2oo9 Holga 10-Step

The Holga is an inexpensive, medium format 120 film toy camera, made in China, appreciated for its low-fidelity aesthetic.

The Holga’s cheap construction and simple meniscus lens often yields pictures that display vignetting, blur, light leaks, and other distortions. The camera’s quality problems have become a virtue among some photographers, with Holga photos winning awards and competitions in art and news photography. (Source: Wikipedia.com)

To obtain a Holga 120 format camera, expose black and white film with the camera and process the film by hand. Film is to be exposed two rolls at a time with a maximum allowed number of exposures in any one photo excursion with the Holga limited to 24. All equipment and materials are to be obtained using online sources and are to be acquired by the least expensive avenues possible. Out of date film and chemistry as well as used equipment is not only acceptable but preferred. Once processed the negatives will be digitized using a flatbed scanner and then post-processed using Adobe Photoshop. Limits of post-processing are undefined. Upon completing the exposing, processing and post-processing of six rolls of black and white film the goal is to have three 11×14 images to have custom printed, matted and framed on photographic paper using photographic chemicals by an outside printing source of my choosing. Objectives are to be completed in a time frame of not less than three months and not more than six months and not to exceed a total cost of $200 for three custom printed, matted, framed art quality photographs. All 10 objectives are to be completed in order.

Plan of Action:
# 1 – Acquire a Holga 120 camera (preferably used) through eBay seeking out the best possible bargain to get the most accessories and/or film for the cost – the cheaper the better. Completed

#2 – If not acquired with the Holga camera use eBay to acquire 2-6 rolls of 120 film – preferably 400ASA and out of date. Completed

#3 – Using an online source acquire film developer, fixer and indicator stop bath. Completed

#4 – Go on a photo walk with the Holga camera and expose two rolls of film.

#5 – Gather the following items and perform a thorough cleaning to remove any contaminants:
– Developer, fixer and stop solution bottles
– Thermometer
– Graduated beakers
– 120 film reels (2)
– 120 film/solution tank (1)
– Gra-Lab timer
– Funnel

# 6 – Load, develop, fix, stop, wash and dry exposed rolls of film by hand.

# 7 – Scan 120 negatives into a digital format using maximum DPI possible.

# 8 – Post-process digitized images using Adobe Photoshop and upload to Flickr and this blog. Repeat steps 4-8 three times.

# 9 – Using feedback from this blog and Flickr select three images to have printed, matted and framed

#10 – Using the three selected images have them custom printed to a finished, borderless 11×14 print, matted, signed and framed.

Searched eBay and found five Holgas for under $30 including shipping. All five are the 120N model and four are new. The single used Holga comes with a bag and 7 rolls of film (3 color, 4 B&W). The four new Holgas are all “Buy It Now” items and the used Holga is an auction. In an attempt to insure acquiring a used Holga I’m going to wait the 5 days, 3 hours to see what happens with this auction. It’s currently listed at $9.95 plus $8.95 shipping or about the cost of a new 120N without the shipping. If the bid plus shipping exceeds $30 on the used Holga I’ll use the Buy It Now and get a new one as long as the price stays under my $30 budget for the camera. Now it’s just a waiting game over the next five days to see what happens. Should have a Holga on the way before week’s end one way or another – I hope!

In searching the ‘net for darkroom chemistry I’m surprised at the choices and range of products still available. I searched “darkroom supplies” using Google and right away found a site (www.freestylephoto.biz) that carries a very nice assortment of black and white film chemistry including a brand I’d never heard of but may work well in this experiment. A brand of photo chemicals named “Foma” from the Czech Republic which has liquid concentrates of developer ($3.49/2.75 liters mixed or $1.27/L), fixer ($3.99/3 liters mixed or $1.33/L) and ($3.99/5 liters mixed or $0.80/L) that would provide all the chemistry needed for this project. By comparison Kodak D-76 developer in a granulated form sells for $5.09/liter mixed.

I’ve never used or even heard of Foma chemistry. I’ll have to to search for some reviews on their products but the price fits the theme of this project very well!

