Old 01-12-2012, 01:50 AM   #1
Ron Flanary
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Default The "Artsy" Kodak Brownie

I noticed the Hatchetman posted a nice comment on one of my photos:

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I can't claim to have had any role in the shallow depth of field on this shot. Until the fall of 1964, I used a Kodak plastic (actually Bakelite) Brownie camera. It had a very small lens, a fixed aperture (which was very large), and a very low shutter speed (somewhere between 1/25 and 1/50th of a second). The film was 127 size, and I have no idea what the ISO rating was. You just loaded the film, rolled it into place for the first shot, pointed, and clicked the shutter. A moron could do it (assuming he was reasonably still).

If you look through my photos from this period (late '64 and earlier) you'll see some that are okay, and some that are clearly marginal, but which have been accepted to RP's data base because of their "vintage" nature. There are many more that will likely never be seen by human eyes.

I did use a square format Kodak model a few times in 1961, and also a borrowed Kodak Retina 35mm model in '64. My grandparents finally broke down and got me an Argus "Autronic" 35mm in late '64, and I've stuck with that format ever since. I must have gone through at least seven more 35mm cameras to date (and I still have all of them---even the Brownie).

Railroad photography for many of us was downright primitive 50 years ago. I'm just grateful I still have most of my old negatives (plus some nice memories).

My wife and I were watching the television series "Pan Am" on Sunday evening, and we noticed a scene where one of the stewardesses was shooting portraits for a project. She was shooting black and white film (maybe Tri-X, which was my usual choice), and using a tripod. Her camera, though, was the same as mine: the Argus Autronic. Cool! I was impressed the show's producers had shown such incredible attention to detail, since this was supposed to be '63-'64.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:19 AM   #2
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The thumbnail looks like one of your 35mm's from the late 60s, which I always look at. However, when I clicked on this one, which appeared to be just an old roster shot, I was quite surprised by the image. The front of that loco is fascinating with all sorts of details. The quality of the image is actually excellent if you don't mind the grain, which I don't (never do). The sharpness of the front of the loco slowly fades and you are left with some hazy fog in the background. Really a great photo.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:29 AM   #3
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I've enjoyed all the old L&N photos you've put up Ron. I still have a soft spot for the old Argus cameras. My dad gave me his old C3 when he bought himself a new Minolta SRT101. Those old Argus cameras made some mighty good images.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatchetman View Post
The thumbnail looks like one of your 35mm's from the late 60s, which I always look at. However, when I clicked on this one, which appeared to be just an old roster shot, I was quite surprised by the image. The front of that loco is fascinating with all sorts of details. The quality of the image is actually excellent if you don't mind the grain, which I don't (never do). The sharpness of the front of the loco slowly fades and you are left with some hazy fog in the background. Really a great photo.
If you look at shots that show more a side view of a locomotive rather than a three-quarter, the poor depth of field is less of a problem.

Here's an example of an "action" shot taken with the same Brownie. That very, very s-l-o-w shutter just couldn't handle this rather fast-moving train. This is an example of a shot that I wouldn't upload, for obvious reasons.

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Old 01-12-2012, 03:02 AM   #5
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This one was taken with the Brownie, and the train was moving (albeit quite slowly, since it had been stopped by a red signal at the C&O crossing---waiting for the passenger train I had just ridden in on).

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This shot was also published in CTC Board Magazine several years ago. I'm sure Dale Sanders (the editor) didn't know the print came from a Kodak Brownie 127 neg.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:11 AM   #6
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My earliest memories include my grandmother's Kodak Brownie, which she kept on a shelf near her phone. It was a bakelite camera and it had recorded much of my mother's childhood.

Nice stuff, Ron - there are people buying Diana cameras today to try and recreate that look (next time you walk into an Urban Outfitters - "Welcome to er-bin" - you'll be amazed at all the plastic lens cameras there.

I have my grandmother's Brownie and my Diana (from 1965) here in my house.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:34 PM   #7
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It looks like you can still buy 127 film. Might have a little trouble getting it developed.
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:16 PM   #8
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It looks like you can still buy 127 film. Might have a little trouble getting it developed.
There seems to be some interest these days in using "antique" cameras again. I still have my Argus Autronic, and it apparently still works. I might run a roll of slide film through it to see what I get. I had no idea 127 film was still available, so maybe there's also some hope for my Brownie!

