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Losing all control

Following on from the theme of the last issue about getting over photographic prejudices, the next logical step was to try and free myself from the need to be in control. Obviously there is only one camera for this. The cult of Holga was calling and prompted by all the #HolgaWeek tweets in my feed I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

I did own a Holga many years ago but I don’t actually remember ever putting a roll of film through it before the great life correction that was kids happened. It got sold/given away in the camera/film/darkroom sell off that I now deeply regret. I have been using and developing 120 film lately so all I needed to do was get my hands on another one and let myself go.

New Holga and some HP5

To tell you a bit about my photography, I use a spot meter for my pinhole images. I carry a pre-calculated table of reciprocity times for my favourite films Ilford FP4 and HP5 with corrections for pinhole aperture and Yellow and Red filters. Bit of a control freak so using a camera with 1 shutter speed and 2 apertures was going to be pushing my buttons. Turns out after an initial roll to check we actually get images the “sunny” setting causes a too sharp and ugly vignette so 1 aperture and 1 speed… 😱

Holga lovers are not kidding. The only control you have is what film you stick in it and given we are not in Summer anymore it’s 1 film speed only. HP5 at 400. Before you tell me to push that bad boi, I usually shoot my 7x17" HP5 at 200 and 35mm HP5 at 250, so I’m triggered enough as it is thank you very much. 😁

My initial prejudice was right again!

Too nobodies surprise the initial roll was not a great success. We had images, of widely varying exposures, and they were not great. Even with a camera with so little control no one is going to “master” it in a roll or two. This was going to take some perseverance and practice.

Suffolk landscape (Holga stylee)

Great Wood sentinel

Classic Holga. Central focus and everything else falling off
#HolgaWeek2021 (so far)

So all set for #HolgaWeek2021 with a brick of HP5 at the ready. With no diesel available locally and only fumes in the tank I’ve not been able to get out apart from a shopping trip for the girls at the weekend. Wandering around Ipswich looking for suitable Holga subjects I used 4 rolls to pass the time. Avoiding full sun scenes (the sun did actually come out) I managed to grab some images that I’ll be happy to share. The scanning and editing process is quite simple. Scan (with digital camera and pixl-latr), expand whatever image levels are recorded to something usable, crop, spot and “grade”.

There are 2 days left of #HolgaWeek2021 so I’m hoping I can bag some more images before that finishes and then I’ll share them when the embargo is lifted. 👌

Another prejudice destroyed?

That’s undecided. The complete lack of control is “interesting”. It’s stressful and also freeing at the same time. I’ll definitely make some more Holga images but whether it’s a “thing” for me is TBD. How about you? Have you tackled a photography prejudice lately? How did it go? Have you tried a Holga? If so how did you get on? Let me know. I’d love to discuss. 👌


This article was originally posted on my Revue/Twitter "All the formats" platform which I have now deactivated. Sorry if you've already read this before but feel free to comment.

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