Archive for Holga

Fabulous Film Fridays – March 4

Posted in Art of Photography, Controversy, eBooks, Fabulous Film Fridays, Good News, Image Processing and Software, Instruction, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by Darwin

Thanks to everyone who made comments and voted on the Battle of Beep and Bop (Samantha and my little Holga shoot-out). Anyone who followed the battle knows that I made a wee mistake with my Holga, Bop, which resulted in washed-out overexposed images. I thought for sure that Samantha would win the contest and I would be stuck on vacuum duties for a month. But alas and thankfully, once the votes were counted, the surprising result was a tie! It seems some people liked my ‘high key’ images, calling them ethereal and airy (and other arty terms I didn’t understand). I don’t care what they were called as long as I am not doing the Hoover Hose Dance for a month!  There will be a rematch of the Beep and Bop and you’ll be invited to come along so stay tuned.

We wanted to give a small reward to those who took the time to comment on The Battle of Beep and Bop and the best comment earned a free eBook from us from the Visual Wilderness website. We like Brad Mangas’ comment:

I really want to vote for Sam because she wears cool hats, but in the short videos you two make I seem to hear Darwin talk more so for some reason I relate to him more thus his picture delivers a more personal feel to me. So I must go with my heart and vote for Brando. I would like to trade my free ebook for an all expense paid workshop please, thank you.

We also liked Kelly Morgan’s comment which is as arty as my overexposed photos.

I vote for Beep. I like the soft focus and color in the alley shot. In general, I like the effort that Bop gives. Bop seems to infuse Holga essence into these everyday scenes, while Beep seemingly records pencil sketches on cocktail napkins. It’s almost as if Bop, in its passive-aggressive manner, mocks Beep for even trying. And that is blatantly blurring the lines of friendly competition, and that is why I would like to see a photo from Bop of Darwin vacuuming with Beep around his neck.

We couldn’t decide who was more erudite, so we award both Brad and Kelly one of eBooks!

Some people might wonder why I didn’t just adjust the brightness of the overexposed film images in Photoshop to give a better result. For sure, some post manipulation of the scanned negative can give a better looking result. Below is one of my grossly overexposed negatives. Looks pretty ‘ethereal’ wouldn’t you say?

©Darwin Wiggett

With my Imacon film scanner and Photoshop I managed to squeeze all the information I possibly could from the negative and I got this result:

©Darwin Wiggett

The looks pretty good but there is a big price to pay for making a crappy negative and then trying to suck information out of it in a scan and that’s noise — check out the details of an enlarged section of the ‘fixed’ photo from above:

©Darwin Wiggett

With a properly exposed negative I might get film grain but no noise from the scanner – so unless I try to pass this off as a Georges Seurat pointillism masterpiece, it’s pretty crappy quality for a photo.

Just for fun, I took the same shot with the Canon G11. Thanks to the instant feedback of digital and the histogram display, I did not mess up the exposure!

©Darwin Wiggett

Fabulous Film Fridays – February 25, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Controversy, Fabulous Film Fridays, Good News, Humor, Photography Gear, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by Darwin

Head on over to Sam’s blog for the final results of the Battle of Beep and Bop. Sam is still all smug about my small mistake with my Holga camera. I do not call it a mistake, I call it a ‘decision’ for art’s sake. We’ve decided to let you vote for the winner — and the  best vote explanation receives one of our Visual Wilderness eBooks!  So make sure you drop by and explain why either Beep (Sam) or Bop (me) should win the battle. And be kind to me, I am sensitive!


Samantha demonstrating proper Holga shooting technique

The Battle of Beep and Bop

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Controversy, Fabulous Film Fridays, Humor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2011 by Darwin

Samantha and I decided to have a little competition for this week’s Fabulous Film Friday. We grabbed our Holga cameras and a couple of rolls of 120 film and headed for Inglewood in Calgary. The rules were simple. Walk the streets for two hours and make images. We would then get the film developed and scan the negatives to display them here. There was no post-processing except for removing dust spots and a minor curve or colour correction to get the scan to be a good representation of the film image.

I thought I had this contest won before we even started. Hell, I have 25 years of experience with film – I doubt that Sam has shot 25 rolls of film in her life! And who showed Sam how to use a Holga? And who kept reminding her to take the lens cap off, to set the aperture to sunny or shade, and to always remember to focus the lens? This contest wouldn’t even be fair!  Loser vacuums for a month!!

Samantha: I have to admit, I was pretty intimidated when you were so…helpful.

Darwin: Except that I was so busy being charitable, that I forgot to check Bop for one critical setting.

Samantha: Right!  Tell our friends what that setting was, Darwin (grin grin).

