101 years old

Test shot with my great-grandmother’s Kodak Pocket Folding Camera. The Camera is 101 years old. 3 generations later and it’s in use again. It’s hard to explain how excited I really am about the the prospect of what can be done with this.

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Starting From Scratch: Hello Canon!

So, I finally caved and got a DSLR (don’t worry analog! I am still your #1 fan and continue to tote around my Holgas and other miscellaneous old-school cameras, but it was time to jump on this digital bandwagon) and I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

I feel like I am 16 again with my first 35mm SLR and just getting used to the camera and the controls and the lens. Depth of field and shutter speed and f-stops and metering all seem like old friends I haven’t seen lately and we need a little while to catch up.

While I get acquainted with this strange creature called “digital” I will shoot the same sort of things I shot when I was 16 and getting to know my first Canon SLR. Which is basically close-up nature shots and other such things. And I have to be OK with that. Afterall, it’s an excercise in getting to know one another.

It’s good to have friends who like the same kind of coffee I do…

while I wait for my film to be developed (I spent the weekend finally finishing up test rolls for film for 2 old cameras), I am spending some time continuing to go though and organize film and photos. The more I spend time with the roll of film that I soaked in baking soda and boiling water and ran through the 35mm holga, the more I am attracted to the effects. Here is a shot of the typewriter I gave Jonathan, with a can of chicory and coffee in the background. That sounds mighty delicious, so I think I shall go make myself a cup.

A few months ago I picked up a 35mm Holga BC on a whim (because, you know, having anything less than half a dozen Holga cameras just isn’t in my nature…) and have been running around snapping pictures in 35mm. Which I haven’t even used in the last few years, but it’s fun and damn cheaper than developing 120. Here’s one of my faves from the film I’ve shot in the camera in the last few months.

No Camera Required

Not all photography requires a camera. Sometimes we make photograms, sometimes we make a “camera” out of a nut, and sometimes, like the image below, we lay things out on a plastic slide cases or flatbed scanner and scan them directly to our computers.

You don't need a camera to take a photograph

There are whole hell of a lotta ways to make a photograph. Once I even microwaved a roll of film in a bowl of marinara sauce and printed the film, which showed the chemical reactions of heat and the acid in the sauce. Those were some splashes of bright colour and fun times, but I’m getting off track. My point is: lots of fun can be had in photography without ever picking up a camera, so remember to have fun and experiment, because you never know what gems you might meet.

Cougar Mountain (Holga Pinholes)

Old railroad tracks and river at Cougar Mountain

Pinhole photograhy always fascinated me. To strip down all he bells and whistles and simply be left with a container that is otherwise light tight, apart from the light that enters through a hole that was made with a pin, and to be able to make images from such a primitive apparatus, is pretty effing cool. We don’t need lenses to make a photography, we just need patience.

See, because the hole a light must pass through in a pinhole camera is so small, patience is a must when shooting. Exposures in bright light can take 4-7 seconds, low light can take up to 20-60 seconds, ad night photography? Well, that’s whole other ball game. If you are lucky, your pinhole might be comparable to an f-stop of 64 (you can generally achieve this by using a beading needle if you are making your own pinhole camera) and you could use a light meter to get a estimate on your exposure time. Sadly, that’s not often the case and exposure times can be a bit of a guessing game.

Perhaps later we shall discuss the mechanics of making a pinhole camera, but today I simply wanted to share my latest adventure. I finally took the plunge and started shooting color in my Holga pinhole. Don’t ask me why I’ve only been shooting black and white film all these years, I really have no answer… but when the first really nice day of late spring hit the Pacific northwest, my wife and I went out to Cougar Mountain to hike the old railroad, which has long since fallen back into natures clutches, and is barely discernible. We hiked for 3 hours, and went less than a mile. That’s patience.

Waterfall at Cougar Mountain. The orange is from the iron in the area left over from the railroad work.

Holgaroid!

I made my own fantastical Polaroid back for my Holga cameras. Sure, I could buy one (for $180) but I could also just take my Dremmel to a broken super shooter plus and a Holga back and make my own for the mere cost of $30 (with 2/3 of that being new Dremmel cutting discs), so that is the route I chose. In a few fun-filled hours I had repurposed franken-camera, and I learned that safety glasses are never as good as safety goggles. My scratched cornea that also came out of my camera modification adventure is healing nicely, and I solemnly vow to only wear safety goggles from here on out.

The final camera does have a very short focal range, which has to do with the film being about and inch further away from the lens than it would be in the normal Holga (you can rectify this by using a different Polaroid model, like the land camera series) but it’s still quite fun to play around with, and I’m sure I’ll figure out the best way to use camera eventually. That’s part of the fun of it, isn’t it? The trial and error, the experimenting, the surprise when you pull apart the developed instant film. You certainly can’t do that with digital! I’ll keep you posted.

First picture with the holgaroid. Polaroid 669 film, expired by 7 years

Another picture from the holgaroid, where you can (sort of) see it's short focal range

If you decide to make your own Holgaroid, please do know that Polaroid stopped making film a few years ago, but Fuji has taken on making the 100 sized instant film, as did the Impossible Project (they also have other sizes of instant film as well). You will need to make sure that the old Polaroid you are making your Holgaroid out of is compatible with 100 sized film.