I’ve been frustrated with Diana. She is unpredictable, has embarrassed me at times and is expensive. I left her alone for a few weeks, but she kept looking at me, enticing me to pick her up again.
Before I go any further (and you thinking that I’m a bit of a weirdo) I am talking about the Diana F+, a cheap 1960’s camera made entirely of plastic, which produced dreamy-like photos. I’m not using the original, but using the Lomography version – the F+.
With today’s digital cameras, photography is more accessible. We’re used to gratification of the photo appearing in an instant. As with all Lomo, the Diana is an analogue camera. In other words, she uses film. Waiting to see what you get back is all part of the fun. Diana uses 120 film, a medium format film, originally used for amateur photographers before the 35mm. Getting these films developed was expensive, and I only got the maximum of 16 frames. I decided to buy the 35mm back, so I had more frames and I could get the film developed faster and more cheaply.
My first attempts, were abysmal. There were too many things for me to remember. What didn’t realise was I had my Diana F+ on the the pinhole setting. Helpfully, it’s at the bottom of the lens and I had been happily snapping away. All my prints were black because I didn’t let enough light into the camera, due to the pin sized hole. It crushed me. It was embarrassing when I went to pick the prints from my local independent photography shop. They’re not fans of Lomography. They see themselves as very serious photographers. Lomography is not. I felt like a failure.
The other thing I forgot to do was adjust the focusing. With no automatic focusing, you need to this manually at the front of the lens. She gives you three options – 1-2 m, 2-4 m and 4m to infinity. Unlike today’s cameras, the viewfinder doesn’t tell you if you are out of focus.
The 35mm back also changes where the middle of the photo would be, as you are putting a smaller sized film into a medium format camera. A lot of my photos have been off-centre (and not in a good way) or I’ve chopped people’s heads off.
It can be hard work to remember all these things, but the beauty and frustration of the Diana is the luck of the draw.
The 10 rules of Lomography:
- Take your camera everywhere you go
- Use it any time – day and night
- Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
- Try the shot from the hip
- Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible
- Don’t think (William Firebrace)
- Be fast
- You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
- Afterwards either
- Don’t worry about any rules