Saturday, May 31, 2008

Link to a Lomo Rant

I learned some interesting things in this article including that I don't have to buy a Lomo pinhole camera but can convert a cheap ($1-2) plastic 35 mm camera to a pinhole myself.

I have been stumbling upon those plastic 35 mm cameras with no batteries at thrift shops and Goodwill ranging from 50 cents to $4. I find Goodwill overprices, selling those for $3-$4 and as a comparision, selling a Kodak Instamatic for $7. Does anyone really want a Kodak Instamatic that takes 110 film for $7? On the good side I came across a Canon (film) SLR, a zoom that goes to 210mm and a flash in a case for $25 at a Goodwill the other day. (I didn't buy it as I still have my old Minolta from the 1980s and I inherited two manual SLRs and also two Minolta Maxxim's.)

Lomo Rant

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Behind on Posting

I am behind on posting due to busyness.

I have been creating.

What needs to be blogged in more detail:

1. I have purchased a Diana camera from eBay.

2. I have shot one roll of film on the Diana and sent it for processing which is another story in and of itself. I'm waiting for it to come back.

3. Where does a person get gaffer's tape?

4. I have purchased a Nickelodeon Action Blaster toy camera.

5. I used my never used but bought new about 15 years ago camera which is a no name version of the Lomo Action Sampler.

6. I shot half a roll with the "Action Sampler".

7. I bought an Agfa Clack on eBay from a UK seller.

8. I bought a box of antique cameras from a tag sale including a rare form of the Brownie and some Polaroids.

9. I learned of the Polaroid film change. They are still being made by Fuji now.

10. I bought some Polaroid 669 film locally.

11. I shot some photos with my Polaroid Colorpack II and my Polaroid Colorpack IV.

12. The best camera I own for a Polaroid was the one I got for FREE.

13. I just finished reading Michelle Bates' book on toy cameras which I will do a book review on.

14. I shot half a roll (roll #2) with my Lomo Fisheye camera.

15. I decided the Diana was more appealing to me than the Holga for now. I am starting with the Diana and will see how the photos turn out. Later on if I feel I need more cameras I'll buy a new Holga.

16. I am more tempted with the full fisheye circle of the Holga Fisheye lens than the Lomo Fisheye camera that I own right now.

All those things deserve their own blog posts!! If I only had the time!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trying To Knit

Summary of recent events:


Monday, daytime: A homeschool mom taught me to knit, gave me a pair of knitting needles and some wool yarn. I could do it when I was there. The plan is to make an easy felted bag. The reason for felting it is so that the messy stitches will not show in the final product.

Monday, nighttime: Could not knit. Gave up.

Tuesday: Watching videos on, not working. Watched videos on to learn to cast on. I thought it was working. Knitted about 45 minutes. It looked horrid. Ripped it out. Went to sleep.

Busy and feeling discouraged. Didn't touch the knitting needles.

Thursday: Watched videos again. I think I got the cast on. I think I got the continental stitch. Knitted while waiting for kids to arrive from carpool. Later that night, it looked horrid. Ripped it all out.

Friday: Tried casting on again by the YouTube directions. Not working. Bought a book on knitting and felting. Read the book's ridiculously short directions. Realized I had been doing something very wrong after seeing the videos. Started all over again. I think it is working.

Saturday (today): Looked at my work and found some odd tangles and a mess. Don't know how to fix it. Ripped it out. While kids playing in a Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament, using the book, I casted on and did three rows. It looked horrid. Ripped it out. Casted on again and did four rows. There are things very wrong happening. I gave up and put it away. Read a magazine to pass the time (Somerset Studio May-June 2008 issue).

Not sure if there is any hope for me at this point. I think I should hang out with a knitter and knit for a while and if I make an error they can help me right then and there.

Homeschool mom friend recommends me to go to weekly Knit and Bitch gatherings that are held one town over. Not sure I have time to make it at those exact times.

I really want to learn to do this. Really I do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doing a Lomo Happy Dance—Scored My First Lomo Camera for $5

Last week after finishing reading one book about plastic cameras, I decided to explore some thrift shops to see if I could find some old plastic junky cameras, preferably a Diana or a Holga (one can have high hopes). The idea was hatched on the morning that we had to go to another city that I usually never go to, for a doctor’s appointment. I wanted to check a Goodwill up there and see if there were any other thrift shops in that city. I barely know anything about that city and have only been there three times in my life (despite living in Connecticut my entire life).

