More Fun With the Holga (and other Toy Cameras)

  posted on Aug 10, 2006 by Mark in Toy Camera, Holga

Yesterday I posted a handful of new toy camera shots. These shots were taken either with a Holga camera, or with another 35mm Special Moments dollar store camera.

I’m back to working a (more or less) full time day job, and so I have to resort to grabbing photos whenever possible. Toy cameras are perfect for these – keep one under the seat of your car and pull it out whenever a scene or moment speaks to you.

I have tried a few new things here...

For one thing, the sunflower was an initial experiment in Holga close-ups. To take it I put a series of close up diopters over the Holga’s lens, using a ombined +4, +2, and +1 set. These are pretty inexpensive close-up filters, and so they probably distort the shot a bit. But hey, its a Holga.

The hardest thing to master with Holga close up techniques is compensating for the different perspective of the finder, which is to the side of the lens, and the lens itself. I’ve taken to lining up the shot through the finder, then moving the camera so that the center of the camera back is directly in front of my eye. Of course, I can’t see through the camera and can’t see what I’m shooting, but if in theory if done correctly I’m putting the camera lens where the finder lens was, and should get a shot that is something like what I saw in the finder...

In theory.... The great thing about working with the Holga is that you really never know what you are going to get. And, even with the close up filters and shooting just a few inches from the subject, the wide angle lens on the Holga seems to make it almost impossible to get a clean background, free from distractions.

But then – I’ve only tried it a few times, so I’ll keep practicing (if only for the fun of it.)

The Laundry in Galesburg is another Holga shot. Since I have a fairly long commute I’ve taken to shooting while driving. (I’m working on setting up and in-car photoshop installation so I can edit files while driving, but that may prove to be impractical.) I made a beer run on the way home from work, and the slight jog to the market turned into taking the back roads home. Galesburg is a small town, I’ve driven through it many times when driving back and forth to the Fort Custer Recreation Area, a favorite nature site a few years ago. Sitting at the stop light the late afternoon sun was sneaking in the back door of the empty laundry.

This was at the height of the heat wave here in Michigan, which probably explained why the laundry was empty and the back door was propped open. But the light and the reflections were engaging, and I had just enough time to grab the Holga, hold it blindly to the passanger side window, and shoot. I never even looked through the finder, but the shot seems to have framed itself up well enough. I like the overall akimbo composition, and especially the glimmer of the Stars and Strips in the window pane above the door, just below the peeling paint.

 The last of the three new shots posted was taken with another Dollar Store Special Moments 35mm film camera. I figured that now that I have a job, I can splurge and buy more photographic gear. And so I wound up buying 5 Special Moments cameras – three more of the standard wide angles, and two of the silver ‘sports’ models.

I was curious to see if they were all the same optically, or if they each had their own feel and flavor. In the worst case, I could always dissect one or two, just to see what was inside, and maybe mount the plastic lenses on one of the old TLR’s I have on hand with fogged or missing lenses.

It seems that each camera is indeed pretty unique. I pulled out the all black one because it looks more serious than the pink one I’ve been using. It gets this remarkable iris-like flare effect when the sun hits the lens, the film tends to warp in the chamber (giving the images a bent look to them) and the winding mechanism overlaps frames to the point of near double exposures.

Wow – what a great camera.

I took a few pictures of trees reflected in the river, and really like the effect. Maybe in the fall I’ll try some color film in it.

The Holga shots were taken on Cassic Pan 200 and 400. I developed both variants in HC-110 Dilution B for 9 minutes, 68 degrees, normal agitation. This produced a beefy enough negetive with both varients of the film (the Holga almost always requires a good push in the developing stages) and also brought out some pretty pronounced grain (which I like.) The 35mm shot was taken on Tri-X, developed in HC110 Dil H.

The digital scans are toned with the indigo tritone I originally cooked up for the Chicago street photography entry, and which has become (for the time) a favorite tone for mono shots.


Comment from: carmenluceno [Visitor]

Hey there- I REALLY like your photos. And I like that you supply so much technical info…I am bad about writing very much on my blog- it’s mostly just pictures. I thought it was funny that you mentioned carrying a Holga around with you while driving- my latest entry was about that same exact topic. Check out my photos if you have a chance…would love your feedback..

08/11/06 @ 13:27
Comment from: Mark [Member]

Thanks - nice to see that I’m not the only Holga toting Nietzsche quoting blogger out there. I really enjoyed your photos! The multiple exposures are great - makes me wonder why I’ve been trying so hard to avoid them (till now.)

08/12/06 @ 16:40
Comment from: Erin [Visitor]

Another holga and toy camera user near Galesburg?! Neat! I love the laundromat shot.

01/06/07 @ 03:55
Comment from: Mark [Member]

Thanks Erin - I toured your website, it was great to see so many familiar places shot from an other than standard perspective - excellent!

01/06/07 @ 20:06
Comment from: Erin [Visitor]

Congratulations on your acceptance into the Krappy Kamera show!

02/09/07 @ 00:11
Comment from: Mark [Member]

Thanks, Erin!

02/10/07 @ 21:19

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