Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Traveling with the Hawkeye Flash

We took a ride down lonely Highway 6 on Monday.

This abandoned bar is located on a small strip of non-Indian land at the border of the Isleta and Laguna Pueblos.  There is no Wild Horse Mesa on the map of the area.  My guess is that the bar got its name from the title of  the old Zane Grey western novel.  The book was made into a silent film in 1925, and another version was made in 1947.  Next time I'm in the area, I'll see if I can find someone who knows the history of the place.

Monday, February 27, 2012

BHF Mods

I got a note recently from Randy at Holgamods to tell me that he has added Brownie Hawkeye Flash modifications to the services he offers.

The two modifications that offer the most added value in using this great old box in my opinion are the addition of the cable release and the tripod mount.  However, Randy also can provide a number of other functional and cosmetic enhancements for the bakelite wonder.  I haven't seen his work in person, but the many illustrations on his site show some very high quality work.

Kodak film cameras were the target of a lot of derision in years past, but I think there is pretty wide-spread agreement these days that the Brownie Hawkeye Flash represents one of the high water marks in mid-Century American design.  The rounded contours of the fluted bakelite case make it a pleasure to handle, and the ultra-bright viewer is a treat for the eyes.

The meniscus lens can produce crisply sharp images, but only if you really concentrate on making sure the camera remains completely steady during the exposure.  That is something of a challenge given the shape of the box, as well as a rather stiff shutter release.  Also something of a mystery is the prominent time-release setting tab unaccompanied by a built-in cable release or tripod socket.

My guess is that Kodak marketing decided the flash feature on the camera was going to be the real selling point.  That was probably justified, and I do recall burning my fingers on freshly ignited bulbs  a few times with my first BHF in the mid-'50s.  There was a flash hood that came along with the flashgun, with one side clear and the other translucent to cut down the glare a bit.  In the case of a bulb malfunction, the hood also helped to avoid showering your subject with burning bits of glass and toxic metals.

Though they weren't part of the basic boxed kit, a number of accessories were available for the Hawkeye Flash.  Red, yellow and UV filters allowed some contrast control for better skies, as well as providing the possibility of several stops of exposure control in a camera without a variable aperture.  I've only used filters on mine a few times, but I have made quite a few pictures with the No. 13 Close-up Attachment which lets you focus down to about 3.5 feet, and is particularly nice for portraits.

I've mostly shot 100-speed black-and-white film in my Hawkeye Flash, but it is capable of producing great color slides and prints as well.  While some of the cameras can accomodate 120 film, most will require either that you trim down a 120 reel, or re-roll your 120 film onto an old metal 620 reel.  In either case, you'll need a 620 reel in the take-up position.  I re-rolled some Acros 100 for my Hawkeye Flash this morning and am half-way through  the roll at present.  We'll see if I manage to get something presentable in short order.

Randy has continued to make additions to his Hawkeye Mods site.  Recently, he added a tutorial on reversing the lens in your Hawkeye Flash. This is a procedure that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes, and produces really striking images from this great old box camera.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I rode over to the sailboat races on Saturday afternoon on my motorcycle with the Pentax and the big zoom slung over my shoulder.  I didn't feel like carrying along any more gear, but there is always room in a pocket for the little Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.  I cropped these shots rather severely to a panoramic format, but I think they hold up pretty well.

Off to the Races

The boats being raced this Saturday were of the One Meter Soling Class.  Colors vary, but all boats are identical in construction; so sailing skill is the key to winning (along with a little luck).

The racing captains control their boats with radio transmitters and receivers which activate solenoid movements of the rudder and sails.

The breezes over the ponds are always unpredictable; some sharp gusts had the boats moving along nicely.

The competition is keen and requires intense concentration to keep the boats on course to properly round the buoys at each end of the pond.

If boats pass the marker buoy on the wrong side, they must go back and try again.

The boat owners are mostly middle-aged and up; they all seem to having a very good time.

There is always a good crowd around the ponds on the weekend, with many enjoying the races and others interacting with the big flocks of waterbirds attracted by copious distributions of bread crumbs.

I was pleased with this first performance by my new Yashinon Zoom on my Pentax Spotmatic.  All the shots were hand-held at f8 and 1/500.  The film was Kodak Gold 100.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shooting the Finetta IV D

Early on a Thursday morning, Albuquerque's Old Town was mostly deserted, with just me and my Finetta to appreciate the morning light.