I did a search online and found that Google maps does a search to tell you the names, addresses and phone numbers of all businesses in a category and it lays out the points on a map. I took down some phone numbers to input into my new car navigation system (which I am still learning to use).

The trip was botched though. The navigation system didn’t think that some of the phone numbers existed, so I couldn’t find my way to them with just the phone number. I should have written down the street address. (This is yet another shortcoming of this navigation system.) Then I put in two destinations after the doctor’s visit was over and the Goodwill was supposedly ½ mile away (fantastic). Somehow though it didn’t direct me there but a roundabout, longer way to the other one that was three miles away. I asked it to route me from one to the other (seems pretty easy doesn’t it). I got annoyed when I realized I had somehow gone by the first stop without the system telling me I had. This was traffic-y driving and it was hard enough to keep my eyes on the road and get into the right lanes so I could not look at every sign in the wall-to-wall strip malls I was driving past. Frustrated, before getting to the farther away store and I declared the journey over when I was going by the on-ramp to the highway so just jumped on it to head home.

On the ride home I was disappointed because I really wanted to see if anyone had any toy cameras. So when closer to home I stopped in the Goodwill which is one town away from me (not using the navigation, just using my brain, thank you). I had never looked at cameras there before and did find them in the back, thrown onto a shelf. I didn’t find anything except some digital cameras and some battery operated automatic 35mm cameras, so I headed out. I stopped at the glass cases by the cash register which are kept locked. I peered in and saw to my surprise, a Lomography box, it was a fisheye camera! JACKPOT!

I have wanted a fisheye camera forever as I just think they are fun! I asked to see it and it was in perfect looking condition with all of the booklets and directions intact. The box was just ripped when the person tried to open it the incorrect way. It was $5. I bought it on the spot and held it like treasure while I waited in the long line to pay.

Upon getting home I read the directions and realized they’d never been read before, they were way too crisp. When I went to load the film in (which I already had on hand from past uses of 35 mm film), I discovered the silica gel packet inside and realized the camera had never been used! This is a special edition camera made for Urban Outfitters and the original price sticker says it was $38. It is all white including the very edges of the barrel (is that what it is called?) and pretty cool looking.

I went outside and began snapping shots. I had a homeschool meeting to go to and so had to stop playing with it (darn). I almost took some shots while at the coffee shop but I figured the ladies would think I was off my rocker for playing with a fisheye plastic camera so I didn’t do it. (If they read this blog they’ll find out about it though.)

The next day I took it to the homeschool park day with me and snapped more shots. I finished the 24 exposure roll by dinnertime and ran to the drug store to get it developed. I couldn’t wait to see how they came out!

Here I am with a self-portrait, taken in my driveway, the day I bought the camera. (I now know I should have used the flash even though it was sunny outside, becaues the sun was behind me.)

Things learned about the Lomography Fisheye Camera:

1. No matter how bright it is indoors, you do need the flash.

2. My camera leaves odd black shapes in the corners when the flash is used. This might be my shadow; I’m not sure, as it is only on the left side.

3. It works best in bright sun.

4. Even when the sun is overhead (at 1:30pm or 2:00pm) when I try to take a shot looking straight forward or slightly up the sun is in the shot.

5. Even when close to the subject in the center of the shot, (3 feet) the thing appears far away. In photos of my son riding his bike he looks 10 feet or more away when he was so close to me that he almost was going to hit me.

6. You can get very close in, such as 1-2 inches and the shot comes out.

7. Close-up’s of faces get distorted.

8. There is a fine line between getting a very close shot that has enough light versus using the flash and having the close thing overexposed and whited-out.

9. My white camera sometimes leaves a white ring around the fisheye. I see that the regular Lomography fisheye camera has a black area (barrel?) around the lens which leaves a sharp black outline around the circle of the fisheye. The black looks better. Note the black camera is sold by and goes for $50.

