#858. Hasselblad X1D does F1! And a new challenge.

By pascaljappy | How-To

May 15

They said that it could not be done,
He said, “Just let me try.”
They said, “Other men have tried and failed,”
He answered, “But not I.”
They said, “It is impossible,”
He said, “There’s no such word.”
He closed his mind, he closed his heart…
To everything he heard.”

Benny Hill.

Mjölner angry!! Puny Russian boy not mess with mighty hammer! Puny human run away!

So Mjölner, the Hasselblad X1D, is just a spoiled studio brat for pampered golden boys, only capable of politically correct renditions of immobile subjects, right? Wroooong! This is what you get when the Swede gets angry at a Russian teenager shattering the silence and dunkin’ doughnuts on the tarmac! A raging tool!!


Okay, so, if I’m honest, when I turned up at this pre-Grand Prix F1 demo with my camera, we weren’t off to a brilliant start. It looked like the session would resemble the end of Benny Hill’s tirade more than the heroic beginning quote above 😉

In order to warm up the crowds, thrill some sponsor VIPs and stretch the muscles of our autofoci (99% phones, out there, just sayin’), Renault had kindly provided a Megane RS 01 Cup before bringing out the loud F1 insect.

And, well, let’s just say, focusing was a tad, a smidgeon, a soupçon, difficult. Not many of my shots were actually out of focus because the camera simply refused to lock focus, or shoot. No worries, I prefocused and set the camera to manual focus and … bingo.


Still, though, for fast moving passes this didn’t work because the camera simply refused to shoot, even in MF … In typical Scandinavian fashion, the X1D refuses to pollute the environment needlessly and won’t take the picture if it’s not going to be good. It’s that eco-friendly! Not to worry, in true latin fasion, I thought “bugga the environment” and used the electronic shutter to recreate Jacques Henry Lartigues’ racing masterpiece, only better, through carefully crafted and not at all unexpected shutter roll. True story! Sometimes my genius scares me.

Kind of fun, though, isn’t it ? 😉

Back to the drawing board, then. Or, rather, back to step one. Point and shoot and let autofocus do its stuff. Very hit and miss, initially, and only a few of the intended shots came through.


Eventually, though, everything fell into place and the F1 driver realised he was no match for the lightning speed of the Swedish photographic Hammer of the Gods. All of this is scientific fact, this is how it happened …

He came
He saw
He flipped
He ran away
Far far away

Five minutes into this ear-splitting fun, the car just stopped (intentionally), signaling the end of the show and the official photo sessions.


In true photographic genius again, I was on the wrong side of the display when everything was set up. Bummer!

The pilot? Oh, he’s on the left, just … behind.
One very talented young man!

There was a time when F1 demi-gods paid the price for driving cool cars and making a human monthly wage every heartbeat by being knee-high to a hobbit. This guy was 2 inches taller than me and really good lookin’, which begs the question: why spend your life in a tiny, noisy and dangerous environment when you don’t need to, to pull the ladies? I mean, they were litterally lining up …

Please marry me!

These photos prove three things:

  • Don’t trust photographs as evidence. The black and white shots aren’t even in chronological order. They were made over several passes and rearanged to suit the narrative, something acceptable in a self-mocking photo blog but much more on worrying social media, passed as truths.
  • Technical camera reviews are utterly meaningless. Yes, the X1D is super slow at focusing, on paper. Does that stop it bringing back the goods? Never trade pleasure for convenience!
  • If the photo industry wasn’t so biased towards high numbers (high speed, high ISO, high pixel counts …) we may actually have sensors with low ISO ratings that would have allowed a slower shutter speed and even more drama in these photographs. Time to realise photography is not all about performance, mebbe?
Thank you Sergei! (Also, not a bad portrait lens, right?)

May Challenge : Treasured Ones


Moving on. It’s time for a new challenge 🙂

After the fire in Notre Dame, Philippe suggested we post photographs of places we love, before they are taken away from us.

