When photographers first started to abandon film en masse, there were fantastic opportunities to buy equipment that otherwise would be out of my price range. This Hasselblad 501CM, and 80mm Planar CB lens was my first medium format camera. It remains my favorite.

Hasselblad 501CM + Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2-8 CB - Mark Messerly
Hasselblad 501CM + Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2-8 CB – Mark Messerly

I particularly like its modular design, for a quick lens, finder, and back changes. At times, I add the grip, and one of my prism finders – although it bulks up pretty quickly. Generally, I carry it in its most compact configuration. It is quick to handle, adjust, focus, and shoot.

Primarily, I use black and white film. I’ve used Kodak TRI-X and T-MAX, and Arista EDU 100. Most of the time, I use ILFORD HP5 PLUS or FP4 PLUS.

These photos reflect my interest in timeworn, abandoned, and forgotten places. I am intrigued by the hidden stories behind the doors, shuttered windows, and blank walls. The textures, scattered shapes, worn and peeled siding, record the deep history of rain, sun, and decay.

On a recent trip through central Iowa, I stopped at several locations near Lehigh, Iowa, a scenic little town that rests along the Des Moines River. The winding roads through the valley pass lush fields, wooded areas, and are alive with many diverse possibilities for the creation of memorable images. The barns, houses, and old businesses left behind, warily awaken for another moment of remembrance, to perhaps jog a viewer’s shadowy memories, or reveal a story of their own.

For this trip, I chose ILFORD FP4 PLUS film, because of the fine grain, fantastic detail, and exposure tolerance. I used an orange 4X filter for these exposures, and thus compensated the FP4 PLUS rated speed by 2 stops. The camera was handheld, as there was sufficient afternoon light.

The film was processed and scanned by a professional lab. Some level adjustments and the final tone were applied within the Google Photos application.

~ Mark

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Mark Messerly

Following three decades in media engineering, I returned to school for degrees in elementary education, language arts. My photography interests include using unusual, homemade, and modified cameras - as...

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