Rockhampton by Holga

A few weeks back we were lucky enough to score a night at the Rockhamtpon Boutique Hotel. Actually, we’d been given this months earlier, by the talented »Madelyn from Flickr, who won it due to her fantastic photography. Fortunately for us, she couldn’t use it, I took the sandiest sand photos in a sand photo competition (held at the very sandy Sandy Point) the next month, and voila… months later we’d actually organised babysitters.

My Dad was in business for as long as I can remember. He had two premises. The first was in the main street of Rockhampton, down in what was the original industrial zone, just at the end of the sandstone heritage buildings. After that flooded, he moved a few blocks to higher ground. I can assure you, cleaning river mud out of a flooded building is not pleasant. It is hard to shift. Whenever I see flood damaged houses or premises on TV News, I have some idea what it’s like.

The second premises were very near the Hotel we stayed in.

Around this area the buildings are mainly old corrugated iron sheds, built on huge wooden frames. While they are progressively being rebuilt, and most have modern facades, there are many very old buildings, and they have their own sort of beauty. You can really only see it from inside, or from the back alleys.

A Rockhampton laneway. Holga 120CFN, Lucky film, Rodinal, spent fixer

Maybe it’s very hard to see at all. Maybe it is beautiful to me because so much of this scene is bound up with my own family history, and with my memories of my father. It’s hard to say.

Here’s another:

Another Rockhampton laneway. Holga 120CFN, Lucky film, Rodinal, spent fixer

I think there’s another reason I find something  appealing about these scenes. Like most regional centres on  the eastern seaboard, Rockhampton was once a port city. Smaller, but in some ways more urban and important than it is now. Many of these old sheds date from those days, but they are plain, functional, non-architectural, unappreciated. But  they’ve been host to so much enterprise and part of so many lives.

And yet another Rockhampton laneway. Holga 120CFN, Lucky film, Rodinal, spent fixer

These three photos were taken on black and white Chinese film, and developed in Rodinal. The fixer I used was too old. The effects of this are clearest on the first roll. Also, I was not careful enough, and let the Paterson tank sit too long without agitation – you can see the dark marks from undisturbed bubbles.

I wonder if the “look” of Holga or Lomo shots appeals to me because it evokes the past, and somehow amplifies the kernel of melancholy that is necessarily present in every photo, every window into a past we can’t reach. Consciously, I was simply looking for shots that would suit the Holga aesthetic. I’m not really one for psychoanalysis, but I do think that there are usually elements of accident in the most carefully planned art, and elements of purpose in the most ad hoc. Maybe I’m trying to tell myself something in choosing these shots, and developing them this way. Maybe I’m trying to get a good look at something I know I can’t see.

I read the stats for this blog. I know several people a day come here looking for texture images or googling the word “nostalgia”. So hi there! Tell me what you think. Is there beauty in these grungy alleyways? Or is it just in the way they’ve been framed by the erratic optics and chemistry of my methods? Or is it all in my imagination, and the imperfection of my memories?

For being kind enough to answer these questions by leaving a response below, I’ll  you with one more Rockhampton Holga photo.

Fitzroy River Bridge, Holga 120CFN


About postdigitalblog

Lecturer in Multimedia at CQUni Wrangler of young kids @ home in Yeppoon Otherwise, photographer and digital media type.
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9 Responses to Rockhampton by Holga

  1. Dave says:

    I think you’re right about the old school look of the photos triggering a nostalgic feel for the images. Nicely done!

  2. I really like the vignetting. Also lomo reminds me of those shots taken in photo booths back in the days of Wooworths and other 5&Dime stores. Definitely nostalgia!

  3. Bea Pierce says:

    Well, I have to say that I love these alleyways too, but not from any sense of having been there nostalgia. Some of my interest in alleyways like this (I spent a lot of time taking pictures of alleys around inner Sydney) is a romantisation of the past and my childhood interests in both Ginger Meggs, the poertry of Kenneth Slessor and the stories of Ruth Parks. Maybe I’m weird, but I find the sense of desolation and abandonment, along with the strong lines and mash of different materials used in the walls and buildings fascinating. I especially love the balletic line of garbage bins in the first image and the view of the bridge, which makes me feel very small and slightly scared to be under that bridge – it looks far too heavy to be held up by that flimsy column! The Holga aesthetic definitely adds to the sense of history and nostalgia, as well as providing a wonderful moodiness to the scenes.

    • Bren Murphy says:

      When my Dad (who would be in his mid-eighties if he were still with us) was a young apprentice he worked in this area and he and his mates would go fishing at lunch time, and as a kid he had a possibly quite meggs-esque childhood where he spent a lot of time on the river, which is very near here. So I think the kind of mental picture you paint is kind of mixed up with my feelings as well.
      I’d love to spend a decent amount of time with my cameras in newcastle. I’m sure there are plenty of fossilised laneways there – in fact, probably layers of eras, like a corrugated-iron grand canyon.

      Checked out your site by the way, which looks beautiful. I’ll have a good look soon.


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