Holga Panoramas From India

For my last trip to India back in October, I packed a new camera, a Holga 120Pan, i.e. the panoramic version of the Holga camera which shoots 6×12, 180° images. I didn’t have a chance to try out the camera beforehand, so I didn’t know what to expect, especially after having had mixed results with my first attempts using my other panoramic camera, the Belair 6-12 (read the blog entry here). However, after having finally developed and scanned the films, I must say that the camera exceeded my expectations. Granted, the light conditions were pretty much excellent in India, but the results are technically very good: no vignette, only a bit of darkening towards the left and right border of the exposure, and with the Holga’s trademark blurring toward the edges, which adds to the magic of the images. 

I shot one black and white Ilford ISO 400 film and for the rest a mix of Kodak and Fuji ISO 160 colour films. I shot the black and white film at my initial destination, Mumbai, while I used the colour films for the rest of the trip, chiefly in and around the city of Bhubaneswar, which is in Odisha, a state on the East coast of India. Additionally there are a few images from Chandannagar, which is close to Kolkata and which used to be a French colony. 

I finally uploaded a selection of the photos to the Holga section of the site, click here to view.

Also, I put together a selection of the best portrait pictures from the trip, taken with the various cameras I had taken along – the Holga, the SX-70 and the iPhone. This set can be found in the People section under the banner Wonder If I Know Him Now.

Enjoy….


Holga, Jaipur and Kolkata

A few days ago I finally got around to scanning in the remaining Holga photos which I shot in India on the recent trip. A selection of these is now up on the Holga page. [Click here to view]


I also created two new sets in the Travelogue section, one with shots from Jaipur and one with photos from Kolkata. The Kolkata section features shots taken in more unusual circumstances. For one, I was there for the last night of a religious festival, the Durga Pujas  So a number of the photos show the Durga altars that were set up for the festival, and which would be taken down the next day and sunk into the river. What made the night different was that at the same time the fringes of the cyclone Phailin, which struck the Bay of Bengal that day, raged through Kolkata. So while normal you’d have to queue for an hour to get into the makeshift temples to see the altars, now here was hardly a crowd (of course it also meant that you were soaking wet at the end of the night). 



Additionally, there are some photos taken in the two Jewish synagogues that exist in a Kolkatta. The city used to have a Jewish community of over 3,500, with most of the original Jewish settlers having come over from Iraq in the 18th century onwards. Today, that community has dwindled down to 26. Many thanks to Jael Silliman for showing us around the synagogues, the Beth El Synagogue, built in 1856, and the Magen David Synagogue built in 1884.














Rajasthan Revisited

In October I went on my 9th trip to India. The two-and-a-half-week journey took me back to familiar places – Mumbai and Udaipur – as well as a new place (Jaipur) and a city which I had last visited 26 years ago: Kolkata – or Calcutta, as it was still known then.

Jaipur was about sightseeing, but the rest of the trip was not – it was mostly about catching up with friends. As such, the journey turned out to be a study of contrasts: I went to villages in the mountains around Udaipair where at the best of time people subside on very little and where this year’s overlong rainy season destroyed the maize crops and thus the villagers’ income for the year. I visited a friend’s house whose family is living four people to a single room. In Kolkata I was shown around the (now empty) palace of the Maharaja of Burdwan. 

My stay in India coincided with a nine-day religious festival, Navratri, dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga. In Kolkata, I spent a night visiting the Durga Pujas, and in Udaipur I was ‘coerced’ to participate in the traditional Garba dances which take place in honour if Durga

I also met two of the 26 remaining members of Kolkata’s Jewish community, which once numbered more than 3000, and visited the two synagogues there (I also visited a number of Hindu and Jain temples).
As for the touristy bits, there were a few: the Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, the Monsoon Palace in the hills above Udaipur.

I’ve said this in previous blog entries, and I’m mentioning it here again: India for me has always been about the people. Which is why, this time around, most of the photos I brought back are portraits or street photographs, with few exceptions. I had with me again a Polaroid and a Holga camera. Unfortunately, just like last time, the Polaroid films were damaged by the airport x-ray machines (despite taking a film with lower ISO) and the prints have a noticeable red tint. I also took a fair number if photos with the iphone, mostly using the hipstamatic app and choosing a black & white ‘film’. 

I posted the following sets:

Brighton and London by Holga

It took me a while, but now they are finally up, the photos I took with my Holga in London and Brighton back in May. The reason why it took me so long, apart from some issues with my aging scanner, was that I also re-arranged the set-up of the Holga page, and decided to try out a new version of the software I’m using to create the web pages (in case you’re interested, I’m using Rapidweaver to create the web site, in combination with the Photographos and Photographos IV themes). The new version of Photographos offers some nice new features, such as a console to hide text and thumbnails and a good-looking mobile version of the pages, but it took me awhile to get the layout right. To cut a long story short, the new pages in the new layout are up since yesterday, and I hope you enjoy them.

A note on the films I used: I was trying out the new 120 films by Lomography. As you can see, the colours look great (better than Kodak, not quite as good as Fuji), but you also notice some light leaks on a few shots. Actually, on of the rolls unrolled in my hands as I unwrapped it – at least half the shots were waisted. Not so good… The black and white shots are from the trusted Ilford films – you can’t go wrong there, still my favourite b&w films.

Here are the links then:

India Revisited



If you’d ask me what my favourite country for visiting was, I’d say without hesitation, India. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the country eight times in the recent years, initially for work but recent trips being for leisure.

