Improvisation is fun, 01 October 2009


So, after having confirmed that my Brownie box camera actually works properly, I was shooting another roll of film through it, and wondered whether or not it would work for night photography. [1] It seems, however, that the Kodak designers of the 1930s had conspired against me; the camera does not have a tripod mount anywhere on the box. [2] No matter. Below, you’ll see my solution.


Yes, that’s right. I “attached” the camera to the tripod head by using a pair of heavy-duty rubber bands. Surprisingly, this proved to be an eminently stable arrangement for the camera, so I proceeded to take the camera and tripod out into the wide world (at night) to take some pictures. Below is an example of the results.


Photo Information:

Camera: Kodak Six-20 Brownie Junior
Film: Kodak Portra 160 VC (120), expired.
Exposure: 6 seconds, at the “wide” aperture setting (probably around f/8) [3]

As for the photo itself, the subject of the photo is Christ and St. Luke’s Church in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia. The film was the last of five rolls of expired Kodak Portra 160VC that I rediscovered awhile back; while the colors look a bit garish, keep in mind that this is color film at night. Sodium vapor lamps might be great for general illumination, but they are not so friendly to color film. In any event, the crispness of the image does indicate that my improvised mounting solution works. [4] Woohoo!

Oh, and also, while medium format cameras often use the square format, in this case, I cropped the photo to these dimensions; because of the extensive black (and therefore, blank) areas in the photo, I decided that the square format would be appropriate here. As such, the parts that I cropped out were empty, anyways.



[1]: Well, in theory, I already knew it would work; the “Timed” shutter speed worked, and so long as I had a means of stabilizing the camera for a long exposure, I was confident that it would work. Of course, the latter part was the one about which I was unsure, thus leading to the experiment you see above.

[2]: Yeah, I know. I shouldn’t’ve expected much from the camera; it was, after all, intentionally designed with simplicity in mind. That said, other versions of the Brownie cameras did feature tripod mounts, so it is clear that in some cases, the designers felt that it was appropriate to include these. Just not in this case, unfortunately.

[3]: This is supposition only. That said, many cameras that feature only a small number of aperture settings often start out at f/8. This aperture size is also convenient for rendering a wide range of subjects in focus (the smaller the aperture, the less reliant the lens needs to be on precision focus; the downside of this feature is that it also renders everything in the scene in focus – something that may not be desirable, depending on the situation). [*]

[*]: What? Didn’t know about that? Learn.

[4]: Oh, and if this strikes you as odd, one of these days, I intend to write a post about making your own homemade Bantam (828) film. Now that was an intensive improvisation.


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