Category Archives: Holga

Going lomo in New Mexico

I took both the Holga and the Diana along when we hiked up Tucumcari Mountain in late September. I’d forgotten about those images until I rounded up a few spent rolls that I had in the car and took them to Apertures this week. The image above was shot with the Holga. The trippy colors are what you get when you expose a roll of expired Agfa film to a sunny New Mexico morning.

The Diana was sporting a roll of TMax that morning. In that dazzling sunlight, she graciously accommodated me with one of her trademark light leaks, yielding this ethereal view of a sunflower growing wild on the mountain:

I got some interesting neon shots on these rolls, too, but it’s a cold night, I’ve worked hard all week, and I hear a fluffy down comforter calling my name.

Hope your week was good and your weekend is even better.


Definitely a portrait camera

Three quick Holga images, all shot shortly before noon Sunday on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge:

Ron, the Route 66 Person of the Year, gamely carrying my Fuji around his neck and his Kodak in his pocket while I lugged the Rebel and the Holga.

Jim Conkle, festival organizer and Route 66 Pulse editor, stood still long enough for me to snap a quick shot.

Michael Wallis, author, historian, Sheriff of Radiator Springs, and one of my favorite subjects for portraits, because great lighting conditions always seem to accompany him. 

And once again, the Holga has proven herself to be a portrait camera. I don’t always get the shot I want when I’m photographing buildings or scenery or whatever else, but she seems to like environmental portraits….


Holga time

Since March 4, I’ve been so preoccupied with projects and challenges that I’ve quite neglected poor little Joy, my beloved Holga camera.

I finally picked her up the other day, unloaded her, and took her most recent roll in for processing. Out of 12 exposures, I had only four printable shots, but one was a perfect example of why every photographer ought to own at least one Holga:

This stone elephant stands at the entrance to the Showman’s Rest part of the city cemetery in Hugo, Okla., which is the winter home for many traveling circus performers. Pay special attention to the slightly-off-center focus (Joy’s unique “fingerprint,” if you will — no two Holga lenses are alike), the soft distortion in the background, and of course the Holga’s signature vignetting at the corners. This is the one shot in 50 that makes the other 49 worth the frustration and expense.

I’m also fond of the surreal color effects I’ve been getting out of that expired Agfa film Ron bought me last winter:

The first person who can tell me where I was standing when I shot this will get a free print of any Holga shot I’ve posted on this blog — your choice.


Double exposure: Catoosa


I took almost an entire roll of deliberate double exposures with the Holga last month, just to see what I’d get. This shot — taken during a cleanup project at the Blue Whale on Route 66 in Catoosa on New Year’s Day — is the only one I particularly liked. I shot the first exposure, and then Ron shot the second.

Double-exposure Holga shots are interesting, because a Holga image is already a dicey proposition, and by the time you factor in the unpredictability of a double exposure, you’re talking about a shot that is completely beyond any semblance of control. Most of the time, it doesn’t work, but every now and then, you get something interesting.

I want to get new batteries and a couple of rolls of film for my Nikon F2 and play around with double exposures in a little more controlled way, just to see what I get. I might try to rustle up some 35mm Agfa film and see what kinds of images I can coax out of it.


10 on Tuesday: Double feature

I had my choice of two 10 on Tuesday lists this week. I decided to do both.

10 best pictures of 2007 (posted in chronological order)


John’s Modern Cabins, an hour before sunset


Our Lady of the Highways


Parts sign on Route 66 in Oakhurst


Miss Belvedere


Hispanic cemetery near Montoya, N.M.


Bat boy found in Southern Illinois …


Sunflowers near Tucumcari Mountain


Holga portrait of my friend Linda


Jamie hugs an old family friend


Double-exposure Holga shot (on Agfa film) of 66 west of Sapulpa

10 best moments of 2007 (also posted in chronological order):

1. Painting the Wild Things mural with Jaiden and Corbin
2. Adopting the Bond Chicks
3. Buying Gretchen
4. Instantaneous healing of a broken foot
5. Photographing Miss Belvedere
6. Painting Ray’s Motel
7. Getting our solar array
8. Primary class (OK, so that was two weeks, not a moment … but there were lots of great moments in it)
9. Okie Blogger Award
10. Watching Jamie learn to clap his hands

How was your year?


Somewhere in Time


Old restrooms at Seaba Station on Route 66 near Warwick, Okla.

You know what I love best about Joy? Her timelessness. Feed her a roll of black-and-white film, point her at something old and maybe a bit dilapidated, and somehow her soft focus and lens distortion take away all sense of time, leaving you with the impression that you’re looking at some long-ago child’s collection of Brownie images tucked into a scrapbook and left resting 50 years in someone’s attic.

If I could, I’d take Joy out for a two-month road trip down Route 66 and let her capture all the ruins and remnants along the way.


Just for fun, I spent part of Saturday on 66, exploiting the Holga’s legendary capacity for creating trippy double-exposure shots.

This juxtaposition of tree and bridge comes from the old Ozark Trail alignment of 66 at the west end of Sapulpa.

Speaking of 66, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association‘s preservation committee — which I chair — is holding a work day tomorrow at the Blue Whale in Catoosa. The recent ice storm damaged some tree limbs above the picnic area next to the pond, so we’re going to meet out there at 9 a.m. with chainsaws and pickup trucks and do a little cleanup work. If you’re looking for a fun way to ring in 2008, the Blue Whale is the place to be tomorrow morning. We’ll provide cookies, soda, and good humor; you provide elbow grease and a pair of work gloves to protect your hands.