Darwin: Well there is a shutter setting for normal (about 1/60th of a second) and then one for Bulb (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter button).

Samantha: And what setting was Bop at for this bright sunny afternoon in downtown Calgary?

Darwin: Ummm… well… Bulb. I forgot to change the setting from last time I took pictures with Bop.

Samantha: Let’s go back to that part you were just saying about ‘professional photographer of 25 years’….

Darwin: Oh, you mean the part about the professional shooter of 25 years with a handful of washed out negs.  Actually I am surprised I even captured anything on those washed out negs, but I did manage to get a couple of shots with something there.

Samantha: Guess I didn’t need all that help after all, but thanks anyway.  So, do we call the contest yet or post a couple more results next week?

Darwin: I doubt a couple more results will save me, but sure, let’s do that.  I don’t want to vacuum for a month!

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Inspirations – Two Trees, Etosha by Mark Olwick

Posted in Art of Photography, Inspirations, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by sabrina

© Mark Olwick

This photo was taken during a month-long trip through Southern Africa.  I knew before I left that my photo equipment would not be the usual “Big camera with huge telephoto” that most people take to Africa since most of my gallery work has been done with a Holga 120N. 

Prior to the trip, I made a shot list of photographs that I had visualized in my mind.  This photo was one of the results of that effort (with a minor difference).  I knew that Etosha National Park in Namibia was a vast, flat plain of desert scrub, along with the more famous salt pan.  I wanted to capture that vastness.  The way I visualized it was with one lone tree, a huge sky and the vast emptiness of the pan.

When I came across these two trees though, they really struck me.  I still had the vastness I was looking for, but the way that the two trees leaned towards each other also suggested a loneliness or longing for companionship.  I imagined that solitary animals, such as the lions or elephants that inhabit the park, also welcome that companionship once and a while.  The trees symbolized that in my mind.  The cloud pattern also added a very nice geometric element to the frame, drawing your eye across it.

My Holga, which uses 120 medium format film, was loaded with Efke IR 820 black and white infrared film and a Hoya R72 IR filter.  I’ve used this film extensively and love the dreamy quality it gives when combined with the plastic Holga lens.   I knew that it would turn the skies dramatically black and the clouds puffy white, but with a soft aura around them.

Since that film is incredibly slow (I shoot it at around ISO 6) the exposure was around 1 second.  Everything about the Holga is approximate, so if you want exact times, that isn’t the camera for you.  I set up my tripod in the safari vehicle since it wasn’t safe to wander around outside, composed and held my breath while holding the shutter on bulb for about a second.  Even though you never know what you’ll get with a Holga until you process the film, this photo actually turned out how I had visualized it.  No post-processing at all except for a slight crop of the bottom. ~Mark Olwick

2011 Project – Fabulous Film Fridays

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Fabulous Film Fridays, Inspirations, Instruction, Photography Gear, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by Darwin

Last year my ‘photo project’ was The Daily Snap where I posted one photo per day taken with a digital point-n-shoot camera (mostly my Canon G11). The exercise was intended to keep me practicing photography on a daily basis to help keep my eye ‘tuned’. I also wanted to show that great photos could be made with any kind of camera. It’s not the gear… well, you know the rest.

This year I am partnering up with my gal and creative partner, Samantha Chrysanthou to present our mutual project, Fabulous Film Fridays. Every Friday for the next year we will be posting shots we have taken with film cameras–remember film? Between the two of us we still have 8 film cameras (4 each) and we plan to dust these off and make new photos during 2011. Samantha has two Nikon 35mm film cameras (an FE and an F70), an orange Holga named Beep and a beautiful 4×5 view camera named Tachihara Tim by her brother Andy. Go here to read Sam’s interview with me about this project.

©Darwin Wiggett - Samantha's portrait shot with a Holga 120N

Let’s let Sam explain in her own words why she was keen to be part of the project.

Darwin: Why are you excited to be making new images with film?

Samantha: Well, even though I’m a relatively recent convert to photography, (I started shooting seriously about five years ago) I always had some kind of film camera to play with when growing up.  I’ve always been attracted to the physicality of the film camera.  When I traveled in Europe, my camera was the little FE.  I loved the process of loading the film, hearing the cogs turn as you wind, and the satisfying metallic click when you press the shutter.  The heft to some film cameras is also wonderful.  Although the magic of exposing film still occurs out of sight, the film camera itself is all about a very mechanical and visual process.  Think about my 4×5, Tachihara Tim:  its parts are all clearly visible!  Digital cameras are like a black hole — everything happens along circuits out of sight in the guts of the camera.  How romantic is that?

