While the Hasselblad might not be an obvious action camera the design of its in-the-lens shutter makes it perfect for pairing with high-speed flash, and it’s the logical tool of choice for photographer Thomas Morel.
If you’re thinking of photographing high-speed action, then it’s likely you would reach for a 35mm-style DSLR as your camera of choice. However, the minute that flash becomes involved the whole scenario changes: suddenly the Hasselblad, with its central shutter mechanism built into every lens, comes into its own, owing to its ability to synchronise with flash at any given shutter speed. It opens the way to working with ultra fast flashlight, and gives the photographer the opportunity to impose their will on the overall density of the scene they’re photographing.
For Thomas Morel, whose entire look is based around remarkable high-speed imagery, there simply was no other choice of camera to use. As a former gymnast, speed and movement and, particularly, the moment that was too rapid for the human eye to see, fascinated him. He determined that this would be the focus of his work, and he concentrated on teaching himself the skills he needed to master high-speed work.
“While I was still at school I created a business plan to persuade the bank manager that photography was my future,” he says. “At the time I had no training, no equipment and no references, just a burning passion. When I reached 18 I got a loan and went and invested in my first Hasselblad, an H3DII-31, and a full complement of broncolor studio lighting.”
Not only was the H3D the perfect camera for stopping action, but it also delivered files packed with awesome quality, allowing the full impact of Thomas’ amazing images to shine through. “I didn’t want to risk shooting a really great image only to be frustrated by poor technical quality,” he says.
Remarkably Thomas captures his shots through the speed of his reactions rather than by relying on a trigger to fire his shutter. He locks up the mirror on his camera and then can expect an almost instantaneous response when he presses the shutter. The ability to see through the lens is lost, but with the Hasselblad on a tripod and focused on the point of interest, it’s just a case of waiting for the moment and being quick enough to react.
The extraordinary portfolio of images Thomas has created is testament to his skill at mastering the difficult art of timing and it’s allowed him to forge a reputation for himself as one of the most original and eye-catching photographers working today.