$50 Film Contest

When I bought my Lomographic Holga, I didin't know it was going to come in such an elaborate box. I felt like I was opening a present as opposed to a camera, even though opening a camera box could seem like a present. But the packaging that this camera came in was much more elaborate than the packaging that came with my XT years ago (since then, I've bought all my cameras used). It came with film, the book: Holga The World Through A Plastic Glass, a getting started guide and a bunch of minor accessories to attach to my Holga.

It was nice because the Holga came the day before my girlfriend and I were taking a trip to Disneyland where I could experiment with the Holga in all its glory. To prep, I've shot with 35mm Film before, I actually have a Canon Elan 7 which I shot with in the past. I’ve also played with not only color, but also black and white film. One thing that I've never experimented with though has been medium format film. I didn't think loading the film could have been harder. There were quite a lot that I didn't know about this camera or even working it when I bought it. I didn't know I took the picture when I pressed the trigger. Anyone who has ever used a Holga probably knows the feeling, as the Instructions incidentally put it, “Did I take it? Is that it?” Those were my exact words and thoughts when I took my first shot. I didn't know what the little icons on the lens meant. I didn't know what the difference between 16 and 12 meant on the back of the camera. I didn’t know what y, b, r, w meant. There was a lot that I didn't know about my camera, that's why when I got the film back from the photo lab, I was pleasantly surprised with all the beauty that came with this little plastic camera.

Getting the film in was probably the hardest part. I couldn't get the spool to catch the film. I was getting so frustrated that Aimee had to jump in and save me. She somehow got it to work in a matter of seconds. After loading the film, I was off to a pretty good start. The whole car ride to Disneyland, I was studying the instructions to learn how to shoot with this plastic camera. It was interesting shooting with it. Quite a different experience that shooting with Digital, that's for sure. When you shoot with Digital, it is all right there at your finger tips, we can see are photos right then and there. Shooting with film on the other hand you have to shoot the rest of the roll and get it developed before you can see the results. Us photographers now rely so heavily on what we see in the 2.5 inch screen instead of how the image looks in the viewfinder before taking the shot. I normally frame the shot while looking in the viewfinder and then review after and see if I like it. Now, I don't even review. I shoot and frame and shoot and frame. I barely look at the 2.5” LCD screen on the back of my 5D anymore. It's a new way of shooting for sure. It makes you actually plan out and think about the resulting product then seeing it right then and there. That was probably one of the biggest lessons for me while shooting with this little baby. And also probably just trusting the process.

It's very hard to trust what's going to come out of a toy camera because you don't hear that Single Lens Reflex. What's one of the best features about the Holga is that I'm able to take as many exposures as I'd like on one shot. The camera doesn't automatically wind to bring the next shot over, I have to actually wind it myself. It was a bit confusing at first, especially when shooting my next exposure, because I didn't remember if I wound it or not. But it did make for some interesting shots. I'm very excited about my next roll which is currently being developed. Aimee and I focused a lot on multiple exposures and doing crazy things with them. It's pretty awesome.

Another one of the extremely strong features of this little camera is the color flash. It turns out some really crazy effects. This Holga can shoot with a white flash, a blue flash, a red flash and also a yellow flash. It was quite fun experimenting with those a bit. I'm excited for the next couple rolls of film so I can really dive into it.

Something that I also had trouble getting used to was the idea of not being able to focus with lens. I'm used to shooting prime lenses, I have a 50mm 1.4, a 20mm 2.8, and a 100mm 2.8, but I've always been able to focus with them. Even shooting 35mm, I was able to use the lenses that I use on my 5D. But on this Holga, there are 4 focus settings, one for portraits (3 feet away), one for families (6 feet away), another for groups (9 to 10 feet away) and another for landscapes. I didn't get to experiment too much with landscapes because I was in Disneyland, but probably on my next roll I will. This is another one of those trust things. I just had to trust that the camera was doing the right thing, and after seeing the results, it did.

Overall, I am extremely happy with my purchase and jumping into medium format film. I want to get experimenting a little more. Maybe do some cross processing. I think that anything that has to do with photography, you will learn from it. I will probably make a few more purchases from the lomography store in the months to come. Their community is awesome and makes you search for creativity. One thing’s for sure, this has been the most fun camera I’ve ever owned. It’s so simple and artsy I love it.
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