It’s been rough. For over a year it has been hard to relax and let my guard down. So as soon as my husband and I had our appointments to get the Covid vaccine we started planning a trip so we could relax a little. Being out in nature shooting photos relaxes us and so that was going to be the focus of our trip. Of course, my first problem was to decide on which cameras and film would be accompanying me.

I knew I wanted to bring my Holga, and I knew I wanted to shoot in black and white. But what film? I considered several different ones, but wound up deciding on a film I had never shot before: Bergger Pancro 400. I had read that it has exceptionally wide latitude and I loved the vintage feel of the film I saw in photos online, so I ordered a few rolls. Not knowing what the lighting conditions would be I also brought along a red and orange filter so I could bump up the contrast and also get a bit more control over the exposure. Bright sun? Use the red filter. Darker conditions? No filter. In between? The orange filter.

Three weeks after our second vaccine doses we were in a lightly traveled area in the Appalachian Mountains along the Tennessee/Virginia border. This is a place where I knew we could enjoy some time out in nature taking photos, but not have to be around a lot of other people.

Having traveled this area before I knew what to expect. Lots of beautiful mountain views and even some wild ponies would be available to photograph. I just had to work out which scenes would be appropriate for the Holga. I wanted to use the camera’s tendency to produce soft focused, almost surreal, images to the best effect. I was also shooting 6×6 frames so I could only get 12 shots out of a roll, and I didn’t want to spend too much time changing film out in the field. This meant I had to be highly selective about when I pressed the shutter release.

I have to say I am happy with the results. Almost every shot turned out to be reasonably well exposed and the extra contrast was a nice bonus. I made a few mistakes, but overall everything worked out well. Even a couple of poorly exposed shots (check out the photo of the pony) turned out quite nice and made the most of the “Holga effect” being very moody and dream-like.

I have a new favorite film to shoot in my Holga, and I am excited to get out to some new locations!

~ George

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About the author

Avatar - George Oeser

George Oeser

A Nashville native, I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember. It is still just a hobby though I have been lucky enough to sell a few prints in photography shows and do a bit of ad work for companies where I worked. I shoot mainly film, 35mm,...


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  1. Been reading a while and wish that this community had a forum instead of using just small areas to comment. But as of 1 month ago, I purchased the Holga 120n and I’ve done some minor modifications to the camera. mainly added a cable release via a 3D printer. The main goal is to use this camera strictly for long exposures in conjunction with an experimental polarizing/UV/ND filter I’ve created. Anyone viewing my site would see that most or all of those images are from a variety of cameras but nothing yet from the Holga as with will change over the next few months.

    1. Been reading a while and wish that this community had a forum instead of using just small areas to comment.

      I have considered several times over the years but it’s where I wanted to take the site and will likely remain as such.

      Thanks for the comment. I look forwards to seeing your images and if you are ever interested in sharing your words and work with the community at large, I’d love to feature it in an article here.

      1. Appreciated. In order to write something for the community, I would need a general format in order to construct an article. However, I would need someone to edit my grammar and any typos. What I’m needing is a blog format where as I can add a day by day while experimenting with the products I use. 9 out of 10, these items are broken, damaged, dropped or simply something found in the trash like the experimental filter I’m using. ideally I would some sort of format to follow to write something in detail about the procedure I’ve went though in order to achieve my results. My goal is to experiment with the Holga and if successful, gradually move on to using the Dora Good 3D printed camera. I’m not giving up on the Canon M6, but the 120 film would allow me to use my artistic skills and telnet to create works of art. I’ll gladly write something for the community is allowed to do so.

  2. Very nice results you got here.
    I said twice about vaccination but nothing about the chemical you used for the developing process. :-)))
    I just used Bergger Pancro 400 and the results were horrible when i developed in Rodinal. So, i got the original Bergger Ber49 developer from my friends and it did the work perfectly.

    1. I actually had the film developed and scanned by a local lab so I am afraid I can’t tell you how it was developed.