I found my Holga! I had this terrible thought that it had been accidentally taken to the charity shop or left behind the last time I moved house. But there in a inconspicuous box lay the most precious and brilliant piece of plasticky tat I own. If you’re unfamiliar with the Holga then is a very ‘affordable’ no frills camera that takes film.
I’m sure there are many that would stick their noses up at these very modest cameras but this is probably because there comparing the Holga et al to super fancy digital cameras. Well STOP that right now! For me the Holga isn’t about if its better of worse than another camera but rather a creative tool; a means rather than an end. For example, when I went to art college we pretty much spent the first month drawing things with sticks or with our left hand or with our eyes closed etc. This was simply to get us out the mindset that we all had to be classically trained sketch artists. These exercises helped us learn to let go and maybe tap into or find something that we didn’t know was there. This is something you’ll ever or very rarely achieve with digital and this for me is why film is still relevant and worth using.
So the Holga is a simple camera. It has a shutter with one pre-set shutter [1/100th of a second], a maximum of two apertures [post 2009 models have two f/13 & f/20]. You have focus although limited [here’s proof http://bit.ly/13mcRj2%5D. Finally, it’s up to you which film you load the camera with and how you develop it which are possibly the two biggest factor in the end result. But in short these limitations force you to approach and think about what you’re pointing your camera at in a different way which can be quite liberating. Also, it makes you really appreciate light metering and auto focus when you do use your digital camera.
There are 35mm Holga’s available but the model I use can be loaded with both 120 medium format film and 35mm and that’s what I did here.
Here I used some foam cut from a cheap sponge to hold the film in place. There are many way so do this but I like this method as the sponge can be squeezed into the gaps to give a nice snug fit. Once the film is in place you have to wind it onto the take up spool. As there are no sprocket wheel that will catch the film and help in advance easily we have to tape the film to the 120 sized take up spool.
The easiest way to do you is to take the spool out and slide the film through the slot in the spool. Then use some tape to stick it to the spool but making sure the film is still straight. Then put the spool back into place and turn the advance a few time to make sure it’s secure. That’s it, replace the back of the camera and tape it up as you normally would. Remember if your using colour film to tape over the red viewing window so not to let any light in.
ADVANCING THE FILM
Now because there no counter you have to work out how much to advance to film between exposures. Whilst you’ve got the back of the camera off mark the film and the advance wheel and see how many rotations it takes to advance the film on. It’s good to check this but it will be somewhere between 1 full rotation and 1.5 rotations. I find 1.5 is a little too much and I like to use as much film as possible even if there is some over lap so now I just do one full rotation.
Your Holga doesn’t have film rewind crank so you have to do this yourself and this has to be done IN THE DARK! If you’ve got a darkroom then your away but if like me you don’t, the easiest and cheapest way is to use a changing bag. These cost about £15 and are super easy to use. Simply put everything into the bag, put your hands through the arm holes and remove the back of the Holga. Once the backs removed simply take the film canister from its foam holders and start to feed the film back into the canister.
Well that another story for another time. You can obviously send your film off the the lab but it far more fun to process it yourself. If you are processing the film yourself then make sure you put you developing tank in the changing bag as well and instead of putting the film back into the canister just load it straight into the tank.
I’ve skimmed lots of details here. I will hopefully make a video on the whole process soon but in the meantime please get in touch if you have any questions.