Monthly Archives: December 2009

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Helllllllllo Lomo!

Ahhhhhh. The much beloved, and the much maligned, Lomo LC-A.

Oh you, Lomo Kompakt Automat.

A Little History About Me and Lomo

Let me give you a little Shoot With Personality history. Before there WAS a Shoot With Personality (well, that is to say, I am Shoot with Personality – but before I had a site called that…) I, as a developing photographer, owned a Lomo LC-A. Or two? Yeah, I guess I broke my first one, and it had some issues anywayz…I got the first one in early 2002? Judging from the photos of my now 8 year old niece sitting in her high chair that were on the first roll, 2002 seems about right. It was awhiiiile ago, but I believe I got mine from a seller in the Ukraine, from ebay. I wouldn’t have paid more than $75 for it, which is about what I paid for the second model I got the next year, also from a Ukrainian ebay listing. The best part of buying packages from the former USSR, btw, is the packaging. You wait a month for it to arrive, then when it does, it’s wrapped in brown paper and tied up with what I assume is string made from yak fur. SO old-world! SO charming!

I don’t even show pictures from those early days around too much, because they were very much a time of “development.” But I recently showed them to a photographer friend, and he saw some merit in my development period… If you care to see some of those older photos – really, some as old as 2001 and 2002- you can see them in my good ole Lomohome on the good ole Lomographic Society site (that “society”, as many things I mention in this blog, is another discussion for another day.)

What’s a Lomo?

I used to have a little description of the LC-A on the Lomo section of the OLD version of the Shoot With Personality site. It said:

What’s a lomo?

When most people talk about a “Lomo”, they are referring to the Lomo LC-A. The Lomo Compact Automat is a relatively small, Russian-made camera. Most people who use an LC-A do so because of the camera’s light-gathering abilities, which make it particularly suited to low-light situation”

I guess that’s a pretty good way to put it. It’s a smallish camera. It’s got zone focusing – meaning you don’t foc us the lens by looking through it or anything, you focus it by estimating the distance from the camera to what you’re photographing, and adjusting the little focusing lever on the side. Yeah, it’s in meters. We imperial system folks have to get used to making the conversions in our mind – thankfully, there are only those few distance settings to choose from, one of which involves ∞ symbol. You don’t need to know how meters and feet translate when the setting is “infinity.” You just slide it to that setting when you could describe what you’re photographing as “FAR AWAY!”

The actual “big deal” about this “little camera” (aren’t I funny?) is the lens – It has some specific characteristics that drew a lot of photographers (and non-photographers alike. Heh.) Vignetting. Distortion at the edges. Vivid colors. Add those to the aforementioned “blurry on purpose” – many of us pridefully argued with photo lab technicians, or looked down our noses at the lab workers for not being evolved as we  were, because they would either not print some of the negatives on our film because they thought the photos were mistakes, or they’d print them and very gravely tell us that something was wrong with our cameras. Ha!

I actually have made a lot of friends across the world, due to owning the LC-A. At the time when I first acquired the LC-A, I frequented a couple of Lomo users sites. And, honestly, I’m sure some of those friends were there as Lomographic Society detractors. I know at least one was…But I did photographic print swaps with Lomo users, and a couple of “double exposure” projects with a guy in Serbia – where he put a roll through his camera, sent it to me, and I put the same roll through my Lomo. And vice versa. It was a spicy little photo community with which to be involved, before the days of Flickr.

The Exit of Lomo from My Life. And the Re-entry…

But, I picked up more photographic skills as time went by. I found other types of camera better suited to my photographic needs. I picked up better pocket-sized, partially automated cameras (Dear Olympus XA: You will have your time in the blogsphere spotlight soon enough. I promise! Love, Amanda) The LC-A was something I felt as if I’d outgrown.

So I grew tired of my LC-A and, more specifically, the “Lomographic movement” a few years back and decided to put it out to pasture. Literally. My friend Kent was going back to Illinois and on tour with a band, so I thought he should have it. Never looked back. Not really. Not until maybe this summer. I wrote Kent and asked if I could borrow the camera back.  I was halfway expecting the camera to not exist any more – after all, it was a ’91 model, I had dropped it so much that part of the plastic of the top plate was long gone, and three years is an awfully long time.

Hi Kent! Taken in 2006, about a month or so before Kent bid Memphis adieu, with the very Lomo LC-A in question.

But, low and behold, the camera still exists! Kent is a gem of a fellow and a real champ, so he of course said I could borrow the camera back. What is more, I have now put a roll of film through it, and the camera WORKS! OH HAPPY DAY! I was reunited with this old friend on a week and a half before Christmas. PERFECT timing for taking photos with a camera that yields such characteristically rich colors and Christmas IS quite a colorful time of year. So guesssss what I did?

You guessed it! You know me too well! I took a lot of pictures of shopwindows decorated for Christmas! And I picked things that I thought looked nice and stereotypically Lomo: a vintage store near my home. Funky, ain’t it?

And more results from this first roll through the LC-A:

So What’s The Conclusion on Lomo?

Ya know what? I’m liking having this camera back in my life. Sure, I have plenty of other cameras, even other pocketable ones. Ones that have nicer lenses and ones that you can actually focus rather than just guessing. But, goshdarnit, I like this LC-A. And, ya know what else? I’m a better photographer than I was when I was initially using the LC-A.  My first couple of years doing photography, I was just going through a process of trial and error, just learning how to be a photographer and developing my photographic style in general. I want my photos to stand on their own, not on the merit of things like vignetting and flashy colors. But, when I look into my purse and see that LC-A, that I used to carry with me everywhere, it’s comforting to look upon. It feels familiar in my hands. And those images it produces make me want to say “Ah, hello, my Russian comrade. I remember you well.”

(I SO wish I could do a Russian accent just about now…)

Shot of the Day: Hot Off the Presses

Taken a couple of hours ago.

A preview of things to come. I’ve got new Polaroids to scan and write about. New food photography. Hopefully new projects to conquer and write about here in the coming new year.

Food Pornage: Simplicity

Sometimes, I get so caught up in piping  fancy swirls of icing on cupcakes for aesthetic purposes, that I forget that there can be beauty in simplicity.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Shoot With Personaliteeeeeeeh!

Christmas Time at
Muddy’s Bake Shop

And another of my favorite SNL clips…

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