The Freestyle Photo website also sells 120 film with Arista EDU Ultra 400 $2.39/roll, Ilford Delta Pro 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 at $3.79/roll. I may have found my film and chemistry source – starts to make a guy think about some E-6 processing while he’s thinking!

I checked my eBay account first thing this morning to see if anyone had bid on the used Holga I’m watching and I’m happy to see there are no bids on the camera as of yet. I have a good feeling about this one – I think I may get away with acquiring the camera for under $20-$25.

I also did a little more looking around on the Freestyle Photo site and found all kinds of fun things but many simply don’t apply to this project. One that is going to be a stickler as far as the project budget goes – minimum order is $25 plus shipping, which is a fair price for the weight. However, I added the needed chemistry and 6 rolls of 120 film to my cart to see what it would cost. It wasn’t bad at all coming in at just over $30 for chemistry and six rolls of 120 film. The auction on the used Holga has 4 days, 13 hours remaining until it ends.

Checked eBay again this morning and still no bids on the used Holga, bag and film… still $9.95 – $8.95 s/h. 3 days, 11 hours remaining on the auction. I’m starting to cross my fingers on this one that would leave my budget in great shape right out the gate!

Monday morning so that means I’m back at work and it took me a while to get around to checking on the Holga… no change… no bids and 2 days, 9 hours left on the auction.

Checked the used Holga on eBay again this morning and no change still – so if all goes well I’ll be buying the used Holga tomorrow evening and get going on this project!

After spending a week or so with no activity the auction for the used Holga suddenly came to life and with just over 6 hours left before the close of the auction the bidding has jumped to $20.50 (plus s&h) for the used Holga. That’s fast approaching my budget limit on the camera. To hedge my bets a little bit I found a new Holga with a “Buy It Now” price of $27.99 with free shipping. In the spirit of doing it cheap I made an offer of $23.85 and free shipping. The seller hasn’t responded yet so it’s back to a short waiting game on the Holga.

I heard back from the sellers of the Holga 120N and they made a counter offer of $26.99 with free shipping. Rather than haggle further, though I don’t mind a good haggle, I purchased the camera for a total of about twenty-seven bucks and coming in just under my $30 budgeted for the Holga. I’ll look again at the chemistry I mentioned a few days ago and decide how much of what to get. I’m going to stick with the $30 mark for budgeting chemistry as well which will be about right given they have a $25 minimum on orders. So, Holga is on the way and Step #1 is nearing completion.

Received an email informing me the Holga 120N has shipped and since I went cheap as per the parameters of this experiment it will take 3-10 days for the free shipping to get the camera to my front door step.

I just placed my order for film and chemistry with FreeStyle Photo and purchased developer, fixer and stop plus six rolls of 120mm 400ASA film for a total cost including shipping of $30.80 which was just a touch over budget but all things considered I had my budget very low on the chemistry but once added together the Holga, film and chemistry came to a total expenditure of $57.79 – still below the $60 allocated for the two combined. So that leaves a nice portion of the remaining budget for printing, matting and framing. Now it’s back to playing the waiting game for everything to arrive.

The Holga arrived in today’s mail! All intact and a cheap piece of junk just as I’d hoped for! I should be able to get out some in the coming weekend to shoot a few rolls of film… IF … my film and chemistry arrive in time. Which if it does that also means I’ll be developing film late this weekend or early next week. *big smile*

Chemistry and film arrived today in the mail. It was a bit of a shock at first when I didn’t notice any directions or information on the packaging in English. The chemistry originated in the Czech Republic so that should come as no surprise, however, after close inspection the instructions are in several different languages and one of them thankfully is in English. Everything arrived just in time for the upcoming weekend’s shooting.

A milestone – The first roll of Arista EDU Ultra DX 400 120 film (also from the Czech Republic) has been loaded and the Holga 120N piece of junk is ready for tomorrow’s action!

Wow! I’ve really dropped the ball on this one. I have everything I need and a number of times I’ve gone out to shoot and for some reason I never seem to remember to pack the Holga with me. It sits on my desk in its original box with a roll of film loaded and ready to shoot. Maybe writing this today will act as a reminder to take it with me next time I go shoot.

Completed Images
No images completed to date.

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