Am I? Is it? Could It Really Be? Oh. Nope.

As I learn more and more about the art of photography, I’ve become enamored by the retro look photography made popular by the people at Lomography, Hipstamatic and Instagram.

I own several plastic cameras and I actively use the Hipstamatic app on my phone. I’m not as in love with Instagram, but I see a lot of fun photos posted on Flickr and Twitter, so why not?

While perusing the Photojojo online store (I’m a little bitch for Photojojo), I stumbled across the Diana+ lens and adaptor for a DSLR camera.

I was stoked! I don’t own a Diana, though I do own a Holga, and the thought of having the look of a Diana lens on my digital camera made me happy. So I ordered it.

Today I went out in the yard to take the new lens for a spin. I’m not going to lie to you, this is a tough lens to work with. It has zero electronics inside so shooting is all manual. This fact is actually good for me as I need to keep practicing my exposure triangle (ISO, aperture and shutter speed).

When I came inside and took at look at my photos, I felt only sort of “meh” about all of them.

Here’s the best of the lot.

Copyright 2011 by Karen Fayeth

After fiddling with these photos and playing with contrast, I went online to take a look at what others were saying about the lens and maybe pick up a few tricks.

I stumbled across this review from a user named Blunty3000 titled “Stupid Hipster Lens Review – the ‘Dreamy Diana'”.

Blunty’s main gripe seems to be that he had to pay “Sixty sodding dollars” for his lens. From what I can discern, Blunty is from Australia. I only paid thirty sodding US dollars for my kit of lens plus adapter.

Blunty seems to use this product review as a platform to eviscerate hipsters everywhere. Ok, fine. I get that. As for me, I like the retro look photos. I own and enjoy quite a bit of the hipster gear.

But wait. Does that make me a hipster?

Nooo. I mean…I’m over 40. I refuse to wear skinny jeans. I think retro photography is awfully mainstream to be hipster anymore.

Then Blunty makes a point that these hipster photographers are “…pining to feel nostalgia for days they are too young to feel actual nostalgia for…”

Ah. Yes. And there’s the difference. I was actually alive in the 1970’s.

I feel nostalgia for years I actually remember. I’m not a hipster, I’m old.

Back then my sister and I shared a suitably uncomplicated (and now very hip) Kodak FlipFlash camera. Ok, it was really hers but when she tired of it, I got it as a hand-me-down.

It looked like this.

Kodak FlipFlash Camera, photo attribution unknown.

Here’s some of the dreamy, out of focus, widely vignetted photos that made me one of the mainstream back then and an almost hipster today.

This is our family’s cat as a kitten. And yes, that is a poster of The Muppets in the background. Note the “soft glow” the vignetting, the all around retro feel. This photo is circa 1981. Very hip in 2011.

This is me posed at the chicken coop behind our place at Ute Lake. I think my mom took this photo. Maybe my sister. I don’t remember. It has that certain je ne sais quoi with the dry grass, the cloudy sky and the rundown gray stucco chicken coop. How very Grapes of Wrath. I place the year to be around 1977.

So after this dark journey of the soul to determine if I’d become a hipster and should then begin my self-loathing, I’ve come out the other side. I shall go back to shooting my retro cameras with reckless abandon knowing I can make all the old timey photos I want. I lived it baby!

Today when I Googled a photo of an old Kodak FlipFlash camera, I found the *perfect* photo. And where did I find this photo? On my own blog. I’d already posted it a couple years ago. I’m becoming self-referential!

Unless otherwise noted, photos are from my personal family albums and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this and every page of this blog.

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  • Dave Bonner

    What a delightful post! I don’t mean the fancy photography with the french sounding names that must mean “out of focus”. I admit I’m less than a sensitive cultural person. We keep the Northerners around for that fancy stuff. As you know, the farther North in the state one travails, the fancier and artsier they get! Unfortunately, I’m from way south and I’m an offensive lineman…. I aint sensitive! But to your credit, you take the best out of focus pictures I ever saw!

    And my pride in my new web friend for discovering herself as a technical source cannot be expressed strongly enough! I am proud of you. And I thank you for allowing me to associate with you and your following. I hope someday to search for a source and find you are it, and I have no doubt that your abilities suffice to position yourself suchly. I even have faint hopes of discovering my self in research some day. I am practicing toward that goal.

    I forget where I put things and files all the time! And then I ask me “If I was me, where would I have abandoned this thingy if I got lazy and didn’t put it where I should have put it. Sometimes I guess how I might have messed up and actually find said item. Other times, I don’t and forget the object again for years. And then…. sometimes…. I re-discover the thingy… and its like a brand new discovery…. or else…. I remember and say, ‘Dummy, you should have known to look here in the first place!’ ”

    • Karen Fayeth

      Dave – Thanks for your kind words regarding my out of focus photography. I shall endeavor to continue down this road.

      And as you say, if the high falootin’ folks in Santa Fe, Taos and beyond can sell out of focus photography and lumps of clay that only slightly resemble the human form for thousands of dollars…well then I should be able to as well.

  • Dave Bonner

    Uplifting Habilment:
    Thank you for the family photo! It affects me in several ways.
    The little gal in the photo bears no resemblance whatsoever! to the shrewd upwardly mobile manager that is presented to me when I type the letters in my browser window to see what you share this week.

    I do not know you! For fourteen years you have lived a life in a place and employment circumstance that I can only guess at. The difference between the way I imagine you today and the little girl in the picture is literally irreconcilable!

    This image comes complete with the “air mail” mail box way up on a post. And then I examine the young girl. I may give some insight into whom took the picture: sister or mother. The answer ‘may’ be the left foot. I am not aware of chiggers in Quay county. Should there be chiggers in Quay County, then my bet is the mother took the picture. For what ever other reason you have your knee out or foot behind the other leg…I’d bet on sister.

    Mostly I notice your habiliment. To use your term, the ‘foundation, is much more uplifting than anything I’ve seen your other published images of your self.

    It is, indeed, an interesting photograph and most entertaining. Thank you for sharing.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Dave – Ah yes, the habiliment. The cut off shorts and flip flops of New Mexico. I loved that shirt. It featured an assortment of vegetables. I don’t really care for veggies to eat, but that shirt was darn cute.

      We didn’t really struggle much with chiggers in Logan, NM. Mosquitoes and horse flies were a whole other story. If that photo was more in focus you’d likely see welts all up and down my legs.

      The pose is likely the awkwardness of an ABQ girl standing in front of a chicken coop. I liked the chicken coop and used to play in there. I’d also walk down the road and talk to the neighbor’s milk cow. And by talk I mean really talk. That cow and I had a good friendship.

      I also used to wander the watermelon patch across the dirt road. Never was brave enough to steal one though. The farmer was kind of mean and my skills at dodging buck shot were never strong.

  • Ephraim F. Moya


    I knew your photo reminded me of someone else.

    Do a google search for ‘rachel ruysch’ then click on the photo link.

    Your camera and camera work reminds me of these.

    El Joyero

  • Ur Bro

    That was after Dad cleaned up the coop. At first you could not see it for the tumble weeds.

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