Toy Camera Share Project – The First Three Photographers – By Holly Gilman

By Holly Gilman

About a year ago I posted a review of the Panorama Wide Pic. A toy camera that I was planning on sending around the UK for others to shoot and share results.I’ve been meaning to post an update with some of the results since Spring 2021! Better late than never eh? A big thank you to the participants who have sent through images and text to be used in this article.

Simon Eppey 1
Simon Eppey 1

Simon Eppey

“Scrolling Facebook I stumbled across an offer of a camerashare project and put my name down to take part, a few weeks later in the middle of the New Year Lockdown the camera arrived with a roll of Rollei 400.  I loaded up the roll and decided I’d use it to document the walks out with my 3 youngest kids once a week to various places around my home town.

I had been looking for a good reason to shoot film again as since getting a new Nikon mirrorless in July and I hadn’t shot a single roll since. So what better way than this, no settings just using the light available with the fixed aperture and shutter speed what could go wrong. Well 2 weeks later I received a polite reminder that the 2 weeks were nearly up and I was given the address to forward the camera on.

Simon Eppey 2
Simon Eppey 2

Panic, so I finished the roll as quickly as possible, mostly in the garden and set to developing the the roll. The roll went on the spool super easy and I decided to use my last drop of Rodinal from a small bottle I got 3 years ago. Mistake, it had died.  Panic more so I managed to get my camera shop do a click and collect and got 3 rolls of Ilford HP5+ checked my ilfosol developer was good and rushed a roll in 24 hours, this happened to be the kids first day back at school followed by my first day driving into work.

The camera was easy to use and fun to carry around. If I’d have had a second roll, I’d have thought a lot more about how much light there was and where it was in relation to me and my subject. The strap came off (sorry) on the first outing. But all in all a fun piece of plastic.  I’m sure the first roll would have had my finger creeping over the lens so remember to use the finger rest and not cover the lens. My favourite photo is the one with the kids next to the graffiti where I normally ask them what it says then chase them around shouting nomnomnom.”

Simon Eppey 3
Simon Eppey 3

You can see more of Simon’s work on Instagram.

Daryl Tebbut Collage
Daryl Tebbutt Collage

Daryl Tebbutt

“The camera arrived in a tube, complete with two rolls of film, a re-spooled HP5 and a generic roll of ‘supermarket’ brand colour. Hmmmm, which film to use? I usually shoot black and white, so I thought if I’m going in all experimental, I’ll go all the way with the colour film, what’s the worst that could happen? 

The camera’s arrival timed itself perfectly with a short holiday on the cards to the east coast, Old Hunstanton to be more precise, so I thought I’ll take it with me and attempt some alternative holiday shots. The first couple of shots I shot as you would expect, faced with large expanses of beaches and beach huts and a panoramic camera, you go landscape, obviously. But then I thought, hang on, let’s mix this up a bit, what happens if you shoot these landscapes in portrait? Especially with a wide-angle panoramic lens.

Daryl Tebbut 2
Daryl Tebbut 2

I suddenly felt very freed from the constraints of the wide landscape format, and started shooting everything with the camera rotated through 90º. As I was shooting I noticed I was lining the horizon up pretty much in the same place in the frame (there were also
a few shots where I played around with the horizon being higher or lower) and this gave me the idea of creating a line of horizons, so when you lined up the images they would create an implied landscape from a collection of portrait oriented images.

I finished the roll and processed it in Tetenal Colortec C41 chemicals, then scanned the resulting images. I was really pleased with how they turned out and looked pretty much as I hoped they would (shooting through a plastic lens). A note came with the camera advising to keep your fingers away from the lens, but I seemed to get away with it. I liked using the camera so much I went online and managed to bag myself one on ebay for a few quid. If you ever have a chance to play with one of these cameras, I highly recommend it.”

Daryl Tebbut 3
Daryl Tebbut 3
Steve Curzon 1
Steve Curzon 1

Steve Curzon

“When the package arrived, I thought I had bought another camera and I was just starting to worry about how I was going to explain it to my wife! With some relief, I unwrapped the toy “panoramic” camera, plus a postcard, and a roll of HP5.

It slowly dawned on me that one doesn’t have much control over the camera in terms of exposure. It has a fixed aperture and shutter speed. Oh! So that’s going to be interesting, I mused! I thought about the film. HP5 is fairly forgiving, I reckoned…however, XP2 has an even greater exposure latitude, so that’s what I loaded into the plastic fantastic. I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but I was determined to do my best and not let the side down. I duly set off for Media City at Salford Quays, Manchester. Home of the BBC and a few other television and creative organisations. The weather was quite conducive, cold, but clear and good clouds. That should suit the panoramic nature of the little camera.

Steve Curzon 2
Steve Curzon 2

I soon rattled off the whole film and was on my way home. I was going to develop it in C41 chemistry – but I would have to mix up a fresh set of solutions. So, as I had done a few times before, opted to develop it in b&w HC-110 developer. I was quite blown away with the results – way better than my expectation! I love the panoramic aspect ratio – it’s like a poor man’s Xpan! Ok, it’s a bit soft around the edges, and there’s some weird splodges on some of the shots, but all-in-all, I thought it was pretty damn good for a cheap toy camera!” 

You can find more of Steve’s work on Instagram and his website.

Steve Curzon 3
Steve Curzon 3

If you’d like to get involved in this travelling camera project then please let me know! At the moment I am limiting this to the UK but if there is enough interest perhaps a wider project can be arranged haha.

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About The Author

By Holly Gilman
I am exploring, experimenting and working out what sort of photographer I am. I am on a learning journey and you can follow that journey on instagram and on my learning log.
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Comments

Daniel Fjäll on Toy Camera Share Project – The First Three Photographers – By Holly Gilman

Comment posted: 16/12/2021

You can pop out the plastic crop module and effectively have a super wide angle camera.
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Holly Gilman replied:

Comment posted: 16/12/2021

Oh! well that's interesting!

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Philip Ahlquist on Toy Camera Share Project – The First Three Photographers – By Holly Gilman

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

This is a great project! Really interesting to see everyone’s different approaches to using the same camera. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep the project going and build up a unique set of photographs. It’s such a good example of the creativity and generosity in the analogue photography world.
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Holly Gilman replied:

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

Thanks Philip!

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Fred Nelson on Toy Camera Share Project – The First Three Photographers – By Holly Gilman

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

Cool!! Maybe come to California?
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Holly Gilman replied:

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

Perhaps if there is enough interest in the US I'll send it over there to do the rounds :)

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Mark on Toy Camera Share Project – The First Three Photographers – By Holly Gilman

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

Hope you can keep this going. Lots of interesting ideas (90 rotate) and subjects. Had an interesting medical year (is continuing) with little filming. Making plans to send off some loaded cameras like this or Vivitar PN2011, maybe couple cheap 110s to friends & relatives for something similar. As most/all will not be film camera people I’ll need to have them send back the lot for rewind & processing. Still think best way to do that. Expense not an issue. Want to make easy for them to do so they will do. I’ll be picking the film, thinking 200-400 color most interesting to them. Any ideas or suggestions happily accepted. This will be in US.
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Holly Gilman replied:

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

Have a good spreadsheet system so you know where the cameras are lol! Such a lovely idea though, to do it with people you know

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Michael Zwicky-Ross on Toy Camera Share Project – The First Three Photographers – By Holly Gilman

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

Hello Holly, thank you for the very interesting article. I'd love to get involved if your panoramic camera resumes its travels. Best wishes, Michael
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Holly Gilman replied:

Comment posted: 11/12/2021

I'll send you an email :)

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