A Daily(ish) Photography Blog Devoted to Long, Tall, Square, and 35mm film Pics.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tinker and Infant

(Snapped on 2/08/11 - using an iPhone and two Instagram filters)

I can't explain why I'm so hypnotized by cemeteries...but the grim truth is - I just am. I find this especially odd, considering - I've warned my kids ad infinitum, that if they bury me in the ground when I die - I will haunt them forever and eternity...

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

Daisy Helen
Aged 5 yrs. 10 mos. and 20 days

Discovering the tombstones of children and babies, is something that never fails to crush me. But I guess it stands to reason, that it would get to most people...

(Snapped in February, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

The side by side headstones of Tinker and Infant however, affected me differently than any others I've come across. As soon as I found them, I felt this eerie attachment...and an intense desire to return, and I have. I've probably visited Tinker and Infant more times than I've visited my own mother, who was buried (tragically) at age 35 - no more than 100 feet away from where the two little tikes lay to rest.

(Snapped on 2/04/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

Maybe it's a maternal instinct or something, that compels me to pause at the graves of wee ones who died, sometimes long before I was even born...

(Snapped on 2/16/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

...and although I literally know nothing about Tinker and Infant (and chances are - that I never will) I have the sneaking suspicion that for whatever reason - I will continue to pause by them...often.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is iPhone or Holga My REAL bff...

(Snapped on 2/15/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

Over the last few months (more days than not, it seems) the sky has been outta control gorgeous. I wonder though, if it's always like this, and if maybe I'm just more aware of it - now that I'm perpetually hunting for cool things to snap.

(Snapped on 10/03/10 - using a Sony Cybershot set on panorama mode)

My fascination with photographing the sky started - when I accidentally set my Sony Cybershot to panorama mode, and I just had to experiment with the setting. Before that, I thought it would be silly to use a cheap point and shoot camera for anything other than casual snapshots, and my self-portraits of course - because of the timer.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

After adding my Holga 120 to the lineup, I fell in love with its uncomplicated ability to capture the capricious nature of clouds. 

(Snapped on 2/13/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

But then - I got my iPhone...and I have to admit, that after a little doctoring up (thanks to Instagram effects) some of its pictures make me swoon... 

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

But this raises the question - can using a camera phone along with Instagram (or whatever other) effects - be considered "real" photography? If you ask me, Holga pics. are quintessentially "real". They're taken with film - so whatchu get, is whatchu see. There's no cropping or editing, no brightening the color, and no exaggerating shadows and light, after the fact. Holga pics. are comparatively humble - but endearing because of their raw simplicity. 

(Snapped on 2/15/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

Instagrams on the other hand, are immediate gratification, bells and whistles, life of the party...loads of fun! But they're kinda like the fast food of photography. They're convenient, they're easy, they're yummy...but are they good for you? You know...like, are they made from the healthiest ingredients?

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

Here's another analogy: where Instagram pics. are oftentimes boisterous and loud, pretending to be more than they are - Holgas are more like that kooky, quiet girl who's perfectly content to sit alone by the wall, watching all of the loud mouths make fools of themselves. She may not be screaming for all of the attention, but she's confident and honest, and pretty without make-up...and if you take the time to get to know her - you'll find that she's actually quite cool - because of her cute, yet quirky demeanor.   

(Snapped on 2/07/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

My problem is, that I get along with both iPhone and Holga (but lately I've been hangin' with iPhone more often) 

(Snapped on 2/07/11)

(Although, whenever my iPhone pics. aren't wearing Instagram effects - I'm a little embarrassed to be seen with 'em...moo)

I guess there's no harm in keeping company with my both Holga and my iPhone and Instagram. And I reckon time will tell which one has the most substance...which one is my REAL bff...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Double Exposure...Double Entendre

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 135)

Admittedly, I can be just a teensy bit particular, when deciding which of my photos make the cut or conversely - wind up on the "cutting room floor". It's not that I'm a perfectionist, per se - but I am sort of anal about certain criteria being met, if I'm to consider a photo to be a "keeper". That being said, I am also a spaz...and so when I read about double exposure in my handy Holga manual - I didn't really dig the idea of it frankly (I prefer that my pictures be tidy) but I did fully expect it to happen, since I regularly whiff on things like - removing the lens cap before I click the shutter. And because of that - I also knew that remembering to advance the film, after snapping each pic. with my Holga 120 - might not be second nature, for awhile. I did not, however - expect double exposure to be an issue when shooting with my 35mm Holga, since each subsequent shot cannot be snapped until the film is advanced to the next frame. And this explains why I had no idea what was going on when I first looked at the picture above. I was flipping through the prints from the first roll of film that I'd taken with my Holga 135...when I came to this one...and I......was......stumped. Like seriously. What in the world was up with that phantom hornets' nest floating at the top of the pic....

(snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I'm still not exactly sure how I managed to do it, while using my 135 - but after comparing the top photo to the one seen above (my first 120 film d.e.) - I deduced that double exposure must indeed be the reason for the hornets' nest pic.'s queer appearance. (See? My daddy was right...I am about as sharp as a bowling ball)

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a huge fan of double exposure (at least not just yet, anyway) but every once in awhile, it does keep an otherwise blah photograph, from finding its place in the trash bin. Ahhh...but the picture above is definitely not an example of that. In fact, to me the double exposure ruined what (I had hoped when I took 'em) would turn out to be two simpler, less clutterd images. I probably wouldn't actually have minded so much, if the hasp and the lock could've at least made it completely into the darkened section of the shot...but they didn't...so it bugged me...a lot.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

But now here's an example of how double exposure helped a bland photo tell a more interesting story...

(Snapped in February, 2011 - using a Diana F+)

The control freak in me is still a bit hesitant to tinker with double exposure on purpose. But the spaz in me makes sure that surprises like this - bring me that much closer to wanting to...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Got NOTHin'

(Snapped on 2/01/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter))

I don't know what the heck my deal is today...I just can't seem to make anything happen. Been feelin' kinda zombie-like, zoned-out, and dazed - like the little guy in the picture above - looks. Might be best if I call it a day...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Still High

I intended from the beginning, for Little Pretties to be a daily blog - partly because I take soooo many pictures, and even at the rate of writing about them every single day - I will still only barely scratch the surface. But I also hoped that the daunting goal of posting entries daily, might help me curb my tendency to be just a skosh verbose...

Since I was remiss, and did not post an entry yesterday, I decided to post two - today. So, this is sort of a continuum of my earlier post, the difference being that the images you see here - were all snapped on the same day (2/19/11) using my iPhone (and those wonderful Instagram effects), instead of my Holga.

And rather than muddy this thing up with a surfeit of text, I shall shut my trap now...since you've heard it all before... 

Aiming High

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

One of my biggest hang-up's in regards to my pics. - is the compulsion to fit every bit of certain things into frame when I'm setting up a shot, and deciding how I oughtta crop my pics. This applies most specifically to my digital panoramas and self-portraits. I feel like I've "failed" when any part of my body, and/or key objects don't make it all the way into the photo.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

On the flip side of that, is my chagrin whenever unwanted things appear in my pics., or make it difficult to get a clean shot. In the photo above - it was the tree limbs that interfered with getting the desired results. More commonly though, the culprit is power lines. They can look cool...sometimes...like off in the distance, along the skyline or tracing the horizon. But when they cut clear across my subject no matter where I place myself - I throw my hands up in disgust, and walk away.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I'll probably never completely overcome them - but strolling around with my film cameras and my iPhone - has helped me tweak my mindset over both of these pet peeves. 

(Snapped in February, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

Nowadays, I lift my head and look up, more than I used to...and because of that - I've taken a shine to photographing the tops of buildings - especially against a backdrop of cobalt blue sky. 

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

In the "old days" I would've never dared snap a picture - of only a portion of a building, or anything else, for that matter. If I couldn't make the whole thing fit? I'd just skip it. But power lines, and parked cars and tree limbs and what have you - coupled with the limited at-close-range scope of my toy cameras - have helped me to adapt...and I've learned that it's okay to abbreviate my subjects. 

Friday, February 18, 2011


(Snapped on 1/30/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

Lately I've gotten into the habit of taking walks. Sometimes I stroll up the road from my house, other times I drive to a particular place, park my car and walk aimlessly for hours...

(Snapped on 2/02/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

...and I always bring my arsenal of cameras along with me.

(Snapped on 2/04/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

What I love so much about doing this, is both - noticing things that I never would've otherwise, and finding value in things that I've likely seen a hundred times before.

(Snapped on 2/04/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

The simple act of walking, forces me to slow down, and pay closer attention...and the surprises I find make me smile.