I shot a roll of Fomapan 100 which I processed in HC-110, dilution B.  

These shots were mostly at f16 and 1/100.  The shutter release on the Finetta is a little rough, so it is important to pay attention to keeping the camera as steady as possible during exposure to get the most from the Finetar lens.

There is no auto-reset on the Finetta film counter.  Before you load your film you need to turn the Advance  knob to set the counter a couple stops ahead of the number one.  That is best done by pulling up and twisting the knob to hold it in the rewind position, making it easy to turn as needed to reach the starting point.  

The viewfinder is small on the Finetta, but seems bright enough.  The framing seems pretty accurate, and I did not encounter any problem with parallax in the close shots.  The frame spacing on rolls through the Finetta are a little variable from start to finish because the advance spindle seems to turn through an identical arc on each winding.  I did, however, get the full 24 frames from the roll with no over-laps.

I believe my Finetta dates from about 1950.  The company made several earlier and later models, and the last one was quite sophisticated with a motor wind, interchangeable lenses and a focal plane shutter.  While mine is a lot more basic in its feature set, it is still a very serviceable compact camera.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Uniquely Modest

The Finetta IV D, produced in Goslar, Germany in 1950, was a camera clearly designed to be an affordable  image maker which would make sharp pictures reliably throughout the life of a family. The bakelite and metal construction is solid, and the coated Finetar f4.5/43mm lens yields very respectable results.

I acquired my Finetta some years ago.  Nothing worked quite right on it when received, but I reset the infinity focus, cleaned the shutter and advance mechanism, and got it working well enough to shoot a single test roll.  The pictures I got were sharp enough, but not very interesting -- not the fault of the camera, of course.  So the camera was unjustly condemned to years on the shelf, and I only got back to it again today.

When I examined the camera again in preparation for using it, I found that the film rewind mechanism was not working right.  When you lift and turn the Advance knob on the right it is supposed to release the film spindle to turn freely so the film can be wound back into the cassette on the left.  It turned out that the little screw you can see at the lower right above had worked loose.  The result was that the bottom of the take-up spool was not getting above the brass lever assembly which prevents the spool from turning backward.  Tightening down the screw fixed the problem, and I loaded up a roll of Fomapan 100.

That little lever in the picture above flips down to hold the film cassette in place so you can slide the back on  without having the film fall on the floor, a simple but effective design feature that is typical of the camera's construction throughout.

Getting the back of the Finetta off and on again is a little counter-intuitive for most people today.  Like my little Ansco Panda, that knob on the camer's bottom plate is turned in a clockwise direction to open the back and counter-clockwise to close.  My wife tells me the letter indicators stand for Auf and Zu, which translate roughly as Open and Close.  Someone obviously took a screwdriver to the back of my Panda, trying to pry it open, and left some pretty ugly scars.  The Finetta did not suffer the same fate.  Perhaps the last owner was a German speaker.

Tomorrow: Actual pictures made with the Finetta IV D !!!

Exhibit at the National Hispanic Cultural Center

Click graphic for the complete announcement.

E•CO - Environmental Graphic Exhibition from Europe and Latin America


E • CO presents photographic projects, made by twenty Latin American and Europeans photographic collectives, whose works have been commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of Spain, under the Spanish Presidency of the European Union and within the celebrations of bicentenary of many Latin countries’ independence.


Del 01/03/2012 al 31/05/2012


(18:00 h)

Visiting Hours

Lunes a viernes, 9 am - 5 pm. Sábados de 8 a 12


Instituto Cervantes - Pete V. Domenici Education Center (NHCC)
1701 4th St SW
87102 Albuquerque Nuevo México

Monday, February 20, 2012

Boat #73

We went to the sailboat races on Saturday.  The Duke City Model Yacht Club puts them on at 1:00 pm each weekend at Tingley Beach.

The boats share the pond with a lot of ducks and geese this time of year.  The birds don't seem to mind, perhaps because the boats move rather quietly and gracefully.  The boat pictured is in the RG-65 class.  I'll try to get back next weekend when the Soling One Meter class is racing.

nuts and bolts

This is a message for the authors of all the blogs I follow.

One of the few rewards of maintaining a blog is the possibility of a dialog with readers. That dialog can be hampered by excessive security measures including moderation and captcha features. I turned off moderation from the beginning, meaning that comments on my postings immediately appear. I have not seen any ill result from this decision to date, though blogs with more controversial content may show a different result.

