Capture the night: a Lomography workshop

There is currently a photo exhibition at the Museum of London that I wanted to visit called London Nights.

London Nights Exhibition shows photos of the capital at night. There are over 200 works displayed by 60 photographers which range from the late 19th century to the present day (with some photos never seen before).

I have lots of fond memories of many nights out to London over the years so I knew I’d find this exhibition very interesting.

Whilst planning my visit, I noticed that Lomography were holding a workshop there on Friday 13th July called ‘Capture the night: a Lomography workshop’ which was tied in with the London Nights photo exhibition. I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate this workshop into my visit, since I’m recently knew to learning about the Lomography cameras so I booked two tickets for my husband and myself.

The cost of the workshop was £45 each (including access to the London Nights exhibition and use of a disposable lomography camera) and started at 6pm which lasted for 4 hours. The first hour was spent looking at the London Nights exhibition by ourselves (unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any photos inside the exhibition).

I did enjoy the exhibition and enjoyed reading about each photo. The photos taken at the early part of the 20th century were really interesting and some of them almost looked like paintings. I also enjoyed looking at some fashion negatives which had been taken in the 1920’s and wished I could have taken those home with me to frame on my wall.

After we had finished looking at the exhibition we were told to head to a conference room in the museum at 7pm to meet the Lomography workshop organisers.

Once we met them we were given a goody bag each which consisted of a Simple Use camera, a lomography Fish Eye 2 camera keyring, an information card about the lomo lab and 3 x greeting cards where I can add my own photos before giving them to somebody.

The Simple Use camera is a disposable camera (but we were told by the organisers we would be able to load it with further film if we wanted to once we had used up the current film). It is pre-loaded with 36 frames of 400 ISO colour film.

The camera has three different Colour Gel Flash filters (Yellow, Cyan and Magenta) which can be mixed and matched to tint the shots with different colours. I especially loved the Magenta and Cyan combo which produces a purple tint to the flash. There is a battery built into the camera which enables the flash to work.

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The camera also came with helpful instructions on the back:

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In the workshop we were given a brief overview of the Lomography company and how it all began. We were also shown how to use the Simple Use camera.

It’s been years since I’ve used a disposable camera…..I used to use them a lot during the late 90s on nights out with friends and also the odd wedding when they were put on the table (although photo booths have become quite popular at weddings recently).

We were then told to head out around London and take some photos and meet back at the conference room at 9pm.

We weren’t made to go around together as a group but to go off by ourselves. Most people in the group had come with either a friend or their partner so we all naturally went off with whoever we had come to the workshop with.

When we initially headed outside it was still quite light and the purpose of this workshop  was to take photos at night using the coloured flashes on the camera so we had to wait for it to get a bit darker. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to get dark so we wondered around near the museum and took some photos. It unfortunately began to rain by 8pm and we were beginning to get a bit hungry so decided to pop to a sushi restaurant to get a bite to eat.

We used up the remainder of our film and headed back to our meeting place at 9pm. Our organiser kindly unloaded the film for us and told us that as part of the workshop package, Lomography would process the film for us free of charge and email the shots to us in a week’s time. She also asked us if we had any further questions or wanted any further advice regarding the Lomography products as the workshop didn’t technically finish until 10pm. By this point my husband and I were quite exhausted (we had been at work since 7:30am and had rushed up to London in the afternoon) and we both knew we had the inevitable train journey back to Brighton so were keen to be gone before 10pm as my husband had to work Saturday morning.

After a week of waiting I hadn’t received the emailed photos that I was expecting so I phoned the Lomography store in London where I discovered the organiser had taken my email address down incorrectly (good job I checked!) so then I instantly got the photos emailed over to me and here are some of them:

 

I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t have high expectations of using this camera since it was a disposable one and like I previously said, I had used them a lot years ago so was fully aware of the quality of photos they produce.

I therefore did find the photo quality pretty average and not always great. The flash only works at close range so a lot of our photos taken of buildings were dark and underexposed.

I think these cameras are fine if you’re on a night out with friends and are taking close up shots and having fun with the flash. I wouldn’t recommend it for architectural shots!

If I was to go around London at night taking photos again, I would take my Pentax K1000 loaded with Cinestill 800 film and a flash as well.

Overall, I’m glad I got to see the photo exhibition and do the workshop as it was something a little different rather than just going to London for the night and sitting in a bar all evening.

Since I didn’t have high expectations from using this camera, I wasn’t disappointed with the results. My only disappointment was that I didn’t prepare in advance more and bring along my Pentax K1000 as I reckon I would have got some really nice shots. At least this gives me an excuse to visit London one evening again and take more photos so that’s good.

For anybody interested in attending the workshop, it is on again in October and here is a link:

Capture the night: a Lomography workshop

Also for anyone interested in purchasing the disposable camera, they can be purchased here:

Simple Use Film Camera

 

Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera

As a newbie to film photography this year (please see the first blog I wrote for more information on this), I’ve only recently discovered the Lomography company and the ‘toy camera’s’ they do so have been buying and trying them as you can pick some of them up quite cheaply (either never used or hardly used second hand).

I had seen photos on Flickr and Instagram that had sprocket holes on them which I think looked really cool. I knew that some of the sprocket hole effects were achieved by just scanning the whole negative but I was fascinated by how some of them had the whole picture over the sprocket hole.

Once I had discovered the Lomography company I found that they produced a camera called the Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera which has been specially developed to take pictures with the sprocket holes on them.

