-)

Rob
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