It's always sad when a bastion of film photography is lost but the announcement from Freestyle Photo that the Holga Factory has closed hits a bit harder for me.
The Holga 120S was one of my first medium format cameras right after the antique shop Ansco Sure Shot. I modded the crap out of it which was really fun. I still have it and still shoot with it some 15-ish years later. For a plastic toy camera they're reasonably tough! I bough the 120PAN (6x12) a couple years ago, and a backup mustard yellow 120N earlier this year. I'm a fan of the product. If you're a film photographer and don't have one, I'd highly recommend you get one now. They're not terribly useful right out of the box, but with some modifications can be very fun and useful tools. Sad news for sure.
The Super Blood Moon of 2015 (SBM2015) provided photographers who could see it a fantastic opportunity to capture a beautiful, spectacular, rare event. With a clear sky, long lens, tripod, and some understanding of exposure, you too could photograph quite a unique even in sublime detail. Shoot the moon it should be easy! Right?
Well it does test some chops. For starters you need a LONG lens. I used a 600mm/8 and wished it was a 1000mm. Much less than 500mm and you'll be relying on cropping to get the moon large enough in the frame.
It's perhaps counter intuitive at first, but the darkroom is not a static environment. Darkrooms evolve. Needs change, the film stocks or papers you prefer may change. You may luck upon an upgrade or change locations all together. It's a workshop of sorts and the darkroom changes over time as the craftsman adapts it to more closely suit his or her processes and ambitions.
I'm mostly self taught in black and white film photography. If you want to go all the way back, I processed and contact printed one roll of the new film Tmax in high school. Then nothing until I decided to try it again around ten years later in 2004, and that was just a couple rolls processed in the bathroom.
Lens distortion isn't a topic surrounded by excitement but it is something to be aware of when choosing your equipment and composing images. Even if you've never heard of it, you'll still probably recognize at least one type of lens distortion. Heck it's even boasted as a feature in some lenses!
The most common and recognized lens distortion is called Barrel Distortion. Wikipedia defines barrel distortion thusly:
In barrel distortion, image magnification decreases with distance from the optical axis. The apparent effect is that of an image which has been mapped around a sphere (or barrel). Fisheye lenses, which take hemispherical views, utilize this type of distortion as a way to map an infinitely wide object plane into a finite image area. In a zoom lens barrel distortion appears in the middle of the lens's focal length range and is worst at the wide-angle end of the range.
I first ran into this problem when I was shooting with the 35mm pano back on my Bronica SQa. I figured it's the same length as a 6x6 fame, just a different height. I found extremely difficult to print 35mm panoramic (24mmx55mm) negatives in a 6x6 negative carrier. The reason why is coming up in a second. The solution was to get a panoramic negative carrier for my Beseler 23C.
Fast forward a few years and I make the exact same assumption and mistake when I got a Holga 120Pan Which shoots a 6x12 image. I didn't even try to print the 6x12 in a 4x5 carrier. I just couldn't get acceptable focus across the whole image. Here's why:
This roll has gotten around! It's one of the interesting things about film photography. Rolls can sit, and sit, in a camera, waiting to be finished.
I have a couple compact 35mm cameras including a couple Konica Big Minis, some promo cameras and this Olympus XA.
This roll in particular has been to Muskegon, Mi, on a photo walk in Carrolton (Saginaw, Mi), up to Photostock 2015 in Harbor Springs, Mi, and shooting up there in Good Hart, Mi! Whew it's traveled quite a ways through time and space. Photos are spanning about a year.
From my first pinup shoot. Shot most of it on Efke KB100 because it was cheaper and hadn't changed since the 40's. I figured it'd be great stock for a mid-century themed shoot. I still have a few rolls floating around. I was shooting with two cameras at the time. One was a Canon A-1, 50mm/1.8 and a 100mm/2.9. I think I had a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 Zoom too. The other was an EOS 650 with 50mm/1.8, and a 80-200 zoom. Also have a couple holga Pics from this shoot. I wasn't processing myself back then. I believe the lab I went to used HC-110.