Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brownie Hawkeye Around the World

Early last year I discovered an old camera of my dad's; a cool little bakelite box, the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash. This tried and true toy camera was given to me by my Brother who acquired it somehow from our Dad who picked it up in the late 1950's as a young, Dutch immigrant living and farming in Southern Alberta.

After doing some reading about the Hawkeye, I decided to load up some 120 film and shoot off a test roll. I didn't bother to clean any part of the camera wanting to see what 50+ years of dust and history looks like.  Commercial Drive in Vancouver was the place where the Hawkeye made it's comeback and the Hawkeye adventure began!

commercial drive
commercial drive
While I was happy enough with those first shots, doing this gave me some insight into the camera, its focal distance and exposure. Now with a bit of knowledge, I decided to take it apart, clean it and flip the lens. Flipping the lens resulted in images with a softer, ethereal feel and a very sweet, defined focal point. I captured the following Maui moments with the next roll of film.

portrait of my dad in kihei
more makena park
Since that time, the Hawkeye has become my trusty travel companion, voyaging to places such as China, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Turkey and a few places in between. Seeing that I love this Kodak Brownie Hawkeye so much and tote it around faithfully from country to country, I thought I would share some of my favourite Brownie Hawkeye photos from around the world starting with home, the beautiful Canadian prairies. 

I took the shot below last July, at the height of summer, when the canola fields were in full bloom.  While the prairies were glowing with yellow blossoms, I had only black and white film to spare but turned out a few amazing farmscapes including this one.
Near Leader, Saskatchewan
A few month later, armed with my camera and the intention of exploring multiple exposures in Rio de Janiero, I set off to see Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain. As I was staying at a hotel along Copacabana, I had the opportunity to take 2 doubly exposed frames of the same scene: Cristo Redentor on Copacabana beach; this is my favourite of the two.

Cristo Redentor on Copacabana
Later on, on my last day in Shanghai after a super-intensive business-related workshop, I woke up early and snapped a roll using the ever-vibrant Kodak Portra film.  By this time it's been almost one year since rediscovering this photographic gem, the lens is still flipped and I'm loving the results more and more with every roll I snap!

good morning, shanghai
good morning, shanghai
Not long after leaving Shanghai, I ventured to the south of Italy where every day was a beautiful picture-taking day with loads of sunshine and sea.  As usual, I was packing the Brownie, which by now, has clearly become one of my most beloved cameras. Here are my 2 favourite Brownie shots from Trani, Italy.

Nuns in Trani, Italy
Giovinazzo seaside
In all of these travels (and a few more unmentioned), I have learned a great deal about the camera as well as shooting with film.  While not every image is bloggable, there have been many moments captured and treasured through the love and lens of this little old box camera.

To see more and to follow the adventures of my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash, please visit this flickr set. This post was also featured on the Kodak blog, A Thousand Words.


  1. Life in 110

    I have a Minolta 110 camera (with flash cubes). After living through a digital lens over the last eight years, it's nice to peak through an old eye piece. It's as if one is looking into an hour glass of simplicity. I really like the picture of the three women in Italy!

    - cheers

  2. Thanks, Sanden! Film is definitely nostalgic and an art in itself!

  3. Hi Jeanette,
    I came across your blog through the Capic web site. Great work with your Brownie Camera! I discovered the flip lens effect a few years ago and haven't looked back. Have you checked out the Brownie Camera Page (http://www.brownie-camera.com/)? There's nothing like look and feel of pure photography. The Maui beach shot is really nice.
    Keep up the good work!

    S.A. Smith