White Sands – Hasselblad 180mm f4 Sonnar

This photograph is a square format view of New Mexico’s 115 square mile National Monument, shot late on a day when there seemed to be no end of photographs to take.  It was also a day that I was bewitched with the look of things, but only when viewed through a telephoto.

The 180mm can do appealing things to space. It’s a hefty lens that requires a tripod not just for stability but also to maximize depth of field. Its  field of view is roughly the same as a 90 mm lens on a 35 mm camera, and like everything else Hasselblad it was designed to perform without complaint and never fall apart. The lens was a latecomer in the Hasselblad family, filling a void for portrait photographers between the 150mm and 250mm lenses. I bought mine when it first came out and have never used it for portraits.

The day at White Sands was so teeming with possible photographs,  I felt I couldn’t keep up with it – something that doesn’t happen often. After taking this picture I had to make some decisions, because the length of time involved in hand-held metering and tripod alterations was eliminating too many other possibilities. There wasn’t much remaining daylight and clouds were threatening to cover the sun. I chose to switch gears to my 35 mm Contax because a hand-held camera expanded the creative options – not the least of which was several dozen additional pictures.

In this image, the bulbous shadows establish a mood and pattern.  But as the eye travels, the tiny yucca on the crest of the dune can alter the sense of scale which in turn changes the way the photograph is read. Some of my 35mm images from the same afternoon are in yesterday’s post.

To see other photographs taken with the Hasselblad system click on this link:


Another (cropped) image taken with the 180mm Sonnar can be seen here: