Interview with Lomography

I recently did an interview with Lomography which has now been published in their online magazine about the Highgate Cemetery Workshop I attended in October.

Check out the interview and photos here.

Lubitel 166B TLR Camera

I recently became aware of the Lubitel range of cameras when I arranged for my husband, a couple of friends and myself to go on a photography workshop with Lomography in London.

We were to choose one of their range of cameras for the workshop which, involved an evening of wondering around Soho for a couple of hours taking night time shots with one of their loaned cameras.

We had to decide on which camera’s we would like to try beforehand so they could make sure it was available at the workshop. I therefore showed my husband the range of camera’s on the Lomography website and he decided that he liked the look of their Lubitel 166+ camera.

I asked him what he liked about it over the other cameras and he said he liked the fact it was a medium format camera using 120mm film (as he likes the square photos) and that you have to look down into the viewfinder rather than a standard camera that you put up to your eye. He also liked the fact it had two lenses rather than one and just the general box style of it.

I had never been particularly interested in this style of camera before. However, the more I researched it, the more fascinated I was by it.

When I booked the workshop, Lomography informed me that they may not have a spare Lubitel 166+ camera for my husband to try as they had already loaned one out and wasn’t sure if it would be back in the shop in time for the workshop.

I thought this would be a shame since he seemed so keen on trying it out so I thought about buying him one as a surprise so he would have his own to keep instead.

However, I wasn’t prepared to pay £289.00! I therefore began the hunt of finding a second hand cheaper one….

I quickly discovered that the actual Lomography 166+ Camera doesn’t seem to come up for sale second hand that often. There was one on eBay for £40 but it didn’t have it’s original box or any of the accessories that it would have originally come with. It also wasn’t in great condition with marks on the paintwork.

I knew from my research that this camera was based on the original Lomo Russian Lubitel camera and quickly found that various models of the original Lubitel camera are for sale in abundance second hand and at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

I quickly decided that I would like to buy him the Lubitel 166B model since it was a bit more simplified than the earlier models, plus it is easy to do multiple exposures if you wanted to because you have to wind the film on manually with this particular model.

Ideally I wanted to buy one that had the original box, instruction manual and accessories. A few complete ones I found on eBay in great condition unfortunately also came with a higher asking price of £60-£80 plus.

As luck would have it, I ended up purchasing one completely boxed in mint working condition (looked like it had hardly ever been used) with the original box, a film winding spool, soft case, lens cap, neck strap (still in packet!), english instruction manual and cable release from a guy in Littlehampton, which had recently been listed on Etsy for £34.50. What was even more lovely was that the date of manufacture is handwritten on the back of the instruction manual (February 1986):

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So I attended the Lomography Workshop and fortunately they were able to loan my husband the Lubitel 166+ camera. Since he isn’t that familiar with film camera’s, it quickly became clear that he had picked a rather complex camera to try out since it doesn’t have a built in light meter and the way of winding the film on in this camera and how to point and shoot it was extremely unusual to him.

On this particular evening in London, there was a constant heavy down pour of rain throughout the whole evening and we got completely drenched. It meant that it was very difficult for any of us to try and take decent photos outside and I found myself constantly apologising to my friends and husband for dragging them all they way from Brighton on the train (which had engineering works so was a long journey each way) to an event that none of us were really enjoying due to the bad weather.

What made things worse is that within 5-10 minutes of us leaving the Lomography shop to take our photos, it became clear that there seemed to be a fault with the Lubitel 166+ camera my husband was trying to use and it just didn’t seem to wind on properly and we weren’t sure if any of it was actually working at all. By this point we had lost the leader of the lomography workshop and was doing our own thing until it was time to return back to the shop and hand back our loan cameras and the films to be developed.

The following week, once our films had been developed by Lomography, we discovered that the Lubitel 166+ hadn’t produced any photos whatsoever and the roll came back blank so the camera hadn’t worked at all which was a shame.

This in turn, put my husband off completely using this style of camera. I then had to break the news to him that I had actually treated him to a version of one and as you can imagine, he wasn’t very excited by this.

So the camera arrived in the post and since I knew my husband wouldn’t be using it anytime soon I decided I would try it out for myself.

I managed to pick up a copy of the ‘Lubitel+ Love from the waist level’ book by Lomography cheaply on eBay (since Lomography have currently sold out of this book) and after reading that (which I really enjoyed) and watching various youtube videos and reading the actual Lubitel 166B instruction manual, I took the camera out to play and test that it actually worked.

As mentioned before, it doesn’t have a built in light meter and the photos I took was on a cloudy day. I was using Lomography Colour ISO 400 120mm film in the camera and rather than use a light meter, I went by my gut and my experience from using my Pentax K1000 camera and shot the film at aperture f/8 with a shutter speed of 1/125.

After my husband’s experience with the camera in London, I was quite nervous about getting the photos developed as I wasn’t sure I had done anything right on the camera and if there would be any photos. The main reason for this is because the shutter button releases so fast when pressed that it almost doesn’t feel like the camera has taken an actual photo.

Yesterday, I picked up the negatives from Colourstream in Brighton and thankfully there were photos…..11 in total! I knew I had missed a frame because I accidentally wound the camera on over one frame in error and couldn’t figure out how to wind it back.

Here are the photos:

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To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect which in my opinion is part of the fun of film photography.

However, I am quite impressed by the colours and detail in these photos! I really love the overall feel and style of photo that the camera produces. The last image is a double exposure as I wanted to see how that would look but I chose a tree and a bush to photograph which seem to merge so it may be difficult to tell that it’s actually a double exposure.

I really love this camera which I’m quite surprised at. I’ve much to learn still as some of the photos are wonky because I’m not used to shooting a camera ‘from the hip’ so to speak so I’m currently working out the best way of holding the camera to keep the image as straight as possible without having to use a tripod.

I feel this camera actually suits my style of photography because it is a slow camera. By that I mean that you have to take your time in taking a photograph as it’s not easy to point and shoot. You have to really work on getting the photo as you want it in the viewfinder and it shows as a reversed image which I’m actually fine with but I can imagine some people may find that quite tricky to work with if they want absolute precision of an image. As I work quite artistically with my photography, there is give in my style of photos so they don’t have to be 100% accurate to what I’m actually seeing.

A lot of my photos tend to be of still objects so I can patiently take my time perfecting the shot to how I want it to be. I would imagine in other fields of photography such as street photography that this camera would be an absolute nightmare to use because I would imagine the moment would have passed in the time it would have taken to line up the shot, get the exposure correct and distance etc.

I also need to work on the distance scale. From my first attempt, I couldn’t seem to see the focus in the viewfinder making any difference if I changed the lens from 1 metre to infinity. Apparently from what I’ve read the camera has a well know flaw for this and most people just tend to shoot with it on infinity.

You’ll see that some of my photos do seem out of focus so I’m hoping as I use the camera more, I’ll become more accurate with the focusing and if not, then perhaps I’ll just have to see that as being a fun quirk of the camera!

Now I know it can take photos, I’m going to be using it a lot to learn more about how it works. This camera is also quite light weight as I suppose it is cheap and cheerful in comparison to better made TLR’s but I actually like that because it is easy for me to walk around with it.

I look forward to blogging further about this camera as and when I take more photos with it.

I’m also hoping that when I show my husband the photos, it may encourage him to try it out again.

 

 

Highgate Cemetery Tour with the Diana F+ Camera

On Saturday 20th October I visited Highgate Cemetery to do a Lomography workshop using the Diana F+ camera.

You’ll see from one of my other blog posts that I already own a Diana F+ camera so am familiar with how it works, but I’ve always wanted to visit Highgate Cemetery so thought this would be a good opportunity to finally go.

The cost of the workshop was £20 which included a loan of a Diana F+ camera, a roll of black and white 120mm lomography film, entry to Highgate Cemetery’s East side plus development and scanning of the film that was used during the workshop.

I arrived at the cemetery’s box office (where the meeting point was) and quickly saw how popular this workshop was going to be since there were a few of us.

There were several employees from Lomography who also attended the workshop so they were able to split us into two groups.

Before we went into the cemetery, we were given a handout about occult photography in the 1800’s. We were told that with the Diana F+ we would be able to create some ghostly style images and were even offered some tissue paper if we wanted it to create an ectoplasm effect.

There was a whole bunch of Diana F+ cameras in different colours on display at the meeting point which were pre-loaded with black and white 120mm film. The nice thing was that we were allowed to pick a camera ourselves rather then just be handed one.

We were shown the features of the camera and were informed that we’d always be best off using the cloudy setting on the camera for UK weather even on a bright sunny day. The day of the Workshop was very bright and sunny which I was pleased about since we’d be outdoors. I’d also learnt something new as I personally would have used the Sunny setting if I hadn’t have been told this.

We were talked through how double exposures can be taken on the camera to try and create a ghostly effect. We were also shown how we could take pinhole photos if we removed the main lens and took a longer exposure in bulb mode.

Since the film only has 12 shots, we were also able to purchase more film if we needed it for an additional £5. I’d thankfully thought ahead and brought my own Diana F+ camera with me and some spare black and white Lomography film. However, I initially used the camera they loaned for the workshop since it already had the film pre-loaded.

We proceeded to walk round the East Side part of the cemetery and it certainly didn’t take very long to use up the 12 shots. I then used my own Diana F+ camera with the spare film I had brought with me.

I decided to take the used film home with me rather than let Lomography develop and scan them since I have my own flat bed scanner that I scan my photos on and I wouldn’t have to wait for them to post me the negatives after scanning the film etc.

Here are the results of the photos I took using the camera that Lomography loaned me during the workshop:

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I can see why Lomography used this particular camera for the workshop as the heavy vignetting produces a great dreamy effect which I think works really well with the graveyard shots and also the black and white film gives them an old fashion feel.

Here are the photos I took using my Diana F+ camera and the black and white 120mm Lomography film I own:

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I think most people will agree that the photos I took using my camera are a real disappointment and this is because the backing paper from the film has imprinted itself onto the negatives.

I can see this has happened on a couple of the shots too using the loan camera from lomography but it’s not been no where near as bad as my film.

I’ve since discovered this will most likely happen if the film is expired or not stored correctly.

I normally store my film in the fridge, however, I have to admit that I had originally intended to use this black and white film in my Diana F+ camera several months back for another project which I didn’t end up doing and I lazily left the film on the side and didn’t end up putting it back in the fridge. We’ve also had quite a warm summer in England and the room where the film was left does get very warm so I think this has definitely been a contributing factor.

Overall, I found the workshop great fun and the Lomography staff were really nice and extremely supportive with any queries we had throughout the workshop which ran from 1pm-5pm.

I thought the workshop was great value for money and such a good thing to do around Halloween time.

If they run one next year, I would highly recommend it to anyone who can get to London and is keen to try out the Diana F+ camera.