(Snapped on 2/04/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

The most ordinary subjects suddenly seem so exquisite... 

(Snapped on 2/04/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

...and my cameras make it possible, to keep those things with me...even after I'm home from my walk.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Middle Ground

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I get fussed at, from time to time, for my tendency to center myself in the majority of my self-portraits. And I'll admit that I'm not real keen on the whole "rule of thirds" thing, but that's not to say that I don't understand or appreciate it...I guess it's more that it just doesn't come naturally to me.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

(Unless I can find a way to train myself out of it - I might be doomed to be a symmetry gal, forever...)

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

Thing is though, toy camera photography practically gives me carte blanche - to place my subjects dead smack in the middle of the frame. The images are mostly only tight - right in the center...

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

...and that - coupled with the square format of the prints - really jibes with how I usually set up my shots...

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

Yet another blessed reason, to dearly LOVE my favorite Holga...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Staying Alert

(Snapped on 2/15/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

Yesterday, I went snowboarding with my kids at a nearby ski resort. It was the last day of the Winter Tuesday ski/snowboard program that their school organizes every year, and I went feeling fairly confident that - because of the superb setting and weather, and since it would be my last chance to capture that stellar scenery until next year - certainly I'd come home with a pile of new pics. featuring the vast expanse of mountain range, powder blue sky, brush stroke clouds and snow-covered trails.

That did not turn out to be the case, sad to say...I took one (so-so) picture looking backwards down the mountain while riding up on the chair lift, and a few snapshots of the kids and some of their friends...and that was pretty much it. 

I was super bummed that I was coming home virtually empty-handed, and all alone - seeing as how I'd just dropped my kids off to be with their dad for the night. But after saying, "I love you guys. See ya' tomorrow" and then pulling my car out of the parking lot to head home - something around the corner caught my eye. I parked illegally (knowing I'd only need to be there for a minute or two) and hurried over to take some quick pics. of a child's ball which had rolled from god knows where, and come to rest on a drain in the alleyway.

What I liked about the photo, wasn't so much the image itself...but rather, the fact that I hadn't anticipated taking it. Made me wonder how many times I've missed things like this...and if (let's just say) I had reached my projected quota that day, would I have been in such a hurry to get home to review my new pics., that I possibly could've missed this shot, too?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jesus and the Hydrant

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I have driven past this Jesus statue practically every single day, for the last coupla years...but I only found him photogenic enough to bother pulling my car over to the side of the road, and jumping out real quick to make his portrait - after I saw him standing there, in the new-fallen snow...

I took this picture on a Saturday, but it seemed fitting to post it on a Sunday...

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I also drive past this little guy most days too, it turns out...but unlike Jesus up the road - I'd never noticed the humble hydrant, until he made his presence known against that blanket of white.

I liked how - snow on the ground and my Holga 'round my neck - helped me treasure things that I normally would not have... 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Wish I Was Here"

(Snapped in February, 2011 - using an iPhone)

Ok so, I used up all of my free time today - finishing a new post for The Big Ugly. Next up? The Saturday afternoon run-around. Translation? Spending the better part of the rest of the day, toting my kids and their friends here and there. Which means - no long-winded analysis of analog photography - just a camera phone snap (with an Instagram effect) to let you know that I did stop by...but I wish that I could've stayed longer. 

Hope everyone's having a good weekend! Check ya' laterz...

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Battle of the Holgas

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I don't know if muscle memory is the proper term for it, really...learned behavior might be a more accurate description of my tendency to err on the side of excess by taking about a million pictures of (essentially) the same subject - in order to ensure that I get the desired shot. Since stepping into the lo-fi photography arena, one of my greatest challenges has been in training myself to be stringent about dedicating only one frame to each subject. Which can be a bit tricky - because without the convenience of reviewing pics. as soon as they're snapped, in order to make adjustments to angle, composition, what have you - Holga photography is a bit of a crap shoot, a gamble if you will - and I havta say, I do love that element of surprise. Since there is no delete button when shooting with a film camera, there are also no second or third or millionth chances to manipulate the outcome of any one photo. What I find, is that whenever I fail to totally commit to a particular shot - the resulting photograph is anything but remarkable. And so I'm learning to be more deliberate when choosing and setting up my shots, and if I don't feel strongly about whatever it is that I'm viewing through the window - I hold off on clicking the shutter until I come across something that I deem more worthy.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 135)

Clearly I can contradict myself though, because for some odd reason - I took two...whole...pictures of this icy, winding creek. I honestly can't even tell you why I did it, but I wasn't entirely bummed that I had, because what I'd inadvertently done - was afforded myself the opportunity to put my two Holgas in the ring to duke it out.