10. The flash is malfunctioning. Sometimes when it is on and the light is on, it does not go off. Sometimes when the flash is shut off, the light is still on and the flash does go off when I don’t want it to. Other times no light is on and the flash goes off anyway. I am confused!! Even with a $38 camera I expect the flash to be working right. This tells me then that the Lomographic Society is overcharging for their cameras which truly in the end are as some call them “crappy plastic cameras”.

11. The top and bottom of the circle are cut off. If you desire a true round fisheye, they do sell a fisheye adaptor lens for the Holga camera.

12. The viewfinder is ‘normal’ and you don’t really know how your image will come out, which things are included or not included in your shot. You have to just aim and shoot and what comes out in the end is a total surprise.

Already wishing for more…

1. My camera is the first generation of fisheye camera that Lomo made. You cannot do a double or multiple exposures. There is a new model “Fisheye No. 2” which has a lot more features such as allowing for multiple exposures, having a shoe for a second flash that can be used for longer exposures, has a true fisheye viewfinder, and comes with one pack of film for $70.

2. Lomo also sell an additional product that makes the camera waterproof for underwater shots!

3. They sell a special cutter to quickly and smoothly cut the circle shape out.
I am already thinking that I should start using this camera not just for fooling around but such as for taking shots when doing tourist-y things. How fun would it be to have more typical tourist photos but done in fisheye view?

Fisheye microsite at

Fisheye Camera exclusive edition for Urban Outfitters (the one I now own)

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Great Photos of Disneyland with Toy Camera

Check out these fantastic photographs made with a toy camera at Disneyland on Pollywog Productions blog.

Zen and the Art of Knitting: Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Zen and the Art of Knitting
Author: Bernadette Murphy
softcover book
Publication: Adams Media Corporation 2002
ISBN: 1580626548
Retail price: $10.95

I stumbled upon “Zen and the Art of Knitting” at a used book fundraiser sale and thought it looked like an interesting read for the quarter that it cost me. I have been drawn to learn to knit as a way to keep my hands busy and for the love of making things from scratch. At the time I read this I was not yet a knitter.

Each chapter in this small book is a stand alone essay. This is easy reading, relaxing reading, the type that is perfect to read before going to sleep and is light yet interesting enough for airplane or beach reading.

First I will address the fact that this is not a book about Buddhism, something that others assumed about the book, which was the reason that one Christian knitter refused to be interviewed and featured in the book. The author practices no religion, although her aunt is a nun.

Murphy uses knitting as a way to center and calm herself, as a meditative activity. Knitting helps Murphy slow down, sit down, and think. I found that so interesting because the first knitters I was exposed to in my adulthood were mothers whose toddlers or preschoolers were no longer clamoring to be in their arms, they wanted something to do with their hands. I had been around so many mothers, mainly through La Leche League, who, after being so busy caring for babies and children, could not bear to sit still in administrative meetings or lectures—so they knitted while they listened and talked. Now I find myself in situations where just sitting still and listening is unbearable and I clamor for something to do with my hands. Not always wanting to take notes, doodle or sketch while others watch, I’d feel more comfortable knitting, I think.

On the idea of knitting to keep the hands busy versus knitting to slow us down, I found this passage from page 174 intersting. When interviewing a knitter named Lizbeth Upitis, Lizbeth says,
"...the tools of knitting provide this mental health break while fitting within the Western mentality of production, the idea that we must always be productive? She says she found her way to meditation through knitting. "Idle hands are devil's work," she quotes the old saying. "Meditation is a valid part of my life; it's not selfish. But it's taken me a long time to realize that."

In the book Murphy interviews knitters about what they do and why. Although some knit for crafting pleasure, others knit to meditate and others knit their way through recovering from injuries or illness, as a sort of therapy for the mind while the body heals. One doctor knits as a way to reduce on-the-job stress, specifically that caused by the death of a patient. There is talk about tapping into a different level of consciousness in various places in the book. What I wanted the author to realize is what is being described is the ‘flow experience’. For more information on that, read the books by Mihaly Csikszentmihal.

Murphy interviews her aunt, a nun, who knits items to be used by those living in poverty, so the aspect of knitting for others as an act of charity is touched upon. Another interview is with a Jewish woman. A Buddhist is interviewed as well. As you can see the author was trying to research how people of different faiths feel their knitting intersects with their religious and/or spiritual life.

