the 4000 km trek

It took us about 40 hours over four days to make it from Halifax to Winnipeg, our end destination for the next couple of weeks before we turn around and do the drive all over again. We saw far too much in our relatively short trip to document in one blog post, so there’ll likely be more to come, especially as we’ll stretch out our return trip a couple of days to visit some of the things we missed along the way. Here’s just a tiny sample of some of the beautiful landscape of eastern Canada

In the spirit of springtime on the east coast, it rained non-stop for around the first 1000 km of our drive, until we reached Quebec, where we stopped to walk through old Quebec City along the river.

Then it was nothing but sunshine the rest of the drive.

The route we took led us through the Canadian Shield, a region spanning huge portions of Quebec and Ontario. The Shield comprises huge rolling hills that have eroded from some of the highest mountains in the world over millions of years, and has a pretty cool geographical history, if you’re into that sort of thing. (I am.) We stopped at Mont Tremblant, the highest peak in the Laurentian mountains, and took a cable car to the top for some photos. From the peak, the view is literally mountains as far as the eye can see.

There are a couple of routes that follow the Trans Canada highway. We opted for the route that follows along the northern rim of Lake Superior, where we saw what was without a doubt the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen. And also two bears. BEARS. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the bears because I was too busy being excited about seeing bears. Luckily we’re making the return trip, so I’ll have another chance.

The first sunset we saw as we arrived in Winnipeg was pretty nice too, I guess. (It was totally awesome.)

Shots taken with my iPhone and processed with the VSCO Cam and Afterlight apps (find me on instagram @nicolecwhite)

rainbow haven beach

In my last post I mentioned a road trip. Our departure has unfortunately been delayed a few days due to some unforeseen car-related circumstances. We’re hoping everything will be cleared up very soon so we can get going, but in the spirit of trying to see the glass as half full, we’ve been taking advantage of the extra time in Halifax to enjoy some of the beautifully foggy weather that’s been hanging around for the last week or so. Here are some shots taken with my iPhone at Rainbow Haven Beach, processed with the VSCO Cam and Afterlight apps.

diy holga splitzer

A little while ago, I found a fun-looking experiment on the Lomography website that gives instructions for a DIY way to make split-images, and it looked too cool for me not to try it. The basic idea is an extension of double or multiple exposures. To make a simple multiple exposure, you would just take two or more different pictures without advancing the film so that the images are overlaid. It’s sometimes hard to do this without over-exposing the film, and that’s (sort of) where the splitzer comes in. Instead of just shooting multiple frames, the splitzer allows you to take a number of different pictures, each with part of the lens obscured so that the final result is an image containing a combination of distinct sections or slices rather than being superimposed. Because you’re covering up different parts of the lens each time, each section is “properly” exposed on its own (see my previous post about holga exposure times). The tutorial I followed for making a splitzer can be found here, and it really could not be more easy: you just use an x-acto knife to slice out a chunk of your holga lens cap, as below (seriously, what were you using it for anyway? There’s no reason NOT to do this!):

I cut half of mine out, which is probably pretty obvious from the picture, but you could cut out a quarter or even a smaller piece. If you’re going full halfsies, I’d recommend popping that sucker on the front of the camera and folding it back so you have a better sense of where the halfway mark is, because if you’re anything like me you will guess and then get to cutting it all apart before you realize you might have cut out too much and therefore have to glue a little piece back on with superglue, and before you know it your fingers will all be so stuck together you’ll need that knife again to help scrape glue off so you can pull them apart. (You should just measure it first, and you will avoid the disappointment inherent in learning that the tiny slice of plastic you glued your fingers together for will fall off within five minutes of using the splitzer anyway. But, if you happen to end up with your fingers glued together, give me a shout. I have advice.)

Once you’re satisfied with your cutout, you’re ready to go. Stick the lens cap a.k.a. splitzer on, take a picture, twist the cap around, take another picture. It’s that easy, for real. I’ve only played with mine a little, mostly turning the splitzer a full 180 degrees between shots so that my pictures have two distinct halves, but you can experiment with turning it different amounts to add more sections to your image — that’s where cutting out a smaller piece of the lens cap could be fun too, since you’d be able to have a larger number of small bits in the picture.

