processing film or: my new holga

A couple of weeks ago I just wouldn’t put it off any longer: I bought a Holga, a chinese toy camera. After a bit of research I decided on getting it directly from Hongkong via Ebay for the incredible price of ca. $20 USD (as usual german shops would have charged at least 3 times as much).
And oh, isn’t she pretty in her kitschy plastic cheapness?

I’d been wanting a Holga for some time but I was put off by having to research where to get it, how to use it, how to work with medium format film and especially how to process/develop film myself. But then I got my OM-2N and was getting back into film anyway. And the black and white photos I got back from the different labs I tried all had one thing in common: they were incredibly bad quality (think grainy, scratchy, blotchy), the labs took ages to make them and there would always be photos (and negatives!) mysteriously missing that were definitely correctly exposed. Top that with a staggering price and processing my b+w film at home has become a necessity.
So I thought, might as well do it thoroughly and go medium format and get a Holga (I am officially a freak).
I got a development tank and the chemicals and read and read and read about the process.
Today was the big day, it was time to process the first roll of film from my Holga! I won’t bore you with the process (I’ll just say I nearly cried when it took me 5 tries to get the film into the reel of the development tank in my semi-dark bathroom, under a dark bed sheet). I am still dumbfounded that after a lot of guesswork concerning development times and such, there is a strip of film drying in my bathroom…and it has pictures on it!!!

Actual, real pictures that are at least semi-correctly exposed! I’m hooked, processing film is my new favourite thing in the world!
See, this is the inverted image, they’ll be real photos!

And how convenient that I now know my Holga leaks light pretty much everywhere…off to buy some black tape tomorrow!
Eventually I would like to try out developing film in Coffee, because it’s more environmentally friendly and even cheaper than chemical developer and… well… it’s cool (can you say freak) 🙂
All in all the process was easier than I thought and I can’t wait to see the photos on paper and to process my next roll!


14 thoughts on “processing film or: my new holga

    1. tidytipsy

      Aw, I’m embarassed 🙂 Seriously, it says all over the net that developing b+w film is the easiest thing ever and yet I was scared sh** over it 😉


  1. nora

    Omg, that must be really fun ! My sister’s husband used to develop his own films when I was a child and I remember the films hanging in the bathroom, your experience took me back to those days =)

    I also find it not so easy and I don’t think I can do it on my own without any help…

    Looking forward to see more and more b+w photos from your own lab !!! 😀

    Awesome… =)


    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks Nora!! It is definitely fun, I am glad I tried it out. I think the 2 or 3 times will be pretty scary but then it’ll become routine pretty quickly.
      You should try it too, it’s so gratifying to hold your own negatives in your hand that you just developed yourself, great experience!
      You could get your sister’s husband to help you with it!


  2. jen

    you certainly have more patience than I! My photo class in college made me want to pull my hair out…all the waiting. I’m not good with waiting. But, the science of it all is very cool. Looks like you got some awesome images!

    found you on etsy forums, i hope you’ll come visit me too!


    1. tidytipsy

      Yep, the waiting definitely sucks! But the gratification of holding the negatives in your hand afterwards far outweighs it!!


  3. Studio MME

    My boyfriend is pining for his darkroom now that he graduated. He has to wait till graduate school this summer but perhaps he can learn to develop in coffee. That sounds so cool! Good luck with the taping.


    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks Megan 🙂 For only processing film he doesn’t need a darkroom! All you need is a developing tank (which is really really small) and a room you can completely darken (like a bathroom with no window or the basement) and a couple of spare bottles for the chemicals and you’re good to go!
      You only need a darkroom if you also want to print the images on paper. I’ll be taking mine to the store for that, because I don’t have the space for my own darkroom either 😉


  4. Pingback: first holga photos «

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