Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy Accidents

One of the many joys of lomography is the occurrence of a “happy accident.” Basically, this happens when somewhere along the process of capturing or developing an image, something malfunctioned or went wrong – an accident. Normally, we view accidents as something negative. However, there are instances wherein the resulting product of such mishap is far more profound and exciting as it would have if the entire process went smoothly.

Above is a recent photo of mine that captures entirely the essence of a “happy accident.” There was absolutely no intention on my part to perform any trick, or whatsoever. This photo was taken by an Olympus XA1. Somehow, when I advanced the film, it did not fully proceed to the next frame, but was enough such that I was able to press the shutter. This does not normally happen to this particular camera; neither does it have a built in mechanism for multiple exposures. Nevertheless it happened, by accident. The result, an over lapping image, that says so such more compared to what two separate images could have expressed. In Gestalt expressions: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!” It’s kind of poetic too; which led me to naming it “A Corner in the Sky.” An irony of sorts (the sky does not have corners). And yes, the poet is very happy indeed!

So go out there and shoot, and appreciate and enjoy your future delightful misfortunes!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Mighty Holga

When I started with lomography, my initial task was to purchase a camera. It was a relatively difficult task, because there are so many to choose from. I tried to narrow down my options by crossing out those cameras that are expensive (as per my personal standard), leaving me with a handful on options. Actually, it left me with one: the Holga 120N. I wasn’t sure yet if I will enjoy lomography as much as I imagined, so I was looking for a really cheap camera. If it does not work out for me, at least I did not invest much.

The Holga is a good camera to start with. It is very affordable. More than that, with Holga, you take a huge leap backwards, where you can escape all the chaos of the modern world. This camera spells a lot of fun, if you know how to roll with the punches.

There is nothing impressive or technologically fancy about the Holga though. In fact, it would seem prehistoric compared to today’s digital cameras. It is huge, it is clumsy, it has substandard lens (PLASTIC!), its two aperture settings does not work, and it leaks! Despite all the flaws you will find in this camera, it has an amazingly huge cult following! More and more people are discovering it; and once you get your hands on this baby, you won’t look back again!

Cracking the Holga Mystery

So, what really is the fuzz about this ugly duckling of a camera? Why are there so many people crazy about it? Why does the mere mention of its name evoke certain emotions?

It's Automagic!

Above is a photo of Al Gore, taken by David Burnett, in one of his speeches during the time he ran for presidency. This photo won the 2001 Eyes of History competition of the White House News Photographers Association. Yes, it was taken by a Holga! The thing about this camera is that, it can take seriously beautiful photographs; bordering on magical. It is magical in the sense that, it can turn the realities we see through our eyes into something dreamy or abstract or unnatural, if not supernatural. However, you have to play your part as well. Your choice of subject and timing are also very crucial. Shooting on a gray day can leave your image dull, and a soulless subject can result to a soulless photo. Eventually, as you become accustomed to using this camera, taking photographs become more instinctual rather than a complex cognitive process. As per my personal experience with carrying the Holga around, I get the itch of clicking the shutter when I have a colorful subject under a bright lit sun. Whenever possible, I get as close to my subject. It is can also capture amazing landscapes! It can amplify the day’s already dreary or gloomy mood or give something modern a retro/vintage feel.


Any photographic endeavor is a partnership between the photographer and his camera. To a certain extent, it is arguable that the camera is only as good as the photographer. I cannot exactly say this with the Holga. With this camera, nothing is what it seems, no matter how much you control it (if you can), it tends to have a mind of its own. This unpredictability often times result to surprising images, beyond what you can imagine.

First of all, you have limited options with the Holga. You have four focusing mode, two shutter speeds, two aperture settings, one of which does not work, leaving you with only one effective aperture, and a view finder that does not exactly find the views. This challenges any photographer to focus on the subject and his perspective. Ironically, despite lack of options, many of us who have been pampered by digital and automatic technology may struggle with the Holga’s fully manual mechanism in the beginning. You will find yourself asking a lot of questions. Were you able to remove the lens cap, did you advance the film, is the focusing right? But, you do not have to worry so much; about it. Part of the Holga’s mystique is its unpredictability, which results partly due to its unmodern technology, which you will eventually adapt to, but unlikely to fully understand. Besides, even if you ran into a Holga accident, there is a good chance that it’s a happy one. I don’t even know how I got the image below.