If you ask me, Holga 120 earns the title as the undisputed champion. I am personally partial to the way that her pics. lean more towards the blue/gray/black end of the color spectrum, and the whole "square" thing to me - is nearly impossible to beat. Although I do actually prefer the composition of the 4 x 6 photo of the creek - there's something about the amber/brown/beige tones (of most of my Holga 135 color pics., actually) that verge on being displeasing to me.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 135)

This photo and the one below, were both taken at the same cemetery on the very same day - and once again - Holga 120 gets my nod. Overall, Holga 135 pics. feel more amateurish to me...sorta snapshotty...borderline pedestrian...and sometimes even totally pointless. That could be because they lack the patinated charm with which the 120's have the ability to make even the simplest of subjects seem special... 

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

One more thing, and then I gotsta git...It's somewhat surprising to me that my success rate when using the 135 is way below that of the Holga 120. For each roll of 35mm film - I have 26 - 28 chances to take pictures which I hope just might maybe make me happy. But out of those 26 or so attempts - there are rarely ever more than say 3 - 5 photos that I can stand even a tiny little bit. However, out of the 12 possible frames of 120 film, (unless I've done something silly like accidentally switched the camera to nighttime mode...which does happen, believe me) I am generally satisfied with about 75% of the pics. that I get back.

Right so, my official decision following the battle of the Holgas - is that the 120 handily beat the 135, by technical knockout - so there ya' have it. Stay tuned though, cuz you never know when we might stage a rematch...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Snow Globe Effect

(snapped in January, 2011- using a Holga 120)

Oh mah gosh oh mah gosh oh...mah...GOSH! Lemme tell ya' somethin' - the instant I lifted my Holga 120 out of the box, and gently pulled my new baby from its packaging - I could swear that I heard an angel choir singing. Right from the first second I laid eyes on the little darling - I loved each and every single thing about it...from its goofy, klunky appearance, to the simple machine that it appeared to be. I relished winding the wide roll of film onto the spool, and carrying the derned thing - not in my pocket - but around my neck...which curiously enough - made me feel eerily like a "real" photographer...*cough*  

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

I hurriedly skimmed over the manual, making sure that I at least knew the basics, before heading outdoors to test the sucker out. I started by taking a few pics. in my yard, and then retraced my steps to that reliable, old farm up the street...

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

Right away it was clear, that the approach to this type of photography was the antithesis of that which I'd grown accustomed, during the time that I'd spent snapping digital self-portraits. For starters (and I'd already gotten a taste of this with my Holga 135) I was looking at my subjects with one eye pressed against a tiny viewfinder, instead of setting up and reviewing innumerable shots - from a distance on a comparatively sizable screen. Additionally, I did not have the luxury of zooming in on a subject, and so I had to move myself in order to (try and) make things fit squarely in the frame. Because I didn't have the option of cropping after the fact - it was critical that I pay close attention to how things looked through the window, before pressing the shutter button...gone were the decadent days of snapping willy nilly.

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

The very idea that at the most - I had 12 frames on of each roll of 120 film - made me behave as if I'd had a governor placed on my trigger-happy finger. Lo-fi photography (it seemed) was an exercise in restraint, and those of you who know me - also know that restraint is definitely not my strongest suit. I was already well aware that film wasn't cheap, and was bracing myself for the damages that processing would incur...so it practically goes without saying, that each snap felt far more precious than any digital picture I'd ever taken. And so - when I did stupid things like - LEAVE THE LENS CAP ON, trust me...the expletives issued forth, were most likely heard at the far reaches of Clarke County...

(Snapped in January, 2011 - using a Holga 120)

...and you thought I was excited when I got my Holga 120 - Ha! Ya' shoulda seen me when the first set of 120 pics. arrived...LAWD! I coulda sworn that I heard the angel choir singing again...and trumpets blaring...and harps being strummed! I was even more tickled with the miniature, square pics., than I ever imagined I would be. Everything I'd hoped for was there...from the tight, detailed center...to the fisheye-like blurring...to those coveted burnt-out, black corners...'twas a serendipitous occasion, I tell you...I could feel a new obsession coming on...