Saturday, May 14, 2011
Holga + Medium Format Film = Love at First Shutter Click
Surprisingly, one of "my" wedding gifts was a Holga camera. For those of you that don't know, a Holga is a plastic "toy" camera. It's a very basic, "chunky" camera. It was manufactured in Hong Kong in 1982; the term Holga is a European spin on "ho gwong," meaning "very bright." The camera is as low tech as you can get; boasting a 60mm, f/8 plastic lens. It has two apertures, f/8 and f/11 and shutter speeds of 1/125 and bulb (for long exposures). It takes 120 roll film and negatives are produced in a 6x6 square, unless you use a smaller mask.
So, with it's extremely low-tech nature, why use a camera such as this? Well, a few reasons. First, film is fun. Growing up, film was still the method of photography, but it was on its way out. My parents had some very automatic 35mm cameras and I can remember having a Kodak 110 as a kid. As I got older, photography was quickly moving into the digital realm and when I became very interested in it as an artistic medium, it was almost by default that I started with a digital camera. In my three years of shooting, I've been exposed to a number of formats and processes that I've wanted to experiment with. Film being one of them, as I've mentioned in my previous posts. Honestly, I had never heard of 120 roll film; however, now that I've shot with it, I can tell you that it's great and I love it. I love the square images that it produces. They're much different than 35mm negatives and it's very satisfying to get them developed. Also, I've shot three total rolls of 35mm and sometimes it's a long process to finish off a roll of 24-36 exposures. With 120 film, you have 12-16 and it's a little less daunting.
Is a Holga the only medium format camera? Of course not! There are so many medium format cameras; in fact there are amazing, expensive models that boast optics and results better than any digital camera on the market. The beauty of the Holga is the sometimes unexpected and experimental results you can achieve. A Holga can be prone to light leaks, creating interesting effects on the exposed emulsion. The lens of a Holga has a sharp focus center, but the rest of the image is usually very soft. Vignetting can also occur. However, these are only a few interesting effects that can be achieved by using the Holga. Holga's have been modified, they come in various models and the work from Holga's have also been shown in galleries around the world. So, let this be a lesson that you don't need the sharpest, most expensive digital camera to have your work shown in a gallery. A camera is simply a tool; photography is the vision of the artist and a camera is merely the means to achieve that vision. So, I try to think outside the digital box and create what I want and how I want without confining myself to rules. I could take the sharpest picture, perfectly exposed picture on the planet; however, it still might not measure up to an image that was taken with a pinhole camera. It's about the artistic vision and that's where I'm trying to take my photography. Feel free to comment and let me know if you think I'm moving that direction with my photography.
Enjoy my first Holga images; there will be many more in the future. These images were taken with a Holga 120N camera and were shot on Kodak Plus-X 125 film.