Of pinholes and Polaroids… and Polapins


It’s starting to warm up some, so I’m getting even more “Woo!” about photography lately. Bought a bunch of stuff off eBay, the main event being the Polaroid Macro 5 SLR.

Polaroid Macro 5 SLR

It was really quite a bargain – only $30 (plus $20 shipping) for a camera that cost about $700 a few years ago and 5 packs of film. This particular one (whom Travis and I now call ‘Robbie’) was a dental camera in a previous life. He’ll spend his retirement primarily taking macro nature picture for me (like the pussy willow at the top of the post). I’m going through the film that it came with first. It takes 990 or Spectra film, and the film is a bit outdated. I think it expired in 2007. It has a strong yellowish cast to it. I’m also bad about adjusting the darkness on the camera. So, none of the pics have come out stunning (the pussy willow is the best of the lot, and I photoshopped the yellow cast out), but it’s a fun toy.

I finally made my big-ass Freestyle order, too. I’m getting a ton of stuff – 2 different C-41 kits (the Unicolor powder kit and then the liquid) and the E-6 kit, some more Fuji peel-apart film for the Polaroid 230, random films I wanted to try out, a decent infrared filter (finally!), a bit of ortho sheet film… I can’t remember what else. Looking forward to getting the color chems, though, especially the E-6 stuff. I have an idea involving some 4×5 pinhole photographs using E6 slide film…

Also coming in the mail is a film slitter! I ran across an auction yesterday and got it immediately. I’m having it set up to cut 120 film down to 127 size. I had been stalking the few 127 auctions that are on eBay, but they’re going for more than I’d want to pay, and this way, I can just cut down some of my tons of 120/220 film and use that instead. Instant win!

I’ve gotten re-obsessed with pinhole photography, too. It must be that time of year. I tried making a pinhole camera using a cartridge of 126 film…

Triple Print 126 pinhole camera

…unfortunately, the actual film inside the cartridge was stupid Triple Print. I tried developing it in black and white chems and got a big old FAIL. No matter. I reloaded the cartridge with some of my mystery Kodak TMax and taped it up again. I’ll probably try shooting with it tomorrow.

I also made a pseudo-matchbox pinhole camera using a battery box from AAA batteries (since we’re apparently low on matchboxes).

Battery Box Pinhole Camera

I loaded that up with the mystery TMax and shot it. This film actually did develop properly.


Toby and yard

Not sure what’s up with the vignetting in the second photo. Weird.

While I was developing pictures, I developed another roll of found film from the Ansco Readyflash auction. This was a roll of Verichrome Pan and actually turned out really well (as opposed to the first two rolls I developed, which were sketchy).

Happy woman

I really love that picture. I want to get it enlarged. The other pics on the roll were just as fun.

Fork and spoon!

Guy with cane

Oh, on the same day, I also tried developing the old roll of Kodachrome I had hanging around from the Canada auction. That was a big old FAIL, too. I think the next time I try developing old color slide or negative film in black and white chems, I’ll use the Blix instead of my regular fixer to see if that happens to solve any of my problems.

While I had the developer mixed up, I got out some of the 4×5 sheet film I used in the Hannakube around New Year’s. I haven’t tried out my 4×5 developing tank yet since I didn’t have that amount of chems mixed up, but once my Freestyle order gets here, I’m going to dump all of my old premixed chems (except for my HC110b syrup – that stuff is awesome!) and start fresh. So I just developed the sheet film one at a time in the Paterson tank.

I’ve only used the Hannakube twice, but both times I’ve been ultra paranoid that I’m going to get horrendous light leaks. Happily, on the two pics I developed, that wasn’t the case. The only issue I’ve got with the 4×5 sheet film is that I don’t have a really good way to scan it in. I can scan it in as a picture, but that tends to come out nowhere near as sharp as what the negative shows. I can scan it in as a transparency, but my scanner crops it because it can only scan the ceneter of the scanner as a transparency (weird). I went with the transparency option, because even if it is cropped, it’s a lot better image. Here are the two Hannakube pics:

Snow on the tracks

Looking at the lake

You can see in the top picture (the one where I actually managed to hold the camera still) I got really nice sharpness. The other one, not so much. Oh well. It was really windy that day and the Hannakube only weighs a few ounces. I’m looking forward to trying this out with the 4×5 slide film I have. I’ve got a few packs of Ektachrome Dupe film, and I haven’t done anything with it yet. I know absolutely nothing about that film, so I figure I’ll just throw it in the Hannakube and open the shutter for a few seconds and see what happens.

Made another pinhole camera last night. I’m using some 100 speed color Fuji film in it that expired in 2003.