Complex Simplicity

The Holga is a dead-simple camera. You do not need to be an expert to figure out how to operate it. Its unsophisticated design is probably key to how the photos come out. Ironically, despite its simplicity, there is so much you can do with it, in terms of modifications. Because it is relatively cheap, one can have courage to take it apart and modify it, without the fear of dismantling it to the point of no return. I have had my Holga for 2 years now, and frankly, there are still so many things I’d like do with it. I sometimes feel that the possibilities for this camera are endless. Let us look into some of its major design features that make the Hogla a gem, and see how they can be possibly exploited for our visual pleasure.

Holga 120N Specifications

  • Size: 22cm (8.65in) x 17,5cm (7in) x 9,5cm ( 3.75in)
  • Weight: 730g (1.6lb)
  • Format: all 120 medium format film (color negative, slide, b &w); you can also use 135 film using the appropriate modification.
  • Lens: Plastic 60mm, f/8
  • Focus: manual zone focus with four distance settings
  • Approximate 35mm format equivalent focal length: 38mm
  • Aperture settings: f/8, f/11 (This is defective, there is actually only 1 aperture setting: f/8)
  • Shutter speeds: 1/100, "B"
  • Uncoupled advance & shutter release for m ultiple & partial exposures
  • Standard tripod thread
  • Accessories included: 1 strap, 2 Frame size masks, 1 Take up spool
  • Other Holga 120 Models

    • Holga 120FN (With flash, powered by 2 AA batteries)
    • Holga 120CFN (With color splash, powered by 2 AA batteries)
    • Holga 120GN (With glass lens)
    • Holga GFN (Glass lens, with flash, powered by 2 AA batteries)
    • Holga GCFN (Glass lens, with color splash, powered by 2 AA batteries)

Plastic 60/8 Optical Lens

The primary reason for the dreamy image quality produced by the Holga is owed to its dead-simple multi-element plastic lens. Holga defies one of the contemporary standards of a good photograph, an image that is sharp. Most photos taken by a Holga come out soft, despite any effort to focus it. It also results to vignetting or darkening around the edges. Any expert knows that vignettes are a sign of a poor lens, but this is just what others seek for. It’s like seeing something in a dream, or that moment when you first open your eyes in the morning. It is refreshing! A new day! A new life! Did I mention that the lens is plastic?

Hocus Focus

The lens has four focus settings – portrait (3 ft.), small group (4-6 ft.), big group (8-10 ft.), and infinity. It’s just a matter of guestimating. You may not even pay attention it. If you want to modify it to 2 ft. close up focus mode, there is a procedure for that.

6 X 6

How often do you see a square framed photo? If you are less than 50 years old and has not really been into lomography or photography, there is a good chance that you haven’t even seen one. This is one of the things Holga is popular for. There is just something in the square image that makes it eye catching. Maybe it is the fact that it is different. It’s square man!

120 film format or medium format film is used in a Holga. It is four times larger than the typical 135 film. This assures that your 120 images will outrun its 135 counterpart in the richness, resolution and depth!

The box actually has two masks, a 6 X 6 cm which will give you 12 square photos, and a 6 X 4.5 cm for which you can have 16 rectangular shots. Actually, you can even make your own mask! If you want it to be 6 X 1 cm, or take the shape of a puzzle, it’s not an impossibility.

You may have one dilemma though, how to load that 120 film! Don’t worry, just watch these videos of how to load and unload it.

Shutter Speeds

There are two settings for shutter speed in your Holga; “N” for the standard daytime shooting speed of 1/100, and “B” for Bulb mode. With bulb mode, you can have the shutter open for as long as you want! Coupled with a reliable tripod or a flat stable surface, this gives possibilities to photograph subjects at night. If you don’t have a tripod, but have steady hands, shoot anyway; a little blur won’t hurt, it might even come out beautiful and perfect. Use “B” to capture the hustle and bustle of city streets by night, or fireflies and dancing lights!

I once held my Holga’s shutter open for 1 minute during a fire dance presentation. This is what came out, a ball of fire!

