Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Diana Experiment.

In the past couple of months I have been experimenting with what most people would refer to as ‘toy cameras’. The two toys I have been putting to the test from the film department have been the Holga, and the Diana camera’s.

The Diana was first released in the early 60’s by the Great Wall Plastic factory in Hong Kong, and could be wholesaled in the U.S for 50 cents each. So as one can imagine from such a small price tag, the images wouldn’t quite be at the same level of quality as a reasonably priced SLR camera. However, as you will see in the images below, they have a very unique character. Through my own experiments and from looking at other artist’s prints, I have noticed that in many cases, the most dominant colour will effectively wash over the rest of the image. Take for example the image titled ‘John Smith’, the building is made up of red brick, now take note of how the sky is somewhat purple as the red mixes with the blue and grey, take note also of the colour of the footpath. You will no doubt notice also on all these prints of how hazy the images are, with subtle vignetting and very soft focus around the edges. Overall, I am sure you will agree, it paints a very dreamy picture.

The History of Today.

All these shots were taken at the Bundoora Homestead. A 14 room heritage mansion that runs a gallery and cafĂ© was built in 1900. The perfect place to start out with a camera which could make an iPhone look as if it were an antique! I must admit I was quite surprised by how hazy the image turned out, this can be explained by the fact that the lens a single piece of plastic. So while your SLR camera will have up to seven finely crafted pieces of glass or ‘elements’ which work to correct the light distortion created by the piece of glass in front of it, the Diana takes a photo of what a piece of plastic can see, with nothing to correct the light distortion.

The Colour

I am still fascinated by the colours that the Diana produces; I find the high saturation is beautiful, yet I don’t think it would look nearly as good if the images were sharp and clear. The vignetting and blurring around the outside seems to soften the blow of what I would otherwise consider to be very harsh colours.

John Smith

As mentioned earlier, the homestead was built in 1900, and was owned by a man by the name of John Matthew Vincent Smith, a very successful horse breeder and racer.

Hanging Cap

I decided to make use of the fact that there is no lock stopping you from taking a shot without winding the film. So I needed a small subject that wouldn’t merge into one big mess of an image. So the pipe was quite handy, not to mention that if you’re not looking out for it, you can’t see the chain that the cap is dangling off, giving the image that little extra quirk.


I was entertaining the irony of seeing a fairly modern chair inspired by minimalist design, sitting by itself on the otherwise empty porch of a house that was definitely not inspired by minimalist architecture.

I am surprised at how wonderful the black of the chair has turned out, along with the fact that it has picked up cracks in the concrete and turned it into these curious blue veins.

I think it can be concluded, that the Diana is definitely one of the most unpredictable cameras around. What you see is not what you get, it puts the excitement, anticipation and surprise back into photography, which I think has otherwise faded thanks to modern technology.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This was taken at the Kilcunda car park, overlooking the ocean on one side, and Bass Hwy on the other. I was setting up the tripod on the back of my old Ute to take these shots very late one night when a guy in an old Commodore drove into the otherwise empty car park, parking right next to me. I pretended nothing and continued setting up, making sure I was level, testing the swivel, securing the camera to the stand, and so on, while he tried to make himself look busy by continuing to get in and out of his car. Eventually I decided to pull out the phone and at least pretend to start calling someone (I honestly don't know many that would have actually appreciated a phone call at 2 in the morning), so he got back into his car and drove off. So I think I got a little more than I bargained for on the 'new experiences' front...