Here are a some Holga shots from the last few weeks.
First - I’ve been experimenting with Ilford SFX in a Holga. A 52mm deep red filter fits nicely on the front of the plastic lens (you have to push hard, but it will fit on and stay there). Here’s a little country church taken with this setup:
Solar flare activity was quite high when I took that shot and you can see the aurora in the sky over the church even the the midday sunlight… Or maybe the Holga was leaking light. Well, more likely that…
Here is an SFX shot of barren spring woods - not much infrared effect but there was not much greenery out yet:
SFX is a pretty tame infrared film, but it is fast enough to be used in a hand held Holga, even with a deep red filter. (I developed the SFX in HC-110 Dil B and pushed these exposures by one stop.) I’m hoping for some more pronounced IR effects once the green foliage is out.
And here is a double exposure of a snowmobile trail, looking to the east, looking to the west …. Classic Pan 200 developed in HC-110 Dil H.
Lastly , a squirt gun found out in the woods, same place where I found a bunch of dead a few years ago:
I heard about the London Street Photography Award and that got me looking through of my old B&W scans. This isn’t street photography since I was driving a car when I took it (like, how can you take a street photo while driving in the, um, street…)
But it’s an overlooked shot that I like. It has inspired me to unearth my original Holga from the depths of my car trunk, and I might even develop the film in it and try a fresh roll.
This shot was taken in 2007, whilst driving through Battle Creek, Michigan:
Good news arrived a couple of days ago when I learned that one of my photos, Spent, was accepted into the 2009 West Michigan Area Show, hosted by the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. After a two year hiatus in having work accepted into this show, it’s nice to get a piece in.
This image is one that keeps popping up on this blog, mostly because I like it. It was shot on film with a Holga in October, 2007 and where-else but the Allegan Forest. This was previously exhibited in last year’s Your Best Shot show hosted by the foto foto gallery in Huntinton, NY
The 2009 West Michigan Area Show runs from February 28 – April 26 with a reception on March 1, from 2-4 pm. This year’s juror is Larry Fink.
Almost two weeks ago now, some good news came in the mail. One of my Holga shots from last October was accepted into the fotofoto gallery’s “Your Best Shot” exhibit. I didn’t do a lot of Holga work last year, but “Spent” was the best shot (in my mind) that I did get with the toy camera – so I’m glad to see it head off to a show. I had the photo boxed up and in the mail a week ago, so it should be there now.
Definitely an October image - and here it is, a beautiful May morning…
It spent several months there with the same roll of Neopan 400 film wrapped onto its spools. Like a clock – or perhaps a bomb on a timer – the film slowly advanced as the days went by. It must have been the changes in temperature in the automobile. Every time I’d pick it up the carefully aligned frame number would be absent from the red window.
When I did use it I was rusty and out of practice. There’s not much to fumble with a Holga – no aperture or shutter settings – but invariably I’d leave the lens cap in place or focus set to minimum. These discoveries would be made long after the subject and moment had moved on – so the empty squares caused by the creeping advance of the film would be next to empty frames caused by leaving the lens cap on.
No matter. I finally pulled the Neopan out of the camera, mixed up some HC110, and coaxed the latent images out on the film. Two shots caught my fancy.
Spent was taken in the Allegan Forest, of course. It’s not uncommon to find piles of spent ammo on the ground out there – it’s probably more uncommon to look down and not find a shell or two. But the cologne bottle? I’ve seen lots of weird things that people bring into the woods to dump or shoot at, but never a bottle of men’s cologne… This is of course a double exposure – one of those happy accidents that only the Holga can bestow.
For all those interested in Holgas, pinholes, and toy cameras - Camera Arts magazine has included a web edition of the 2007 Krappy Kamera Contest on their website.
Follow this link to see 'all that krap.'
My goal with these shots has been to utilize the Holga’s multiple exposure capacity to create a single image that captures an extended period of time. I’m not interested in putting together a few recognizable images, juxtaposed on top of each other. Rather, I’m interested in putting together lots of exposures (25, 50, maybe 100) with few if any individually discernable images being present. The idea is to build up an image through the successive exposure of the film to varying (and weak) light sources – so that the resulting exposure on the film is not representative of any specific image, but rather is the cumulative effect of many exposures. A “layered exposure.”
Ultimately the photograph is a temporal composition – the combined effects of light and time, as opposed to light and place.
Well – that’s the theory at least. I’ve encountered a few challenges in terms of pulling it off, but the process is still new.
The first challenge is finding the right window of ambient light to work with. Without using a neutral density filter, multiple exposures outside on a sunny day will very quickly block up even the slowest film. As a result, I’ve confined this project to twilight hours – snapping away in the mysterious gloom that separates day from night. (I suppose this project could be taken indoors – the multiple exposures would be much easier to manage in a dimly lit building or interior. But that would be limiting – it would be too tempting (or even unavoidable) to take shots of the same place.)
I tried for a few more shots in this genre last week, and the results are something of a mixed bag. “Rotary”, above, is a series of mad snaps taken while whirling around a rotary, shortly after sunset. The result is interesting, and I like the dynamic, but it really is a composite of several individual shots of streetlights, and not a layered-exposure, since so many areas of the frame are dark.
Another shot from the same evening is in the Image Stream - and rest assured, more shots exploring this concept are on their way...
Don’t as me why, but I’ve been avoiding that feature. I keep the lens cap on the Holga, not so much to protect the lens, but to prevent accidental multiple exposures. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was so worried about that – after all, randomness and the happy accident are where it’s at when it comes to the Holga.
