Holga Lens – working with light in a different way

Holga Lens – working with light in a different way

I’ve always been intrigued about the Holga camera because I like its effects – the shadowiness, softness, vignetting and slightly dreamlike quality.  I hadn’t ventured to buy one mainly because it was film and also because I got the impression it was techie, tricky to use and unpredictable – you didn’t really know what you were going to get until the film was developed. A lot of the excitement seemed to be in self-processing. I’d also not had too much success using a Lensbaby optic so I’d put them both in the same category of ‘like the effect but difficult to use’.

My interest in Holga didn’t really go away though and so I was interested to read an OCA discussion at the beginning of the year regarding lenses which had been made to fit DSLRs  http://www.weareoca.com/photography/plastic-fantastic/.  The lens didn’t seem expensive so I bought myself one –  60mm with f/8 aperture.

Here are my first three – taken at a time when I was quite caught up in flower photography:-


The Holga lens seems more friendly to me and I enjoy searching around with the camera until I can see part of the scene in clear view.  I used it when I was doing the exercises for Part 5 and went geocaching on the Common (see earlier posts) because I liked the slightly surreal/unreal atmosphere it produces. The light has to be right – best when the light is behind the camera and ISO 400 seems to work especially well.

Its surreal effect intrigued me and I decided to take some photographs of a doll I’d acquired from a charity shop. I had some interested comments when I posted on Flickr and encouragement to do more. I started to think of different scenarios and ideas built up in my head of props/characters I could use.


Looking for love


                       Babes in the Wood                                                                 She wanted them

It’s now developing into a series based around the doll which  takes a slightly bizarre look at some fairy tales.  I have more ideas and even took her onto the Common with me the other day, where she went down a rabbit hole.







The other interesting aspect of the Holga lens is the way it blurs the distinction between human and not.


I’m still working on it and would like to produce a book. The sequence and format needs to be carefully worked out. I think I’ll use a Blurb book as a try out but I would really like to do a handmade book.

March 31st 2012

01.01.11 Mini Project – Use of Macro lens 2

I wanted to improve on my previous attempt by using the cable release. I also experimented with the ISO.  This time I seemed to do everything more quickly and it felt easier using the tripod.  I used two different vases of flowers and the same grey card background I had used before (forgot to mention that previously).  The second vase contained roses, which were well past their best and waiting to be thrown away.  I had to move the tripod back to get the flowers properly in view.  I wanted to change the arrangement but petals showered down every time I tried to move the flowers around.  The dogs were very interested in this, paws up on the chair and I was worried that they would knock the tripod.  Read the rest of this entry »

31.12.10 Mini Project – Using Macro lens

I now have a Canon EF 100mm Macro USM, kindly donated by my husband. This morning I had a quick tutorial in how to use it; live view on the camera and how to use that to focus on specific parts of a composition. Once on my own, and with camera set up on tripod I decided to practise on a vase of flowers. This is one of the results:

f11 1/6 ISO 200 EF 100mm Macro USM

Some working on it in Photoshop CS3 to adjust curves/tones and contrast, following by tweaking in Nik Viveza and Sharpening.

Evaluation: Good for a first try. I had noticed that the camera dropped slightly, after adjusting the angle to focus specifically on the inner petals of the largest flower, even though I’d tightened it on the tripod. This might explain why the focussing wasn’t quite crisp enough, even with tweaking. It could have been caused by the added weight of the lens. Additionally, I had dinked the button manually rather than use a cable release. I had shied away from using a tripod up to now. Partly because it seemed to take me ages to set it all up and also because it meant I couldn’t ‘be spontaneous’. However, this time I enjoyed the whole process and found it quite relaxing.