I've never written a guest blog before, and although I have read many, I can't seem to calm my nerves as to how to properly do this!
So I guess I'll start by saying "Thanks!" to Catherine and Micah--isn't their blog great?! I feel like Catherine is a great resource for a lot of things that I should put more effort into... and Micah's starting a music school?!?! Sometimes I imagine that in a few years when I get my act together, I'll be as resourceful/responsible as them.
My initial thought was to do a round up of thrift store shopping ideas, how to make something amazing out of something ugly, why it's "worth it" to buy used, etc. etc., but there were two problems with these ideas: 1.) Catherine is a source of inspiration as far as these types of things go, so I feel a little guilty tossing in my ideas (I don't have her patience with projects..) 2.) Everything... I mean, everything in my place was given to me or bought second hand (with the exception of my beloved couch) and I just couldn't decide which projects/finds would be best! So I've decided to share just a little about my other obsession: lomography.
"But what is lomogra--" (...you'll find out soon!!)
Photography has always been fun for me--I've never aimed to have the best pictures, or start my own business--as great as I think that would be, it's also been really great to have fun with a hobby that I don't have to hold up to any sort of standard.
I started out with film (was there another option?) cameras. I've always loved to take pictures.. or I guess, I've always loved being able to have hundreds of people/memories/moments frozen in time at my disposal (but not in the creepy way that sounded). It wasn't until late in my college career that I bought my first digital SLR camera and actually became interested in photography.
I think shooting manually with a digital camera was the best possible way to learn about manual photography. You can adjust the aperture/shutter speed/zoom, take a picture, and get immediate feedback. Then adjust some more, and get more immediate feedback. You're able to see the results as you're making small changes, which is (in my opinion) the best way to learn how to achieve exactly what you want.
..And while I said I'm glad it's just a hobby, you can only take so many pictures that you're not going to do anything with before you start itching to try something new. But first, here are a few of my favorite digital shots:
Recently, I started shooting with film again-- and now that I know what I'm doing with a manual camera, I really enjoy the freedom of film! I've been really into Lomography lately, and I almost guarantee that if you like to take pictures, you'll love the world 'o lomo too.
First, Lomography is a type of analogue film photography. You may have heard of the Diana cameras (sold at Urban Outfitters) or Holga cameras. These are lomography cameras and produce very vibrant colors with deep saturation/vignetting/light leaks--things that make each picture nearly impossible to replicate. It's a very experimental, creative, imperfect type of photography that has people all over the world excited about film again-- and it's cheap! You can buy a Holga for about $50, and if you buy the model that takes 35mm film (as opposed to 120mm film) then film and developing is completely reasonable, too! I've been shooting with a Holga for about 3 months now.
There are a few things you should know before I share some of my pictures.
1. The shutter on my camera does not flip shut milliseconds after I open it--It opens when I press the shutter button down, and does not close until I let the button back up. This gives you a lot of exposure options, but it also means that if you're not taking pictures in sunny weather, you have to be very still in order to keep things in focus while you're holding the shutter open long enough to let light in.
2. There is no zoom or flash. A camera flash basically blasts enough light to expose the film very quickly, essentially freezing the subject (and making us all look unrealistically pale). But without a flash the shutter needs to be held open long enough to expose the film properly (a millisecond in bright sun, 30 seconds for a city street, several minutes on a dark night). All of the pictures taken below were taken without a flash.
3. The film doesn't advance itself...duh, right? Trust me, I'm not being condescending. When I first got my Holga I remember thinking "Oh! Gotta advance the film, gotta advance the film!" like I was still programmed after all of these years to keep that in the front of my mind. Did you know that if you don't advance the film, you can take two pictures in one? Or if you advance it only half way you can take two different pictures side by side? I had thrown this logic to the back of my brain and completely forgotten that I could essentially break the rules and come up with something awesome! There are a few double exposure shots below...
4. There are 3 aperture settings: "up close", "group picture", or "mountain range". If you want the primary focus close up, use the "up close" setting. If you want the primary focus further away, choose the "mountain range" setting. Easy peasy!
All of these things make these cameras insanely simple--but at the same time, you have to have some control over every aspect of the shot. You can't just press the button and let the super fast camera spit out a beautiful picture for you. Therefore, you've gotta keep working... keep adjusting, develop your film differently, use expired film, film that doesn't fit (and see the sprockets like this picture), break all of the rules and see what happens!
It was a rough start, but I'll take you through a few of my photos:
|I was a little discouraged at first! My whole first role was really fuzzy--it doesn't take long to learn how helpful a flash or tripod can be! But aren't the colors great?|
|I love the color and movement in this one.|
|This is a long exposure picture--it was taken at night, without a flash, so the shutter was open for about a minute. If you look closely at the viaduct across the background you can see the streaked headlights.|
|This is another double exposure--The first picture I took was of the big black donut sculpture, then, when I took the second photo everything else was over-exposed and what had been the sculpture was just right.|
|A double exposure of Josh, and a lampshade. I really didn't think this would come out as anything but a lampshade, but I'm glad it did!|
|My friend Diane.|
If you have kids, I think this would be a great opportunity to introduce them to photography. They can learn about different types of film and processing, and there's no need to hand over the family's expensive digital camera. Can you imagine their faces when they finally get to pick up their film and see their pictures? And who knows what kind of perspective they'll capture!
Finally, if you're still reading, I hope I haven't bored you to death. I really wanted the opportunity to share a bit about Lomography with you, and I'm hoping it's not all old hat!
If you're interested, and want to learn more about lomography cameras, techniques, or the community of lomographers you can check out more here:
If you're in the Seattle area, there is a group of us that get together once a month to share recent photographs, cameras, ideas, etc. It's a ton of fun--Catherine can send you my email address if you'd like more information.