lenskit

Lomography Introduces an Experimental Lens Kit for Digital Cameras

Lomography lenses for 2/3 format digital camerasFor the first time, Lomography has introduced a line of lenses in 3 focal lengths for Micro 4/3 digital format.
In true Lomography fashion, these lenses include fixed aperture: f/8  with two shutter speeds: 1/100sec and bulb. If you choose to use your camera’s shutter, leave the lens open on bulb and fire away.

Double exposures are possible with the Lomography 4/3 lens kit

 

Since these lenses incorporate their own shutters, double exposures are a simple matter of leaving your camera’s shutter on bulb and using the Lomo lens’ built in shutter.

 

 

The lenses include gel filters, and the kit includes focal lengths of 24mm, 12mm, and 160 degree fish eye and lists on Lomography’s site for $89.99 US.

Now if I can just get my hands on a Micro 4/3 body…

 

Gary Reed_Diana2

Have You Been Sucked-in by The Toy Camera’s Irresistible Lure?

Fifty years ago, no one could have predicted that a novelty item, given away as consolation prizes at raffles and sold in the back of comic books, would blossom into a bona fide art movement. Although there are many makes and models, the rediscovery of Toy Camera photography can probably be traced to the now legendary Diana camera.

Gary Reed_Diana2

An early 60’s Diana — Photo by Greg Osborne

Introduced in the early sixties; the 120 format Diana was sold as a cut-rate, novelty item manufactured in Hong Kong and wholesaled across the US by the Power Sales Company of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

The Diana set the template for the low tech photography aesthetic. Characterized by its rudimentary spring-loaded shutter, manual film advance and most notably, a plastic lens, the camera performed about as well as its cheap, light-leaking plastic body suggested.

Not really a toy and certainly not a serious camera in any sense of the word, the Toy Camera was destined to become a temporary glitch in the already cluttered toy and novelty landscape. It was to photography what the Easy Bake Oven was to the world of household kitchen appliances—a TOY.

Something, however, derailed the Toy’s path to cultural obscurity—it took really cool pictures!

Though it’s always hard to pinpoint exactly how or when these things get started, I like to imagine that around the late seventies or early eighties, some anonymous soul remembered the visual thrills that this unassuming little box produced in their childhood photo excursions. In search of something without really knowing what, and perhaps weary of modern photography’s soul-deadening technology, he or she dusted off the old Diana and the Toy Camera Revival was born.

Professionals, amateurs and art lovers everywhere are fascinated by the equalizing nature of this little plastic box. No complicated accessories, no thousand dollar lenses, and no megapixels, help to strip bare the art and science of serious photography.

John Harris_Holga 3

An owner-modified Holga. More serious looking than the Diana – but not really.
— Camera courtesy of John Harris — Photo by Greg Osborne

It comes down to the basics: your skill with the plastic box and your God-given EYE.

Yet, with that said, what many find so endearing about Toy photography is the way it lends itself so readily to the Happy Accident. It’s a little like handling nitroglycerine—or herding cats—you never quite know what’s going to happen. Many seasoned photographers wax poetic over the liberation from technology, the sheer sense of the unknown that this primitive tool allows them.

Aside from strict photo journalism, few other branches of photography are as distinctly purist in approach to their art. Though Toy Camera effects can easily be mimicked with apps like Instagram, Pixlromatic and Hipstamatic; and professional-grade programs like Photoshop and Painter, loyal adherents eschew these tricks in favor of recording, warts and all, that true moment in time.

The textured, sometimes haunting imagery that can be achieved with the Toy Camera so completely captures the ephemeral nature of life, that some professionals feel this pictorial offshoot captures the essence of what serious photography is and should be about.

Stephanie_ToyCamera._Holga

The Holga goes Hollywood! Camera courtesy of Stephanie Beck — Photo by Greg Osborne

With the addition of manufacturers and distributers like Holga, LOMO and Lomographische AG to feed the obsession, Toy Camera photography has evolved into a viable, worldwide, creative form.

Highly regarded exhibits at the Soho Photo Gallery in Tribeca, New York, and serious books like The Diana Show: Pictures Through a Plastic Lens by David Featherstone and the now classic, IOWA by Nancy Rexroth, also helped to legitimize and further the movement.

So what does Toy Photography have to do with Colorado? You might have noticed Reed Art & Imaging’s building at the corner of 9th and Federal, plastered with a melange of images—a few of which are great examples of what the Toy Camera can do.

Amazing effects can be accomplished with the Toy —Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

Amazing effects can be accomplished with the Toy
— Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

This was part of Reed’s sponsorship of this year’s Month of Photography (MoP). We also partnered with Mark Sink who founded The BIG PICTURE Colorado project here in Denver and who is a driving force in the local photography and creative scene.

