The Start to my Medium Format Journey by Joshua Kenneth Oliver

The start to my medium format journey has been an interesting one.

I never really knew when I’d start shooting medium format, but it was jump started this year by a certain pandemic and it’s causing of me to surf the internet and see more and more pictures taken on medium format cameras/having talks with medium format shooters.

I absolutely loved the idea of a totally modular system and that sold me on the format at last and so I bought a Bronica ETRS. The first roll was expired but came out mostly fine, the next roll was used on a Colorado road trip and contains my favorite medium format shot so far but it was all downhill from there…

The images started looking as if they were exposed so long that they are unrecognizable.

This led me to seek out rental camera options and that’s how I ended up traveling with a Hasselblad 500C during my first ever visit to California, from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo county and back again.

I shot with various film stocks (Cinestill 50D, Ektar, Tri-x, Portra 800, expired Fuji Pro 400H), and I think I will need to shoot many more of these to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, for now it would be Portra 800 because of the variety of lighting situations it can be shot in for such a schizophrenic subject matter shooter as myself.

The camera was quite the learning curve because of all of it’s quirks, such as with old backs a need to watch the turning of film very closely so that you don’t skip a frame (I did this a lot), but by the end I felt that I was finally getting the hang of this famous vintage camera…and many cool spontaneous conversations as well with interested strangers!

I’m quite convinced that if you’re outgoing enough with your photography (and live in a city with outgoing people/gig economy ala LA) it might be worth buying this camera and using it often because the interest and contacts it generates alone might be worth it in the end.

Just don’t drop it when shooting at sand dunes!

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