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5 frames with a Hasselblad on the Camino de Santiago – By Daniel Morales

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A couple of years ago, having quit my job and with only 6kg of luggage I embarked myself on my first Camino de Santiago (also know as St. James Way in English), which would take me around 12 days on foot to accomplish (or approximately 240km). That time, I decided to take with me my Olympus Pen FT and just two rolls of film, which even then felt like a luxury to carry given the weight and space restrictions that the Camino imposes on its pilgrims.

Skip forward to this July this year, on the very night prior to my second pilgrimage (which this time would be short, with only 5 days on foot needed) I was preparing my backpack, my same Olympus Pen and a roll of film… until it hit me: “Has anyone documented their Camino with a (modular) medium format camera?”

While it may sound like a dubious question, readers may be advised to take into consideration that weight  is essential while doing this type of hiking; everything from, shoes, clothing, first aid and gear should fit inside a backpack that one will be carrying on their backs for several hours and for hundreds of kilometers. A medium format camera would imply to pack not only the camera itself (not to mention its lens and its back) but at least 3 rolls of 120 film to equate to the number of frames that one could get with a “normal” 35mm camera (let alone a half frame one like the Olympus Pen FT).

After a quick search I found one flickr user that actually took his Hasselblad with him while doing the Camino del Norte, and that’s all I needed. I opened my backpack, removed the half frame Olympus and packed in my Hasselblad 500C/M with four rolls of film and one back; if he could do it, why couldn’t I? After all, my pilgrimage would be only 5 days long.

These are some of the results from taking such decision:

House with arrow

Yellow arrows mark the way for pilgrims and they can be found almost anywhere.

Horses

Horses, cattle and crops are a common sight while hiking through Northern Galicia in Spain.

House with crops

So in this time of the year everything is green.

Bridge over water

But Galicia is known for more than its greenery…

Small bay with boats

… and that is for its access to water bodies and its opulence of fresh seafood.

So I write this in hopes of putting an encouraging message out there for the pilgrims who wonder if it’s doable to take their “big” photo equipment with them.

Now the big question is: would I do it again, even if it is a longer pilgrimage? Absolutely. 

You can find me on Instagram, where I (slowly) upload photos from my trips.

Daniel M.

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