Mark’s work and past association with people like Andy Warhol are well documented. What people may not know is that he has been a Toy Camera photographer and advocate since he was a boy. It was through his love for this process that he recently offered his Toy Camera Workshop to dozens of local enthusiasts. Reed Art & Imaging was fortunate enough to help out with film processing services for this worthy event.

Did I say film? Yes—Film is not dead!

We’ve been processing film for over 37 years and will continue to do so for as long as you need us. Of course, we do way more than simply process film. We encourage anyone who has not been into Reed Art & Imaging to come by and see for themselves the vast array of products and services that we can offer to creatives and non-creatives of all stripes.

Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

We don’t just work here; we are working photographers, artists and enthusiasts. We live and breathe great images and great photography. Your creative vision is our priority. We are you.

Stop by and say hello. We’re here to answer questions, talk art and photography or anything else that you’re curious about—and that includes the light-leaking charm of the great Toy Camera!

wheat-paste-engraving

Sticking Your Art Where It Doesn’t Belong; The Big Picture Project

The Month of Photography is upon us! One of the events in Denver, Colorado for 2013 is The Big Picture street art project. Led by local photo impresario Mark Sink and co-hosted by Art-Plant and Artwork Network, The Big Picture plans to paper the outside walls of buildings around Denver with large format prints of images from local, national and international photographers. The first Big Picture in 2011, exchanged images not only with cities around the United States, but cities in South America, Switzerland, England, China, Mexico, Canada, France and Germany. The 2013 Big Picture will be sending and receiving photos from across the U.S.A. and around the world!

 

wheat-paste-engraving

Toulouse-Lautrec with on of his posters for the Moulin Rouge

“Street Art” is generally defined as: ‘art, often political or dealing with social themes, displayed on streets, sidewalks or walls of public spaces and often without permission of the property owner.’ There are quite a few types of media used in the creation of street art. The medium we normally associate with street art – paint, is actually fairly new on the scene. Bansky, building on the earlier paint-and-stencil work of John Fekner and Blek Le Rat has, over the past 15 years, become the most well known artist in that genre.

The medium of wheat-pasting paper on walls dates back to the nineteenth century and was used mostly for commercial purposes: advertising of products and events, especially circuses. Art and commerce began to merge in the 1890s when Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters for the Moulin Rouge, theaters and other events, papered the walls of buildings around Paris. Ernest Pignon-Ernest took wheat-pasting to a higher level and has been pasting amazing art projects on the walls of Naples,

obama-hope-style

Shepard Fairey’s 2008 “Hope” political campaign poster

Soweto, Brest, Ramallah and more since the 1960s. In the United States, Shepard Fairey gained notoriety as a sticker and wheat-paste artist with his “Obey Giant” series and achieved national recognition with the 2008 Obama “Hope” poster.

 

Computers and wheat paste have joined forces to bring photography to the streets. Photo files submitted to the Big Picture are being emailed around the world to sister cities in the project. The files are then printed and pasted locally. The Colossal Reed Art & Imaging Galactic Headquarters (CRAIGHQ) building at the corner of North Ninth Avenue and Federal Blvd., was the first Denver location to be pasted to kick off The Big Picture Project for 2013. Mark Sink, Peter Davies and others in the Big Picture pasting crew were joined by Gary Reed, Barb Pullin, Jody Akers, Bob Jewett, and Merhia Madsen (and her daughters Annabelle and Maggie) from Reed Art & Imaging to put the first batch of images up on the walls. The work at Reed isn’t complete! In addition to more Big Picture images to arrive, Reeds’ employees will be pasting the building with their own fine art images in the weeks to come. Also to be included will be several images from the winners of Reeds’ recent facebook contest held in honor of The Big Picture Project and the Month of Photography. Make sure you stop by to see what’s new!

 

The Big Picture website will be posting a map of the locations where images have been pasted locally and around the world. Look for it so you can take your own tour and see the amazing art prints posted on the walls about town! If you’d like to get in on the project, Big Picture is taking submissions through March 15. So hurry on over to the Big Picture website for all the details and get your photographs on the street!

 

Click to see the e-book of Big Picture Project images from 2011, and watch for the 2013 book due out later this year!

 

Additional Links:

The Big Picture Facebook page has plenty of pictures of the pasting at Reed Art & Imaging.

Fresh Art Photography will be taking part in the Big Picture project.

YouTube: Ernest PIGNON-ERNEST – Les peintures urbaines (4:42) A retrospective of Pignon-Ernests’ wheat paste installations in HD!

