Fun with a Baby Brownie

Not long ago, I was looking for a way to cut down on the 7-week turnaround for black and white film processing I’ve had to deal with in Namibia (3 weeks to the U.S., 1 week for processing at Blue Moon Camera, and 3 weeks to get back to me).  I was referred to a Danish photographer who has been described as someone who doesn’t consider digital photography to be “real” photography (I’m not sure if it’s true but it makes him seem more colorful).  He agreed to process my film if I brought more than one roll – so I brought him eight.  Four were “found film” rolls and six were mine.  The first thing he asked was what were the settings I had used to take the photos.  “No settings” I said.  He insisted there must have been f-stop and shutter speed settings, which he’d need to develop the film.  I tried my best to explain that these were from cameras that generally had a single button – the shutter release.  When he refused to accept this, I brought in my cameras.

Kodak Baby Brownie Special

This is the Kodak Baby Brownie Special. It turns out there is an f-stop setting and a shutter speed setting – it’s f/11 and about 1/40th of a second. Manufactured around 1950, it cost $1.25 at the time and was an improvement over its predecessor, the Baby Brownie. The Baby Brownie had only cost a buck, but lacked a viewfinder and had a shutter button that was slightly trickier to work:

Kodak Baby Brownie

My new Danish friend accepted the challenge and agreed to process the film, saying he would cut a small piece of each film to test it and ensure the best possible results. In the end I got photos from all but two of the rolls – discovering that one of my own vintage cameras appears to have a light leak. But some of the best photos were from this buck-twenty-five plastic camera, which I had taken along on a trip to the Cape of Good Hope. Here’s a sample of what we ended up with:

Here’s one from the streets of Cape Town:

Cape Town Streets

And a photo of Cape Town’s Ritz hotel, just a few blocks from the beach:

Cape Town Ritz

I tried to capture breaking waves, with mixed results:

Cape Waves

Cape Waves 2

This is a directional sign next to the lighthouse that sits out on the Cape peninsula:

Whither from the Cape

And lastly, my favorites from the bunch – photos of the end of the Cape itself:

Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope 3

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