As with most of the Lomography camera’s they are very lightweight because they are made out of plastic.

It has a 30mm lens and produces a standard image size of 72 x 33mm (panoramic images including sprocket holes).  There is an optional frame insert that can be put into the camera that produce 72 x 24mm (”ordinary” panoramic images) but personally I think that defeats the whole object of this camera as I would want the sprocket holes to be shown.

The focusing on the camera is 0.6m to infinity which you focus on front of the lens by estimating how far you are standing away from the image you want to take since the viewfinder isn’t linked to the lens. There are 2 x shutter speeds (1/100, Bulb). There are 2 x aperture options (f/10.8, f/16). It takes 35mm film and is best suited to an ISO speed of 400. Another feature that I really love about the camera is that it has a white dot film stopping mechanism to enable you to take multiple exposures.

I initially was hoping to find a second hand one of these cameras as they retail at £69 for the black one and £79 if you wanted a different colour one. Thankfully I actually prefer the black colour.

Whilst looking for a second hand one, I found that not many of them seem to come up for sale like some of the other Lomography cameras and when I recently found a second hand used one for sale without its original box or instruction pamphlets, it ended up selling on eBay  in a bid only auction for over £50 (not including postage). I decided at that point that I’d sooner just pay the full retail price and buy a brand new one directly from the Lomography shop.

Thankfully at the time on deciding this I was actually going to London for the day for a Lomography workshop (blog to follow about this) so I was able to find some time to pop into the Lomography shop in Soho and buy one.

I was also lucky enough to buy the last few rolls the shop had of the LomoChrome Purple film as I wanted to see how this would look on the camera.

Once I took a closer look at the camera when I got it home, I discovered that it’s design was based on the vintage Dick Tracy Camera of the Seymore Products Co in Chicago circa 1947 combined with Lomography’s own design.

I loved how simple it was to load the 35mm film and the fact that it really does encourage multiple exposures as it has a simple operating system of 2 x winding knobs at each end of the camera at the top for moving the film forward and backwards. The white dot stopping mechanism window at the top of the camera enables you to see if you’ve wound on the film to the right spot so multiple exposures match on the same frame.

This camera also does the opposite of the half frame camera in the fact that if you have a 36 exposure 35mm film, you will only get 18 super-wide angle shots on this camera so this means in the long run you would use a lot more film.

On the bottom of the camera is a tripod strap screw which can be removed to enable you to place the camera on a tripod to take long exposed shots in bulb mode.

The shutter button is actually on the side of the lens rather than on the top of the camera and you have to be careful when the camera is in your bag etc not to accidentally knock the shutter button as you could take an unwanted photo!

There is a plastic lens cap included with this camera which you have to remember to move because the viewfinder is not linked to the lens so you could end up happily snapping away and find all your pictures come out black.

The aperture lever is underneath the lens and you can move it to the ‘sunny’ (f/16) or ‘cloudy’ (f/10.8) option.

My first impression of this camera is that it felt cheap and plastic and I wondered how the price could be justified for something that quite frankly didn’t feel like it had any quality to it. I also worried about it melting if I had it out on a hot sunny day!

However, from my research, I couldn’t find any quality vintage camera that could produce the same effect with the sprocket holes so I had to accept the price for what it was if I wanted to produce that type of photograph.

I’ll be completely honest, since I’ve been quite spoilt with my decent quality camera collection where I have the choice of interchangeable lenses and hard metal casing with a variety of apertures and shutter speeds to choose from, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the camera and in some ways was ‘dreading’ if I had completely wasted my money on this purchase and the photos would be rubbish as I wouldn’t be able to focus the picture how I wanted etc.

I know with lomography cameras that the photo’s aren’t about perfection as quite frankly you wouldn’t be using them if that’s the style of photo what you wanted.

I decided that for my first roll of film I shot, I would get it developed at the Lomography lab (which was around £17 for development and scanned copies only plus postage of the film recorded delivery to Lomography in London).

Here are some of the results:

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I also decided to experiment with the multiple exposure option on this camera because it was so easy to do and here are the results:

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One particular shot I wasn’t happy with was where the sprocket holes go directly across the top of my husband’s head which I didn’t like so I now know for future reference I will need to bear this in mind when taking photographs and change the angle of the shot slightly to take this into consideration:

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Overall, I was really happy with the results. I managed to produce images with this camera that I wanted to achieve and I love the colour the purple chrome film produces. I definitely love the artistic/experimental photos I can create by using this camera.

The main drawback is the cost of getting the photos developed every time which could end up being very expensive due to only having the 18 shots on the film and you would question how regularly you could afford to use it.

However, because I’m taking so many photos with different cameras right now, I’ve been able to justify purchasing my own film scanner (which I’m currently awaiting delivery of) so in the long run I will save money. Plus I get to have more control of the quality/colour/shade etc of the image that I’m scanning from the negative.

I’ve since taken some normal colour photos with this camera which I got developed at my local photo lab for £5 (and will be scanning them in myself once I receive my scanner).

In view of this, I will definitely be taking a lot more pictures using this camera and feel that the purchase for me and the use I will get out of the camera is worth every penny.

I’m going to be loading this camera with 400 ISO black and white film next as I’m really interested to see how the sprocket hole effect will look in monochrome.

UPDATE: I’ve since discovered that this camera has now sold out on the Lomography website (and they only had a couple in the shop when I bought mine) so I’m really happy I managed to get one when I did. Fingers crossed for anybody else out there looking to buy one that Lomography will hopefully get new stock of it soon.