Now India is one of those places where visitors come away either loving it or hating it. It is a place of extremes. It is rich in history and in culture, reflected in the temples and palaces but also in the mores and beliefs that mark everyday life. On the other hand, especially in large cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, the squalor and the misery are omnipresent – as are ostentatious displays of wealth. And obviously India has recently been making mostly negative headlines around the world. But defining India by its social and economic problems is doing it as much injustice as defining it by its palaces and temples. India to me has always been about its people – the openness, the generosity and the ease with which Indian welcome strangers in their midst. From each and every trip there, I came back with great experiences and new friendships. 

My recent trip to India, from Christmas 2012 to mid-January 2013, included a few firsts. One was that this was my first trip to Northern India, specifically to the Sate of Rajasthan. It was also the first time that I was travelling alone – although that is a very relative term: you’re never really alone in India. Every day I found myself in good company, and I came back with experiences I would never have made hadn’t I been on the road by myself. Despite earlier plans to tour around, I ended up spending a good deal of time in the city of Udaipur, which turned out to be a good decision. By spending more time in one place, I ended up not just meeting people but also spending time with them, and certainly the highlight of this trip were various motorbike trips around the city and the surrounding mountains with friends I had made there. 

Udaipur is not that big, and it is a good deal more laid back than the cities I visited previously. It features several lakes, several palaces – the huge City Palace, the Lake Palace on an island (now a luxury hotel), the Monsoon Palace on a hilltop and a few minor ones as well. It is prominently featured in the 1983 James Bond movie, Octopussy.





Winter is the main tourist season in Rajasthan as the climate is really agreeable that time of year, but for all that, I was surprised not to see that many tourists around the city – I guess most spend their time being driven around in air conditioned cars and buses. The most visible tourists were the backpackers, but if you stayed away from the places mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook, it was easy to avoid them as well. When I visited a graveyard where the local Maharajas (kings) have been buried over the centuries, I found the place to be deserted. When I asked the rickshaw driver, he simply said, ‘Yes, empty. It’s not in Lonely Planet, na.’ 


I said earlier that for me, India is about its people. When I now think back on the trip, the most vivid memories are not the tourist highlights – splendid as they were – but the encounters I made, and the friendships that remain.


This was also the first India trip where I took a Polaroid camera with me. Unfortunately I had chosen to take a 600 camera with PX 680 film, which turned out to be a problem, as it reacted badly to the multiple x-raying at the airports – many of the colour prints ended up having a red discolouring. A fair number turned out alright though, and fortunately I also had some black and white films with me. 



In the photos which I uploaded, you will find a good number of people shots – Indians are not shy about being photographed, or for that matter, photographing others; and I made a deal with the people I photographed in that I shot one photo for them and one for me. Unfortunately ‘though, the best photo I possibly took on the tour didn’t stay with me for long: after having photographed an old priest in the Jain temple in Ranakpur, the gentleman grabbed the photo and ran off before I had a chance to shoot another one. I later saw him proudly showing the picture around. I guess he was happy with the result. 

Beside using the Polaroid camera, I also shot a number of films with a Holga camera. Unfortunately, here too, disaster struck as a malfunctioning camera causing blurred results. Only a handful of pics turned out ok. Because the Polaroid films were damaged, I shot more photos than I normally would have on the iPhone, mostly using the Hipstamatic app. I also put together a selection of those images. 

Here then are the links:

    Budapest Revisited

    I was in Budapest at the end of June, but I only now got around to scanning and uploading the various photos. The set I put together is a rather unequal mix of polaroids, black & white Holga and (mostly) black & white Hipstamatic pics. I had been to Budapest before and shot a good many photos then (which I always liked since it was winter and the city was snowed in), so I felt less of an urge to go out and document the city, hence the photos in this set tend to be a bit more incidental in nature. I still hope you enjoy them.

    Links:

    A Carnival of Cultures

    Every year in early summer, Berlin holds its “Carnival of Cultures”, a parade where the many ethnic groups residing in Berlin can showcase their cultural talents. So you have everything from African and South American to Japanese and Indian folk groups and dancers – including not a few German housewives showing off their talents at samba dancing 😉 . The results are mixed, not every group is a hot act, even if most of the participating dancers and musicians make up in enthusiasm for what they lack in talent… but overall the carnival is fun to watch… and it is fun to watch the watchers. 


    I took one of my Holgas to this year’s parade, and shot several films, both of the participants and of the onlookers. I shot both in color and in black & white, and used an inlay to get 16 exposures rather than the normal 12, which is why this time the photos are rectangular rather than square. 


    Click here to view and enjoy! 

    Holga in China

    I finally got around to reorganizing all the China photos from the eight trips or so which I took to that country over the past eight years. So [here] is a new gallery with the photos from Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan and Hong Kong, all shot with with the Holga, Lubitel and/or Diana+ cameras. Enjoy.

    Prague in (Almost) Black & White

    I spent a few days in Prague earlier this month. It’s a city that is charming enough but is a bit over-run by tourists – well, no wonder, it does have sights to spare. Here is an album of photos I shot there. Most of them are in black and white, which suited both the city and the weather. Like so many recent sets shot on recent trips, about half the photos were taken with an iPhone and the other half with a Holga.

    First Warm Day of Spring

    I uploaded photos from a couple of rolls I shot with a Holga on 17 March, the first day here in Berlin which was warm enough to actually feel like spring. The photos were all taken around Alexanderplatz, except for the Buddha pic, which is from the “Indian Fountain” in Kreuzberg. 
    [Click here]