Uncoupled Advance and Shutter for Googol Exposure

The Holga is fully manual. After each shot, you have to turn the advance wheel until the next frame is in place for your next capture. You may also choose not to do this and just take another shot which will overlap the previous one. If you are not yet satisfied, then repeat it again and again until your heart is pleased. Multiple exposure galore!

In advancing the film, you can do so to one full frame, or you can just advance it partially. Doing this will result to pseudo-panoramic-partially-overlapped images! Blows your mind!

Other Things to Know

The Holga’s aperture settings do not work! There is a slide that apparently lets you choose shooting modes if the conditions are sunny, or cloudy. It does not work. The Holga’s constant aperture is f/8 (for cloudy but bright if your film speed is 100; but generally, the Holga loves the sun). For some reason, this was never corrected by the manufacturers. If you do not believe me, then go ahead buy one, dismantle it, and see for yourself.

After you have loaded the film and put the back cover on, you slide up the lock. This lock can be a bit flimsy, so I suggest that you tape it up with a piece of electrical tape, just to be sure that it does not fall off, and expose the film.

There is a red window at the back cover to let you see the frame number as you advance it. Tape it up also with black electrical tape as it can potentially be a source of too much light leaks. When you advance the frame, remove the tape temporarily, and once it is set put it back on.

Do not rely on the view finder, it only show 60% of your actual shot.

Each Holga is distinct from other Holgas. Each of them has a signature of their own. Some leak, some have slower shutters, some are sharper. So treasure yours, because yours is one of a kind!

A Classic

Different people love the Holga for different reasons. The vignetting, the square frame, the soft images, its simplicity, its flexibility; there is just so many things to love about it. They say that when people are troubled, they tend to regress back to a previous state. Perhaps this is what Holga is all about. Holding it or seeing pictures taken by it, transports you back to a time when life was simple and free of complication, and for a fleeting moment, you become a child again.

Other cameras come and go, but the Holga has defied everything we know about cameras and photography, in general. It has been around for 3 decades, loved by many, and there is no sign that the devotion for this camera will wither away soon; and that’s what makes it a classic! It is timeless!

Friday, November 20, 2009

10 Golden Rules of Lomography

For those who are just new to Lomography, one of the most popular searches made concerns with guidelines or tips on how to take lomographic pictures. Just as traditional photography have basic rules on composition, so does lomography. Although the term “rules” seem to be antithesis to what Lomography is all about, there are 10 Golden Rules that actually exist. You may use them as initial guidelines if you do not know where to start. Eventually, you are expected to make rules of your own; so that, you can have an identity as a lomographer or photographer. Here goes…

1. Take your Lomo everywhere you go. This is a very useful tip. Many times in the past, situations have presented themselves to me; a beautiful subject, a single spectacular moment in time, etc. Unfortunately, on some of these occasions, I am without a camera. If you ever had such an experience, I believe you know the feeling. Regardless of where you are going, however boring your errand is, always carry your camera. Even if you will simply walk around the corner to buy something. No two moments are ever the same, and interesting subjects are never too remote. So, don’t be lazy, put that lomo camera on your pocket, or sling it on your shoulder, and be ready for that one great moment. One more thing, an extra roll of film is also not a bad idea at all.

2. Use it anytime - day and night. Because photography is essentially painting with light, some people are very particular with the quantity of available light. This should not be a concern for lomographers. Your primary loyalty should be to the moment. When the moment comes, with no particular consideration for time of day, click that shutter. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. However, there are certain limitations to this rule, depending on the camera you are using. A handful of lomo or toy cameras, those with fixed aperture and fixed shutter speed, and similarly does not have flash, are completely useless at night. That’s just their specifications; they are for day time photography only. Unless you find a way to modify that camera to be used with a flash, reserve them for moments under a brightly shining sun.

3. Lomography is not an interference with your life but a part of it. If you feel uncomfortable about what you are doing, or if you feel that you are burdened by the act of carrying a camera and taking photographs, there is something wrong. It could be that, it is simply not your cup of tea, or you are pressuring yourself with unnecessary expectations. Relax! There is nothing at stake here; you are supposed to have fun. Enjoy it as much as you a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice!