If there’s one thing I’d recommend while you use this, it’s “just go for it”. Don’t try to plan what’s going to be in your frame, just have fun and take pictures of lots of different things without putting much thought into it. The first time I used my splitzer, I tried to purposely set up pairs of images, but it’s so hard to know exactly where things will appear in the frame that I just ended up disappointed. One thing I found worked out well most of the time was playing with turning the camera upside-down for one of the pictures, but there’s lots more experimenting I’d like to do with mine. Here’s some of what I’ve ended up with so far:

light leaks

It seems that one of my 35 mm cameras may have sprung a leak somewhere. I’m still experimenting with this to make sure it’s a consistent problem before I try to do anything about it. The leak is quite subtle in some of the shots, and it changes location from one frame to the next, so either the camera back is getting a bit loose or someone in my photo lab just had a little accident with my film. I’ll have to wait to find out for sure, but in the meantime, I don’t think the damage looks so bad on these pictures. Light leaks can be such happy accidents!

cheating with holga exposures

The holga, a magical hunk of plastic, is usually used in a more casual fashion than a heavier-duty camera. It has just one shutter speed, and depending on the model, one or two aperture settings (one for sunny and one for cloudy). You’re supposed to just load it up and go, carefree and shooting from the hip, which is easy to do because, since the holga viewfinder doesn’t actually show you the same area encompassed by the lens, there’s not much point in looking through it. Lots of the time, this is a fun approach – you just load the camera with a fast enough film and click away like there’s no tomorrow. The holga does some pretty special things when left  to its own devices, and I’m definitely an advocate of using it this way (you can read more about basic holga functions on this site, which is the definitive guide to all things holga). But there are a number of occasions where you might want to be a little more diligent about exposing film in a holga camera. The plastic lens can create dreamy effects, and certain situations call for a guaranteed holga image or bust. Or, if you haven’t yet learned to order your film online, maybe you just paid $14.99 (!!) for a single roll of slide film and you don’t want to waste one frame because, well, hopefully that’s obvious. (If not, maybe you can buy my next order of slide film?)

In such cases, I cheat a little with my holga (the 120N) so that I can use it in a much wider range of situations than just “sunny” or “cloudy but not that dark”. It has a shutter speed of about 1/100 sec, but this varies a little across cameras – that’s part of what makes them so quirky and fun! I’ve found that for my holga, pictures look about the same if I pretend that its shutter speed is 1/125 sec rather than 1/100, and since 1/125 is a standard speed, it’s just easier. First, you’ll need a light meter. Also the resolve to be seen in public using a light meter to take pictures with a plastic box. You can download a light meter app if you have an iphone. Other smart phones are also capable of this, I just haven’t used any non-iphone apps. You could also just use a digital SLR camera in manual mode, but be warned: it feels even sillier to use a whole camera as a light meter for a plastic box.

I usually load 400-speed film in my holga – my favourite holga film is Fuji Pro 400H. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll see something on your frames if you shoot this film during the daytime, but you could use any speed you want. I’d tend to go with a lower speed (100, 200, 400), because you can always keep the shutter open for longer. On the other hand, if it’s too bright out for your film, there’s not a whole lot you can do to control the exposure unless you use a neutral density filter, which I’ve done but it seems even more antithetical to the holga experience than using a light meter. So, you set your light meter with your film speed and aperture settings, and it will tell you what your shutter speed should be for a proper exposure. This trick works if the shutter speed you need is longer than your holga’s standard speed.

All you have to do is set your holga on something steady (a tripod, a ledge, your friend’s shoulder, whatever), and click the shutter a few times to let more light in. How many times? Here’s a handy chart:

Beyond this, exposure times become long enough that it’s easier to use the camera’s “Bulb” mode. At 1/2 sec, or even 1/4 or 1/8, you could probably get away with just clicking quickly in Bulb (who really wants to sit there pressing the button 30+ times?). The math here is pretty simple if you like fractions. To get the equivalent of 1/60 sec shutter speed, you click the shutter twice because 2 x 1/125 = 2/125, which reduces to 1/62.5. Similarly, 4/125 reduces to 1/31.25, 8/125 reduces to about 1/17 and so on. Or you can just take my word for it that this works and be on your merry way. Below are some example images taken with this approach. The bottom two are what happens when you think you’ve got steady enough hands to just hold the camera in the air while you shoot, which is fun to play around with too.

normal holga exposure vs. corrected multi-click exposure