For months, I had racked my brain on what would be my first photoshoot with the Hasselblad H6D-100c. I wanted it to be something that showed what I already knew of the incredible depth of the sensor that lived at its heart. From color to texture, I was racking my brain for what I would photograph to do the platform justice.

Living in Arizona, I have been no stranger to the culture of our native population. My father helped setup up the audio/visual for a local community college, and often I would go with him for Native American events, which were usually pow wows. I can still hear the singing and drum beat that accompanied the dancing, which was very cadence driven. These gatherings left me with fond memories, both of the performances and of the time I got to spend with my father at them.

Fast forward to the present and those visuals I had stored as a child leapt to the front of my mind when it came to the H6D-100c. From the flying tassels of the outfit, to the bright colors and sequins, I knew that there was something special within this piece.

Hasselblad H6d-100c

Planning for the photoshoot was one that challenged me greatly. The camera that I was to use was brand new (one of, if not the first one in the United States). Not only was I dealing with learning the sweet spot of the sensor (which I felt would be 1.5 stops underexposed), but I was operating with an entirely new architecture. The H6D had changed almost everything from its predecessor, save the chassis. The back was touch screen and the software flow was very “Apple-esque” in its motivation. All this is good, but one other large improvement was that the H6D now had a 1/2000th shutter sync.

As much as I love and obsess over lighting, even I was caught off guard in my approach to utilizing such a fast flash sync. It is one thing to have speeds capable of freezing a subject, but to have a sync so fast that many modern strobes can’t deliver their sine waves of light within the exposure was another. It was genuinely the first time that I have ever dialed an exposure in studio with the shutter rather than aperture.

With the added dynamic of this new capability, I found myself testing more than normal before anyone else arrived on set the day of the shoot. Like with all new systems, my skills were needing practice in order to give me the confidence needed to use this camera to its fullest. What we found was that the set needed to be constricted from my normal shooting space by about 20% to assure the light delivery within the sync speed. Also, we had to run more lights at less power and minimal modifiers to keep the flash duration to a point that it was not shutter affected.

Hasselblad Behind the ScenesThe dancing style that we chose was one of free-flowing movement with spins that were as if the individual was flying. It was a powerful statement of performance art, and one that I felt would really do the H6D-100c justice. For the image, I shot freely on set, walking around the dancer while he performed to the music of Disturbed (of all choices).

The initial planning called for me to shoot the piece with the dancer elevated on an Apple Box platform, but there was a bit more danger with this than we would like to have on set given how much he was going to move around. With the loss of the platform idea, I had to change my approach to shooting the piece eye level with the 35-90 and transitioned to shooting with the waist level finder on the H6D and the 100mm f/2.2 instead. The difference between 90mm and 100mm was very minor, but using the 100mm with the waist level finder is much easier as it is such a well-balanced lens. I also find it easier to shoot manual focus with the primes, for the single ring adjustment is less confusing.

Hasselblad Behind the ScenesOn some photo shoots, the images are derivative of aspects that might take time to show themselves between capture and post production. However, I can still remember the moment that I took the camera away from my eye and saw the shot that you see here. It was emotional,  both exciting and humbling. Rarely does an imagine that had only existed in a photographer’s mind so closely resemble the one that shows up on the camera’s LCD.

For the first photoshoot with the H6D-100c, I came away with my eyes opened, not only to the new possibilities that existed, but to the responsibilities that it would take to utilize them. With the shutter sync speed of the platform, we are seeing a period where cameras are moving the bar forward for strobes. On top of this, the resolution demands more computing power than ever, so entry into the system requires a commitment to the craft greater than ever before.