Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Holga Hunt

Photo by Angie at Pinkie Style
Been debating whether or not it is really worth the effort to own and take photos with a Holga. They are so warm and instantly loveable. But the process can be a headache. Of course, it's possible to reproduce the effects with Photoshop (or with one click on Flickr Premium Picnik mode), but I don't have the time to fiddle around to find the right settings, and if I ever do, the ersatz copy will never feel as satisfying as the real thing (if I ever figure out how to do this too).

The endlessly charming photo above is 35mm film taken on a "hacked" Holga 120N (medium format film, the regular Holga model). That's why you can see the sprockets, as the entire piece of film is exposed. You have to use rubber bands, coins, cardboard to adapt the camera, and also count the number of clicks (35) to know how far to manually advance the frame after each shot. In addition, you cannot get them developed normally at the pharmacy. After taking out and rewinding the film in a completely dark space, you have to ask for a contact sheet and then scan the negatives into your computer- otherwise, the pharmacy will crop out the sprockets, as they usually do with 35mm film.

Here's the much more vibrant original. (How do they protect their photos from being copied / spaceball.gif?)

Taking sprocketed 35mm photos is my first choice, but it is also a lot of work with too many avenues for failure. And developing medium format film is simply much too expensive, especially using a toy camera that delivers satisfactory results less than half the time. It's not uncommon for an entire precious roll to be ruined because of a giant light leak in the body or from improper film installation. This craft requires a lot of money down the drain to perfect! And, since the plastic camera is so cheaply manufactured, parts can break anytime.

A 35mm version of the Holga recently came out last year, with 2 versions: 135BC - Black Corners, like the original 120N Holga, and 135PC - Pinhole Camera, with no lens. (Pinhole cameras have an infinite depth of vision, so they can make neat shots like this and this. But I think most of them just turn out blurred and hazy. You can make a pinhole camera out of virtually any container.) I toyed (ha!) with getting a 135BC, because it's much cheaper to develop, with the same vignetting, warmth and unpredictability of photos taken by the original, but you can't really modify the camera like you can the original, when you do get bored of the same settings. And there is something undeniably special about a square photo.

So, I don't know if I will get anything Lomo-related. Sure they're cheap, $30-$70 per camera, but you definitely have to make up for it with experimentation, much more money for film, and hard work.


angie said...

The image is at 72dpi so I'm not worried about someone stealing it for printing.

Definitely get a Holga.

Also, you need to give more credit for a photo than a link :-)

Fern said...

Sorry, fixed!

Hog Hunting Texas said...

very nice photo, thanks for sharing.