Rare panoramic film camera makes comeback in Landscape exhibit
The Landscape: Three Interpretations
Red River Paper Pro Peter Randall is an accomplished editorial photographer with over 45 years experience and fourteen books to his name. Peter’s love of photography has taken him around the world and presented the opportunity to use a wide variety of cameras and equipment. Although the Canon 5d MkII is his primary camera, he says that his favorite system is still the Hasselblad X-Pan. A truly unique camera, the X-Pan is a super-35 that can shoot a double-wide 24mm x 65mm by taking two frame exposures at once.
Peter and two other photographers, David Speltz and Gary Samson, recently came together for an all X-Pan photography exhibition. Gary is the chair of the photography department at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, while David is retired and enjoying a second life as a travel photographer. They are all members of the New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists. Interestingly, all three live within just a few miles of each other and share a passion for the quite rare X-Pan system.
The exhibition, entitled “The Landscape: Three Interpretations”, features 28 printed images.
Peter chose images from his series documenting the few remaining small dairy farms in New Hampshire. In fact these photos as well as many others in his collection all come from a short eight mile stretch of road. The small farms saw mills, and people in his images represent the last of a once thriving culture in New Hampshire. Changing demographics and competition from industrial farming mean that the 40-60 cow dairy may not be around much longer. Peter’s goal has been to capture this lifestyle in broad, panoramic swatches while telling a detailed story of the people and culture.
Using the X-Pan allowed Peter to capture images in 2.7:1 ratio. Shooting true wide angle gave Peter lots of creative freedoms but also offered up its share of challenges. He notes, “When I’m looking at a scene, it’s critical to frame the shot so the viewer’s eye won’t wander and get lost.” While the image needs to document as much detail as possible, Peter cautions to find a unifying theme that ties everything together neatly. Of course this is not always possible. Looking back at some images, Peter notes, “I could crop one pano into three totally separate and valid images because they had so much content!”
The X-Pan also opens the feature of action to wide format photography. While digital capture is the standard today, Peter notes, “Most pano and super-wide shots come from multiple stitched images shot at different moments in time. Not so with the X-Pan. One shot can capture a wide image including all of the possibly moving people and things.”
Post-processing starts with transparency scans using an Imacon scanner. These high resolution files are then transferred to Photoshop and Aperture for editing. Since Peter is a documentarian, edits are kept to a minimum and images are adjusted so that they will maintain a true-to-life look and feel once printed.
All three photographers made prints on the Epson 3800, a 17” wide professional level printer. Peter chose Red River’s Aurora White in the 8.5” x 25” sheet size for the exhibit. Aurora is a smooth, 100% cotton fine art paper. Peter like the Aurora for “the subtle character and bright white tone which enhance contrast and allow image details to remain in focus.”
The show will hang in the Amherst Street Gallery in Manchester, NH from March 28 to April 28, 2012.