Monster cam

The camera part of it was Frankensteined together from a 126 film box. I put 2 pinholes in it instead of the usual one. The pinholes are each about .3 mm, which is probably a little large for this camera, but I’m in the mood to be spontaneous with my pinhole-making, so I haven’t been doing the math like I have in the past. This will be the first time I work with two pinholes at once. I’m not sure if I’ll get a fuzzy stereoscopic image or just one long double image. I’m also not sure what the light leakage situation is going to be. Since I used about 2 metric tons of electrical tape, it should be good, but you never know.

I have plans to fashion some Polaroid pinhole cams in the next few days. Catastrophe could ensue!

Polaroid Shenanigans


There was a bit of ridiculousness since the last time I played with the Polaroid One-Step Express. I lost the camera. One would think that would be difficult to do, considering the camera is large and green and resembles a whale, but I lost it nonetheless. Travis looked in the car, I looked all over the house, and there was no Polaroid to be found. Finally, I gave up and bought an emergency back-up Polaroid One Step at Goodwill for 99 cents. This one doesn’t have anywhere near the personality as the One Step Express, since it’s entirely black, but hey – 99 cents. You can’t go too wrong.

I figured that buying the back-up camera would immediately ensure that I would find the One Step Express, but a few days went by, and it still hadn’t shown up. Saddened, I loaded up the black One Step up with a pack of film, and Travis and I drove around on a little random excursion up to Amish-land. I took a plethora of cameras.

Yashica snowbound

Anyway, whilst driving around, we stopped at a Goodwill in Millersburg, and there I hit the jackpot – I found a Polaroid Spectra camera in perfect working condition for $2.00. I had been looking for a Spectra since the end of December, when I scored 3 packs of Spectra film at the flea market in Muncie. I had seen some Spectras on ebay, but didn’t feel like paying the shipping, so I’m glad I waited until I just happened to run across one.

Another thing happened in Millersburg – we found the green One Step Express. Turns out it was hiding in the Fit the whole time. So, now I have two of them. Oh well. At least I wasn’t going crazy.

The next day we drove up north to Medina, and along with the normal herd of cameras, I brought along the Spectra, too, to take on a test drive. I haven’t developed any of the film from the other cameras yet (Travis shot with the Capitol 120, and I took some pics with the Yashica and the Uniflex Pinhole), but here are some of the Polaroids from the two days. The square format ones are from the One Step, and the rectangular images are from the Spectra.


Army Navy Surplus guy


Graffiti Diptych

Just for fun, a pic taken with the Nikon in all of its silly HDR glory:

Church, all hdr'd and such

In addition to needing to develop the rolls of film that we took recently, I also scored another sizable batch of old exposed film on ebay. I am an ebay ninja. Also, in addition to all of that, I just won an auction for 17 bucks that includes 12 rolls of 126 film and 4 packs of 108 Polaroid film. And there are 6 cameras, too. I’m not holding out much hope that the Polaroid film is still going to be usable, but if the camera works, I should be able to use some of the new Fuji peel apart film in it. I don’t see myself buying a ton of that due to the cost, but I may order a pack or so from Freestyle next time I do an order just to try it out.

Should be some interesting stuff coming up in the next few weeks.

Polaroid, waiting

Rolleicord update and C41 in B/W

Bicycle in snow

The weather for the next week is supposed to be terrifyingly cold, which does not make prospects for photography bright. I’m supposed to be getting a box shipped to me today with misc. cameras in it (no clue as to what actually works or not) and other misc. camera junk, so that should be a nice diversion. Maybe there will be some film inside to develop.

Bundled up and took the dogs next door to take my test roll with the Rolleicord II and also try out the respooled 116 in the Agfa Shur Shot.

First, the Rolleicord. Honestly, it works fine. Once I got the film counter mechanism reset, it seems as if everything works as it’s supposed to. It took pictures, the film advanced, and I didn’t seem to get any irritating lines on my film like I do with the Argoflex. However, it is not an intuitive camera at all. The film advance dial and the focusing dial are right next to each other, so there were several times I tried to focus and wound up nudging the film forward instead. Also, I find the shutter cocking method extremely bizarre – not so much that you have to cock the shutter, but after you do that, you kind of have to push the shutter forward in order to take the picture. That’s the part that’s weird. It feels too soft when I do that, like something isn’t working right. However, like I said, everything came out fine, so I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Garage and truck

I think my biggest problem is just getting accustomed to dealing with adjusting both my shutter speed and my aperture. I change my shutter speed all the time with the Nikon D40, but I’m not anyway near as used to messing with aperture. It’s one of those things that I have to stop and really think about, like, “Okay, it’s sunny outside, so I can use a smaller aperture and a faster shutter speed.” I know of the sunny 16 rule, but I can’t bring myself to actually remember it. I guess I just need to carry a cheat sheet and/or not get flustered.

Bela and Van

So, I think the Rolleicord is a good camera, I just have to get a little more confidence in using it.

The roll of Ilford Pan F wasn’t even too funky, remarkably. I got some weird grain in a few of the pictures that were dark, but those pictures kind of sucked anyway, so no matter.

