Friday, January 31, 2014

Analog East Texas - Holga Interlude

Silhouetted against a slightly overcast sky, trees are reflected in a pond at Temple Park in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Image made with a Holga S120 camera modified to accept 35mm film. In this case, Ilford FP4.
(Click on any image to see larger)

It's been a week of some experimentation in the Analog East Texas project.

Actually, it's been more like revisiting a past project. I pulled an old Holga camera out of the dust accumulated on the shelf and picked up where I left off I guess about 10 years or better ago. When I first started shooting with Holga cameras, I read just about everything I could find about them, which admittedly wasn't much. They were still almost on the fringes in the art photography community, mostly on the East and West coasts, and hadn't entirely made their way to Deep East Texas.

By contrast, this past fall, I was shooting with a newer model Holga at the Texas Renaissance Festival. On a few occasions, passers-by would remark, "Nice Holga," or "Cool, a Holga."

For those of you who don't know, the Holga camera is classified as a toy or plastic camera, because that's what it is. It's patterned somewhat after, or inspired by, the Diana camera, manufactured by the Great Wall Plastic Company in Hong Kong in the early 1960s. If you ever went to a fair midway around that time, you probably saw a Diana in one of the prize collections. They were imported by the case and sold to wholesalers for about 50-cents each. Most were either given away as promotional items or prizes.

Holga cameras were produced starting in the early 1980s in mainland China to be an inexpensive "family" camera, much like the earliest Kodak roll film cameras in the United States, 80 or more years earlier. Unlike Kodak, though, production quality was crap not precisely consistent. Holga cameras, like the Diana before them, were known for light leaks, soft images, vignetting - in other words, cool photos!

Anyway, I pulled this camera off the shelf, cleaned it up and rebuilt the high-tech process by which the camera would now accept 35mm film in place of its original 120 film. (I cut a new piece of plastic foam to cushion the film cassette and hold it where I wanted it to be.)

South Street Bridge, Nacogdoches, Texas
 The cool part, to me, anyway, of shooting 35mm film in the 120 Holga camera is the depth of the image. I love the shape of the negative, almost panoramic, with the addition of the sprocket holes on the edges of the film surrounded by the image.

I'll be following up with more on the Holga cameras in a future edition of the Analog East Texas project in The Daily Sentinel. The first installment, shot with the Kodak Duaflex, published Jan. 26.

As an interesting side note, thanks to some folks who read the first installment, I am also now the proud owner of a Yashica Electro 35 GSN camera, a Canon A-1 and a Kodak Instant Colorburst 250 camera (That's one of the cameras Polaroid successfully sued Kodak over about 30 years ago. Look it up, it's an interesting story.) With the exception of the Kodak instant camera which, for reasons which will become obvious if you search the world wide interwebs for the story, I'll hopefully be using my new acquisitions in the project in the coming months.

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