Story and photos by Chris Fitzsimmons
At the beginning of March this year, I travelled to Barcelona for 10 days to meet up with some friends from Toronto. When I started to pack all of my belongings for the trip, my biggest debate was on what cameras to bring. After narrowing down my options, I chose to bring a digital camera along with my Hasselblad Xpan 35mm film camera.
The Xpan is a rangefinder camera, which is different than most SLR cameras that people use. The viewfinder for the camera is a tad to the left, instead of being centred above the lens, which means what you see isn’t going to be exactly what you get in your final image. With a combination of shooting action images and not being able to instantly review the photo, this meant I had to be very proficient in timing and composing my images properly.
What ultimately led me to purchase an Xpan in the first place was the ability to shoot panoramic images. The camera shoots normal 35mm film, but rather than the conventional 24x36mm frame, it shoots 24x65mm giving you a wider cinematic look to your photos. Usually, when shooting a roll of film, you get 36 exposures, but with the Xpan, you get around 20 exposures, which meant I had to be pickier when choosing something to photograph. Panoramic images are usually associated with vast landscapes or wide cityscapes, so I wanted to try and incorporate the camera into my skateboard photography and challenge myself by thinking about shooting a scene differently.
Beforehand, I was a little nervous about bringing a film camera on my trip because of the hassle of flying with film. At the airport I would have to get all of my film hand checked by security because the X-ray machines could ruin and fog all of the film.
Usually I wouldn’t be too worried, except I only had a 45-minute layover between connecting flights. I quickly explained my film situation to the security guard and after it was checked over, I was on my way. I sprinted to my gate and barely made the last boarding call. Unfortunately, 10 days later, my return flight home didn’t go as smoothly.
The airport security guard didn’t understand the process of hand checking film, and the language barrier made it difficult to explain this to him. He proceeded to open up my Ziploc bag full of film and attempted to pry open one of the film canisters, which would’ve completely ruined the whole roll. I quickly grabbed the bag, indicating for him to stop. Luckily, the security guard realized what he was doing was wrong and none of the memories from the trip were lost.