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