Stop! Holga time

Finally! I ordered a Holga plastic camera a couple weeks ago and it finally turned up today, along with three rolls of film. It was a lovely surprise and I can hardly wait to start taking photos with it. They will have to be mostly outdoor, daytime pics though – the flash is sold seperately! Because the film has to be wound on manually, you can play around with multiple exposures just by continually clicking the shutter. Loading the film today was a little nerve-wracking, and made me realise just how many years it’s been since I’ve used film.

In high school there was an introductory photography subject that we all clamoured to do – we got a precious few rolls of black and white film to shoot, then had to develop them ourselves in the darkroom. It was really exciting, and a bit risky; to get the finished film developed you’d have to fumble blindly around with rolls and cannisters inside a cloth bag to avoid exposing the film to light and ruining it. There were lots of supposedly amazing photos lost and tears shed!

My favourite photo that I took was shot out in St George on a home weekend (boarders would get one long weekend each term to go home). Dad had taken my sister and I with him to a job he was finishing on a property just out of town, and as he clambered up the wall of a dam I caught him against the horizon line of cracked dry earth and cloudless sky. It wasn’t quite in focus and the contrast wasn’t strong enough, but somehow there’s something really dreamy about it; he looks like he could be in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

But back to my beautiful new Holga! It’s superlight and almost entirely plastic, so it will be perfect for taking pictures on the bike. The little manual that came with the camera is full of random history – the name may sound European but the Holga was designed and made in China as a means of making cheap cameras available to the Chinese people in the early 80s. Since then a bit of a cult has grown around their lo-fi aesthetic.

No two Holgas are exactly alike; they’re rough and cheap and leak light, meaning the photographer can never have full control of how an image turns out. Which is half the fun! There are all these little modifications you can make to the cameras – like taking out the default mask that crops your shots into squares, so you get full edge distortion and weird vignetting.

So all that remains now is to have some bike-riding, photo-taking adventures on the weekend, and then find someone that still develops film! It will be interesting to see if I changes the way I approach taking photos; knowing there’s only a finite amount of film rather than the reckless excess I now take for granted with digital cameras. Just hope it’s not a return to the over-cautious bad old days of having a twenty-four exposure roll of film stuck in my twelfth-birthday Kodak for entire boarding-school years at a time. Pretty sure somewhere amongst my personal effects there’s a still uncompleted disposable camera with a meagre handful of halting shots of too-far-away bands at Splendour and Good Vibes.

Anyway, I think the sheer excitement of the new format will counteract my tight-arsedness for at least the first roll of film, and I will be gagging to see the chemist-developed results no more than a week from now. Don’t worry – I’ll keep you posted!

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