This particular camera was the very first antique folding camera I ever purchased. It was 2010 in a small antique shop on the east coast of Tasmania. I'd seen old cameras plenty of times over the years, and often thought of buying one, but this was the first that just absolutely had to come home with me.
During March, April and May 2020 I have been taking cameras from my collection out to test how well they still work. The Kodak No.2 Folding Cartridge Hawkeye Model B looks very similar to the Kodak No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie I tested a couple of weeks ago, but with a few differences.
This camera doesn't have an autographic function, so I didn't need to worry about light-leak coming in the back of the camera. And this particular model has actual marked apertures (between f/8 and f/64), instead of the simple '1-4' on the Kodak No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie, that doesn't relate at all to my understanding of exposure and apertures.
It has four shutter speed options – 1/50th, 1/25th, Bulb and Time. At a fastest speed of 1/50th, you have to hold the camera as still as you can when taking each shot.
Testing out the camera
How is it that it has taken me 10 years to actually put a roll of film through it to see how it goes? Perhaps because this camera holds a special place in my heart, and I would hated to find out that it in fact wasn't actually any good at taking photographs (thankfully that didn't happen).
I loaded a roll of Ilford HP5+ film, my go-to film for testing cameras, and took it out for a walk around the streets near home (it was still strict Covid-19 stay at home instructions when I started this roll of film). The first 3 photographs below are the first shots I took with the camera, and I'm happy. It's reasonably sharp and there was no light-leak. The exposure is a little off, as I was struggling with the bright sunlight, with 400 ISO film and a fastest shutter speed of 1/50th (assuming its still correct).
I then put the camera down for a week or so, and took it out again on our first proper out of home adventure in a few months. The restrictions in Victoria were eased which meant we could do a day trip out of Melbourne, but we had to return home that evening.
We caught up with my parents for the first time in 2 months, and on our way back to Melbourne decided to stop and photograph some of the power station towers around Morwell.
Looking on Google Maps, I could see that one of the power stations was quite close to the road, so guided us there. It turns out that we had stopped to photograph the Hazelwood Power Plant towers, which only 3 days later were demolished in dramatic fashion. We had no idea about this happening, but would explain why the site security wasn't particularly pleased we were there photographing them. We managed to get a couple of shots, before moving further away to take a few more photographs from a distance, before we left to find a different site to photograph.
The four photographs below I was glad worked once I saw on the news days later footage of the chimneys being demolished. It was another week before I had a chance to develop the film and find out if I had anything to document their final days. It seems fitting to photograph them with a camera that would have more than likely still been used in the time that the power station was built.
About Madeline Bowser
I've been photographing with film for what seems like forever ... well since the late 90's. I shoot both film and digital, but film is where my heart is and I get the most ongoing enjoyment from and what I enjoy sharing and teaching to others. I also travel the world hunting down old cameras and unique locations to photograph in, and exhibit and sell my travel photographs.
When out shooting film, I often get asked the questions 'can you still buy film?', 'I thought film stopped being made 10 years ago' and 'why would you want to shoot film when you can shoot digital'.
My answers are, 'yes', 'no, it didn't', and 'I also shoot digital, both have their place in my mind'.
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All images remain the property of Madeline Bowser and may not be used without permission.