Despite those helpful—albeit kooky—instruction manuals and beautiful booklets, new Lomography cameras take some getting used to. But go ahead and offer that first roll to the Lomography gods. What you get in return is well worth the sacrifice.
There it is. That gorgeously designed box. Maybe your package is wrapped in tri-coloured, transparent plastic, or maybe it’s a solid cardboard container with a cartoon ape on every surface, and those 1940s propaganda rays shooting out from behind it. Now, take your new Lomography camera out of the box. No, no! Go ahead. That’s how this works.
Here’s the kicker: this is a trial run. Do not exercise caution. Surrender that first film. Don’t expect much, but when you get those wicked photos developed, you’re bound to have at least a couple of surprises in the stash. More importantly, you’ll learn a lot about your new pet Lomography.
Multiply the above scenario by 6 and you’ve got me and my first moments with the Supersampler, followed by the ActionSampler, Holga, Colorsplash, Oktomat, and most recently, my brand new Diana. And yes, in that order.
It’s been almost two years since I last got a Lomography camera, so I had to remind myself of the rules of immersion. The Diana, being a bit more labour-intensive than the Holga, can produce astonishing photography. But likely not on your first try. Regardless, I had to go out there and give it a shot.
When I brought my Diana F+ home, I read the instructions carefully. I studied every photo in the accompanying booklet and tried to figure out the technique for each. Then, almost two months went by. In that time, I didn’t use the Diana F+ at all. So when my friend Mike came by asking me to check out the Hare Krishna festival in the park, I knew it was time for the first film to roll.
I was a bit late getting ready, and when Mike arrived, I was rereading the Diana F+ instructions. He was in a rush, so he took the manual, read the details out loud, and we jetted. I wanted this first experiment to be over as quickly as possible so I could load a second film and take some real pictures. When I got the photos developed, I wasn’t surprised that only 3 were relatively okay. I’d made a couple of mistakes: I inserted the 16-shot frame mask, but had the window on the 12-shot setting (or was it the other way around?). As a result, many of the photos came out with black lines where they shouldn’t be. I also underestimated the amount of exposure needed (not to mention sun) for the pinhole to work best. Yet I can’t wait to give it another go now that I understand how it all works.
For good measure, I also got my first cross-process and colour negative films back at the same time. Though I’ve taken pictures with my Holga and Colorsplash cameras before, I’d never experimented with anything but conventional film. Maybe my know-how made for the stunning visuals I got in return, but there were still a few flub-ups in there. And it’s okay.
In the slideshow, you’ll see some pictures from my first rolls. I included the cross-process and Lomo negatives because to me, they count as legitimate scientific experiments. What amazes me each time is that despite having little hope, I’ve always managed to get a few mind-blowing images out of it. My guess is that most Lomographers have as well. For me, it structures my desire to go back for more.
p.s. Recently, I got a bunch of Lomolitos as the disposable camera of choice for my wedding reception. Can’t wait to see how those turn out. They’ll be handled by a bunch of Lomo noobs. Yummy!