Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Hi Tech / Lo Tech

Lately, it has been a bit difficult to get excited about going out to take photos. I think it is a combination of factors. I mostly take nature photographs and this is a time of year that things appear, well, just a bit stagnant.....lots of green.....and the 'good' light tends to be gone fairly early in the morning making a VERY early rise necessary if you need to drive an hour or so to get to where you want to take photographs. I don't mean to insinuate that you can't make great photos this time of year, it is just that at times I get the urge to do something just a bit different in the summer.

In 'poking around' the internet, one of the things that I have found that has really intrigued me is the aesthetic of toy camera and pinhole photography. This is definitely something very different from the attempt at perfectly composed image with critical sharpness and controlled depth of field and exposure that I have aimed for with my 1Ds MkII. The toy camera and pinhole images have a very 'dreamy' and ethereal quality to them that is really something special. Not necessarily better, just different.

When I show examples of such images that I have found on the internet to people (I don't have my own images scanned yet), the response seems to be very interesting. People either 'get it' or they don't. 'Gettting it' doesn't even necessitate liking it, it is just understanding that there is a special aesthetic to the images. I am not implying there is something wrong with not 'getting it', but I do find the clear demarcation between people interesting.

To see what I mean, just go to and search the site for Holga discussions. It is clear that some folks like the aesthetic, some don't....and some don't get it at all. They just interject into the discussion the question of why, if someone wanted to try medium format, they wouldn't buy a 'real medium format camera' that can be had cheaply on e-bay and learn on a quality camera; they can't understand why someone would want to embrace the softness and the vignetting that are among the marks of images made with these cameras. Really, reading the threads is quite interesting.

In addition to adding a Holga toy camera and a pinhole camera to my kit, I have even bought the basic developing tools for black and white film and have started developing the negatives in my basement; just like I did in high-school. The next step will be to scan some images and see what I come up with in terms of producing prints.

By the way, I would like to thank Billie Mercer and Joe Reifer for their words of encouragement and advice by e-mail. Billie also has her own wonderful Holga image galleries, of which this is one.

Over the next several posts I would like to develop a short list of resources so that anyone interested can get a little background information about the whole toy camera and pinhole camera mystique.