Modifying a Holga is flat out fun. You are walking into the unknown when you decide to hack your little cheap plastic camera, so much better than photoshop effects in my opinion. You’ll need a sense of adventure and possibly a back up camera, the control.
Although honestly with the Holga there seems to be no standard. Every camera is a little different, with its own quirky problems. Some have backs that pop off randomly; others have a wonky shutter or extreme light leakage. Well, actually they all do, but some flaws are more evident on certain cameras.
There are simple steps to get around the problems, are exasperate them to make your photography more interesting.
The first modification is my favorite. Sand down the lens. Yes, the plastic glaucoma-like lens will be sanded down, but just the edges, to give the images an extreme vignette effect. I like how this looks. You won’t be able to focus from the edges of the frame, but this is appears to be a natural framing.
Remember though, what you see through your view finder is not exactly what you get. You can’t see the whole finished image through your camera. Use your imagination and just shoot by feeling.
All you have to do for this modification is take out the lens and sand down the edges with a piece of sandpaper. Then put the camera back together and try it out. You will want to concentrate on how it all can apart, to avoid any headaches putting it back together.
Another great effect can be made from masking; cardboard, scissors and a sheet of overhead is all you’ll need. The tutorial explains it best, http://goholga.com/diy-masks-for-holga-cameras/ Adding a simple piece of cut up cardboard to your camera makes images that rival the best artsy photographers.
Creating incredible panoramas are another perk of the Holga. Since there is a flaw in the way the film advance works, you can create long panoramas. Simply start at the far left of the scene you want to capture, shoot, advance film 2/3 and shoot next section. Do this as many times as you want until you capture the entire scene. And be especially clear when dropping the film of for developing that you do not want the film cut.
Cut out the little spring that controls the shutter if you want to create a permanent bulb. Allowing for long exposures and a whole different effect.
Finally you can process the film with coffee. There is a step by step tutorial here http://www.foundphotography.com/2009/03/develop-film-with-coffee-and-vitamin-c/
Or you can simply take a photo that was already developed and follow these steps;
• Use a print that was processed normally.
• Look for a photo that is slightly under exposed or lacking contrast
• Next fill a container with coffee
• Make sure it’s full enough to completely cover the print. You’ll need to carefully weigh the photograph down to keep it from floating to the top.
Note, if RC paper soaks too long the toner can seep into the paper, the easy fix is to leave enough paper outside of your image to trim off the soaked paper when the print has dried
Enjoy these modifications and don’t be afraid to modify my instructions…it’s all trial and discovery with the Holga.