Author Archives: chuck

I’m a Kodak Brownie Fan!

by Christopher Hosford

People come to hobbies in many different ways, maybe from a love of doing something well, to interact with other like-minded folks, or just to have fun. I think all three reasons are why I am drawn to photography, and in particular the Kodak Brownie camera.

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by Christopher Hosford

Like many people—millions, in fact—our family had album after album of snapshots, and since we were definitely not wealthy I’m sure the pictures were taken with inexpensive Brownies. The last of my family’s true versions was a Brownie Flash Six-20, the little trapezoidal box camera made of metal, that emits a resounding “clunk” when you fire the shutter, and a ratcheting stutter when you advance the film. This is definitely not a spy camera, where you sneak up on somebody! Well, feeling nostalgic one day I found one on eBay and bought it for $6—its original 1946 price.

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by Christopher Hosford

Recently I bought a Six-20 Brownie Model D, made in England, and a yellow filter for it as well. I’ve also acquired a Yashica twin-lens reflex camera, to expand my knowledge of focus, exposure, shutter speed, and a wider range of filters. At times I’ll shoot the same subject with both cameras, to see how the Brownie measures up. And it does darn well.

I should stress that “good” photography is an uncertain thing, and differs from person to person. And with Brownies, virtually the only things I have control over are composition and choice of film. But this extreme restriction has honed my attention. I watch the weather, check out the light and its brightness and direction, and the area of interest I want to show in my picture. Many times as I wander in the countryside, the city, or a park with my camera, I’ll actively seek out subjects. I’ll examine the framing, the foreground and background, the central “idea,” the pattern of shadow and shade, and (always) the slant and intensity of sunlight. I’ll examine things through the viewfinder to see if I actually want to remember that scene via a photo … but then often decide that I don’t.

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by Christopher Hosford

Even though I’m trying to make photos I can be proud of, I’m also aware that the Brownie was not invented as an artist’s tool. I have to keep reminding myself of that, get a little off my high horse, and actually take pictures of family and friends to capture that “Kodak moment.” Recently in the park, I got my neighbors and their new little dog together on a tree bench, and took some color photos of them, using the Model D. They were fascinated by the “funny” camera—my Brownie was no longer a picture-taking machine; it had become an event!—and they were laughing and joyful as the little dog wiggled and played. I’m realizing this little hobby of mine is providing me more enjoyment than I anticipated. I sure hope the photos turn out well.


From Chuck: Christopher started and moderates the Facebook group “Kodak Brownie Fans“. This group is growing and has already become a go-to place for Brownie information and images. Christopher has been a wonderful addition to the photography world on the internet and I am glad he’s out there doing his thing. Thank you, Christopher!

WPPD – April 26, 2015

by Chuck Baker

I love this time of year. The days are getting longer, the air is fresher, and winter is over! I enjoy the signs of warmer weather coming like the first trees budding and crocus blooming and that Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is about ready to happen.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

I have been taking pinhole images since I was a boy and am still amazed at the simplicity of the process and grateful for what it has taught me about photography. Imaging isn’t always about the most in-focus or perfectly exposed print. Simple equipment can free us up from the technical, so that seeing becomes paramount, helping our overall view of the world.

My arsenal of film, paper and digital pinhole cameras get used regularly but shooting on WWPD is special. I get excited like a kid getting an ice cream or going to the carnival. When the day begins I almost can’t wait to post my image on the website and see what others have posted.  Many are absolutely breathtaking and all show the photographer’s effort and excitement!

WWPD - Pinhole Image photography

Looking towards Nijmegen from Lent, Netherlands. The camera is a 35mm film canister with a hole cut out and a piece of aluminum foil taped over it. The hole was made with a pin! The film was wrapped completely inside the canister carefully not covering the hole. Tape served as the shutter. Taken by Chuck Baker

Join the fun! There are many online tutorials about making a pinhole camera and sources for cameras already made for purchase.

