Shooting Cars with a Holga Panoramic Pinhole Camera

by | Feb 9, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Think about it: A Holga Panoramic Pinhole Camera. And for less than $60.

In my post for my photography how-to blog, The Three Phases of Photographer’s Creative Life, I talk about that all-important first phase where new shooters discover photography’s potential for fun and creativity. During this time, these newly minted shooters are fearless and enthusiastically explore their world. But the best part is that each and every image they make looks so much better than they could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, this blissful period doesn’t last long.

If you want to go back to those “thrilling days of yesteryear,” as the man on the radio once said, try shooting film and for maximum effect use a Holga Panoramic Pinhole Camera. And if shooting film seems to alien to you, it’s still easy to get processed and some places will even scan the images for you. For less than sixty bucks you can create eight 6×12 (my favorite) or twelve 6×9 panoramic images; inserts are provided for each format. The Holga Panoramic Pinhole Camera comes in classic Holga Black and its Pinhole aperture (f/135) allows for extreme depth-of-field and the tiny 0.3mm aperture produces shutter speeds that are correspondingly longer. Holga used to offer a Shutter Release Set accessory for controlling long exposures but as of this writing I couldn’t find one. But here’s what I do instead:

How I made this shot: I use the “hippopotamus” method of counting seconds: One hippopotamus, two hippopotamus… each hippo being equal to one second. No focus decisions are required. After taking a reading with a handheld meter, I set the camera on a tripod and push the odd, sideways shutter release button and start counting hippopotami. No batteries are required and the Holga Panoramic Pinhole Camera only weighs 7.7 ounces!

And now for another episode of Stupid Photographer’s Tricks:  A few years ago, I was happily shooting my first test roll with the Holga at a car show in Golden, Colorado and stopped for some lunch. While having lunch , I accidentally knocked the camera onto the floor. OK, I’m a klutz, I admit it. When it hit the floor, the camera’s back popped off! And yes it was loaded with film. As luck would have it landed with the back side down, so I carefully slapped the back on and went into the Men’s room and turned off the lights to more securely fasten the back.

What this unplanned test showed me was more than just the exposure and the angle of coverage I could expect but that I needed some gaffers tape to keep the back securely closed in the future. As it turned out I only lost one and one-half 6×12 frames from that roll of film. You can see one of the images—the last one—above.

PostScript: The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of shooting at cars and Coffee with the Holga Panoramic Pinhole Camera. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes…

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