Testing … Testing … Brownie Twin 20

It’s a delightful (and rare) occurence when I drop off a roll of test film (ie- the first roll of film I’ve run through a camera I purchased at a yard sale, antique shop, or that devil of a website ebay) and come back to find a roll of film that’s actually usable. It’s almost more exciting than Christmas. And it’s exactly what happened today. I finally ran a roll of test film through my Kodak Brownie Twin 20 that I acquired at an antique mall down in New Orleans in October, and am happy to find the camera is in working condition. No light leaks, and the film was (pretty much) properly exposed. The lens is a little out of focus, but let’s be honest, if I wanted a crisp image, I wouldn’t be using old plastic cameras. Granted, I have yet to take anything but photos of houses in my neighborhood, but hey, that’s what test rolls are for. And besides, I live in a pretty rad neighborhood.

My Aunt and my Grandfather. This is one of my favorites of my grandmothers photographs so far that I have found. Though I have no idea what is going on here, I itch to know the story behind the looks on the faces of my family. Plus- the composition is intestesting, as my Grandmother has always ha a good eye for negative space, and it was taken on kodachrome, which means all these years later, the colours are still brilliant.

100 Years: Happy Birthday, Grandma!

100 years ago today, my Grandmother Grace was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. The picture below is probably the earliest recording of her: it was taken at her grandparents house in SLC. It is also the oldest negative I have in my collection of family photographs. The portrait was taken on sized 132 film, and was likely one of the first photographs taken on my great-grandmothers Kodak Folding Pocket camera that took postcard sized photographs. I now have what few remaining negatives my great-grandmother shot with this camera, as well as the camera itself, which we think is still in working order (but I will know when I actually finish my test roll of film. More importantly though, I still have my grandmother.

My grandmother Grace, as a baby, in Salt Lake City, UT

As I pack my bags to head over the mountain range and see my extended family for a weekend of birthday festivities, the realization of how lucky I am strikes me again. I can still ask her to tell me stories of growing up on the pains in Alberta, Canada. Or about when the Columbia Basin Irrigation project started and her and her husband placed the irrigation system in their once dry farm in Quincy, Washington. I can ask her about what it was like to be a press photographer in the 1960’s, when the “old boys club” had barely begun to be questioned. I can ask her these things and have more answers I would ever had just by looking at old photographs and making educated guesses. So happy birthday, Grandma Grace! And here’s too many more.

Treasure Trove

When I left for Virginia 6 years ago, I left about 6 boxes in my mother’s garage. Now, after spending so many weeks going through my grandmother’s belongings, I am starting to go through my storage boxes; sorting and purging. Here’s some of the recent items I have found:

Kodak Brownie Holiday. This was my mother's camera, and since I just found a few rolls of 127 film, I've loaded it up and am ready to shoot!

My very first SLR, which I got when I was 14.

My first fully manual SLR. I got when i was 17. I also found my telephoto lens that goes with it.

Polaroid Super Shooter Plus. Unfortunately, it no longer works, but that's ok, as I plan to hack it and make it into a Holga back

Film to go with my "holgaroid" once it's done. No idea if it will work, but we shall see...

Many rolls of colour, B&W and slide film.

I also found an old Polaroid Joycam (which I promptly disposed of), and a ton of slides and pictures from 2000-2003. Fun stuff. But mostly, I’m excited to hack the Polaroid, see what comes out of the Kodak brownie, and use up some film. It’s supposed to be a gorgeous day in the Pacific Northwest today (It’s foggy now, but hopefully that fog will burn off), and I’m looking forward to a little hike at Cougar Mountain, and you know I’ll be taking a few cameras and some film with me.

My Grandmother in Alberta, Canada, around 1918

How lucky we are to have these photographs, these snapshots of history…

My grandmother, Grace, on the Canadian prairie, in 1918

A few days ago a posted a snapshot my grandmother had taken of my mother as a girl in the 1950’s. Here is a snapshot of my grandmother, taken by my great-grandmother, Emma, in 1918, when my grandmother was 7 years old. My grandmother is sitting second from the left. I imagine what life would have been like for Emma, moving with her family to various places her husband had been promised opportunities, farming land that was sometime fertile and sometime not, and never letting that camera out of her hands.