4. Get as close as possible to the objects of you lomographic desire. Or, as close as your camera could possibly allow you. Unless you are taking photographs of landscape or clouds, try to get close to your subject. Fill that frame up! It is difficult to appreciate photos that do not seem to have a story to tell. Also, lomographic techniques that result to saturated colors and high contrast complement well with well defined shapes.

5. Don't think, just shoot. Among all the rules of lomography, this is probably one of the most frequently quoted. It is a slogan for many lomographers. It is the ultimate expression of the carefree and punk rock nature of lomography. Too much thinking makes your photos more predictable, hence less surprising. It defeats one of the major joys of lomography, that is, stumbling upon happy accidents. Spontaneity is the key, not composition; let your instincts take care of that. Humans by nature are hardwired to appreciate beauty, order and symmetry, so it should come natural for us to compose an image without being conscious about it. Besides, lomograpic cameras are not necessarily SLR cameras, so there really is no point in relying much on your view finder, in fact there are some cameras that do not have one. And, if you are still thinking if you should take a photograph of a subject or not, that simply means you should!

6. Be fast. For me, this is one of the most challenging rules. Timing means a lot to photography in general. Great pictures are those that immortalizes a single great moment in time; like Pacquiao’s gloves pressing against and denting Cottos cheeks. The impossible question is, when will that time come? More often than not, timing is a game of chance; hence, if you cannot predict it, don’t wait for it! In a matter of seconds, one special moment would gone by, never to return again. Do not wait for the right moment, because the perfect moment is here and now. Once you feel it, shoot it! Again, refrain from too much cognitive processes.

7. You don't have to know beforehand what is on your film;
8. Nor afterwards. After the shutter clicks, move on. Do not linger on the previous subject or imagine how the image might come out. You can’t do no wrong in lomography, so relax! It is done! Your next subject awaits you. Commit to the moment!

9. Shoot from the hip, behind your back, from the ground, and what not. The camera should not always be in front of your face. Everybody’s looking for a new perspective, those which the eye does not often see; so let your hands take your camera to unchartered territories and impossible angels. Surprise yourself, as though these pictures were taken by your alternate personality. Go psycho over lomo!

10. Don't worry about the golden rules. Break it and shake it! Welcome to photographers’ anarchy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cross Processing Color Guide

As mentioned in my previous blog, different brands of slide film give out different colors when cross processed. Below is a guide to some of the more popular brands. This list was taken from Stephen Schaub’s Figital Revolution. Consider using this list to determine the proper color film for your photographic needs.


  • Velvia 50 – Green
  • Velvia 100- Rich magenta
  • Velvia 100F- Emphasizes reds
  • Fujifilm Fujichrome 64T – Gold/green
  • Sensia 100- Magenta with bright green cast
  • Sensia 200 – Green/ Blue
  • Sensia 400 – Green
  • Provia 100 – Green
  • Provia 100f - Cyan
  • Provia 400F – Green
  • 400x – Greenish but with a great bump in contrast and very fine grain


  • Kodak Elitechrome 100 – Green with a hint of cyan
  • Kodak Elitechrome 200-Green with a blue shift, saturated colors
  • Kodak Elitechrome 400 – No color shift, saturated color
  • E100VS - Greenish
  • E100 G – No color shift, saturated color with contrast boost
  • E 100GP – No color shift, saturated color with contrast boost
  • Kodak Ektachrome 64T - Blue


  • Agfa Precisa CT 100 – No color shift, saturated colors with strong contrast boost.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cross Processing 101

Among the many techniques lomographers use, one of the most common is the misuse of chemicals in developing the film. The result of this technique is the distortion of color to the highest degree of visual pleasure! Altered hues, surreal images, saturated colors; a concoction of marmalade dreamy images. You have seen them probably, makes you drool, right!? You don’t need to take hallucinogens to experience this mind blowing feast of colors! This is called cross processing or xpro. It may sound intimidating or complicated, but it’s really pretty simple, if you know the basics; that which I am about to share you.

The Basics

There are three general types of film, categorized by their general purpose and the kind of chemicals needed to develop them.

The most common film we know of is called the negative film or color film. These are the ones we normally buy in stores. When we have them developed, what we get together with the photos are the negatives (hence, negative film). I suppose you know how they look like. On the box of a negative film, you will find the code, C41. This indicates the kind of chemical to be used in developing negative film, C41 chemicals.