Next up is the Portra NC160 respooled onto 116 backing paper. The Agfa Shur Shot, by the way, is a camera I bought on accident. I bought it because it had film in it, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was a 116 camera instead of 120. You would think the larger size of the box would have been a clue, but no.

Flea market cameras

I was able to develop two frames of the old film that was inside.

Awesome Dude

I really dig this photo, and it made me want to use the camera again. So it here, all loaded up with film. I had two problems actually using the camera. The first is that the film advance knob was really hard to wind. I think that’s because my backing paper was kind of eaten up to begin with. Also, it was cold outside, which always complicates things. Secondly, the shutter works okay, but the one flap that covers the actual shutter doesn’t spring back into place automatically like it should. It just kind of hovers behind the lens. I’ve got to jiggle the shutter thingy after taking a picture to get everything back to where it should be. It didn’t seem to affect the picture at all, though, so it wasn’t a big deal.

This was my first time developing color film in black and white chems. I was using HC110b (again) and had the film in the developer for 7 minutes at about 66 degrees, and then did my stop bath and fix as usual. When I went to wash the film after I fixed it, it looked absolutely opaque. Solid brown. I freaked out and thought that something had gone horribly wrong. I wound up putting the film back in the developer for 3 minutes, and then did the stop bath and fix again, followed with a minute bleach bath (one glug of bleach to about 500 ml of water). Took the film out and looked at it again, and it looked exactly the same.

That pissed me off, and I did an abbreviated wash, fixer remover, other wash, and hypo because I thought the film was rubbish. However, when I went to go hang it up after all this, I could see that yes, actually, there were images on the film. Go figure. So, lesson be learned – when you cross process C41 film in black and white negs, don’t be too freaked out if your film is really really dark, and looks like it didn’t develop while its reeled up.

Even with the really dark negs, it scanned in beautifully. I got a nice, cold, faintly purple cast to the scanned in pics. The only Photoshopping I did was to resize and remove some hairs.

The garage next door

It’s better viewed large.

I like the Shur Shot. Out of all of my cameras that take 116 film, it has the best viewfinders. The next 116 camera I was going to try was my beat-to-hell antique Kodak Autographic 2A bellows camera. I’ve used this before with a spool of 120. Results were sketchy. I suspect I have light leaks in the camera. The frame advance window was popped out so I replaced it with a developed negative (that actually seems to work really well). The film advance key thingy wants to pop out of place and cause havoc to where my film is situated. Also, the viewfinder only works if you’re taking vertical pictures, which, of course, means that I’m only going to want to take horizontal pictures. In spite of all this, the camera is lovely. Even though it’s all beat-up, it’s absolutely gorgeous and the shutter is still snappy. So, if the weather ever cooperates (or even if it doesn’t), using this with respooled 116 backing paper is going to be one of my next adventures.

Success! And, subsequent FAIL!

Old west Liquor

Liquors. I need some now.

A few days ago, I got my color chems back out and tried developing the few rolls of color film I hadn’t gotten to during the big C-41 day. My test rolls were shot using Kodak Gold of unknown origin in the Kowa, and 35mm Fujicolor 200 taped to 127 backing paper in my Frankensteined Starluxe. I tried doing some macro photography with the Starluxe by holding up one of my Lensbaby macro lenses up to the Starluxe lens.

Vault Boy, fuzzy

It didn’t exactly work.

I did manage to get a cool shot of Bela through the Starluxe. I scanned this in using the 35mm carrier for the scanner, because the sprocket holes were starting to be a big pain in my ass.

Bela, fast

The Kowa pictures came out better.


I only had one instance of the Kowa shutter flipping open while I was advancing the film, and it happened on the last frame. I liked the effect.

Accidental Jeep diptych

The main thing I wanted to try with the regular film was developing the roll of Portra 160NC 220 film that I had in the Brownie Twin 20. I was curious if I’d get something similar to the red dot effect that I got with the Ansco Shur Flash. The developing went fine, and only a few pictures had what I’m assuming is a reflection from the film window on them. The majority of the shots turned out fine. Really incredibly boring, but fine. The liquor store one at the top of the post was the most interesting, and that’s only because I got a weird coloration on it. Everything else just looked normal and dull. I’m not sure if that’s because I just wanted to burn through the roll of 220 in order to see what it was doing, or because the Twin 20 isn’t the most exciting camera, or because the actual film is just kind of meh. I hadn’t anticipated how much more commitment a roll of 220 is than a roll of 120. I happen to have a buttload of 220, though, and need to come up with creative ways to use it. I think I may try spooling it onto some 616 backing paper next and running it through one of my 616 cameras. I also know that whenever I get my E-6 kit from Freestyle, I’m going to take a bunch of 220 pictures and hope to god that cross-processing them does something interesting to them.