This whole discussion led me to dig out the box in the closet with all my old camera equipment. These things really have no value now except as collectibles or conversation pieces you might display in your home, since the value of all film cameras has gone down the old porcelain convenience.
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:01 PM   #9
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The problem with these old cameras is they often need to be serviced...new light seals, stuck apertures, whatever. It costs $100 to get a $10 camera back in working order.

Since we are sharing pictures taken with vintage cameras, here are a couple recent ones from my Spotmatic. I sent these out to a guy that makes slides out of B&W negative film. Unfortunately, almost everything came out kind of underexposed. Here is the service if anyone is interested: http://www.dr5.com/ Again, my scanner sucks.



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Old 01-12-2012, 05:36 PM   #10
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The problem with these old cameras is they often need to be serviced...new light seals, stuck apertures, whatever. It costs $100 to get a $10 camera back in working order.

Since we are sharing pictures taken with vintage cameras, here are a couple recent ones from my Spotmatic. I sent these out to a guy that makes slides out of B&W negative film. Unfortunately, almost everything came out kind of underexposed. Here is the service if anyone is interestedAgain, my scanner sucks.
The one family camera I don't have anymore (because it was stolen) was my dad's Pentax K-1000 (the Spotmatic's no frills baby brother).

Man did I love that camera. Have thought about buying one on eBay, but then realized, "what's the point?"

My Canon AE1 was leaking light and firing on film advance, so I had it repaired. Spent more than the camera had cost me new. That was five years ago. The fixed camera has sat in my closet ever since without ever being used after the test roll was run thorugh it (when I do take slides these days, I do it on my Canon 7e).
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:45 PM   #11
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I like having the old film camera. I take it everywhere. I don't worry if it gets lost or stolen or falls in the river. I leave it in a parked car, etc. It's fun to shoot. It's fun to have slide shows with the kids. The only downside is trying to get shots accepted here due to my lousy scans.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:36 PM   #12
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I like having the old film camera. I take it everywhere. I don't worry if it gets lost or stolen or falls in the river. I leave it in a parked car, etc. It's fun to shoot. It's fun to have slide shows with the kids. The only downside is trying to get shots accepted here due to my lousy scans.
Man, I love those shots!

My second 35mm camera was a Yashica Electro-35, acquired in late 1967. It was also a viewfinder model where you selected the aperture, and it selected the shutter speed. Eventually I mastered this technique and the nuances of the camera, so I could find a way to make sure there would be no nose blur on a moving train (assuming the ISO rating of the film was sufficiently fast).

It was a great little camera, though. The battery it used is no longer made, so I can't use it now.

Here's a sample shot from 1968:

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Old 01-15-2012, 10:17 PM   #13
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I`ve got one on the db taken in 1967 with a brownie 127. It is a pretty historic shot.

Image © Graham Williams
PhotoID: 275577
Photograph © Graham Williams

Very few of my others from the 1960's would get accepted.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:50 PM   #14
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I`ve got one on the db taken in 1967 with a brownie 127. It is a pretty historic shot.

Image © Graham Williams
PhotoID: 275577
Photograph © Graham Williams

Very few of my others from the 1960's would get accepted.
It's a nice shot of an important subject. The image quality exhibits the same traits as my Brownie 127 shots from a few years earlier, particularly the shallow depth of field. It's rather sharp in the middle, though, which is another Brownie characteristic.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:58 PM   #15
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This one was taken with the Brownie, and the train was moving (albeit quite slowly, since it had been stopped by a red signal at the C&O crossing---waiting for the passenger train I had just ridden in on).
Since I've only been taking train pics for roughly 5 years, it fascinates me that you've been doing it for half a century. I've got such a long way to go.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:59 PM   #16
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I`ve got one on the db taken in 1967 with a brownie 127. It is a pretty historic shot.

Image © Graham Williams
PhotoID: 275577
Photograph © Graham Williams

Very few of my others from the 1960's would get accepted.
Wow, Graham, I was a "little Jim" in 1967. The 25th to be exact.
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