Back in July, I was in Cape May for a beach portrait session. Cape May is a bit of a drive, plus I have to figure summer shore traffic, so I left a little early. No problem, though - I’d get there with some time to look for some photos to take. I packed my Hasselblad and a couple of rolls of 220 along with my portrait shooting gear and hit the road.
With the summer being what it was this year, this was the first time I had been down the shore. It was nice to walk along Cape May’s elevated promenade and to breathe in some cooler ocean air. I had the Hasselblad with me, and the idea in my head was to look for some very Cape May-ish, very beach-ish photos. From the promenade the bright colors of this beach umbrella just jumped out at me! I made my way down onto the beach to where I could ask the two very nice ladies under it if I could photograph their umbrella.
The trick with the Hasselblad 501c is that the shutter speeds only go up to 1/500. That becomes a little problematic when you are trying to capture a shallow depth of field, especially in a bright summer beach scene. Enter the ND filter! The ND filter I use is a two-stop filter, which means it “blocks” two f-stops of light from exposing your film. Now comes the math, this is the side of photography that I love! I was shooting Portra 160 film, so my ISO was 160. I prefer Portra 160, but more than that, I needed the slower film speed to try to keep the shutter speed as low as possible. I metered my scene in shutter speed (1/500) priority for my initial readings. There is no meter in my Hasselblad, so I am using my Sekonic L-558 handheld meter. Now I have my aperture setting for 1/500 for this scene. Remember, though, that the meter reading won’t be correct because of the two-stop ND filter. Once I set my metered shutter speed and aperture settings on my Hasselblad, I just need to open up two stops for the ND compensation. Shooting at 1/500 shutter, I believe I was getting f8 for 160 film, and with the ND I could come down to f4, which is where I love to shoot!
Or - if we use the good ol’ Sunny f16 Rule - ISO 160 film - 1/125 at f16 - change to 1/250 at f11 - ND filter brings you to 1/250 at f5.6 - change to 1/500 at f4 - viola!!