May 15, 2008

Hey, where did you get that camera?

Oh, you mean this little plastic toy?

I've had several people ask me where to get a Holga from. For those of you that don't know what a Holga is, it is a plastic toy camera made in China (go figure) that shoots on 120 medium format film. You can read all about it HERE.

The only place I will buy a Holga from is from Randy Smith over at HolgaMods. Why you ask? Well, he modifies them to be a bit more predictable and more like a camera and less like a toy. I loathe light leaks which the Holga is infamous for. The camera, if bought anywhere else, lies to you saying there is a sunny and cloudy setting. If you buy it anywhere other than Randy Smith, it is a total lie and the "fstop" is exactly the same. I buy mine from his for the modifications he makes to them.

Here is a list of modifications Randy does to the Holga:

- Flocks the inside with black matte paint to reduce light leaks
- Creates a larger 6x6 mask to enhance vignetting
- Creates 2 working fstops (f/8 & f/11)
- Allows a bulb feature for longer exposures
- Allows a correctly placed tripod mount
- Allows a waist level finder
- Makes the focusing up to 2 feet instead of 3
- Allows for a cable release
- And for those that want a fashion statement, he'll color them as well :)
- He offers pinhole Holgas and Holgaroids (Holgas that take polaroid) as well

My BFA final project in school were images I created with a Holga from my travels etc. It was called "God Bless the Indian Summer". The images are from (in order of appearance on this post) Mira Mesa CA, Tijuana MX, Mona UT, Las Vegas NV, Merced CA, The Scera Pool in Orem UT, and Kauai HI. These images SCREAM summer and give the feel of an Indian Summer which is a summer that seems to last forever. Most of my clients that have met with me are familiar with these images as there is a sonic wall of these images matted and framed (the actual ones from my BFA) in my consultation room.

I used this camera quite a bit for my personal work back in the day and then retired it. It came out of hiding just a while back and though we said we would not, it took a trip with us down to Tijuana a couple weekends (CRAZY!). Images to come soon.

So, if you are interested in this little toy camera, go get yourself one HERE.


Anonymous said...


Anna said...

Oh no! I received a holga for Christmas because I love your holgas. I've been meaning to ask if you have any tips about taking holgas. I just got my first roll back and was pretty happy.

Miriam Lovell Dyer said...

I got a Randy Smith Holga from HolgaMods a while ago but I haven't gotten very desirable results. Am I doing something wrong???

Jonathan Canlas said...

miriam, I would have no idea unless I saw some of your images.

to get the look that I get here are some quick rules of thumb:

1. use slide film and cross process it.
2. ALWAYS shoot on the sunny setting.
3. ALWAYS shoot in direct sunlight or axis lighting which means the sun is directly behind you (ONE BIG LIGHT).
4. (going to the last point) NEVER shoot in the shade if you are cross processing. you will get a green tint to your images. if you like green (I think it looks like puke) then go for it.

Jodi said...

So, I read your blog but I'm selfish and usually don't comment. Actually I don't think I ever have before. I really admire your talent and today when you posted I couldn't keep my fingers still. I remember seeing your Indian Summer images on campus and being stunned by them. They were displayed in the library weren't they? Anyway, it was fun to make the connection between those images and you now. Looks like things are going well!

Anna said...

Thanks for the tips Jonathan. I'm a novice. Do I just get slide film that is 120 mm? Also, I don't know what cross process means - do I just ask the lab to do it? Sorry for the dumb questions.

Jonathan Canlas said...

Hey Anna!

Ok, let me break it down (sorry, too much YoGabbaGabba going on in this house)...

Film wise, yes, you want SLIDE film that is in 120 format. For cross processing, out-dated film is fine as well, you are not wanting specific color and outdated film usually has color shifts. But again, you are cross processing and there is nothing NORMAL about this color palette so out-dated film is great and it saves you some moolah as well. The oldest film I shoot for my Holga dates back to 2002 and possibly 2000. Yeah, totally out of date but it looks awesome (only if you cross process!!!)

Slid film is NORMALLY developed in a process called E-6 which is how you get actual slides (positives). Color film is developed in a process called C-41 to get negatives. To get the crazy colors/look I have, I shoot slide film, and cross processes it, in other words, develop it as if it was color film in a C-41 process (your local lab will do it for you) thus giving me NEGATIVES instead of positives. When you hand over the film to your lab, tell them to process it as "C-41" or if it was color film.

Hope this helps!

Whitney Elizabeth said...

I just started a Holga class. I'm stoked and can't wait to learn more. Expect questions... :)

Anna said...

Thanks Jonathan! Now my next goal is finding a lab here in Indiana. I had to wait for my trip to SLC to develop my last roll. Ha!

Just you wait until my husband graduates from law school and I'll be the first one enrolled in your Film is Not Dead workshop.

Dann said...

I've been inspired to resurrect my Holga. I also bought it years ago from Randy and absolutely loved it, but it's rested in the a dusty drawer for the past few years. It's not you, Holga, it's me. Give me another chance. You too, Supersampler.

H Jeff said...

I am trying to get into the photography program at the BYU. I have a Diana+. It's pretty rad. Also I assume/hope "God Bless the Indian Summer" is a Pedro the Lion allusion. Good stuff. Cool pictures.

Jonathan Canlas said...

making david bazaan proud...