Professional Drum Scanning – What You Need to Know to Be the Smartest Person In The Room

Drum Scans

Color space is determined by the methodology used to create the colors within a file. The most popular of those are:
RGB
CMYK
LAB or a similar space such as YCC
RGB is gaining popularity in the graphics output community. RGB colors are “mixed” using values stated in levels instead of percentages. i.e. 0 to 255 rather than 0% to 100 %. This colorspace can be thought of as a “Transmissive” colorspace as RGB devices use light to image instead of pigments. As your levels increase towards 255, your values get lighter.
Black, medium grey and white in RGB are created from the following mi

BlackMedium GreyWhite
RGBRGBRGB
0 0 0127 127 127255 255 255

As you can see, the closer to white (more light) the higher the number.

RGB is a “Device Independent” colorspace, meaning that regardless of the device printed to, a given color in a file will always be made of the same color “mix.”

CMYK is a long standing “standard” but is not a device independent colorspace. This is due to the many variables in the CMYK world. GCR (Grey Component Removal) and UCR (Under Color Removal) can result in the same perceived color being reproduced with several different combinations of Cyan Magenta and Yellow, depending on the level of the Black. These mixes are determined by paper stock, press conditions, inks used, etc. One CMYK file built for a web press, can yield drastically different results when sent to a sheet-fed press, or an inkjet printer. Each of these devices prefers different levels of GCR, or UCR. Creating a CMYK file for one, does not mean it will perform as expected on the other. Because CMYK files are “calibrated” to a specific device, they are referred to as “Device Dependent”. CMYK values are measured in percentages from 0% to 100%. The higher the number, the more ink is laid on the paper during printing. Because each press and paper combination can yield different results, there is no exact formula for a rich black, middle grey, or any other color except for “paper white” which is:

White
C M Y K
0% 0% 0% 0%

There are several formulas that are used throughout the industry as approximate guidelines. These can be obtained from your printer.

Our Professional Drum Scanning is provided in a RGB colorspace file unless otherwise requested. All scanners actually see in RGB, but a CMYK scan is converted on the fly through either hardware or software algorithms. By providing you with an RGB scan, we are allowing you or your service provider to convert the file to CMYK based on their individual requirements, leading to a higher quality product

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gakken2-medium

Save $1,298.32 by Building Your Camera From a Kit

For this week I’ve decided to tell you about one of my new favorites, the 35mm Do-It-Yourself
camera or the Gakken Flex
. This is a 35mm TLR (twin lens reflex) that you build yourself. The first thing that drew me to this camera was that it is a TLR, I have always wanted one, but they can be pricey. The second thing was that I got to put it together.

Gakken is produced by Otonanokagku, and each volume is a different science lesson. The kits have ranged from Theremins to Computers, Cameras, Phonographs and more. Each comes with a beautifully produced magazine that tells the history of the subject that you will be working on. Volume 25 has a great history of film and photography. Because of the popularity of these cameras they are being distributed by Recesky without the magazine, and can be found at Four Corner Store (Check to make sure they have them in stock.) I enjoyed putting it together, but really struggled because the instructions are in Japanese, and as I don’t speak or read Japanese I only had pictures to go from. The focus ranges from approximately 1ft. to infinty, there is only 1 appeture setting (best to use in bright sun), and there is only 1 shutter speed, approximately 1/60.

The great thing about these little darlings is that they use 35mm film, so you can get the film processed almost anywhere. The downside is that the frame is slightly larger than a regular 35mm so it will get cropped unless you have a special scan. But don’t fret, I have customized one of our scanners so you can get the whole frame, you just send your film to Reed Art & Imaging for the processing, proofing and scanning.

Here are some sample images that I have taken with mine. Note that you still get the blurred, vignette edges.

Photograph of a chinese yo-yo taken with a Gakken FlexPictured titled "Jungle Flare" taken with a Gakken FlexPicture titled "Steering Wheel" taken with a Gakken Flex

Lens accessories for Holga toy cameraa

How to Add More Fun to Your Holga

Let’s talk about a fun accessory available for your Holga, the Macro and Close Up lens sets.Lens accessories for Holga toy cameraa These do have to be purchased separately, and they can be found at my two recommended shops, Four Corner Store and Light Leaks. These lenses just slide onto the front of the Holga lens, it is a tight fit so make sure to get them on all the way as it will effect the distance.

