New photos from an old camera

Sadly, not my camera or photos.

April 4th had many people up and about in the dead of night, taking photos of their surroundings and deserted streets for the 4am Project. Among these was Rachelcreative, whose art and photography blog I’ve mentioned before.

One of Rachel’s interests is old cameras. She not only acquires these but also uses them. So as well as her digital photos taken with a modern SLR, she took some others using a 75-year-old Box Brownie.

Here is a sample, to encourage you to go and look at the others:

Box Brownie photo of Minster Pool

Minster Pool, Lichfield, photographed with a Box Brownie

What stage was colour photography at when the camera was made? Was usable colour film even available? If it was, I’m pretty sure it was still at a very experimental stage. But these photos show what an antique, very basic camera can do.

It’s interesting to me the way that photos such as these, and others from Rachel’s old cameras, conjure up the atmosphere of old photographs. For example, some of the others remind me of the results I got from my old Ensign Ful-Vue before the red viewing window fell out and I stopped using it. (The window was there to let you see the numbers on the backing paper of the film, so you knew how far to wind it on before taking the next photo.) Obviously in this case that could be partly an illusion caused by the yellow of the street lighting, but I think other effects are important too: the quality of the lens, maybe the way light is scattered inside the camera, and the fixed aperture and field of view.

Anyway do visit Rachel’s post—the rest of the photos are well worth a look too.

3 responses to “New photos from an old camera

  1. What a great photo, and from a Box Brownie? Brilliant (followed from Tim J’s link on Twitter)

  2. Thanks Tim! The Box Brownie was produced by Kodak from 1901 to around 1935. The one I have was made between 1933-35.

    So it would have had only black and white film when it was new.

    I still have a lot to learn from these cameras to get the best results but it’s thrilling to use them and let them be cameras again.

  3. What an excellent photo, and I agree–it looks like an old-fashioned photograph. It’s just dripping with atmosphere and old-world charm.

    My constant companion as a child into my early adulthood was a turquoise-colored box camera that took black and white photos. I believe it was a Kodak and I think it took 620 film. Nobody else in my family owned a camera, and because of my little turquoise camera I have tons of photos chronicling my family’s life from when I was about 8 to well after I grew up and married.

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