After I did my regular C-41 processing, I let my chems cool down to room temp and then attempted my first go at developing process C-22 film in C-41 chems. My guinea pig roll was a roll of 620 Kodacolor-X that, I think, came out of one of two Brownie Hawkeyes – one I grabbed in an antique mall in Winchester, Indiana, or one that I got on eBay that came from West Virginia. I failed to make any notes at all on this film. Oh well. Anyway, this was my procedure for developing the film:

Presoaked the film in room temperature water for 15 minutes.
Poured in the C-41 developer (which was at 70 degrees), and let it sit in the C-41 developer for 20 minutes, with inverse agitation every 2 minutes.
Poured out the C-41 chems, poured in the Blix, and soaked it in that for 8 minutes, agitating every minute.
Washed and stabilized as usual.

This actually worked! Holy crap! I was thrilled. True, the negatives were really thin, and I only got 6 images out of 12 (but that could have been due to people opening up the back of the camera), but I actually got images! In some weird sort of color!

Here’s the scan of one of the negatives, unaltered in photoshop (although I’m sure the Epson tried to adjust for film base color when I scanned it in):


The big spooge streak was across the entire film. I figured that happened because I didn’t agitate as much as I should have. The darker blue splotches are… what? Mold maybe? Something.

Anyway, after I cropped the splooge mark from the images and adjusted the levels, here is the best that I could come up with:

Woman with parrot

Fat tree

Woman and foot

Sure, the color is uber-funky, but I was pretty happy with it, enough to try again the next day with a roll of 35mm Kodacolor X that frabjousfrocks from Craftster sent me. This time I tried to adjust my method based on the first results and wound up with an uber-FAIL. I got nothing. I got a roll full of blank. Something went horribly, horribly wrong. I’m not sure if it was my fault or if the film was screwed up before I got it (maybe wound back into the canister without ever having been exposed?), but whatever happened, it was bad, bad, bad. I’m just assuming right now that it was something I did. So, in the sake of whoever might be reading this that wants to try C-22 in C-41 chems, here’s what I did that you probably should not do:

1. Presoaked 10 minutes in room temperature water.
2. Had my developer at 80 degrees, and had the film soaking in the developer for 15 minutes, agitating every minute.
3. Also had the Blix at around 80 degrees, and soaked it in the Blix for 8 minutes, agitating every 30 seconds.

I think upping them temp to 80 was probably my big mistake. I suspect it melted the emulsion off the film. Stupid finicky film emulsion. Sorry, frabjous. 😦

There is, of course, a bunch of other possibilities of what could have gone wrong, including my chems suddenly going funky within 24 hours. So, today (or tomorrow, maybe, since I screwed up my back a few hours ago and it really hurts), I was going to test out the color chems with a few rolls of 35mm film to make sure they still work, and then try lowering the temp and seeing if they’ll develop another old roll of film. I’ve got two old films loaded onto reels right now. They’re both 126, but one is Kodacolor-X and the other is GAF. I was planning on trying to develop both at once, but now I’m scared and I’ll probably just do one. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just revert to plan B – developing my old C22 film in HC110b chemistry (black and white).

One of the rolls of 35mm that I was going to use to test the color chems was respooled onto 126 backing paper and put back into a 126 cartridge. If that actually turns out okay, I’ll post some info on how to do it on here soon.

A series of spectacular FAILs!

The Kowa eats film

I promised you FAIL potential, and boy, do I deliver! Where to start?

The first place would probably be with the Kowa film eating disaster. In September Travis inherited a Kowa H 35mm camera that had belonged to his grandfather. We found it in the closet of his grandmother’s condo, still loaded with film (I think it was on frame 4 or 5 at the time).


The Kowa is a Japanese camera, and is what Travis’ grandfather used to shoot carousel after carousel of family slides. So, it has a history and a lot of sentimental value, in addition to being nifty in its own right.

We’ve had the camera since September, but haven’t really played with it much – I’m more into roll film rather than 35mm, but we both wanted to see how the camera shot and what kind of film was inside, so we took it with us the other day when we went out shooting pics. Travis was shooting with it, and noticed the film advance being really funky after a while. I said it was possible that the cold weather might be causing it to bind up, so he put it away.

When we got home, I tried opening it up (it took me a while to figure out how to do it – turns out there’s a sneaky mini-latch that pops open the back) in a dark bag to see if I could free the film. My thought was that I would be able to shove it back into its cartridge most of the way until I was ready to develop it. Once I got the camera open in the dark bag, though, I felt all kind of badness – namely, the mess seen at the top of the post.

I had to keep my hands in the bag, so Travis got my film developing tank and a spool ready for me in the bathtub (where I do all of my film loading, of course!) and after I was in the dark, I was able to cut off the bad chunk of film, and wind the rest onto a developing reel. It’s now sitting in the spare tank I have.

It’s sitting there because, although I had every intention on doing a big batch of color developing, it turns out my color chems that I had mixed up have gone bad, leading to FAIL #2. Fortunately, though, the roll of film I wasted in order to test this was a roll of junk 35mm that we ran back through the Kowa. It was just shots taken around the house, but once I ran it through the developer and Blix, I saw that absolutely no development had taken place.