She also has a chapter about a Waldorf handcraft teacher who discuses the Waldorf education outlook on handcrafts and working with natural fibers and anthro views on wool yarn and natural materials being real while acrylic yarns are not real and help teach the child to know the difference between the real and not real. I do need to state that the statement about acrylic yarn not being natural is not true as it is made from petroleum and petroleum byproducts which are all natural materials. A more accurate way to describe the difference between acrylic yarns and the wool yarn used in the Waldorf schools would have been more honest and appreciated by at least this reader.

A fun chapter explored the reason that Clare Crespo began making her now famous three dimensional crocheted representations of food items, sold as sculptural art pieces.

More serious, deeper thoughts are touched upon throughout the book as well. I found the discussion of knitting and feminism interesting to ponder as well. A knitter named Karen shares that when she began knitting it was product based, knitting to have a finished product and that after she entered her 40s knitting became more spiritual and less product focused.
"That's the difficult thing, sometimes: getting women to just give in to the process of knitting and not focus so much on the product." She relates this to the larger issue of the women's movement. "A lot of women between forty-five and sixty were taught that they can do it all. Women's lib, entering the workforce and so on. They think it's self-indulgent to do something simply because you want to do it. They're project-motivated, making huge committments and trying to do everything perfectly."

In a nutshell this is an entertaining read for anyone who has an interest in knitting. The book is a combination of deep thoughts and ponderings written in a light way that makes for fast and easy reading, but to get the most pleasure out of this book, I advise reading it slowly one chapter per sitting to savor it.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

My ATC: Listen

ATC by ChristineMM, created May 9, 2008 for thematic prompt "LISTEN".

Technique: Collage of used postage stamps on recycled cardboard. White gesso painted on top then wiped off. Selected areas to remove even more gesso from to highlight the images. Passage also written by ChristineMM, in word processor, printed on paper then made into a packing tape transfer and adhered to the front of the ATC with Golden Acrylic Gel Medium soft gloss.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Toycam Handbook: Book Review by ChristineMM

Book Review by ChristineMM

The Toycam Handbook
Author: The members of
ISBN: 9781411663817
Publication: self published through
Price: $31.03

Summary Statement: Provides the Basics on Using Toy Cameras with Camera Lists and Prices Too

This book is a compilation of contributions of members of the discussion forums at Without ever meeting face to face, this book was compiled and is printed on demand by Before I get into comments on the book I wanted to share that unique and very cool fact. You have to love the way the Internet is not just connecting people but is now resulting in books being produced!

The book is divided into three main parts.

The first section of the book is a guide to toy cameras. About 30 cameras are described on two page spreads including multiple color images of the cameras and two examples of the photos they produce. The information on each camera provides a bit of history and an indication of the rarity and price you will probably have to pay to buy one. It is helpful to know if you have found a treasure at the thrift shop or not. Twenty more cameras, some new and still in production such as some of the Lomography cameras are shown with full color photographs of the camera, with just a small amount of information.

The second section of the book provides all kinds of useful information. As a beginner to playing with toy cameras I found all my questions answered. Basic questions such as the types of films, how much they cost and where to find them and get them developed is covered. How to modify different cameras is discussed such as converting a 120 film camera to accept 35 mm film, converting the cameras to a pinhole camera or using a zone plate. More advanced techniques are also covered such as developing your own photographs. Also mentioned is having the film developed then scanning the negatives in order to work with the images digitally or to have them printed off after digital conversion.

Lastly, there are interviews with 15 toy camera photographers who are members of who discuss why they love toy cameras, which is their favorite and some of their favorite techniques and interesting good stuff like that.

After reading this book I realized some of the differences in the different vintage toy cameras and decided which I think I’d like to use. I feel more capable of jumping into toy photography now. I know what to keep my eyes peeled for in thrift shops and at tag sales and I know what price ranges are typical before bidding on some cameras on eBay.

This book left me feeling capable and that anyone can have fun and produce good photographs using toy cameras, you just have to ‘go for it’—go get a toy camera, get out there and take some photos and get to know your camera. This hobby is accessible to all.