There are 5 lenses, 3 in the Close Up set and 2 in the Macro set. The Close Up set contains a 500mm, 250mm and 120mm. The Macro set contains a 60mm and 30mm. The tricky thing with these is getting the distance. For me it is easier to think of them in centimeters, mainly because I don’t have a measuring device that has millimeters on it. I have experimented with them a couple times and this last time was when I finally got something decent. With the Macro set it has been suggested that a flat object is best, I am still on the fence about that one. When using these lenses it is important to remember that the focusing distance is from the front of the lens. My first attempt, was measuring from the front of the camera. The Holga should be set to infinity when using the close up & macro lenses. Remember when using the Macro lenses because of the short distance the camera could block the light on the subject causing it to be too dark.

If you like Macro and Close Up photography this is definitely something you should add to your collection. Below are samples of what I got over the weekend. Don’t forget to leave questions or comments. Later!

500 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera250 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera60 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera30 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera

Empty pool in the spring with melted snow runoff

He Took a Risk and Landed the Shot

I have a fun story to share with you this week. I like to go out with a friend of mine and we both love take our Holgas. We always have fun and get some incredible shots. The thing I love most is how we will be at the same place, yet see and capture such diverse aspects. For one of our trips I wanted to journey back in my childhood, so we went to the elementary school I attended and a couple of the local parks I used to love going to. I went to photograph the old playground equipment that I used to play on everyday. I decided to invite my friend along to see how his shots might vary from my own, being that I had a emotional tie to the location and he didn’t.

Empty pool in the spring with melted snow runoffWe started the day at the elementary school and then headed over to the local park. The park is right next to a public swimming pool and a skate park. It was April so the pool was still closed for the winter, however, there was some water from melted snow. My friend decided he had to get a picture in the pool, so he jumped the fence to get the shot he wanted. While, I do not encourage or condone trespassing, a great photographer will do what is needed to get the shot. The park was busy with families out and about, it was one of the first nice days of the year, and I was concerned that he would get caught. Before he jumped the fence I told him I would play dumb and pretend I didn’t know him if he got caught, I also told him I wouldn’t pay bail . However, he managed to get in and out without any incident and ended up with a great shot (see left).

Below are a shot I took and a shot my friend took, as an example of how people photograph things differently. My shot is on left.

Geodesic playgroundRed Swing on playground

 

 

 
Have you taken any risks just to get the shot? Tell us your story. See you soon!

Picture named "Fire Hydrant" with normal film development

1 Easy Choice that Can Add Greater Creativity to Your Toy Camera Photos

Thanks for joining me again in our journey of toy cameras. I am going to answer the question: What are the different options once you have a exposed roll from your toy camera? Due to the fact that these toy cameras use either 120 film or a different aspect ratio on 35mm film you need to find a lab that can process Diana or Holga films, as your neighborhood 1 hour photo lab usually can’t. Which is why I am going to encourage you all to send your film to Reed Art & Imaging, because, well, this is a blog for Reed Art & Imaging. There are several toy camera enthusiasts working here and we take great pride in giving you the best from your toy cameras.

Picture named "Fire Hydrant" with normal film development

There are 3 types of film you can use in a toy camera, E-6 slide film, C-41 color negative film, or B&W negative film. If you are using either C-41 or E-6 these can also be artistically enhanced through a technique called: cross-processing. To cross-process you would process your C-41 negative film thru E-6 chemistry to get a slide or vice verse, E-6 slide film thru C-41 chemistry to get a negative. It is the chemistry that determines if the final film is a negative or a slide – not the film. This is a fun experiment I would encourage you to try as it causes an increase in contrast as well as unnatural colors. Check out the samples at the end of this article.

Whether cross processing or using normal film developing services, once the film gets processed there are a few options you have to choose from: There are proof prints, scans or contacts. With E-6 film it is already a positive, so you can’t contact them, however you can proof or scan them. I personally like to do small scans, usually 6mb, so that I can post them on facebook, my website and use them for editing. Several people choose to get proof prints, either 5×5 or 4×6 depending on the format of the mask you use. If you choose proof prints there is also an option to get a CD as well.

You may be asking yourself, “How do I know which type of film to use?”. This can be a difficult decision, but I will try to make it a little easier for you. I usually do not recommend using E-6 film, unless you are planning to cross-process. E-6 film is very sensitive and if your exposures are not accurate the images will be too light or dark, because of the limited control in your toy camera it is difficult to get the perfect exposure. C-41 color negative film or B&W negative film have more range in their exposures. WithCross processed film either you can be over- or under-exposed by almost a stop and still get usable images. With most toy cameras it is best to use a 400 ISO speed film. However, I would recommend experimenting for yourself. Just go out and have fun!

Next week I’m going to lighten it up a bit and let you know about some of the adventures in shooting I have had. Leave any comments or questions for me below. See you soon!

Above images taken with Fuji E-6 film and cross processed in C-41 chemistry.