Darwin: Leave it to a woman to base her decisions on romance!

Sam: Who cried at the end of Happy Feet? I agree with you in part.  Although it’s not very romantic when I’m swearing and scratching my head when I get my film back.  But it really is more about the mechanical process.  I like to paint and draw.  When I pick up a pencil, I can scratch a mark on clean, white paper.  I am directly involved in the creation of my art because of the physicality of the tool used.  For me, old film cameras are like that.  I am an intrinsic part of a mechanical process that leads to a creation.  It’s very satisfying.  Pressing a button on a digital camera is just not as involved nor as rewarding, somehow.

Darwin: What about the convenience and control of digital?

Samantha: Oh, that is not to be underestimated!  But I think of my photo business when I think of digital.  I don’t think first and foremost of a thoughtful, artistic process.  Using a film camera forces you to think more and slow down.  It also forces you to be organized and methodical, especially if you want to learn and improve.  When you are more present in the creation of art, I think you have a chance to make greater art.  Digital cameras make us lazy artists, sometimes.

Darwin: Tackling a 4×5 view camera seems like a daunting task, why bother?

Samantha: I have a Holga (named Beep) and the large format camera.  Can you get more extreme than that?  The Holga is fun and a bit hit or miss.  I’ve found out it has light leaks that I’m not sure I like that yet.  Holga is play-time.  The 4×5 is all about meditation.  From the moment I open it up, I’m in love with its gorgeous cherry wood and brass fittings.  It is a work of art in and of itself!  What a great way to start thinking about creating a photograph.  So, while I bought the 4×5 partly because of its inherent aesthetics, I also wanted to learn more about the fundamentals of photography with a very mechanical tool.  Tachahara Tim is like my FE’s grandpa.  With time and patience, I’ll ‘hear’ many stories.  Hopefully some of them will turn out!

Darwin: So, why Fridays?

Samantha: Well, Fabulous Film Wednesdays just doesn’t sound as good.  My Mom’s an English teacher, and she’d probably vote for Fridays over Wednesdays, too.

Darwin: Good point.  Well, it sounds like you’ll have a fun year ahead of you.

Samantha: I hope so!  Otherwise maybe we can make a few bucks selling 8 useless cameras.  By the way, Beep is red, not orange.

Darwin: Red?  That baby is definitely orange.

Samantha: You photoshopped it that way.  But it is definitely more red than orange.

Darwin: Uh-oh, our first argument!

Samantha: Can the owner call the colour?  Or maybe we should take a poll.  But it is hard to tell in the portrait above.

Darwin: We’ll have to use the image below.  Red or orange, everyone!

Sam and Darwin’s film cameras for Fabulous Film Fridays

Pretty Nature Photos and Art Galleries

Posted in Marketing, Rants with tags , , , , on March 5, 2009 by Darwin

I started shooting in 1986 and turned pro in 1991 but I have never had a print exhibition. Why not? Well, through most of my career I just took photos, turned them over to my stock agencies and collected cheques. Pretty simple  eh?

Frankly I am not a ‘fine art’ photographer, I make celebratory photos of nature and it seems like the gatekeepers of galleries want edgy, gritty images of strife and despair, they want social context and message. They want B+W and traditional processes, they want grain and soft-focus, in short they want emotion. Pretty, colourful  nature images are just so pedestrian, just so devoid of feeling. I guess the only emotions curators recognize are negative ones. For me, someone who pursues life like a lab chasing a stick, life is too short to look for wilted roses.

Curators accuse nature photographers of producing work that is formulaic, yet a quick  look through galleries that feature ‘fine art’ photography show the same old themes; the dead and dying, street people, Holga-esque landscapes, disaster coverage, essays on cigarette butts in an astray, the wilted flower still life, Siamese twins, circus freaks, toenail clippings, and abstract nudes.

Photographers I have talked with that shoot drama and beauty in nature have reported repeated rejection in fine art galleries. Curators tell them that “no one will be interested in this work”. Yet, these same photographers maintain on-line galleries on their websites and the general public eats up their work. I guess the general public do not count in the eyes of curators. The everyday disconnect of urban life leave many people longer for a connection with nature and pretty landscape and wildlife photos seems to be an offer a soothing antidote.

I am presenting my first print show this month, not in a fine-art gallery, but at the local public library (Nan Boothby Memorial Library) in Cochrane, Alberta. So far, the feedback to my ‘happy’ photos is very positive. Weird how positive photos bring positive emotions! What kind of photo would I want to grace the wall of my living room–a legless beggar in India, or a colourful meadow of alpine flowers set against a dramatic backdrop of mountain scenery? Hmmm… let me think about this for a moment?  Darwin