Driving into work the other day, I wondered about putting the whole commute into one image. It was a dark morning – the sun is barely up when I leave and the heavy clouds made it all the more gloomy. I didn’t count the number of exposures I took – probably about 20. It was raining and the raindrops on the windshield made for an interesting patina to the shot. The wiper blades should have appeared in some of the shots – I don’t know why they didn’t, but they didn’t.
I like this shot – kind of moody and blue, low on impact and graphic elements, but still engaging to my eye. I plan to continue to work with this technique – ideas for other multiple compositions are coming to mind already.
For those interested in technical matters – this shot was taken on JandC’s Pro 100 film, developed in Agfa Rodinal 1:50 for 1 hour (very low agitation.) Well – even with 20 exposures it was still pretty dark out.
"And all I see are little dots
Some are smeared, some are spots..."
-- Talking Heads
Late winter and early spring can be the doldrums for outdoor photography in the Midwest. It’s dark, it’s dreary, it’s not really cold enough for snow and ice, but the fields and trees are still bleak and barren. I wind up plinking away with the digital cameras, taking useless photos.
And what for? After all, I could just be shooting away with toy cameras, where even the crappiest shot is made even crappier by lens distortions and light leaks.
A toy camera (or two) is a standard item in my car these days. The Holga is ever present, and for a change of pace I grab a $1 Special Moments Focus Free camera loaded with 35mm film.
So today I cobbled together an update for the Image Stream, consisting of images taken with toy, krappy, and other than standard cameras. A handful of shots are featured here, the rest of course are in the Image Stream.
Maybe I’m just in a minimalist mood, but the simple shots “LIttle Dots” and “Night Driving” strike me as the most interesting. When you think about photographs, very often the subject matter of the shot is the first thing that comes to mind. For a lot of viewers, subject is king – and there is an interest in seeing shots of specific subjects – people, places, or things.
Do spots of light qualify as a “subject?” Does it matter if the spots in Night Driving are streetlights, while the dots in Little Dots are just sunlight on window curtains?
I don’t think so… The toy camera kitsch of course is a plus, but I just like the dots. Maybe connecting them is the challenge.
For those interesting in film and developing - Holga shots were taken on Classic Pan 400, developed in HC110 Dilution H. The 35mm Special Moments shots were taken on Fuji Neopan 400, developed in Rodinal 1:25. All exposures were pushed 1 stop.
More toy camera shots, and more info about the shots shown here, can be found in the Image Stream.
A few years ago I uncovered a Holga 120 camera from my father’s photo collection, and I’ve been a devoted user of it ever since. The sheer simplicity – no real aperture settings and one fixed shutter speed – makes it a compelling camera. You can forget all about all that technical stuff while you are out shooting, and then try to compensate in the development and printing stages.
These days I’m in a heavy digital camera mode – and as I was playing around with a new digital SLR last week, and started to wonder if it would be possible to fit the lens from a Holga onto the DSLR.
The Holga lens popped right off the body, with just a quick twist. At that point it was just a question of figuring out how to mount it on the camera body.
The first attempt was to put the Holga lens on an extension ring. I wasn’t sure how far the lens should be from the sensor to achieve optimum focus, so I taped the lens to the smallest extension ring available – a 12mm ring – and gave that a try.
Unfortunately, that was way too much extension – and while it would be good for close ups, it would not work out for general shooting.
So, onto plan B – chop a hole into the center of a body cap and mount the lens onto that. The back of the lens assembly (which includes the aperture) actually extends just a bit into the body cavity.
Here was a setup that worked – after testing it out with the lens taped in place, I glued in onto the body cap with superglue, and then waited a few days to take it for a spin (didn’t want those super glue vapors settling onto the digital camera sensor.)
This setup worked out great. The lens seems to be close to it’s optimum distance from the sensor, and object that are more than 10 or 12 feet away come into focus – if you can cal it that – quite well.
With a real Holga there is a ‘sweet spot’ near the center of the frame that is relatively sharp. Along the periphery of the image, the lens introduces significant distortions. A real Holga also has had significant vignetting – especially if you remove the film insert.
With the DSLR, the sweet spot fills most of the sensor area, so you lose the great distortions that would appear along the edge of a 120mm exposure. You also lose the great vignetting that a real Holga produces.
In addition, the 60mm lens is a moderate telephoto on an APS sensor DSLR. IN 35mm terms, a 60mm lens on small sensor DSLR is the equivalent of a 90mm lens. The same lens, on a medium format camera, is the equivalent of a 30mm on a 35mm camera.
Well – what are obstacles but things to get around. The lens distortion is there, and the digital sensor seems to accentuate color distortion, chromatic aberration, and flare even more than film – so there’s a fair trade off. Vignetting can be crafted post exposure in Photoshop. A while a wide angle might be more interesting than a telephoto, it’s just a function of seeing and composing a little differently.
I ‘test drove’ the Holgified DSLR yesterday and today. Yesterday I hit the lake Michigan shore line and the lighthouse at South Haven, along with the Allegan forest. Today I wandered around the hinterlands, stopping off at a remote country cememtery and also snapping a fading evangelical billboard.
The cemetary was a weird place, since there were lots of small American flags lying in the dirt all around the headstones. At first I thought that it was vandalism - but then I saw so many flags dangling from their sticks by just a few threads. You’d think that people would show a little more respect for their country, and have the foresight and sense of responsibility to take down their flags when they are ratty and falling apart.
For the full set of out takes from the test drive - take alook at the Image Stream.