Another type of film goes by many names. Color reversal film, positive film, slide film, chrome film, pertains to the same kind. They are not normally intended for photo prints, unlike negative films. They are meant to be used as a projector slides. When this type is film is developed, you do not get a negative, but instead a positive (hence, positive film). If you view it against light, you can already see the image, as it is supposed to be. Each frame is normally mounted as a slide (hence, slide film). If you are familiar with carousel projectors (a technology popular before the age of PowerPoint presentations), they use these slides to project images onto to a screen or wall. In movie theaters, motion pictures are projected from a reel of film; such is more or less the same material as slide films. This type of film is developed using E-6 chemicals, as indicated on its box.

Lastly, we have the traditional black and white films. They are of course used to take black and white photographs. Although there are many black and white films in the market that can be developed using C-41 chemicals, traditional B&W films are developed using B&W chemical.

Cross Processing

Now, hopefully you have been enlightened somehow about the different types of films. Your knowledge of them will help you in understanding the technique of cross processing. We now know that each type of film, negative, slide, and traditional black and white, are developed using specific chemicals. Technically, cross processing refers to using wrong chemicals in developing a particular film type. If you use C-41 chemicals in developing slide films, if you use E-6 chemicals in developing negative films, if you use black and white chemicals in developing slide or negative films, you are cross processing! You are processing the film with the wrong chemicals. Although, there are several means to cross process, the most commonly used is the use of slide films which are developed C-41 chemicals, instead of E-6. The result of which, I have loosely described in my opening paragraph. It is also the service easiest to avail. Not too many photo labs have E-6 chemicals to be used in developing negative film, and if there are, it’s more expensive.

How to Have Your Slide Film Cross Processed

Some hardcore lomographers and advanced film photographers develop their own film. In their own dark room, they can cross process anything! What about the beginners and those of do not have laboratories of their own? They can still experience the joys of cross-processing. It’s quite simple. After you have finished a roll of slide film, simply go to a photo laboratory, and ask the personnel to have the film developed, as though you are having a regular negative film developed. Specify that it is a slide film which you would like to be cross processed or developed using C-41 chemicals. If he knows what he is doing, he will accept that without questions. If not, he may hesitate, or he may insist that they do not have E-6 chemicals. Simply assure them, that you exactly what them to develop the slide film using C-41 chemicals. If he still insists on not accepting it, better look for another photo lab. Here in the Philippines, Digiprint branches accept slide films for cross processing, with no questions asked, and for a very cheap price! Some labs offer you the choice of either photo prints, or simply scanning the film and burning it to a CD. Personally, I go for negative scanning. Once I have seen the soft copy, them I will choose which images I would like to be printed.

Slide Films

Generally, slide films are more expensive than negative films. They are also less available. But if you search hard enough, you will find them. I normally get mine from the Internet. Lomography forums in your locale usually have people who sell slide films and other lomographic items. Just be careful with your online transactions. Look for expired ones, they are cheaper. Many say that they also give out the craziest of colors. I have already used films that are 5 years expired; they are still as good as ever. Different brands are also known for different dominant hues in the images. For example, Fuji Sensia 200 normally comes out greenish in color. Try different brands, and have yourself surprised with the wonderful colors that cross processing bring.

Is Xpro Equivalent to Lomo?

The short answer to this would be, NO! It is however a misconception that is very common. I myself made the same mistake early on. There is just such a strong association between the two. At the same time a substantial percentage of lomographers do cross processing. They however argue that the use of negative film (not cross processed) is also lomographic, provided that you spend it with the lomographic attitude! Using black and white film and red scale film are also popular among lomographers. I will discuss them soon in my succeeding write ups.

For now, go get yourself some slides, and experiment with cross processing! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Buying Your First Camera

Although it may seem not critical, the choice of camera to purchase is one of the first decisions one has to make if he or she is to pursue lomography; an important one at that. As many of you know, there are a lot of cameras available in the market; toy cameras, vintage cameras, Russian cameras, lomographic camera,s among others. Different cameras have different characteristics; in their built, features, affordability, and in the quality of the images they produce. Individuals are different themselves. Your spending capacity, preferences, and priorities, are things to consider in making that first purchase. I say first, because if you stay long enough, you are likely to make your second, third, and so on. As of now, I have gone as far as my fourteenth buy; but that is just few, compared to how much others are willing to spend in collecting cameras.

