September 20, 2010

Brownie Hawkeye

Meet the Brownie Hawkeye Flash.

This beautiful little box camera was manufactured in the 1950's. From 1949 to 1961, to be exact. And I had the good fortune of finding one at a thrift store a few months ago.

Since I don't have the requisite 127 format film, which is nearly impossible to find nowadays, I figured out a way to load it with 35mm film. Loading the film wasn't too difficult, but the challenge lies in figuring out how far to advance the film in between frames. It's a bit of a guessing game, especially since the exact amount of rotation needed changes as more and more exposed film is wound ever thicker around the spool connected with the film advance knob.

Since 35mm film is narrower than the 127 film the camera was designed for, the entire width of the film is exposed with each click of the shutter. I took the camera on a drive around Virginia Beach with me, to Fort Story's Old and New Cape Henry Lighthouses and to Lynnhaven Marina.

The photos were taken a few months ago, but I was able to scan them in only now... using my birthday present: a shiny new photo and negative scanner! I need to work on some of the finer details of scanning negatives properly, but I couldn't wait to share a few of my first scanned images.

Although I used color film, I switched to monochrome in post processing. The reason for it is the little red exposure counter window directly behind the film and across from the lens, which I had covered up from the outside but not from the inside. The paper backing on 127 film prevents the window from affecting photos, but 35mm film has no such protective layer. Thus, the shiny plastic surface inside the camera was enough to cast a distracting red reflection onto the images. I learned though — that little window is now covered from the inside, too!

New Cape Henry Lighthouse

The images are wonderfully imperfect, and looking at them reminds me of how I carried the quirky, boxy camera around with me, looking for suitable subjects for it to capture. The camera is held at waist level, and the image is framed by looking down into the viewfinder mounted on the top of the camera body.

Looking down at the Brownie Hawkeye. The body is taped shut to make sure it's light-tight. The 35mm film canister is just a tad too bulky, making it impossible to close the compartment completely. The gray button on the left lifts up to allow long exposures, and the gray button on the right is the shutter. The dial on the right is the film advance knob.

Lynnhaven Marina

These images also show scotch tape and dust specs. Just this once, I'm willing to consider them "charming imperfections." But in truth they are the hasty errors of an overzealous beginner. The scanner is unbelievably sharp and precise, more so than I expected, and as I learned today, it does see clear scotch tape and tiny particles of dust.

Beach access near Fort Story.

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

1 comment:

  1. LOL!!! "..hasty errors of an overzealous beginner.."" You are so incredibly amazing! I saw these shots on Flickr and thought they were wonderful, but I had no IDEA of the process.

    You should have a Cable TV show, Britta!!

    Another wonderful, fascinating, delightfully written post! Woman, you need to publish books!