Pompeii Winter Day with Toy Cameras


Pompeii, December. We stepped off the train from Naples into the first rain of the season, Vesuvius wreathed in fog. The ancient wagon ruts filled with water, but we could still use the stepping stones in place for two thousand years. It’s a large city, a grid of named streets, fast food counters, offices, fountains, floors, stores, a harbor, rich and poor homes, bread ovens, baths. Interrupted business is everywhere evident… those businesslike Romans! Wild dogs slept sadly on the cold stones. We bargained for a 10-euro umbrella for two. The rain worked to our advantage; we had a lot of the site to ourselves. It was a day for ghosts and images brought in on rainclouds and reflected in puddles. Pompeii!

Myth Notes:  Pompeii is  a web of Greco-Roman mythology, with a dash of Isis from newly-conquered Egypt.  It was wine country (Dionysius/Baccus/Silenus) and was on the coast (Posiedon/Neptune).  I think the Romans would have been appalled at how we got so much information on Roman culture from Pompeii; it was a hick commercial village far from the centers of power in Herculaneum and Rome.

Studio notes:  I’ve done Holga, Lomo, and pinhole toy photography for many years.  We chose to take the Lomo Fisheye and Lomo Sprocket Rocket with us, as they used 35mm film rather than the more awkward– but more fun– 120 mm film.  At airports now , many security guys have never even seen film.  I hand-carried it in a ziploc bag without film containers.  It always caused consternation and dismay in the security lines.  What the heck is film?

Lomo Sprocket Rocket Camera

Lomo Fisheye Camera

12 comments

    1. Oh well. It took planning but it was worth it! I originally tried a Diana mini as well, but the photos didn’t have the “toy camera” feel as much. I know many love them but they ended up just looking like rather uninteresting snaps from the 1970’s to me. Same with the 35mm Holga…

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      1. You should try the Diana F+ camera (if you haven’t already). I actually shot my Minor Thesis project in University on one of those, with 120 mm film. Was very pleased with the results; nostalgic and raw. Never used a Holga or a Diana mini, but I’ll take your word on it…

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      2. Joey, would like to try the Diana F+. I like regular (120 mmm) and pinhole Holgas, but the “bent corner” 35 mm Holga, though I longed to love it, didn’t quite do the job. The Lomo Fisheye with built-in has been a trooper. You have to shoot blind with my older model as the viewfinder is completely inaccurate. Gives a nice feel to the photos.

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      1. The best part is when the film is used! They have NO idea what to take from a small sealed cartridge…and trying to explain that your a Photographer that ‘still’ uses film…that’s a whole other story! 🙂

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