Below are some questions you have to ask yourself before buying. If you cannot understand some of the terms, please feel free to Google them.

How much am I willing to spend?

Do I want to use 120 or 135 film?
What type of image quality do I like?
Do I like more flexibility in setting the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture?
Without flash? With flash? With color splash?

These are just few; you may have other considerations. Chances are you will have conflicting preferences; you like one camera’s affordability, but also like the other camera’s flexibility, and yet like the other camera’s film size. The final decision will depend on what you prioritize most. Of course, if you have the money, you can simply buy five at a time. But for
me, such is ill advised. It is better to buy one, and warm up to it; enjoy it. When you are ready to try something new, that’s the time you buy your next camera.

My first camera was a Holga120N; Amanda, as I have personified
her. There are many things that drew me to this camera; the square frame, the vignette, the vintage-like appearance of the images, its flexibility in term of the modifications you can do with it, and its affordability. I spent a lot time learning about this camera before I bought it. It really is very important that you research before buying. Do not make the mistake of relying only on the photos on the internet, as a gauge to what you are looking for. There is more to the camera than just the quality of the pictures they yield.

Again, be intelligent in choosing your first camera. This is a make or break si
tuation for you. A good camera choice can enhance your passion or interest in photography; but a poor one may just as easily bore you, and put out that fire in your heart!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lomography, as I Understand It

When people ask about what Lomography is all about, they tend to get different answers. This is probably because of Lomography’s unstructured and carefree image. There are ten rules (as some of you may have heard or learned) that somehow defy traditional photographic rules. The last rules, for me is the most interesting one. That is, to forget all the previous nine rules and find your own style or your own set of rules. Anarchy! Punk Rock, yeah! With this, it is difficult to put a fence or boundary to what Lomography is or is not. It’s more of a personal thing. Learn what you could, then define it yourself; forget what others say!

This is my personal take on it.

Lomography is history. I will not discuss Lomography’s history, ‘cause I have already forgotten the details. But I suggest that you read about it. There are plenty of sites to go to. What I am saying is that, it has a history; that it originated from something or somewhere or someone. Considering this point of view, the term Lomography came from a particular type of Rusian Spy Camera, which somehow had a cult following: the Lomo Kompakt Automat, or the LCA. Historically speaking, an image is a genuine lomograph if it had been take by this camera. It’s like taking a bunch of guys who are avid Nikon users, and calling their photography as Nikonography. Yes, it is a bit corny.

Lomography is more history. Eventually those early users of LCA organized themselves into some kind of organization, the Lomographic Society International (LSI). They promoted their art, and also, they marketed the not only the LCA, but also other film cameras, which share some of the characteristics of the LCA. As we now know, you can produce lomographic picture using LSI endorsed cameras.

However, others have taken the liberty of using other film cameras like the Vivitar UW&S, which is not LSI endorsed, and still consider themselves lomographers. There is nothing wrong about that.

Lomography is Film. All LSI endorsed cameras are film cameras, so it may be safe to say that a lomographic images need to be film base. This is another deviation from the contemporary trend in photography nowadays, which is becoming dominantly digital. Besides, it’s difficult produce the image quality of lomographs digitally, lest you use Photoshop or other digital altering software. There are however, those who label their work as digital lomographs. I don’t buy it though. If there is one thing the lomography is, to me, it is being digital.

Lomography is Philosophy. There is a certain approach to lomography that is somehow distinct. It is the attitude of being carefree. They say if that something wrong will happen, it will. That’s how it is in this art. One is discourage to think so much before and after taking a photo. “Don’t think, just shoot!” the rule says.

Unlike digital photography, where you can instantly see your output; erase it or take another shot if you are not satisfied, lomography does not give you that much control. A substantial percentage of lomographers are amateur photographers. Not everyone has complete knowledge and skill in judging light and how it will respond to the camera and film. So let it be. Let it surprise you! It is a good feeling.

