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!
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