Some "Toy Cameras":

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pondering Photography

May is here and that means Mother’s Day and my birthday. That makes two occasions for which a present may be received from my husband. I’m long overdue for something substantial. These won’t be holidays that presents are skipped, not this year.

I like my digital automatic focus camera with zoom lens. I carry it with me everywhere I go and I take lots of photos. However after taking literally thousands of photos I want something more. I miss my old SLR which allowed me to focus the camera. I miss the out of focus things in a photograph; I am tired of everything being in focus all the time. I am sick of having problems trying to take a photo of something close up and struggling with the automatic focus when it focuses on something other than the main object. I am sick of the slower shutter and the slow recovery time that makes me miss things that my children are doing or animals or other creatures.

I was thinking of getting a good digital SLR camera, probably one of the Canon EOS Rebels. I am overwhelmed by the choices. I don’t ‘get’ digital SLRs. I tried to do some research online but can’t find the answers to my questions. And I will admit that if a camera has a lot of books published just on how to use it makes me worry. I don’t want a camera that I have to read a whole book to learn how to take a decent shot.

Which brings me back to thinking about my old film camera. I still own my film SLR (a Minolta). I have different telescopic lenses for it, a macro lens, and a 28 mm (wider than normal) lens. I just inherited some more film cameras: a Konica SLR. A Minolta SLR. A Minolta Maxxim 7000 and a Minolta Maxxim xTi. I also have multiple lenses for those cameras, flash units, and a number of other accessories, and all the owner's manuals too.

Thinking back to artsy photos from old cameras, I have been reading about using an old Polaroid Land Camera, the SX-70 to make interesting transferred images with. I just inherited a camera case, a flash unit, and an instruction manual for one of those but not the camera. My husband informs me when he was a child he accidentally broke it. Those cameras are selling used on eBay for over $100 (wow). I have just inherited a Polaroid Spectrum camera with one unused film cartridge. I don’t know if I can do the transfers with that film type and with that camera. That is something else I tried to investigate on the Internet but so far can’t find the answer. I bought a book on Polaroid Transfers and can’t find the answer in there, yet. I have not had time to read that book cover to cover, so maybe the answer is buried somewhere in there.

Through an alternative art magazine, Teesha Moore’s Art & Life, about two years ago, I learned about lomography’s site (technically it is called the Lomographic Society). Teesha’s husband Tracey is into lomography and he wrote the article. The article taught me that artsy people are using old and new plastic toy cameras to make interesting photographs with. I have been pondering the idea of jumping into that hobby of ‘lomography’. I should mention in case you don’t know that the Lomography site also provides web space for members to upload photos (they call that a Lomohome). There are many ways to view and search for photos such as searching by city name and type of camera or type of image. There is a message board for networking and chatting and they also have a big conference for members to attend and meet up.

The fantastic photographs by Angela Cartwright I found out are usually made with photographs from a vintage Holga camera. In her book which I read cover to cover recently, “Mixed Emulsions” all of my favorite images were made with her Holga. The Holga’s images are with 120 film and produce 3x3 inch photographs. You have to buy the film from specialty Internet sites and unless you are going to develop the film yourself you have to pay about $10 per roll and send them through the mail to get developed.

The Holga is just one of what people are calling toy cameras. It is a plastic camera that sold for dirt cheap back in the 1960s when it was invented. The light leaks in the body, the defects in the plastic lenses and other quirks make the images surprising because they don’t look like ‘real life’. The images can wind up looking blurred or having light streaks on them. Some parts can be in focus while others are not. I love the idea of taking a photograph and finding the surprise when the developed film is seen. I actually loved that part of all the film photography that I used to do.

Lomography is selling new copies of the old Holga’s and new Diana cameras too. I just read a review with comparison photos and I think the vintage Diana makes better photographs than the new one. So now I am on the lookout for a vintage, working Diana. I spent some time checking completed auctions on eBay. I see some noted the camera was tested and works. Now I worry that a camera without that statement might not work at all—especially those marked “sold as is” ----it would really stink to buy one for about $50-65 and have it not work.

But first, before I even peeked at eBay, I began making rounds to local thrift shops when I was near some. After many trips with nothing being found, I bought six in one day. All were either 50 cents or $1. All are not battery operated which allows for multiple exposures or overlapping images across two negatives. Two are Diana knock-off’s, two are 35 mm panoramic cameras and two are 35 mm basic cameras. I have also kept my eyes peeled for a Polaroid SX-70, the Holga and the Diana but so far have not found any.

