To get something different from your travels try a different photo technique, in this case, a completely different camera. A Holga camera offers something completely different in photography. The Holga is a cheap plastic camera with a plastic lens. It often vignettes on the edges (becomes darker) and the images are seldom clear. It uses 120 B&W film and has no adjustable settings so most pictures must be taken in decent light. Some Holga cameras have a flash to help in low light situations or an additional flash can be added. The flash is only good for about 10 feet.

So why use the Holga? The Holga often adds mood to your pictures, especially in a country with an ancient feel, like Viet Nam. The pictures feel like they were taken at the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th when photography was in its infancy. People are also not intimidated when they see the camera. I often show subjects the camera to put them at ease. My Holga is old, battered, scratched, and the back is held on with tape. No one is afraid of such a camera and we often laugh together about it.

Some photo programs offer a "Holga" setting so you can get the feel of the images while using a digital camera. Don't believe it! The pictures always look too good and only a Holga is a Holga. Besides, half the fun is in using the camera. One can be bought for under $40.

The downside for Americans is getting the film developed. For a small investment you can buy the equipment to develop the film. A developing tank is really all you need. Some film developer and fixer are the only chemicals you need. I always develop my film in the hotel bathroom while I am traveling. Try it and you might find a new hobby.

You will also need a scanner - the cheeper the better - to get the images onto your computer. 

You need none of this while in Viet Nam. Any photo store will develop the film for you and even make prints or scan them onto a disc. Try it; you'll like it and will come away with some very unique images.

 To read more about Vietnam try

"Siege at Dien Bien Phu" or "Cao Bang,"  by Richard Baker


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