Thursday, March 4, 2010

8 Tips for Holga "Newbies"

Today I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned when I first started shooting with a Holga... sometimes it's better to learn the hard way. But why do that when you can just learn from my mistakes!

1.  What the N-B switch does
Yes, I admit it. I was clueless. So one day just for the heck of it, I switched it over to B to see what it was for. All of my photos came back blurry and strange looking... I think at that point I googled and tried to figure out what was going on.

Ocean dreams
(an example of a shot from the roll... kinda cool but they didn't all turn out this way!)

"B" stands for bulb mode, and if you are already knowledgeable in the field of photography then you probably already know what this does. But if you're new to both photography AND Holga (like I was) then it helps to know what this little switch does. This allows you to do long exposures. If you set your Holga to "B" your shutter will stay open for as long as you hold down the switch. If you find it is loose, put some tape on it so you don't accidentally get switched to B without your permission.

2. Shooting in low light conditions - don't do it. 
Unless you have:
  • a flash
  • a tripod and "B" exposure (see #1)
  • superspeed film (1600 or higher)

Even on an overcast day your photos will probably turn out kind of 'blah' unless you have minimum 400 speed film. Make sure you plan your film ahead of time as much as possible to save yourself some moolah (and frustration).

fallen leaves
(An example from my early days... a little too dark for my liking)

3. Tape it up. And then tape some more.
Light leaks are cool sometimes, but other times they kind of steal the show. I don't mind the little corner 'light peeks' because sometimes they can look pretty sweet. Tape up all your seams and if you arent sure if its sufficient, tape it up some more. Tape up the film counter window, and create a little flap you can lift up when you wind the film ahead.

how light can play

I found that especially when using slide film and cross processing, light leaks are very prominent. This might not be such a problem in the newer model Holgas. The older ones though, definitely need some tape. The shot above was taken with a Holga 120S, taped up, with slide film (Velvia 100)

4. Filters are cool

'nuff said. I don't use them nearly enough. More about types of filters in another post.

5. You can change your film in day light.
Don't believe the change bag hype. Try to avoid the direct sunlight though, unless you have sunscreen on.
(do NOT put sunscreen on your film)

6. Long exposures are not as hard as they sound.
Even if you just randomly count in your head and only know the very basics about them. Give it a try. If you are scared, hide in your bathroom with a candle.

Stay in the Light

7. Winding....winding....winding.... where are the numbers?? *panic*
Don't worry, you loaded the film right (well, probably). On medium format film, you need to wind for quite a while to get to that first magic number 1. Don't give up you're almost there...and so is your carpal tunnel.

8. My flash isn't firing *panic*
  • Check your batteries
  • It might be broken. The flashes don't seem to last long around these here Holga parts. I have a theory that the "B" switch scares them off. Maybe "B" stands for Bully. My flash on my CFN died in under a year. RIP flash - you gave me a really cute (freaky) red chihuahua.

what eez it man!?

I'm sure there is more... but this is all that I could think of from my early shooting days.  Do you have any other newbie tips to share?  Please leave them in the comments, or do a post of your own and leave the link here.

There is one day left to vote in my poll! I really do want to hear from all of you so please vote if you haven't already. Thanks!!


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