Surf photographer Ben DeCamp has captured a fantastically moody collection of black-and-white pictures of waves utilizing a waterproofed Hasselblad X-Pan movie digicam, thought-about by some to be a “holy grail” digicam that DeCamp leveraged for his enthralling panorama-style pictures.
DeCamp is thought for his stunning images of surfers and waves, however his newest collection comes after experimenting with panoramic movie cameras as a passion as a method to decompress from his skilled work, however what began as a private mission rapidly grew into a brand new ardour.
He tells PetaPixel that the inspiration for beginning the mission comes from the work of photographer Trent Mitchell and his use of the Hasselblad X-Pan and 45mm lens in Australia. In keeping with DeCamp, Mitchell partnered with OG fabricator Dave Kelley which opened the door for different photographers to convey this uncommon and uncommon digicam into the ocean.
“I watch reruns of Antiques Roadshow on PBS, if that’s any indication to the sort of individual I’m,” DeCamp says. “Since digicam collectors think about this a ‘holy grail,’ it solely added to the mystique and issue in sourcing a clear instance to make use of. Lots of individuals who shoot with the XPan initially really feel misplaced and annoyed; their typical subject material doesn’t lend itself effectively to the panoramic format. Waves, nonetheless, match snugly into the 65:24 wide-screen ratio and take full benefit of the extra decision. 12,000+ pixel-wide pictures throughout practically two frames of movie allow seamless copy for billboards, car wraps, and XL prints.”
Earlier than attending to the purpose the place he would wade out into the surf as pictured above, DeCamp first needed to guarantee his digicam would survive the journey.
“I acquired the XPan with 45mm and 90mm lenses in 2018 after which labored intently with SPL Waterhousings in San Diego to create a custom-machined aluminum powder-coated case with optical-grade acrylic lens ports,” he says.
“For the reason that digicam encompasses a motor drive (roughly one body per second), it stored the water housing design easier and extra compact,” he says. “The catch is you solely have 20 frames per 36-frame roll. If the waves are firing one-after-another, or the lighting shifts dramatically, I’ll swim in and rapidly change rolls mid-session. The rangefinder features contained in the water housing, however the motion occurs so quick that I nearly all the time zone focus. The shutter button triggers by a mechanical thumb lever that I can faintly really feel via 7mm neoprene mittens. The 2 handles present extra safety and stability for leveling the horizon.”
DeCamp says that the perfect occasions to seize his pictures additionally occur to be the least hospitable to being within the water.
“Often, the strongest storms with the perfect possibilities of excessive surf are within the lifeless of winter,” he explains. “In New England, there’s snow & ice on the seashore with a slim timeframe when all of the circumstances should come collectively. In case you get damage, sucked out in a rip present, chased by wildlife, there’s nobody round who’s going to leap in 38-degree Fahrenheit water in a fast hurry. I began carrying an LED gentle, a whistle, and a prototype emergency inflatable buoy system developed from spare elements across the workshop.
“Storms wash up misplaced fishing gear, tree trunks, outdated tires, all types of nasty stuff to keep away from. I preserve a gal. of scorching water and a thermos of espresso on the seashore in case of a frigid wetsuit flush,” DeCamp says.
“‘When unsure, don’t paddle out!’” he says, quoting the warning phrase. “But when it’s a must to, be ready.”
DeCamp says that there’s a little-known shipwrecked barge embedded into the seashore someplace round New England. After huge storms, on a low tide, elements of it is going to emerge to the dismay of walkers and fishermen. The boat acts nearly like a synthetic reef, making a dependable sandbar that morphs incoming waves into distinctive shapes.
“Often, at dawn and sundown, the ambient gentle is just too low forcing me to open up the aperture and lose all of the obvious sharpness from larger depth of area,” DeCamp says. “I typically wait until mid-morning for the solar to rise increased and create backlit circumstances whereas nonetheless having the ability to shoot not less than at f/11 and even f/16. There’s one thing particular a few backlit East Coast morning, it has a crisp shade temperature. However the true magic comes with passing storm fronts. Darkish skies and an occasional sliver of gentle will illuminate the waves. It’s important to be within the water, Prepared in case that second occurs. Typically, it doesn’t, and all you’ve achieved is an ice cream headache.”
After which there’s the potato.
“I often convey a half potato to the seashore and rub it everywhere in the acrylic port,” DeCamp explains. “The enzymes pressure the water to bead off the entrance. Most photographers lick their lens ports, however you lose hydration rapidly resulting in muscle cramps. In between each shot I take advantage of a squeegee to wipe the port clear of sand and water droplets and permit it to dry within the wind. If you make these little particulars half of your routine, that’s the way you make it residence safely with clear pictures and if you happen to’re fortunate, time to eat the opposite half of your potato.”
Decamp says that he makes use of HP5+ movie for combined lighting circumstances and TMAX 400 for sunny-day pictures.
“I sometimes push +2 in improvement, and ask the lab to ‘scan for spotlight element.’ Each movies have responded effectively to a range of graduated ND and shade filters for balancing the publicity of the sky. For me, there’s a tangible depth to the mid-tones with HP5+ and TMAX handles the highlights with out blowing out. One is darkish & moody, the opposite lighter and ethereal. The result’s two distinct black & white appears to be like for the consumer to select from.”
As he mentions, DeCamp develops his movie via Richard Photo Lab relatively than working with it himself.
“I take pleasure in ready whereas weeks go by with out pictures, after which immediately there’s information!” he says. “Your total world stops. The lab additionally sleeves the negatives and scans the movie, simplifying digitization and the archival course of whereas I stay targeted on creating.”
For extra from DeCamp, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel, and he encourages anybody who enjoys his pictures to let him know.
“Please attain out if you happen to loved these pictures, I might love to listen to from you,” DeCamp says.