I got my first set of photos from my new Holga this afternoon. They have an air of nostalgia with distinctive vignetting and dreamy focus on large, square, lustre (matt) prints.
Despite using faster film (400 ISO) — better for overcast or indoor conditions — I had a few dark ones. I also managed one semi-deliberate multiple-exposure that looks pretty cool, and somehow managed to completely miss a frame! All in all, some I’m not so happy with, but others I’m very pleased with, so the signs are encouraging. :)
One thing I was disappointed with, however, was the cost. When I enquired about prices previously, I was mistakenly given the prices for 135 (35mm) film, despite specifically asking for 120 prices, so ended up paying about two-thirds more than I expected. Boo!
Today I finished off my first roll in the Holga, which I promptly dropped in to Clock Tower Cameras in Brighton. The prints should be ready on Monday, and I can’t wait to see the results (however they may turn out).
The film I used was Fuji Pro 400H, which is a colour film ideally suited for indoor lighting and overcast conditions outdoors. It’s supposed to be stored under 10 degrees Celsius (e.g. in the fridge), which is something I’m not used to!
I thought I’d try to be patient and wait to see how my first roll turned out before loading the next one, so that I could tinker with the camera to improve the results next time around. However, me being me, I just couldn’t wait and have loaded in a roll of Ilford HP5 plus 400 ISO black and white film. There are plenty of brilliant examples of black and white Holga shots, so I’m hoping I can achieve something interesting too.
Yesterday (Monday 2nd) I received a parcel in the post from Hong Kong. It was the Holga camera I’d ordered via eBay only 3 (working) days prior!
The Holga is a dirt-cheap ‘toy’ camera made in China and designed in the early ‘Eighties (hence its, er, robust looks). The camera seems to have a real cult status among enthusiast photographers, with European distribution handled by the Lomographic Society, but it is also used by many professional photographers for its distinctive qualities.
It’s those distinctive qualities that attracted me to the Holga. A poor-quality plastic lens, vignetting, light leaks and the possibility of multiple-exposures were all things that I found really interesting, especially when compared to standard digital photography. The camera lends itself to experimentation, and being so cheap and easy to replace, virtually encourages modification (with plenty of help in doing so available online).
The camera also uses medium-format 120 film. Once the default consumer film, it was pushed out of favour by 35mm film, but produces large, square negatives ideal for big prints. The Holga can produce twelve 6cm squared exposures, or sixteen 6 x 4.5cm portrait frames from a roll of film. Thankfully, plenty of labs still process 120 film at a reasonable price.
I’m really looking forward to experimenting with both colour and black and white film. I’ll be sure to share the results!