I also own a new camera I bought almost 20 years ago but never used. It takes 4 images in a grid pattern all separated by some fractions of a second, and it has no flash. I paid $10 for that in a mail order catalog back then. That is similar to the new Lomo Action Sampler without flash, which sells for $40 new. So you can compare the old prices to the new cameras developed to meet this new trend. Just as the old Diana’s sold for $1, now the new Diana sells for $60.

I decided before I buy a new or a vintage used camera I need to know a little bit more. I have been trying to read websites but am not getting much information. So using my Amazon commissions from my blog’s Amazon Associates account I bought “Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity” by Michelle Bates. This discusses toy camera photography and then it moves on to tips for using the Holga. It arrived yesterday so I began reading it immediately and already learned that the professional artists usually develop their own black and white and color films and some create custom made frames for their images. Now this end of the extreme has me wondering if lab developing is even worthwhile.

For the record I am stating publically I am not pondering getting into developing my own film. I did learn to do that in a Photography 100 class in college but I just don’t want to ‘go there’ mostly so that I am not exposed to the chemicals and also because our home does not have proper ventilation. So I reject that part of what some photographers are doing with printmaking from their toy cameras.

I am awaiting delivery of another book that discusses the many toy cameras on the market, called "The Toycam Handbook". That book from what I can tell explains what all the different toy cameras are like. It has galleries of photographs as well.

Today out of curiosity I checked while at Wal Mart and they did have a few toy film cameras. One was a soft jelly plastic Barbie camera with a roll of film and a battery for $13. Another was a Disney princess camera with film and battery for $13. They were sold out on the Fisher Price toy camera. Note they each took a battery so it is not hand wound so double exposures are not possible. They also had flashes. I didn’t buy any. Starting at $20 there were low pixel toy digital cameras as well. At least with the film cameras the quality of the print is higher.

I then thought if that is all that we need then why not use disposable cameras. A four pack of a cheap brand with flash sold for $8.88. If one wants to modify the disposable camera to make the lens do something funkier, they can. Here is one set of directions for modifying a disposable camera.

I don’t quite know what to do. I’m not sure if a $450 really good digital SLR is what I really want. I want to do funky fun photos. Toy cameras, especially the Holga or a Diana would do the trick—but then I am saddled with the cost of film and developing (total would be about $20 per roll for both things from what I found on the Internet). I have one more book on toy cameras on its way to me.

I think I will hold off from buying a new expensive digital SLR for now (even if I end up not having a gift on Mother’s Day or my birthday), and I will read up more on toy cameras. I’ll keep checking at thrift shops for a Holga or a Diana (I’m not holding my breath). In the mean time I guess I can fool around with the cameras I already own that take 35 mm film and get that developed at Costco.

Oh and last month on Freecycle I was the happy recipient of some 120 film and some 35 mm film. I figured that I could use that in my experiments.

I’m also going to see if I can find a local camera shop so a human can explain the in’s and out’s and the pro’s and con’s of digital SLRs. There are not many around me so that may involve a 45 or 60 minute drive (not very convenient). However I do feel like I’m getting ripped off to buy the camera from the local shop when the difference between their price and Amazon’s price is $150 (on the model I’m looking at).

And lasty while I ponder this I could spend hours and hours on the Internet viewing images taken by photographers with Holga, Diana and other plastic and toy cameras. Between the Lomo site and Flickr I could just scroll and scroll and scroll and never get around to actually making my own photographs!


Lomographic Society (Lomography) (You can buy new Lomo cameras on this site.)


Light Leaks magazine of low technology photography (link from this home page)

article: Reloading and Adapting Single-Use (Disposable) Cameras By Howard Wells

One example of a double exposed photograph from the lomography site

Gallery of winners of the 2007 Krappy Kamera competition (New York City)

Holga camera Wikipedia page

Diana camera Wikipedia page

Angela Cartwright’s Art webpage

Holga info and links on LitFoto site

Amazon sells new Lomography cameras also and sometimes less expensive than on the Lomography site:

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