This may seem obvious, but is actually very difficult. Case in point: very old plane trees were cut down in my little town, apparently because they had caught some disease that threatened the safety of bypassers. Still, the whole town felt betrayed when those venerable beings were chopped down, to be replaced by soulless paving.

I could send you a photograph of the trees before their life was ended by a politician. All you would see are trees. They would have no special significance to you.


So, how do you communicate the fact that something is special to you without writing it down? That’s the whole challenge.

The photograph of trees above (taken in Bromley, not at home) conveys mood and grandeur. But I don’t think it conveys love or attachment.

So, there you have it. Send me (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) your photographs of loved scenes (please, no photographs of people, it is very difficult to manage publishing rights) that convey that feeling of love and meaning to those who do not have that same meaning.


How do you do that? By making the photograph, the composition, the lighting, the post-processing, all very personal. When all conspire to make the result uniquely yours, then the photograph can’t have been made by anyone else or for any other reasons. Happy shooting, see you towards the end of the month 🙂


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  • Steve Mallett says:

    Pascal, I am gobsmacked. Not by the excellent photos, I expect nothing less from you and your Swedish pal, but that Benny Hill should make it into pole position on this hallowed site. My world is rocked!


  • Pascal, great images, Pau?? I just adore the morning mist shot is so peaceful. Dallas.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you Dallas. Not Pau, but a little town close to Le Castellet where Renault F1 stopped for one of the stages of their pre-GP roadshows. Can’t think what the elderly locals thought of the astounding noise 😀 But a great opportunity for the sort of picture making I don’t get to do very often.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    At some personal risk, Pascal, may I ask if this was tongue in cheek? I accept the line that nothing is imposible – well, almost nothing anyway (have you ever seen a lightning conductor wearing boxing gloves punch a tram ticket?) But really, that isn’t the question, is it? Or perhaps if this condition persists, we can send you off to do some serious birding!
    I am confused by your suggestion that you were on the wrong side of the line up. It makes sense if you meant the shot above that paragraph – but not if you meant the next one.
    Never mind – the shots are great, the labours of Hercules shooting them with the wrong king of camera establish beyond argument your incredible skill level, and [almost**] all that remains is the perennial question – what have you done with the bicycle?
    ** I never shut up that soon, do I?
    Plane trees is a whole different case – only a few short hours ago I was admiring them, and saying to my wife that I’ve only really been surrounded by them in two places – Adelaide (South Australia), where I grew up – and France. Puĺl out all those prickly pear things, if you like – but pulleez! – not the plane trees!

    • pascaljappy says:

      You are too kind, good sir 😉 And yes, definitely a bit tongue and cheek. If you follow the link to the Benny Hill tirade, you’ll see how it ends 😉 But, on the ground, what I did was just try to click and let the camera do what it will. A few times, it refused to shoot, a few times it didn’t. Over 5 or so passages, I had my pics and more 🙂

      Plane trees are a national treasure but are getting chopped down at alarming speed. The worst place is the Canal du Midi, which has lost all of its charm in some places due to the felling. Authorities tell us the trees are ill. Well how about curing them, then? Or maybe we should chope the authorities down every time they catch the flue ???

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        ROTFLMHAO! I’m so fed up with inadequate, stupid, useless people doing things like that, that I’ve had a Martin Luther King moment. My vision is that politicians should receive most of their pay on a performance basis! At the moment, it isn’ even calulated on the basis of the number of days they turn up & sit in the chair where they SHOULD be doing something useful!
        In your example with the plane trees, they’d get paid on the basis of the number they saved.
        Some pine trees suffer from die back from fungal infection – it can be cured, if you get in early, simply by injecting the appropriate anti-fungal agent. Have they even looked for some cure like that? We would have lost most of our jarrah trees a century ago, if we’d been that irresponsible!

        • pascaljappy says:

          In some countries, local authorities are nominated, not elected. That would suit me well. It would keep loud mouths out of the system as well as corruption and incompetence.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I’ve just scoured my way through nearly a hundred photos of this year’s Mille Miglia, and not one is attributed to you, Pascal. What happened?

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