Saturday, September 26, 2009

Holga Hacks: Making a Custom Film Mask

In this brief tut, I'll be discussing how I make a custom film mask for the Holga. There are other places on the web that cover this, but I thought I'd share my experience on the matter and give you some tips that I've found helpful.

First up, get your supplies together. An X-Acto knife with a fresh blade, some gaffer's tape, a straightedge, a pencil, coffee, and a cutting mat are the tools needed. You'll also need a Holga (duh) and—this here is my personal preference—a plastic notebook cover like the one shown. I like using these because it's a smooth, matte-black plastic. You can make a film mask using paper or cardstock, but paper is much more likely to scratch the film emulsion. Plus, these are much more durable and give you a neater edge. You can get between 6-8 film masks from one notebook cover

Measure out your cut lines. Here's the dimensions I use: 2 5/8" H by 3 1/4" W

This fits into the back of the camera nicely. The extra material on the sides is going to be folded back later on and taped down to secure it to the inside of the camera.

Use any shape you find pleasing. This one is just a simple arch over the top of the frame, with neat, squared sides. You could do pointed arches, circles, letters, or whatever. Really, go wild with this one. I love seeing what people come up with!

Like anything worth doing, I tend to get a little OCD with my projects. Use a brand new blade and a metal straightedge. Cutting plastic is trickier than paper, so go slow and let your inner compulsive disorder shine.

You may find that cutting the inside of your frame is easier to do first, rather than cutting the frame down to size. I like doing it this way, but do what you're comfy with.

Here I'm just checking the fit in the back of the camera. It fits! The extra on the sides there is going to be folded back in the next step.

Note: The camera sees not only a backwards image, but upside down as well, something I forgot when making this tutorial. Putting the arc at the top of the camera would place it along the BOTTOM of the frame. So, to get an arc across the TOP of my pictures, I should have put it on the BOTTOM of the camera. Remember this!

Here I'm marking where to score the film mask so that it fits in nicely and folds over the back of the exposure chamber.

Using the knife, just make one fine score-line where it's going to be folded. The weight of the blade is enough. You don't want to cut all the way through this one, just enough to make a nice, crisp fold.

Here we have the finished mask, ready to go into the camera!

And voila! But remember: This mask as pictured should be rotated so the arc is along the bottom to get the effect I was after. Remember to flip yours not only left to right (if it's asymmetrical), but upside down as well.

Happy snapping!

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