If you need firewood, come early and call dibs on whatever we chop up. If you happen to own a chainsaw, pole saw, or other tools that might be handy for this project, please bring them.

All participants will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Jim Ross’ Oklahoma Route 66 book and a set of HERE IT IS! maps. (NOTE: Jim’s Web site has a lot of sound effects.) Jim has agreed to autograph the book and maps and personally mail them to the lucky winner.

Come on out and enjoy a morning of camaraderie, exercise, fresh air, and free homemade chocolate-chip cookies at one of the Mother Road’s most famous landmarks!

The Blue Whale is located on the north side of State Highway 66 at the east end of Catoosa, just east of Reasor’s and across the road from the Arrowood Trading Post.

Hope to see you there!


Doing something


After a thoroughly pleasant evening of doing Nothing, I went to bed early, got up this morning at 9:30, and had a nice breakfast at Ollie’s before doing Something, just like I planned.

The first Something I did was sort out some problems I’d been having with domain name transfers. Big hassle, but I think I have it all worked out now.

The next Something I did was grab my notebook and head to the Reading Room. I spent the better end of five hours holed up in my favorite little nook in the back of the building, reading reprints of old Journal and Sentinel articles on various topics I felt deserved my attention. I’ll probably have something to say about all that after it’s had time to sink in.

It was snowing lightly by the time I left, but the streets were pretty clear, so I stopped by Apertures on the way home to pick up some Holga pictures I’d dropped off for processing a couple of days earlier. I didn’t get much out of this roll, thanks to the low light and heavy fog, but I was delighted when one of the few usable frames turned out to be the Blue Whale on Route 66 in Catoosa. I do wish the lens was just a little sharper toward the middle, but I think the distortion around the edges and the soft focus enhance the moody vibe that rolled in with the fog.


This was another Holga shot I took on 66 as I was heading east a couple of weeks ago. Again … not the clearest shot in the world, but the camera did succeed in recording the way I felt as I stood next to the road, shooting a pecan grove in Claremore.

I have some more Somethings to do this evening: tend the fire, clear the coffee table, clean the kitchen counters, clean the stove, sweep the kitchen, clean the bathroom, start a load of laundry, and track down the software for my digital recorder so I can transfer sound files to my laptop. We’ll see how far I get with all that….



Anyone who’s dealt with a Holga will find it not at all surprising that out of the entire roll of film I shot the other day on Route 66 here in Tulsa, this turned out to be the best shot:


I don’t even know why I shot it. I was pretty sure I didn’t have any shots left, but I just saw it sitting there and figured I might as well try, since I had to advance the film either way. Somehow I just knew it was going to end up being the best thing on the roll, too. Three rolls in, and I am already learning to appreciate — and exploit — the Holga’s decidedly off-kilter world view.


She’s definitely coming along with me to Illinois this weekend. Maybe I’ll get lucky and that Agfa film Ron ordered for me will come in before I leave Friday. That’d be cool.

I swear, I’m gonna have to design my own camera bag just to accommodate all the equipment I’ve been accumulating lately. Heaven help us if I ever track down my old Magimatic….


Learning Joy

As a rule, cameras are generally not regarded as sentient beings, but I don’t hold with that; all of mine are individuals, with as many likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, hangups and personal opinions as the average human being.

Joy, my new Holga 120N, is a lot like me: feisty, occasionally clumsy, and determined to see only what she wants to see, but also capable of producing something beautiful when the mood strikes her.


Joy’s strength, apparently, is in portraits, as evidenced by this shadowy but interesting shot of my friend Linda.

Joy is also rather fond of blue skies, as she demonstrated in these images we took on Route 66 yesterday afternoon:



I’m not sure I like that soft focus she put on things in the two pictures above, but I think I’ve found the sweet spot in the lens (which for some reason is a little off-center), so I should be able to work with that a bit next time I take her out. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of really obvious light leaks, which could be good or bad, depending on your point of view.

For those of you trying to figure out how she got her name, here’s another hint: I initially considered calling her “Flannery.”


Antici …

(Say it!)


After shooting digital for two years, I’d quite forgotten the exquisite agony of waiting to get prints back from the camera shop. I got a reminder this morning when I handed the lady at Apertures a roll of 400-speed T-max containing my new Holga’s first images. Waiting for five o’clock (the time my prints would be ready), I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas.

They’re not the best images I ever got, but considering the fact that I hadn’t shot black-and-white film in over two years and was breaking in a plastic, fixed-focus camera on a cloudy day, I think they turned out pretty well.

For the Holga’s maiden journey, I took her out on Route 66 to get some images of familiar places, including the bridge above, which is on an old alignment of the Mother Road in Chelsea.

I love my Rebel, but it felt good to shoot film again. Below are a few more of the pictures I shot with the Holga, which I have since christened “Joy.” (First person who can correctly identify the source of the name will win a fabulous prize.)


Swinney’s Hardware, located on an early alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa.


Roadside park on Route 66 in Catoosa.


Bridge on an old alignment of Route 66 in Chelsea.

Incidentally, this was the first time I’d used Apertures for processing, but it definitely won’t be the last. They were very helpful and friendly, the price was very reasonable ($5.50 for processing and 69 cents each for 5×5 prints), and the turnaround time was impressive: just under eight hours for black-and-white, medium-format film.

For my next performance, I’ll find out how the Holga does with color film on a sunny day….