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Tin-foil-lined Holga

Posted 11 October, 2007 in Camera Hacking & DIY + Technique

Ever wonder what happens when you line a Holga with aluminum foil? Me too!

I crinkled the crap out of it to hopefully get lots of light bouncing around in different directions, and lined the camera, shiny side out. The irregular vignette is because I wasn’t very careful about leaving the edges of the light path clear.


The Briggs in its natural shooting environment


I expected the lowered contrast, but was thinking I might get some random specular-type highlights. Nope. Of the whole roll, this is the only frame that had a visible artifact (the white wavy form near the top). But this does show that you can easily control the shape of your vignette, just take the back off and put some crap around the square hole you can see the shutter through.

If you care, this is Kodak T-Max 100 developed in Diafine.



what about if you were to line the BACK of the camera, and then either use 220 or 35mm or somehow remove the paper film backing?

Nicolai Morrisson

I think this will only have a substantial effect on films without an anti-halation backing, which blocks most (but not all) light from coming in the back of the film. The redscale technique involves exposing film from the back, which causes a severe shift to somewhere in the yellow-orange-red range, depending on the film. I’m guessing that if anything, you’d get a slight bump in that range.

But, if you did it with a film that didn’t have an anti-halation backing, it looks like you’d get increased glow. The data sheet for Maco IR820c says:

The effect can also be exploited creatively. Covering the pressure plate with reflective material, e.g. aluminium foil, will enhance halation, especially in the highlights, and slightly increases contrast.

Unfortunately, the only two films I know of that don’t have anti-halation backings—Maco IR820c Aura and Kodak HIE—have been discontinued.

But! You can wash the anti-halation dye out of film! Load an unexposed roll into a daylight film processing tank, load it with water, agitate, dump it out, and repeat until the wanter comes out clear. Hang to dry, re-spool, and shoot.

I would love to try this, but I don’t have a darkroom, and therefore no place to dry it. (I’m afraid it would dry too slowly and mold or melt by just leaving it in the tank.) I am actively looking for an alternative way to do this, and will post results both with and without a reflective pressure plate.


Incidentally, this is why the new Holga 135BC has such strong vignetting. There is a piece of silver metal between the shutter assembly and the film which looks like a cut out rounded rectangle.

Now that I know that I’ll have to add it to the site because people are always asking how to get more vignetting.

I was expecting more of a result from using finfoil here. Oh well, further proof that you can’t predict a Holga!


very sad that HIE is gone… :( that sucks! ive tried IR820c, and its just not the same, and much slower from memory.

you could possibly set up some kind of fan that blew into the tank where you pour the water in, it would then exhaust around the rim on a standard tank and even a fan blowing cold air would dry the film pretty quick i reckon (prob get majorly dusty though).

Nicolai Morrisson

The dust thing is what I was worried about, too.

meer berlin

i’m not sure, but if i remember correctly the chinese lucky b&w films don’t have a proper anti-halation layer and are still available … maybe someone else can confirm this

best wishes from berlin – thomas

Nicolai Morrisson

Oh, that would rock! I’ve never used Lucky, but I’ll give it a go!

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