Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for May, 2011

‘Twas 4am In The Library…

Image by Elsa Tam

Elsa Tam, a member of f2 (one of Fotofilia’s two photographic clubs) rose to my challenge to attend the “4am Project” shoot at Birmingham Central Library a few weeks ago. Here is a few of her images and her account of the event…

Image by Elsa Tam

“On 24th April, I attended the 4am Project. The Birmingham Central Library was chosen as the venue for the project this time. It was such a great opportunity to have a look around with my camera before it gets knocked down. We got to go into the store rooms which are not normally opened up to general public. Karen Strunks has done such a great job to organise the event and it was definitely worth getting up at silly o’clock for!”

Image by Elsa Tam and


What The Holga Is The Fuss About? (Part 1)

Recommended reading

After listening to several of Christophe Dillinger’s talks about the wonderful world of plastic cameras I eventually decided to invest a few of my birthday vouchers and buy a Chinese-made Holga camera.

It arrived in a nice box, with a very informative, refreshingly warts-and-all instruction book and I eagerly unwrapped it and held this unprepossessing plastic box in my trembling fingers. I already knew, having handled a few of these cameras, not to expect anything especially impressive – and in that sense I wasn’t disappointed – it certainly couldn’t be described as impressive.

The first thing that strikes you is the weight – or lack of it. This is a very light camera. In fact it pretty much doubles in weight when you load a film! But then it would be: the few bits that aren’t made of plastic are made of the flimsiest metal (such as the clips that hold the camera back in place). Build quality isn’t, as enthusiasts and manufacturers alike would acknowledge, exactly first class.

But then these cameras, and other similar plastic-lensed cameras, were first marketed as toys, only being picked up by “serious” photographers on a small scale at first before becoming the cult objects they have latterly become. I suspect though that my Holga would last about two minutes in the hands of most kids.

Mods: The manual that came with the camera, as well as the excellent book I spent the remainder of my Amazon vouchers on – “Plastic Cameras” by Michelle Bates – recommended certain modifications (or “mods” to the initiated) before putting a roll of film (did I mention that as well as having a plastic lens, the Holga shoots film?) through it. This included putting two strips of black electrical tape across the camera’s inner moulding to ease the film’s transport without scratching the film emulsion. I was also advised to put three pieces of gaffer tape on the back of the camera: two to hold the camera’s back on – yes, ON – the flimsy clips have a tendency to slip/spring off thereby revealing your film to the elements (and light) mid-shoot.

The third piece of gaffer tape goes over the small frame counter window, which is notorious for letting in light, so fogging the film. This means that during use, the tape has to be lifted (in subdued light) to check frame numbers or to advance the film to the next frame.

A 120 to 35mm adaptation.

Frame counter taped up

Some users surpass even these measures and insert all manner of sponge, elastic and tape to their Holgas. Many of the mods are to prevent stray light from flooding in to the sieve-like body but its also possible to adapt your 120 camera to shoot 35mm (but why bother? – they make a 35mm version!). 

Perhaps the most useful mod of all?...

More in part two… – retailers of Holgas and

How Low Would You Go For A Picture?

It seems some “gentlemen” of the press know no bounds when it comes to getting their shot. I came across this image of Jessica Elba being pursued by one such fella. What do you think? Is this a step too far even for the paparazzi? Where would you draw the line?


Casting: Grumpy Old Man Wanted

I’ve already posted this casting on facebook, but sadly the most constructive suggestions involved a mirror – “friends” eh?

But I’m serious! I’m looking for a – let’s say – older gent, to play the “grumpy old man” for a couple of pictures for an editorial project. As such I can pay expenses plus images on cd. The applicant will be expected to really “act up” the grumpiness for the shot. Think Victor Meldrew on a very bad day.

I can arrange the shoot around the model but it will ideally be a weekday daytime.  Know anyone who’s West Mids-based who fits the bill? Please let me know.

De:fusion at Fotofilia

A new exhibition launches at Fotofilia today (Tuesday 24th May).

De:fusion are a group of 11 students in the final year of an Art & Design Foundation Degree at TCAT, Telford (through The University of Wolverhampton).

The work is understandably diverse, covering as it does, various different media and not just photography, but we feel you will definitely enjoy this exhibition.

Among the exhibitors is Rachel Bailey, who some of you may have met when she worked at Fotofilia as an intern earlier in the year. I’ve been so impressed with her underwater photographs that I’m trying to persuade her to have a solo show at Fotofilia later in the year but in the meantime, come along and see 6 examples of this amazing work plus that of her equally talented fellow TCAT students.

Launch event is Tuesday 24th May 7-9pm. You’re invited! 

by Rachel Bailey


by Andrea Brittain


Early Adventures In Plastic

I mentioned a while back that I’d succumbed (with a little nudging and inspiration from fotofilia chum Christophe Dillinger) to the persuasive but not readily identifiable charms of the Holga. In my case it’s a 120 roll film version with a few mods added as per the various books and articles I’ve read. Anyway, I’ll be adding a full review of this plastic fantastic very shortly but in the meantime, here’s a few of my early images…


Kevon - Colour and mono comparison – all you need to know.

You Know You’re An Old Photographer When…

I’m told that I’m rapidly becoming my dad, and do indeed find myself saying some very “grumpy old man” things. Here’s my guide to spotting the warning signs that you might be turning into – gulp – an old photographer.

  • You refer to “film speeds” and “ASA” rather than “ISO”.
  • You get misty-eyed at the mention of terms like “bakelite”, “ID11” and “twin lens reflex”.
  • At exhibitions, you will bore anyone who will listen by extolling the virtues of film grain over digital noise.
  • Most of your shots are taken at standing eye-level because you know if you get down on the floor for a better angle, you mightn’t get up again.
  • Your shed, loft and/or spare room is full of old photography magazines that you’re hanging onto because you just know that tip on page 19 about buying tripods will be useful one day.
  • You talk about how the industry isn’t what it was and how great the wedding market used to be.
  • You take more and more equipment to shoots – just in case.
  • You buy khaki/camouflage clothing from the back pages of photography magazines which has plenty of pockets for those extra little gizmos.
  • You used to be able to hand-hold at 1/30th of a second and now need a tripod for 1/250th.
  • You take a chair on location shoots.
  • You find you fancy the models’ mums more than the models.

Perhaps you know some other tell-tale signs..?