I have also today turned off the captcha feature which requires commenters to type in some nonsense words which are displayed on their screen before a comment will be recorded. This seems like a good way to avoid robot spammers, and it probably does discourage them. However, the captcha feature on blogger has recently become excessively burdensome in my opinion. One is now required to discern and reproduce two nonsense words that are often very hard to interpret. It routinely takes me three or four tries to get the captcha message right when I leave comments on blogs. That has got to be cutting into the exchange of ideas. Of course, if I now start seeing massive spam attacks on my blogs, I'll have to reconsider my decision. In the meantime, I hope others will give it a try. You can always revert to heavier security if it is really needed.  Note too that Blogger has built-in comment spam detection and will flag suspicious comments and hold publication for your express approval.

Since blog authors don't see the captcha feature when they make a comment on their own blogs, they may not be aware of how irritating this feature can be. If you check it out and want to turn off captcha, it is easily done, but you may have to reactivate the old blogger interface if you have switched to the new one. Here is a helpful set of instructions for doing that which I found in the blogger help forum from "Late Night Guy":

Unless DarkUFO knows of a way on the new interface, there isn't one. You need to go back to the old interface to turn off word verification. From the new Blogger dashboard page, click the gear symbol under your profile picture and select "Old Blogger interface." On the old dashboard page, click on "Settings" then click on the "Comments" link below the tabs. That will get you to where you can unselect word verification. Click "Save Settings" at the bottom of that page when you are done. there is a link in the upper right hand corner of the old dashboard page so you can get back to the new interface. I hope this helps.

I still have the policy in place and after nine days it seems to be working fine.  Comments with links, usually to some Viagra pitch, are automatically routed to my email inbox where they can be easily deleted.  So the Google/Blogger spam filter seems to be working fine as far as I'm concerned.  Since I also have the ability to delete comments which I deem inappropriate for whatever reason, I feel I am still in control of the situation.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The Casa Rondeña Winery is about ten minutes north of Old Town in Ranchos de Albuquerque.

A long driveway through the vineyard leads to the owner's home which is now a club for wine enthusiasts.

Between the home and tasting room is a park with a pond; a very nice place to enjoy a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If you happen to be in Valencia

There is a show of Cuban pre-revolution photography at the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM).

The 1939 photo above appeared in an article in El País about the show. The girl is posing with a Plaubel Makina which used 6x9 plates or cut film, and could also be outfitted with a 120 rollfilm back.  I always wanted one of these fine rangefinders, but the shutters and rf mechanism are somewhat delicate, and the cameras tend to go for more than my budget allows.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Panda likes the winter light.

If you are looking for a camera that's fun to shoot, it is hard to beat the little Ansco Panda box camera.

This was Fuji Acros processed in D-76 at 1+1 dilution.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Shooting the Beast

The Mamiya-Sekor lens on the C330 can produce extremely nice results, and the camera has some unusual and useful features including a bright view screen and a bellows allowing extreme close-ups.  I also have the 180 mm lens which provides additional versatility.

Ergonomics are the weak point; the camera is big and heavy.  I'm not able to get through a roll without at least once catching the shutter cocking lever with a finger.  It is a camera that is more comfortable on a tripod in the studio.  Two accessories are nearly mandatory to realize the camera's potential: an eye-level prism finder, and a paramender for properly framing close-ups.  The viewfinder does have a auto-adjusting bar that helps compensate for parallax, but that doesn't fully correct the view, and one must also remember to properly adjust the aperture if the bellows is cranked out.  I'm too cheap to put out the bucks that the accessories for this camera require, but I am going to try harder to get used to the quirks of shooting it as it really can produce some good pictures.

These images were made on Tri-X and developed in D-76.  I processed the previous roll with this same combination at a 1+1 dilution and got some uneven development, with light stripes showing on the left and right sides of the negatives.  For this roll I used the D-76 in stock solution and gave a little more agitation.  That showed some improvement, though not to perfection.

Some previous images from the C330 are in my Flickrstream.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Albuquerque Shows

The UNM Art Museum is coming out of the winter doldrums with a couple interesting photo shows:

* Reconsidering the Photographic Masterpiece

* Hiroshi Sugimoto

 Edward Weston, Artichoke Halved, 1930
Museum re-opening Friday, February 10th from 5:00-7:00pm

* * *

Also showing: The Mind's Eye, a juried show at the Albuquerque Photographers Gallery in Old Town; the opening is Friday, February 3rd, 5:00 to 8:00 pm.