Oh Diana, how you frustrate me

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:

  1. Take your camera everywhere you go
  2. Use it any time – day and night
  3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
  4. Try the shot from the hip
  5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible
  6. Don’t think (William Firebrace)
  7. Be fast
  8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
  9. Afterwards either
  10. Don’t worry about any rules

2 thoughts on “Oh Diana, how you frustrate me

  1. I love Lomography !! I think you can have such great and beautiful photos. 🙂
    Don’t let your embarrassed by your local photography shop ! As long that you’re not a selling your photos, just do that you like, make yourself please with your camera… that’s always that I’m telling to myself and to my friends.

    And don’t worry about the being focus with the manual focus in the front of the lens. Focus depends too of the shutter speed and the aperture ! If your aperture is wide open (at 2 by example) your deep fields will be short yes but if you’re aperture is at 5.6 or 8, your deep of fields would be much wide, in other words, your photo will be focus ! So all that you will have to do is to just move from your subject to enter in the deep fields….

    So the most “complicate” is to convert the meter in feet. 3 feet is about 1 meter so here’s your 3 options : 1-2m = 3-6 feet / 2-4m = 6 to 12 feet / 4m to infinity = well I’m sure you’ll get it !

    I don’t even had to convert it in my head anymore because as a focus puller in cinema, I worked only in feet….. 😉

    So all that you do is to estimate the distance of your camera to your subject

    Here’s my tips : 1 step = about 2 feet (just check out for you but usually that’s about the same for every one… ) another one : the distance between the fingers of your left arm to the fingers of your right arm is equal to your height. 😉

    So let’s have fun now !!!

    • I know. I’ve put my films in today, so hoping some shots come out. I’ve been experimenting with pinhole recently. I wanted to track the moon and stars over the past few nights, so hoping that comes out. I also used slide film and am going to cross process it. Lets hope it works! With the Diana, you don’t have any options with the aperture. It’s all about shutter speed (again two options – ‘n’ or ‘b’ – bulb, so can open the shutter for as long as you like.

      My local photo shop is a bit snooty. That’s ok – I just take my business elsewhere. It’s a pain, but if they look down at me, I won’t go there any more. Power to the customer!

      I don’t need to convert into feet, I’ve grown up on both metres and feet 🙂 – but mainly metres. But I am rubbish at converting the two!

      Thanks for the tips though.

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