every camera I own: the holga 120N

The Holga, along with its overpriced Lomographical-branded compatriots, is the toy camera that brought back the toy camera at the turn of the twenty-first century. I’ve owned two of them at a combined cost (even including the modified holga, pictured) of less than what the Lomography Holga starter kit will set you back at Urban Outfitters. But at any price, it’s a keen camera, and, for a plastic camera, pretty sturdy. I remember reading a heated discussion in a Flickr toy camera group where one reader accused another of some kind of elitism for suggesting that the build quality of the “new” Diana cameras (replicas and variations of a cheap and cheaply made model that was mass produced in the 60’s) paled to the build quality of the less retro-minded Holga. But c’mon. I wouldn’t think of carrying my Diana replica around without at least one layer of padding around it, but I’d throw my Holga into an unpadded bag and feel confident it won’t fall apart in transit. I’ve broken two Diana’s in my time, one (an original 60’s model) before I even fed a single roll through it, and another (the Diana Mini, whose design is based on the 120-film model but uses 35mm film) after gingerly advancing one roll of film through it’s tender maw. I   have yet to break a Holga of any variety, even after dropping one in the Jewish section of a Key West Cemetery; the back fell off unexpectedly  – this was an unmodified, and poorly secured, model – but the parts remained intact.
Anyway, the Holga is not a sharp photographic machine, but the toy camera aesthetic is not about sharpness. It’s hip, but it’s a “square” format. Hee. The modified Holga pictured above has velcro straps to keep the back secure, and foam padding to let the film sit more firmly in the camera (my unmodified Holga required a little piece of folded up cardboard to keep the feed spool taut).  I don’t remember when I got my modified Holga – I never tagged them as one or the other – but I have a feeling I took better pictures with the leakier, less reliable, if fairly unbreakable original. I made this picture in Spring Hill, Florida, nearby Weeki Wachee, with my first Holga:

harold's auto
One problem I’ve had with the modded Holga more than with the original Holga – and there’s no reason why this should be, it just happened that way – is that I forget to set the shutter to N for normal shutter speed, which is some fraction of a second. On at least a couple of occasions I’ve shot the better part of a roll of film before realizing that I was shooting at B, or the bulb setting, meaning I was probably leaving the shutter open and unsteady for most of a full second. So what should have been an image as reasonably “sharp,” by plastic camera standards, as the above, I end up with something like this:

I was halfway through the roll before I saw I was shooting on “B.” But to finish the roll I shot several exposures with a cheap Holga flash (made cheaper at one of Urban Outfitters occasional clearance sales where they sell off Lomography accessories at a reasonable price.

This is Mmrma, the jawless ventriloquist dummy that I spied on eBay and inspired some of my better Nanowrimo passages – well really he threw the whole project into a different and better direction. This blog will occasionally get hits from Middle Eastern nations from people googling something like “mmrmst sex” – I can’t replicate the search at the moment but the search, which I’ve never been able to figure out (some transliteration?) has led several unsuspecting gooblers to my Nanowrimo blog posts. Mmrma is laying on a swath of three yards of red velour which I frequently use for a photographic background, and is posing with the Hernard Title Letters I’ve been using in my photos almost every day for the past several weeks.

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