Sunday, January 31, 2010

Krappy Kamera Kollektion - volume the second

The snow today prompted me to run around and take a few photos with my Holga on the b&w film my husband was so wonderful as to get me for Xmas. That prompted me to remember that I was not done detailing the Krappy Kamera Kollektion! So here for your edification (again) is the rest of my gaggle o' toy cameras.

The rest of my miscreants are as follows - top left is the Kodak Duaflex III, a lovely solid Dual Lens Refractive camera with the old-fashioned square viewfinder on the top. if you look through it, you see everything in front of you upside down, which is sort-of what it's supposed to look like on the film. This camera was actually created a year before my father was born, and if I was of a mind to trim down a roll of 120 film in to a 620 format, I could still use it. It is entirely functional. The flash came with it, and it takes the lightbulbs that are single-use...that is to say, they flash once, then done. It uses ancient 5Bs, which ARE still out there but are really hard to find in bulk. I grabbed some just so I could use it at some point, perhaps for something like a formal portrait. But one of the other reasons I got it was for something called TTV, or Through the Viewfinder photography. It's a great style where you take an SLR, hook it up to a DLR, and take the photo through the older camera's viewfinder. It's quite nifty.
A quick example of a GOOD photo in this format, next to a shot of ME doing it with a digital point-and-click camera (which doesn't work and isn't really recommended)
But as you can see, there's a potential for some lovely dark corners, some blurring effects, and some distortion of the spectrum. I have yet to see a photo taken through one of these that didn't seem warm and inviting with that sort of yellow-gold undertone like the old photos from the 70s used to have.
Next door to the Duaflex is a Kodak Brownie Starmite. I also have bulbs for that one, and theoretically it's still 100% functional. The main hindrance to its usage is the fact that I would literally have to build, from scratch, the spool that the film goes on to. Then after that I would have to spool my own film on to it in a dark room and secure it. While it seems like a fun project, it's probably for someone with many fewer hobbies than yours truly. To be honest I found it on eBay for $5, it came with the extra bulbs, a leatherette carrying case and the old instruction booklets. Plus with a name like "Starmite", how can you not love that cute little exterior? I may try to shoot with it in the future, but for now it's among the cameras I've been semi-collecting to put in shadowboxes for the walls of our new house.
Wait Helen, you might say, if once again you knew that as my first name or you were paying attention in the last post, to the left of the Starmite that looks like the back of a cell phone. What gives??
Oh, you clever and observant readers, you! it IS the back of a cell phone! Specifically the back of my LG EnV3, complete with all my super-awesome cell phone charms from Japan and its 3.0 megapixel camera. These days most people laugh at what can be accomplished with a cellphone and quite a few people decry the crud that is on the back of their iPhone (I would as well, actually), but these individuals are usually the same ones that drop a ton of money on a digital SLR that does everything for them and renders crystal-sharp photos but have no real technical skill. It's one of the cool things about low-fi cameras that you're forced to focus on your subject, the light, the angle, the very basis of the image. Cell phones are the same way, and have their own really awesome uses in taking in parts of the world.
For instance, my absolute favorite photo I've taken with this was when we were in Maine and I came upon a garden full of sunflowers. The resulting image was good enough to be considered a serious photograph, and I use it as the the backdrop for my cell phone right now. I've even set up my Photobucket account to automatically download images from the phone as I take them, and I carry it around as my main photographic instrument, as most days I don't have time to devote to the process of figuring out which of my many cameras I would need for the day. It forces me to know the limitations of my device and figure out how best to use it, plus it is ALWAYS with me.
Moving on, my lovely red darling is next! My Holga 120GCFN (GCFN = glass, color flash. The standard Holga has no flash and a plastic lens) has been my gateway drug for about a year now. It went with me to Japan and created some of the lovely, lovely images on the film I actually managed to get developed. It's been faithful, lovely, and a tendency for some serious warp in the images that I know is beautifully specific to my little gal. She's bomb-proof, and I've only just now gotten to the point where the batteries that run the included flash are running low. It's a nice change from the digital camera where they're constantly chewing through the double A's. She takes some lovely photos, be it in color OR black and white, and I would honestly take her over a Hasselblad any day. (To be fair, a Hasselblad would be wasted on me. I don't know what to do with all the bells and whistles.)
Then to the right of the Holga is my other darling, the Diana f+ Glow. I love that she looks like the older cameras that news reporters used to carry with them. I also love the chrome of the flash and around the lens. And also, I love that she has the most gimmicky thing.... glows in the dark! She's covered in little stars like the old stickers that were popular for ceilings in the 90s. Embarrassed to say that I have no idea how she shoots, since I haven't gotten the film developed yet! But I have shot enough film to perfect loading and advancing the film on her. She's got the quirk of having one side bent a bit so it's loose and at times you have to clamp down on it to get it to advance, but I count it among the ranks of regular low-fi charms.

If I had my 'druthers, I would also have a Digital Harinezumi to show you (it's a low-fi digital video cam that makes what you're shooting look like Super 8, and I lust after one BADLY). I've got my eye on a Kodak Hawkeye, partially out of curiosity to shoot with and partially for something to have on my wall for decoration. I'd also have a truly ridiculous camera or two made entirely from scratch...that is to say that I had literally built them from a kit piece by piece and took a picture with it. There's also the possibility of making a cyanotype camera. (If you have ever made "sun pictures" with blue paper, you've already done this in rough form.) After reading a few articles I have seriously pondered constructing one as a means of understanding the basics behind image capture. But once again...something for someone with far fewer hobbies.

Anyway, this is the last of things...for now! At some point I'll have the Digi Harinezumi, and I'm thinking at that point I'll be truly happy with the collection (barring a digital SLR or a new point-and-shoot). But of course, by then something else will come out that will be new and neat and nifty and I'll want to give it a shot.

Don't get started with lomography. It's addictive and expensive! But also really, really, really fun!

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