Week Ten

January 8, 2017

Kodak Brownie Reflex

I hinted last week I had given myself a little Christmas hols project so Russell suggested we double it up with the 52 weeks. This meant however running 2 cameras as he displays that months cameras with a couple of prints from it in the shop, but it wouldn't really effect anything.

The Kodak Brownie Reflex! A twin lens reflex camera (TLR) from the 40/50s, well - not really a TLR! It's a box brownie, squished and restyled into a more modern design and the viewing glass expanded to cover the whole top with a tin pull up door looking down onto a mirror and out of a big viewing lens with the standard taking lens sitting below it… a posh box brownie!

Why is this personal? Well my son bought it for me, good condition with its box and flash, I really wanted to run it as he had made a really nice effort but it eats 127 film hence last weeks delve into rolling my own 35mm. I had had issues but this was the next step! I struggled with the viewer last week particularly with sprockets but this was a massive clear bright viewer so no problem there! 2 strips of black tape to mask off the probable image area and we were good to go. I had rolled an extra HP5 400  from the week before. Yes it was harsh sun again but I rigged up a hood that held my light yellow, strong yellow and orange Rollei filters stretching the fixed F11 aperture and 1/30th shutter speed to hopefully manageable levels. I ran through the roll at the Royal William Yard, an historical navy yard now posh flats, bars and old stuff! All went well till I got to 10 of the 12 4x4 frames. It wouldn't advance any further, so I had a beer or 2 and drifted home to dev. I unloaded in the changing bag and had a feel around, the paper had jammed! I figured fixing the film to the paper at both ends had caused it. I rolled 2 more fixing at just the start, a cheap colour, an FP4+ and bagged an expired in 1975 Prinzcolor 127 I would run for fun. I looked at the HP5 results and there was a weird out of focus distortion in the middle – the film had buckled in the opening throwing out the focus probably the same reason as the jam.

Day 2 I set off to Russells shop picked up camera 2 and loaded up. It then got dark… really dark for 1pm, I took a light reading and at the f11 for 200 asa I could only muster 1/15thL. Coffee…think…coffee… light bulb moment! I abandoned the meter and set about the Barbican and Hoe festooned with flat surfaces holding down the cameras and attempted double exposing which should get me the required  1/15th exposure  (1/30th x2). This was not easy as the plunger is quite aggressive with no cable fitting.  Both 35s jammed again at 8 &10, the 127 crackled and popped but ran through easily. I triple exposed on this film for its expired nature. It was while I was walking home the possible jamming reason came to me so as soon as I got in I set about stripping out the film and developing. I looked at the film holder and as I thought it was curved! The paper was following the curve while the film was short cutting across the void, they needed to run exactly the same! I developed the film and on the whole they were ok (the c41 colour – long story but 0 images, my fault somehow I had loaded already exposed film). Exposure was better overall, as was the centring of the sprocket shots and the keeper rate of the double exposers surprised me, in fact their dark smoky look reflected the day nicely. I developed the Prinz roll as black and white, being c22 it was not ever going to be worth sending off but came out scratched blotched with weird colour casts and actually strangely appealing.

I apologise for the lengthy ramblings but I honestly have skipped over a lot of detail, I learned so much! I now know to run rolled sprockets in a straight backed holder! A long frame makes for better sprocket shots and a big viewer makes life much easier. I can think on my feet and pull images from the most basic camera in crap conditions and I can only get better ;)  …. Bring on more 127s I say!!!

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