Two of the rolls of film I got back the other week were from my Holga. One roll I shot a few months ago, and the other was the ancient film from 2004 that had been stuck in my Holga ever since I first got it.
The latter had only 2 frames with any sort of discernible imagery on it. The former was over half full of successful shots– mostly from a stroll through my neighborhood where I hastily fired off almost an entire roll in unbridled excitement– and of course a few obligatory stinkers here or there.
So… What did I learn?
1. First and foremost… Don’t be scared! For years this toy camera served more as a piece of decor than something to take pictures with, all because I was intimidated by it. The images that did turn out I love, like the first photo of an iced over car during our winter cold snap, and I can’t wait to go out and shoot with it some more.
2. Get Outside. Every single one of my frames that didn’t turn out were horribly underexposed because they were taken indoors (my Holga doesn’t have a flash). Even the bright lighting of a grocery store and 400 spd. film wasn’t good enough. I learned my lesson and will only be shooting outside from now on.
3. Don’t Flaunt It. I have a sneaking suspicion one of the reasons my 2004 roll didn’t turn out is because I had kept it on a bookshelf for years while the film was still inside. I imagine light probably leaked in and ruined all the film over time. Or maybe it had gotten botched some other way. Regardless, when I’m not shooting with my Holga, I now keep it in a dark cupboard or in my camera bag until it’s time to come out and play, just to be safe!
I’ve also discovered the endless source of Holga knowledge known as SquareFrog, which is what I now turn to every time I have a question about my toy camera. Pathetically enough, for the time being this also includes each time I unload/load my Holga, because I’m that dense when it comes to medium format!
Be sure to check out SquareFrog’s page on custom masks, while you’re at it. Looks like fun!