The folks behind Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Actually, I’ve never met a pinholer that I didn’t like! They say: “Anyone, anywhere in the world, who makes a pinhole photograph on the last Sunday in April, can scan it and upload it to this website where it will become part of the annual Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day celebration’s online gallery.” How cool is that!!!

I’m already excited to see what you post!

How & Why To Respool 620 Film

by Chuck Baker

If you’re reading this chances are you’ve found a great camera and just found out that it uses “obsolete” 620 film. All is not lost! 120 and 620 film is exactly the same size, and because of that, you can easily respool any available 120 film onto a 620 spool and use your 620 camera…without it jamming….and saving yourself alot of money!

I realize that there are many sources that state “just file down the spool and it will fit” and “you can get 120 film through some 620 cameras”. These statements are somewhat true however the only real way to make sure your camera is not going to jam because of an incorrect spool being used is by properly respooling. But for me, this isn’t my only reason to promote respooling.

When someone who just got their camera, possibly disappointed to find out that the film is not available, finds a “120 will work just fine” suggestion…the roll jams, it turns into a mess, and that person loses interest in film photography before they even start.

Additionally, for those of us who shoot a lot of film, there’s a satisfaction and closeness that is attached with recreating what the camera was designed to use. It makes me feel more in tune with the equipment and with the images being captured.

But I think just as important, it is what the camera was designed to use and when using respooled film, my attention is focused on image taking and not on jammed film, or the possibility of jamming.

Below you’ll find a video and images with instructions.

*Here is available respooled film and empty 620 spools from the Film Photography Project.

NOTE: You must have two 620 spools…one for the film and one for the take-up spool in the camera.

After you’ve done this a few times I think you’ll find it a fairly easy technique to master.

Before You Start:

  • MAKE SURE YOUR HANDS ARE CLEAN AND DRY!
  • ALL RESPOOLING MUST BE DONE IN ABSOLUTE DARKNESS!
  • NO LIGHT OF ANY KIND!
  • BEFORE TURNING OFF THE LIGHTS HAVE YOUR 620 SPOOL HANDY!
  • FILM CHANGING BAGS ARE A GREAT WAY TO DO THIS!

Here are the 2 spools you’ll be working with….notice the differences.

Although different, a 620 spool will accept 120 film exactly and without light leaks.

Start with a fresh roll of 120 film. I’m using color film here but you can use any type 120 film.

Tear and remove the paper ring holding the film tight on the 120 spool. Don’t let it unroll.

LIGHTS OUT!. Start unrolling from the spool making a loose roll in your other hand.

This illustrates that the film is taped to the paper. This will be important later. Continue unrolling.

Towards the end of unrolling you’ll feel the film end which is not taped. Continue unrolling.

You’ve reached the end of unrolling. Notice the tapered paper end. Discard the 120 spool.

Pick up your 620 spool and thread the tapered paper thru the “wider” slot end.

Start rolling the paper on, and lined up, to the spool while keeping it as tight as possible.

The edges of the paper must roll on even with the spool ends. Roll the paper fairly tight.

Tuck the loose film end into the spool and continue rolling as tight as possible.

You’ll notice as you roll the film and paper tightly on that the film will bulge. This is normal.

Keep rolling…keep rolling…keep rolling and stop when you reach the taped film end.

To get rid of the film bulge carefully pull up the tape while keeping it attached to the film.

Continue rolling until the bulge is gone and re-attach the tape to the paper.

Keep rolling…keep rolling…keep rolling and you’ll soon be at the end of the paper.

LIGHTS ON! You now have a roll of 620 film but you’re not quite done…it still can unravel!

Putting on a piece of tape to hold the end tight will prevent it from unraveling.

CONGRATULATIONS! Now you can use any 620 camera without jamming!!!.

You’ll find that when using this respooled film in any 620 camera, no matter what the negative size format is, the numbers will appear correctly thru the little red window on the back of your camera.