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Many notable 20th century photographers began their snapping with a very basic box or folding camera. The attractions were simplicity, a large original image plus, unexpectedly and ‘unwantedly’, a wild and woolly capture.
So, today, we find many exploratory photographers on the search for the feral rendering capability of their youth, as do many younger lens-people, in the search for the unusual.
The gift these days is that digital imaging and flatbed scanners can readily transform these oddball images, captured on all sizes of film, from 120 to lengthy 35mm strips.
Kevin Meredith’s book describes 40 ‘toy cameras’ that emulate the untamed imagery of the early box cameras. These you can buy now, from manufacturers such as Holga and LOMO.
The author adds “Toy cameras are ideal for photographers who don’t want to capture a polished version of the world.” They produce images with overlapping frames, light flare, lens distortions, soft focus and off-colour, qualities that are almost impossibly to replicate in software.
One of my favourites is the 35mm LOMO Fisheye, with a 180 degree view that can be lined up with considerable inaccuracy, thanks to the clip-on viewfinder. But What You See is Definitely Not What You Get.
The Spinner 360 is a wind-up panoramic camera that pulls the 35mm film through as the camera spins upon the handle. You end up with a picture length of six exposures, with the image spilling over on to the edge perforations. It’s sturdy and made from thick plastic!
The classic Diana is included of course, both in 120 and 35mm versions plus a multi-pinhole snapper.
There are also some digital cameras and a re-useable underwater camera that should fire up even the most laggardly creative.
Then you move onto accessories designed to be used on ‘normal’ cameras, such as the Bokeh Master Kit and the Lensbaby Composer.
Finally, rounding out a comprehensive coverage of image mangling methods, there’s even a six page coverage of smart phone apps so you can digitally replicate the output of the plastic brigade.
Put down your Nikon or Canon DSLR: this is the wild way forward in image creativity. But be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.
Author: Kevin Meredith.
Length: 176 pages.
ISBN 978 2 88893 118 8.
Price: Get a price on Toy Cameras Creative Photos at Amazon UK