Medium Format Outdoors Film Photography

Cameras, tripods, techniques, etc.
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Medium Format Outdoors Film Photography

Postby Bushman_Craig » Sat 10 Sep, 2016 9:40 pm

I'm very new to film photography, but I'm quite experienced with outdoors photography using DSLR and smartphone.

I've recently inherited my great grandmother's Kodak No. 2 Folding Brownie camera which takes 120 medium format film. Built in 1919, this camera has only basic controls, but it is the same model used in days past by the likes of members of the Mountain Trails Club. Many of the 1910s and 1920s bushwalking photos you see were taken with one of these or with its predecessors, the Box Brownie and the Vest Pocket camera.

Image
My inherited camera on tripod

Kit-wise for outdoors use I have the leather pouch that came with the camera when it was purchased in 1919. I have a vintage travel tripod. I have a canister which holds 5 x rolls of 120 film and I have a cable shutter release. Lastly, I have 8 rolls of newly-manufactured 120 film of varying ISOs - mostly 100 or 200.

My intention is to take the camera on "traditional" style walks and recapture some of the same locations as seen in historical photography where such locations can be identified and accessed today. There are about a dozen locations in the Royal National Park alone which I can identify.

Image
A member of the Mountain Trails Club with a similar camera, the Vest Pocket camera, taken near Kanangra Walls in 1915 on one of Myles Dunphy's walks
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Re: Medium Format Outdoors Film Photography

Postby DaveNoble » Sat 10 Sep, 2016 11:34 pm

You may want to check the shutter and bellows. Old bellows can leak at the folds. And these old shutters can sort of fatigue a bit as they age - e.g. springs may not retain their original flexibility - so exposure times may not be accurate any more. That is if you can change the exposure times. Box brownie cameras, for example, had very little in the way of controls.

Also - probably wise to stick to B&W film. Colour photography did not become common till the 1940's, so cameras like these would not have lenses designed to minimise chromatic aberration.

Have fun.

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Re: Medium Format Outdoors Film Photography

Postby Bushman_Craig » Sun 11 Sep, 2016 9:17 am

Thanks Dave,

the shutter is perfect and the bellows has been an epic tradeoff between maintaining the originality of the camera and making it serviceable. The bellows had pinprick holes right at every fold, which I fixed with the application of a brush-on product called "liquid electrical tape". This allows the camera to fold and open correctly and now the bellows are completely light proof as tested at night with an LED maglite.

The camera actually has F-stops, which was quite surprising, and while the shutter times for 1/25th and 1/50th seem perfect, the proof of whether the shutter speeds are accurate enough will come after I've finished shooting the roll of film I have in there and get it processed. Fingers crossed. The camera went around the world with my great grandmother in the 50s and 60s so there could very well be some fatigued componentry in there.

Thanks for the comments about staying with black and white film. All my film is B&W but I had been thinking about experimenting with colour, if only because it's about $10 cheaper to get a roll of 120 colour film developed than B&W.
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Re: Medium Format Outdoors Film Photography

Postby DaveNoble » Sun 11 Sep, 2016 6:27 pm

Bushman_Craig wrote:Thanks for the comments about staying with black and white film. All my film is B&W but I had been thinking about experimenting with colour, if only because it's about $10 cheaper to get a roll of 120 colour film developed than B&W.


Wow! That is interesting. Just goes to show how the market has changed. You can easily process B&W film yourself - you can buy developing tanks on eBay and other places. I expect you can still get the chemicals? Only one is really needed - the developer. The other chemical is just sodium thiosulphate - used for the fixer - which is easy to get. But then you have to turn the negatives into prints. Back in the old days - using 120 roll film - it was common to make contact prints - where you put the negative and a piece of photo paper into a special holder and then exposed it to the light for a second or two, then develop the paper. This gave a print the same size as the negative. For enlargements - a lot of people moved to 35 mm film.
Last edited by DaveNoble on Sun 11 Sep, 2016 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Medium Format Outdoors Film Photography

Postby DanShell » Sun 11 Sep, 2016 7:43 pm

Ill be watching your results with great enthusiasm. What a fantastic thing to do. The only 3 photos I have as a child were from my grandmother's brownie.
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