It wasn’t exactly a big surprise that my chems were muck, considering I had mixed them up in September. I had hoped, however, that I would be able to reuse them, like alspix did. I think I had left too much air in the bottles, though, and that’s what killed it.

I loaded yet another roll of spare color 35mm into the Kowa, and Travis shot that up yesterday. That’s going to be my test roll for tomorrow. I’m planning on mixing up the other half of the color chems I have and just developing a veritable buttload of color film all at once. That is, of course, if the unmixed color chems haven’t gone rubbish on me as well. That’s what the test roll is for, I guess. I’m starting to wonder if the Kowa has a curse on it, though.

So, since my plans on color developing yesterday were trash, I decided to develop the three rolls of black and white I had shot on New Year’s Eve. There were from the Uniflex pinhole, the Savoy, and the Falcon Mini. I started with the roll that was in the Uniflex pinhole, and discovered FAIL #3

Uniflex pinhole

The Uniflex was a FAIL of sorts already, as I had bought it in an eBay auction where the seller claimed it was in “Fine condition!” only to have it arrive and find out that its shutter was bunk. Trust me, I left an appropriately sternly worded negative feedback. Anyway, as it would have cost me more money than I spent on the auction to return it, I tired to make the best of a bad situation by gutting the Uniflex, removing its lenses and other random parts, and then putting it back together as a pinhole. The film advance still worked fine, there’s a nice big viewfinder, and the camera is heavy like a brick, which is nice for those long pinhole exposures.

I don’t have a shutter on this camera – instead, I’m just using the cap of a plastic 35mm film can as a lens cap/shutter thingy. It’s a little tricky in order to smoothly remove and replace it within a few seconds. The whole time I was shooting with the camera, I was concerned that I was way overexposing the images.

I kind of stopped worrying about that once I dropped the Uniflex pinhole down the side of railroad tracks onto stone in 20 degree weather, though. That sucked. Amazingly, the thing held together and life moved on.

Once I developed the film, I found out that I had other things to worry about besides overexposing. True, every image (and there were only 4 or 5 that could be made into anything recognizable using Photoshop) was severely overexposed, but part of that wasn’t just my fault.

1st shot with the Uniflex Pinhole

See the lines? I think I’ve got a light leak along the bottom edge of the camera. I’m pretty sure the lines form from when I advance the film – turn and then stop. Light gets exposed onto the film. Turn and then stop. Repeat.

My first thought to solve this is to seal that bottom edge with electrical tape once I have the camera loaded with another roll of film. I’ll see what that does. I’m also going to drop down from TMax 100 to my Ilford Pan F. The Ilford stuff is ASA 50, and very likely expired, so it should be a bit slower than the first roll. I’ll probably still overexpose, but maybe not quite so badly. Freestyle sells several films that are ASA 25, so I might have to try a few rolls next time I place an order.

My other thought with the Uniflex Pinhole is to try a filter with it. I got a pack of cheapy little plastic filters (presumably for a Brownie Hawkeye) at a flea market in Muncie. I’ve used the red one in the Hawkeye with a roll of Ilford SFX infrared film and it worked pretty well. I’ve got a pale orange one (and a yellow, green, and clear one, too), that I’m thinking about taping to the inside of the pinhole. Is it still a pinhole if I use a filter? My theory is that the filter would give me a little additional time to make my exposures, and also give me slightly more contrasty daylight skies.

The Uniflex wasn’t a complete FAIL, though. I’m pretty happy with the actual pinhole I made for it.


Things look relatively sharp and in focus. The diagonal streaks in the above photo, by the way, is from a train going by. This was maybe a 30 second exposure? I’m not sure. It’s all a blur.

The last semi-FAIL I had is with my beloved Falcon Mini.

On the road, with lines

I realized that something inside the camera is causing lines to sctratch across the film. The first roll had this on it, too, I just didn’t realize it until I saw how this roll turned out. I’ll have to see what can be done about this.

I removed the most obnoxious line from this diptych:

Water Tower Diptych

And finally, in happier news, I can report that the Savoy is awesome.

Abandoned building

I ran a roll of expired Ektachrome through it yesterday at the park. If my color chems work, hopefully I’ll be able to see the results of it tomorrow.

Falcon Miniature

Falcon Miniature

This is the first 127 camera I acquired. Last summer I won an eBay auction for two old folding bellows Brownie cameras (the Autographic 1 Jr. and the Autographic 2A). The seller threw in three other cameras along with them as a bonus, which was nice. The Falcon was one of the three and suddenly I had a 127 camera.

I liked the way it looked, but it was pretty funky – the glass in the viewfinder is gone, so composing a picture is pretty much blind, the shutter was sticky, the lens was dirty, and one of the spool cradles didn’t want to move to allow me to put in more film. I was able to fix most of the problems except for the missing glass, and since Travis hooked me up with a bunch of Efke 100 127 film for Christmas, I was finally able to shoot some pictures with it.

