Going Holga

Film photography is fun for its surprises. These surprises come in the form of pictures, mostly. Pictures you see for the first time after hours, weeks, years when they are finally developed and printed or scanned. You wait and you receive.

But surprises also come in different ways. A few months ago, I retweeted a Twitter message and was subsequently picked to receive a yellow plastic Holga camera by Paul James.

This took me by surprise and since I had never owned one, I was delighted. A few days later I held the package in hand: the camera, some film, a flash, and a fisheye converter lens. This promised to be interesting.

I took the camera on a quick trip to Munich on which I’d also taken my Leica. The Leica stayed mostly in the bag. The Holga came with me as I re-explored my old hometown.

The fisheye had no corresponding viewfinder so I needed to guess what would be in the image. For the most part, this worked better than expected.

As I finally was able to pick up the developed film yesterday, I was again surprised in a pleasant way, although I noticed that my Holga, as Holgas tend to, had a light leak. This is one part of the Holga aesthetic I’ve never been all that happy with, so for future outings I’ll be sure to bring some dark gaffer’s tape to put over the upper left corner.

Thanks, Paul, for the unexpected and inspiring gift. Hopefully it will lead to more happy surprises.

A Walk in the Woods

Today is my birthday. Today I’m keeping it simple. Today I took a long walk in the woods and brought my Fuji X100s set to its NPH400 simulation mode (except for “Pole” which was shot using the Velvia simulation). These pictures are a selection. They are posted here either straight as the camera saw them, or with minor edits for contrast, color, or exposure

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For the Love of Slide

We all have our favorite mediums. We draw in ink, we write with Blackwing pencils, we take pictures. In my case, I often take pictures on film. While I can appreciate the contrasty look of black-and-white Tri-X or the soft tones of Fuji 400H, the one type of film I have always loved and continue to love inordinately is slide film.

When I was but a wee kid in ye olde 1990s, this began as a cost-saving measure. Where I lived there were several places where you could drop off film, but they all, to varying degrees, made you order prints with development. On a pocket money budget, every film became a big monetary decision. Once, I had to walk back home from the supermarket photo counter because I hadn’t realized they wouldn’t let you pick the prints you liked but made you buy all 36 from a roll instead, and I didn’t have enough money.

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Slide film was the solution. It was a bit more expensive, but it didn’t cost you anything in photo prints. Instead, you could get by with a small plastic tabletop lightbox (duly purchased) and a diminutive slide viewer. If I wanted to see my slides in all their glory, I had to pull out my dad’s fold-out silver screen and the old slide projector. 

Later, I would bring slide film along with me in an auto-everything point-and-shoot camera (the Fuji DL190, if you must know, finally purged from my possessions when it became clear that digital photography was both cheaper and more practical) on vacations and school trips. I mostly shot Fujichrome, and when I began film photography again in earnest a few years back, that’s what I returned to. I now shoot either Fuji Provia 100 or the very similar Agfa Precisa 100CT. Colors are true but vibrant, and grain is all but nonexistent if you don’t zoom in very close.

After a long sabbatical from film scanning, I recently started again, processing finally all the many slides I shot in 2016. Every time, seeing the colors and tones of slide film makes me happy. It makes me feel like I chose correctly when I picked a camera to bring and a film to slip into it. It makes me feel like I’m back where I belong. Back to my favorite medium.

Should You Do a 365 Photo Project?

It’s the beginning of the year, so naturally, people have tons of New Year’s resolutions. I chose not to make one. In my latest piece for Fstoppers, I I talk about why a 365-day photo project in particular may not be the best resolution to make.