Photograph "Swinging Around"" shot with a Holga camera

Finding Your Toy Camera

Last time we covered what a toy camera is and I know that you are dying to get your hands on one. Therefore, in this blog post I am going to let you know where to find these amazing little things. There are many places to find these little gems. However, my favorite places are Four Corner Store, Light Leaks and Lomography. These stores have a wide variety of toy cameras and accessories. I prefer these stores because they cater strictly to the toy camera enthusiast.
These stores stock most of the Holga models, as well as almost every accessory available for the Holga. Four Corner Store also offer Holga bundles, which usually includes the camera, a few accessories, and some film. Every time I order from them I receive my order much sooner than expected, and if you “like” them on facebook they put up discount codes pretty regularly. They also offer a wide selection of other toy cameras. You can also get some of the toy cameras from B&H Photo Video or Freestyle Photographic Supplies. If you are itching for an original Diana then Ebay is your best option. However, the original Diana is a very hot item and they can be expensive, usually ranging from $50-$100. I was planning to get an original Diana until I saw how much they were going for, so I opted for the new Diana F+. Amazon is also a very good resource for toy cameras and supplies.

Ok, so you know what a toy camera is and where to find one. However, I know some of you are wondering what some of these images look like, so below are some sample shots taken with a Holga.

Photograph "Flowers in Gravel" shot with a Holga cameraPhotograph "Swinging Around"" shot with a Holga camera

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph "Waterfall" shot with a Holga cameraDon’t forget to come back next week, when we will look at the different options once you have a exposed roll of film. Thanks for visiting and see you next week!

Until then, remember to leave me your comments!

holga 120

Toy Cameras: Holga and Diana

There are many different toy cameras out there, the most common ones being the Holga, theholga 120 Diana, and the Lomo LC-A.  So why are these cameras referred to as toys?  Well, cameras of this class usually include bodies and inner workings made of plastic, often the lenses are plastic too, giving images from these cameras their unique ethereal charm.  The lenses are fixed focal length, with limited aperture settings and shutter speeds.  The plastic construction of the camera is nowhere near as mechanically reliable as the expensive commercial cameras from makers such as Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and others.  With the toy cameras, there is a coveted tendency for light leaks and the el-cheapo plastic lenses are obviously not as crisp as expensive glass. These characteristics vary in quality and quantity in each camera, even within units of the same model.
I use mostly Holgas, and enjoy all 4 that I own, each for their individual traits; the light leaks are in different areas and the molded plastic lenses create different vignettes, blurs and lens-flairs.  This is why I find toy cameras to be so much fun; you just never know what you’re going to get.

Let’s quickly discuss some of the differences between the Holga and the Diana.
The Holga has several models to choose from: they have built-in flash, hot shoe adapters or no flash models, modified versions that use 35mm film or standard as 120 film, there are an abundance of accessories you can purchase for your Holga, or a number of modifications you can make to your Holga.  I will get into more detail with all of this in future posts.  The Holga has 2 aperture settings, labled as cloudy or sunny, which are so poor, they usually make little if any difference in exposure; a fixed lens; 4 focusing distances, labled as: individual (3ft), small group (6ft), large group (18ft) or mountains (30ft – infinity); 2 shutter settings, approximately 1/60 sec or bulb; it also comes with 2 film inserts, installed from the back, called masks, that alter the final image size on the film; a 4.5cm x 6cm and a 6cm x 6cm, although I prefer to shoot without the masks as they can decrease the light leaks.

The Diana has 2 versions, the original version (produced from the early 60’s thru the late 70’s) and a Diana cameranew version the Diana F+ (A re-production that entered the market in 2004).  The versions are basically the same except the newer Diana F+ has a nice pinhole function.  The original Diana shot 4cm x 4cm frames on a roll of 120 film, these cameras can still be found online or at flea markets, thrift stores or garage/estate sales, but because of their popularity, they command a premium price if the seller is aware of what they have.  Like the Holga, the new Diana F+ comes with film mask inserts, a 6cm x 6cm, a 4.5cm x 6cm, and an additional third mask, a 4cm x 4cm.  The Diana has 3 aperture settings, bright sunny, partly cloudy and cloudy, the Diana F+ has all of these plus pinhole; the Diana’s lens is a fixed lens, the Diana F+ has a removeable lens, so you can purchase different lenses and use them interchangeably; it is also possible to purchase a 35mm adapter back for the Diana F+.

I am so excited to share my love of toy cameras with you all.  Please come back and see what’s new.  I will be posting toy camera tips, tricks, holga and diana camera mods.  If there is anything in particular you want me to address add a comment to let me know.  See you soon!