Lomo love

technology

Lomo packaging My Lomo Kompakt Automat has arrived! I felt that I had to take this picture of the packaging before I unwrapped it as it was so unusual. The camera itself was wrapped up in plain paper and neatly tied with black cotton. Best of all, the Russian manual has the worker's initials and the serial number of the unit hand-written in the back in blue biro! How often do you get that level of personal involvement with a product these days? It's a lovely solid little camera that just reeks of the 1950s (and faintly of oil). In the package there's a nice colour hardback book with examples of Lomo photographs (bottom left), and a booklet helpfully entitled, 'What the hell is Lomo?'.

I was excitedly showing the camera to someone at work, when he pointed out that I am somewhat of a contradiction. On the one hand, I'm Dr. Gadget -- always the first with a new widget or hi-tech toy. On the other, I love oily bits of mechanical engineering. To me, it isn't really a contradiction at all. Both are state of a particular art. I love the limitlessness of digital technology, and digital cameras satisfy my craving to see what I've made immediately, and have complete control over the image. I love mechanical cameras for precisely the opposite reason -- you have very little idea what you're going to get, and much less control over the image. The Lomo has only one control -- you set one of 4 focus distances with a lever -- that's it. Because you can produce almost perfect images with a digital camera, you feel that you have to. With a mechanical camera, you worry less about what you'll get, and can allow a bit of creative randomness in. There's also a tactile element to mechanical cameras; the rough feel of the film advancing thumbweel and the clunk-click of the shutter. I plan on using both: carefully controlled and composed images with the digital camera (that's the plan anyway), and spontaneous, blurry, oddly-angled shots with the Lomo. I do worry a bit about keeping the two cameras in one bag though -- a bit like introducing matter to anti-matter.

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