The inside of the Falcon is pretty nifty (and, of course, I forgot to get a picture of it). There’s a little compartment inside to tuck away an extra roll of film. The camera, instead of taking 10 or 12 square photos, has the set up where there are two red windows on the back of the camera – you advance the film until the number appears in the first window, take a picture, advance the film again until the same number appears in the second window, and then take your second picture. With the Falcon, the result of the means you get 2 slightly overlapping images, and if you don’t tilt the camera, they’re both vertical.

I loaded up the camera before we left for Christmas, and shot a roll of film while we were in Indiana. Developed it a few days ago and was absolutely tickled with what I got.

Grovertown hotspot

Where to start? First of all, I knew, from reading Marcy’s review of it that the images would overlap. I just didn’t anticipate that they would overlap in perfect little pairs.

Travis diptych

Secondly, the film was kind of warped or loose in the camera, I guess. See the waviness along the top edge of the photo, and the way the road is distorted? I’m not sure what was going on inside the Falcon to cause this, but it’s neat.

I’m also not sure if it’s the film distortion or something to do with the lens that’s causing the weirdness of image/loss of sharpness along the edges of the photo. Altogether, the final result is goofy – it’s the most pinhole-esque of any non-pinhole camera I’ve shot with.

This is the only single frame I got from the roll (because I accidentally advanced too far).


The film, too, is a joy. I had not used Efke before, but was quite pleased with the contrast I got. I took this picture on an overcast day but still got cloud definition.


I also got some misc. funk on the bottom edge of some of the negatives. That may have been my error, though – I was loading the negatives onto developing spools that were damp.

The Efke film also cracks me up by the huge frame numbers they run along the bottom edge of the film. What is up with that? They’re gigantic!

After seeing how the first roll of film came out, I’m now crazy about this camera, so much so that I immediately re-loaded it up with film and took it out again yesterday. It’s great as a snapshot camera. It fits in my coat pocket (barely, but I can get it in there). I was thrilled with how it shot from a moving vehicle (you can see from the image on the right above that it was taken from a moving car). Finally, it just looks cool. It’s a hoot to use. This camera and I, we’re going to have many good times together.

In which I help stimulate Indiana’s economy

Indiana camera haul

All right, I didn’t spend that much money there. Actually, everything I got was really cheap, with the exception of the Target 620 (that was $15 – more than I normally pay for an old box camera, but it had film inside, so I got sucked in).

First, the cameras. The 620 and Dualflex IV came from an antique shop in Speedway. It’s about a block and a half away from the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we got there early, so we wandered around for a little while taking pictures. I was using an Instamatic camera loaded with GAF color film from the 70s or early 80s. I’ll have to check and see what the actual expiration date was. Not too terribly sure how I’m going to crack open the cartridge to get to the film, but I’ll deal with that later.

Anyway, like I said, the Target 620 was $15, but it was loaded with a roll of Verichrome Pan, so I grabbed it. The Dualflex IV was a silly purchase, since it was not loaded with film, and I already have a Dualflex II with a better lens. However, the booth it was in had everything marked 1/2 off, and it was only $5 after the discount – since it was in pretty good condition I decided to grab it. I like the fact that it’s brown instead of black. I have too many black cameras.

Picked up the Savoy and the Clix-O-Flex at an antique mall in Muncie. I’m nutty in love with the Savoy. It’s got that whole retro-space feel to it that is awesome.

Atomic mintyness

It’s in immaculate condition, too. $6 for the Savoy.

The Clix-O-Flex, on the other hand, looked like someone had flung it up against a wall and then kicked mud on it. Here it is, cleaned up a little bit:

Clix-O-Flex front

The Bakelite ring around the lens is cracked. It has funk everywhere. The viewfinder gives me a triple image. I probably would have passed it up had it not had a roll of Verichrome Pan in it. The asking price was $10, but I was able to get it for $5. I normally don’t haggle (because I suck at it), but even with the film in it, there’s no way it was worth $10.

It does have its charm, though. It takes 127 film, and thanks to Travis, I’ve well stocked up on that. The quilted diamond front is pretty cool. I really like the rectangular viewfinder, triple image and all.

I shot the rest of the film in both the Target 620 and the Clix-O-Flex, and, oddly, the winding dials on both cameras seized up after the last frame. I can’t advance the film anymore, so I’m going to have to try opening them in the dark to get the film out safely. I don’t care so much about the Target 620 (although it does have an attractive front), but it would be cool if I could use the Clix-O-flex as a working camera.

The other photo-y things I picked up in Indiana include an old Bakelite developing tank for sheet film. It cost $2.

