Holga 120 GFN
5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Holga 120 GFN and Ilford Delta 3200 – By Bill Thoo

September 18, 2019

The amazing detail and quality of a Holga photograph brought me back to film photography. A cousin introduced me to the Lomography movement in 2010 and I shot a dozen rolls with a Holga over that year, but the analogue flame didn’t take, and the prints and negatives languished in a box. It wasn’t till about 2017, when for reasons I can’t explain beyond the zeitgeist, I started scanning the Holga negatives that the beauty of those images struck me. Of course, these were lofi, but yet there was detail and tonality that surprised me. If a toy camera could create such an image, what could I do with a “real” camera? These smouldering embers have since ignited a forceful return to film photography.

Night and low light photography have been of a particular interest to me. The Holga has a tripod socket and a bulb mode, and so it was not precluded from joining my roster of night shift cameras, but there are challenges in shooting a Holga at night. My model has one aperture that the interwebs variably rate at f/8 or f/13. My camera does not have the capacity for a remote release. And not specifically relevant to night photography, the back of the camera has a general tendency to pop off at odd moments, and the viewfinder is offset and doesn’t see what the lens sees. So, challenge accepted.

I had recently seen Simon King’s street photography on 35mmc with Ilford Delta 3200 using a fixed aperture/shutter speed. I decided his deliberate over exposure was partly responsible for the beautiful results, despite stand developing not generally being recommended for high speed films. I thought I could emulate this with the Holga. My film of choice was a Delta 3200 35mm roll, as I still get a kick out of seeing the sprockets on an exposed image. The building under construction is a day shot hand held for reference. The Holga is tripod mounted for the tree illuminated by the floodlights of a sports field at night. All were captured in Sydney. I metered with a phone app, adding time for reciprocity when required. I semi-stand developed in Fomadon R09 for 2 hours at 15c. I am pleased with the results. What do you think?

Instagram @billthoo @analognights
Bill Thoo

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  • Reply
    September 18, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Wow, mate. The two landscape shots of the trees really pop, especially the one with the Aussie rules pitch in the background! You have way more patience than I ever would, my friend. More power to you.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      September 18, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you.

  • Reply
    John Furlong
    September 18, 2019 at 11:58 am

    The trees (especially the first image) are BEAUTIFUL !!
    The lighting couldn’t have turned out better if you’d had full control over it.
    Why not give it a try with 120 film :0)

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      September 18, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      I quite like 135 panos in medium format cameras. It’s quite childish, but I do like seeing those sprockets. I have been shooting 120 in the Holga since.

  • Reply
    Lluís Bussé
    September 18, 2019 at 1:23 pm


    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      September 18, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you

  • Reply
    David Hill
    September 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    These are stunning. Very very nice. i think we’re seeing some edge effects from the stand process, which contributes to how, say, tree limbs pop from the background, Very cool. I’m impressed.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      September 18, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      Thank you. I agree about the stand developing effects. The night lighting and Holga rendering is so unusual already that the stand development effects are complimentary, which might not have been the case in a “straight” image.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2020 at 3:21 am

    Wow they are fantastic. Much better than I have achieved with my Holga. I have only used HP-5 so far, but I am going to do this experiment with Delta 3200. You are definitely on to something.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      July 7, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Mark

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