However, it is best that one also knows enough about his or her camera before clicking the shutter. For instance, there are some cameras which are totally useless indoors. You should, at the very least, know that your camera has a better chance of capturing an image outdoors, when it is sunny. Being surprised is good, but the shock of learning that none of your 36 exposures came out is something we can avoid by reading and learning the basic of our camera. Everything else, leave it to chance! It’s a roller coaster ride, so let loose! Wrong angel? That’s a new perceptive! The image is not on the third portion of the frame? It’s about time you break that rule! Your friend’s head got cut-off? That’s how you like it, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind!

For those who have enough knowledge already, it is very tempting to think before shooting. That’s ok if you ask me. I do it sometimes, too. The images are just as surprising.

Lomogaphy is Dirty. It is not absolute, but many lomographs have a certain characteristic and feel of abstractness and distortion to it: edges that are dark (vignettes), blurry images, misplaced streaks of light, weird colors, and what not. These are defects actually, that many of us find amusing! Some of it is due to intentional misuse of materials. Poor lens quality, poor camera design, using the wrong chemicals in developing films, using films 6 years past their expiration date, shooting twice using the same frame; these are some of the reasons that make lomographs interesting. It is the art of doing things wrong, so it comes out right, and using defective gear, so that it comes out perfect! Got it?

But this is not absolute, like what I said. You can also use good lenses and proper film or chemicals. Lomographs or not, they are still photographs; beautiful ones! That’s what matters!

These are my personal thoughts. I do not mean to impose these criteria onto others. That is the reason why I have troubles in calling myself a lomographer. I don’t know if I really am. I don’t even own an LCA! I am happy to consider myself as a guy who likes photography, particularly those involving the use of film cameras and techniques of lomographers, plus some twists of my own. So, if you will do this, make it personal, thrown in your own twist! Be your own art!

Photo Fetish

My interest in photography dates back some 10 years ago. My interest was primarily due to some basic need to express myself artistically; I figured, photography was a good medium, and probably, less complicate compared to other arts. I was wrong.

Back then, I made some friends with some guys from a photo studio who did our college graduation shoot. I was also able to borrow an SLR camera form the brother of my friend, a Zenit 12xp. However, because no one can actually educate me on how to use the camera, particularly on how to manipulate exposure, I soon got tired of underexposed or overexposed images. In a roll of 36 exposures, I’d be lucky if 10 would come out right. I gave up on it faster than I got interested.

Jump forward to early 2008. I just bought a first compact digital camera, a Fuji Finepix F40 fd (which is a great camera). Needless to say, my interest in photography was being rekindled again; but this time, more of practical-slash-sentimental reasons, rather that artistic ones. It was about this time when I accidentally saw a TV program showcasing a kind of photography called, Lomography. I was instantly drawn to the images they produced. They were colorful and fun, sometimes depressing, and wonderfully distorted. There is a certain abstractness in them that catches one’s attention without much effort. To top it all, it seemed amazingly simple enough. They use film cameras which are devoid of complicated aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. And, most of all, they say that there are no rules! Someone made a comment that, if photography was music, then Lomography would be punk rock! I told myself, this is something which I can definitely do, or even excel in.

For the next few weeks, I would spend a lot time surfing the net for all things lomographic: its history, the art itself, the gears, and the fun and color. Had there been a widespread use of internet a decade ago, I may have not given up easily on photography; there is just a wealth of information nowadays, which is great. In less than a month I was able to buy my first film camera, a Holga 120N, whom I named Amanda. More research warmed me up to my first purchase even more. The first few rolls where a bit frustrating, but once you get past the first three to four rolls, you’ll start loosening up, and then… magic happens!

I have been shooting film for almost two years now. I have a substantial portfolio, and more than a dozen cameras. More than that, my general love for photography has grown deeper and broader. I am no longer confined with lomographic cameras, or its punk rock attitude, I simply love capturing moments in the time-space continuum! I love photography; with or without rules, in chrome, in black and white, in plastic lens, in film, in digital, in lomographic cameras, in vintage cameras, in DSLR, and yes, even in my 2 megapixel phone camera!

If you are also interested in photography, specially using film, and you are reading this, congratulations! You are on the right track, by educating yourself. I may not be the best person to talk about these matters, you I can definitely share a thing or two. So, go ahead and read on!