Inside of the tank

The lid and light trap are missing a few small chunks of Bakelite, but nothing that looks too critical. I figured I can test it out and if I get hideous light leaks, I can try to patch it. The rack part in the tank is adjustable. It was wedged pretty well in there at a smaller size than 4×5, and Travis and I had to mess with it for about 15 minutes before we finally got the rack thingies to move. I guess if I ever mess with sheet film smaller than 4×5, I can use this tank to develop it, too.

Here’s the Polaroid AutoProcessor for Polaroid 35mm film:

Polaroid AutoProcessor

This cost $4. If it works, it’ll be worth the price. I’ve got two rolls of Polaroid 35mm film – one is their slide film, and the other is Polablue, which makes really contrasty blue images. I’d love it if I could actually develop these film, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I’ll probably try shooting this film in the next month or so – it’s not like the developer that was included with the film is going to get better with age. I suspect it’s all dry and crunchy now.

Also picked up some old Kodak books:

Kodak books

I got these three and two smaller ones. 4 of the books were 25 cents each (the other was $3.00). Actually, the thing that was $3.00 is pocket-sized Kodak Master Photoguide printed in 1954 (the other 4 books are all circa late 40s/early 50s). The Photoguide is basically page after page of dials and information so you can easily figure out exposure data, depth of field, aperture, etc. It looks like something I may actually use. All of the old books have info about the old films (Verichrome Pan, etc) that I’m finding in cameras, so that’s pretty nifty.

I’ve got this gigantic backlog of color film I need to develop, but I think I want to pick up an aquarium heater before I do so so I can keep the chems at approximately the right temp. I’ve got some color chems I mixed up in August or September that may (or may not) still be viable. If not, I can mix up one more small batch to use. I may take the bold step of ordering a bigger C-41 kit from Freestyle next time I place an order with them, and maybe even an E-6 (color slide developing) kit, too.

Experimentation with 4×5

When I first started getting interested in pinhole photography and developing my own film, I placed this uber-order of film and paper and developing equipment from Freestyle. I tried to figure out what I absolutely needed and got those things, and then I also got a bunch of stuff that seemed like it would be fun. I haven’t gotten into some of it – I think I ordered some 5×7 and 8×10 photo paper I haven’t touched yet. I got it with the thought I would use it in some large format pinhole cameras, and I haven’t gotten around to making them yet.

Among the supplies I ordered was 4×5 sheet film and 4×5 Efke positive paper. The positive paper is cool because, if you’re making a pinhole photo, you actually get a positive image on your photo paper as opposed to the negative image you would get using standard photo papers (I guess most people will stick photo paper in their pinhole cameras, develop the paper, scan in the result and invert the image). After I made the Hannakube, I tried out the Efke paper. I took 4 pics, but only 3 came out with any kind of decent image. The best of the lot was this:

Kokosing River

The problem with the photo paper is that it messes with my brain. If my exposures turned out too light, did I underexpose or over expose the paper? Since you get a positive instead of a negative image, it’s confusing to me. I need to just load the Hannkube up again, shoot multiple images of the same subject at different times to see which result is the best, and figure out my under and over exposing that way.

That was the only time I’ve developed paper. I set up a darkroom area in my garage, waited until night, and did it then. I think, though, that I’ll try setting up a mini darkroom in my bathroom at night during the winter. My house is staying at a pretty constant 68-66 degrees, which is perfect for developing. I actually have an enlarger, and I need to see if it still is functional (I know it still turns on, but not too sure if it still works for making prints). My bathroom is small, but I think I can go all Tim Gunn and make it work.

My Hannakube camera was designed to work with 4×5 images. I’ve tried out the paper, like I’ve said, but haven’t tried out actually shooting with the 4×5 film in it yet. It was August before I finally got up the nerve to try anything with the 4×5 film.

There are camera geeks out there that are crazy about Polaroids, and although I see the appeal, I don’t really share the passion. I bought an old Polaroid One Step at Goodwill a while ago, and a pack of expensive Polaroid film for it and shot some pics. I don’t know. I just can’t get behind something that is so expensive. For the cost of a box of Polaroid film, I could probably buy 4 or 5 rolls of 120. It was just a bit of a buzzkill.

But, as much as I seem to have this aversion to Polaroids, I was sucked into buying this one:

PLC viewfinder

It’s one of the first Polaroid Land cameras, a Speedliner 95B. This particular camera came with almost all of its original accessories and its case, which was part of the reason it wound up coming home with me. I see so many Polaroids from the 70s and 80s at junk stores, and they just look ridiculous, but the Speedliner is all class, down to its brown leatherette. It’s very Don Draper, no?

The Speedliner doesn’t work like modern Polaroid cameras, which have a battery in their film packs (so, if you don’t have a film pack in your camera, the camera doesn’t work – which is irritating to me, and another reason I haven’t been bitten by the Polaroid bug). The Speedliner is all analog. It’s a bellows camera, and, fortunately, can still be used to shoot 4×5 sheet film. Of course, you have to load the camera in darkness, hope to god you’ve got the right side of the film facing the lens, and can only shoot one picture with it, but hey! Better than nothing!

In August I finally gave this a whirl. It took me a while to work up to doing this because I was concerned about developing the film. Film developing needs to be done in total darkness, which is not so much of a problem, because you can develop in light-tight film tanks. I have several of them, and they have spools which hold a variety of sizes of film. Unfortunately, they are not set up to hold 4×5 sheet film, and to get the type of tanks and accessories that would let me do this cost more than I was willing to pay. I couldn’t even score a deal on eBay.

You can also develop sheet film in trays in the dark. That seems like a huge scary process to me, though, since my darkroom experience is limited to the one time I developed paper, using a red safelight. There’s no way I could jump straight to total film developing in darkness from that.

What I finally wound up doing was developing the film in my Patterson tank with the spools removed. I took two pictures and tossed the negative in the tanks sans-spool, and hoped for the best.

One negative developed. The other negative, I think, got the emulsion side stuck to the side of the tank and didn’t develop. Here’s the one that turned out:

Ansco Shur-Flash via Polaroid

Could have gone better, but could have been worse, too. I definitely wasn’t far enough away from the box camera to get a sharp image of it, but the grass in the background is in focus. The settings on the Land camera are kind of goofy, and not what I’m used to. Not sure what caused the dark area on top of the photo, wither. It seems awfully dark to be a shadow, but maybe it is. Anyway, a partial success, but it really is kind of a pain in the butt to load the camera, and the camera isn’t the easiest to use. It’s worthy of future experimentation, though.

That was all I did with the 4×5 film until yesterday. Most of the cameras I buy are cheap plastic things. I seem to have scored a lot of cameras made between the late 40s and the 60s. What never really jumped out at me when I’ve been looking for cameras is the generic, standard box camera. These were made in the early chunk of the 1900s, normally made out of wood (or even cardboard, I think!). The lenses are on the inside of the camera instead of the outside. They’ve just never been something I’ve been drawn to.

However, when I saw this behemoth at the Medina Antique Mall, I was stopped in my tracks:

Brownie No. 3 Model B

An inspection of the interior cone revealed this:


It costs $16, more than I normally spend on an old camera, but I had the suspicion that this camera might be able to hold 4×5 film. Because it was huge! Epic! Cavernous! Also, for an old, old box camera, it’s actually pretty cool – it has 3 separate aperture settings, and also a bulb setting so I can do long exposure shots. And, the shutter is a flip flop, which is cool (that means you press the shutter lever down to take a picture, and then for the next picture, you push it up, and so on).

When I got home, I took my 4×5 negative that I developed in August but got all screwed up (yes, I save these things, because I’m weird) and stuck it in the Brownie. It fit perfectly. The only problem was that the negative was hard to get out of the camera, and I foresaw difficulties in doing so in the dark. So, I broke out the plastic window in the back of it, and taped dark cardboard over it, so that if I needed to, I could open up the window, stick a pencil eraser through it, and push out the negative from the back.

I loaded the Brownie up with a sheet of film, and Travis and I went to the llama house so I could try it out. Taking the picture was uneventful – the viewfinders are completely useless, so I just had to guess what the picture was going to look like. The flip flop shutter seems a little anticlimactic. Like, here I was, shooting 4×5 film for the love of god, and all I hear is this little “clop” noise to confirm that something actually happened.

Developed the film in the Patterson tank. Was a little worried about it sticking to the side of the tank like the one sheet did, but fortunately, nothing bad happened.

Here’s the finished shot:

Alpaca house

Wish I had noticed the garbage cans before I took the picture. Oh well.

As far as using 4×5 film goes, the Brownie, at least right now, wins hands down over the Polaroid. It’s just a lot less complicated, and the less flustered I get, the better. I’m looking forward to shooting some more sheet film with this. I’m also going to try to take some 4×5 film pics in the Hannakube. I think my big mental block was the developing issue. Until I can work out something better, I’m going to stick to developing one sheet at a time in the Patterson tank. It’s time consuming, but it works.

House craft #9


Behold the Hannakube pinhole camera! 🙂 It’s designed so it has 4 separate compartments, basically making it 4 cameras in 1. It will fit 4″x5″ photopaper or film, neither of which I currently have, but I’m hoping to get some within the next few weeks. Might as well make the Hannakube in preparation for it.

Most larger format pinhole cameras (well, all of the larger format pinhole cameras, actually) that I’ve seen online are one-shot affairs. You load your film or paper in the dark or in a darkroom, take it out into the big wide world and shoot one picture, and then that’s it. All done. You have to either use a changing bag (a lightproof bag) to switch out film or go back to your darkroom to do it. This is just my attempt to circumvent that a little. 4 pictures in one camera! Modern ingenuity is crazy! 🙂

Here’s a slideshow – hopefully it’ll load in the correct order this time – of the steps I went though to make this. It was pretty easy, actually.