I must admit I haven’t played around with film photography for a while, my last project of film photos was for my modern day fairytale exhibition for Medway Open Studios.
I was delighted to be asked to have a play with a Kodak Brownie 127, something of a staple camera from the 1950’s.
The prospect of using another film camera was exciting. I’m at the start of prepping for a blurred / imperfect / destructive digital photography project, and the imperfections and a ‘hope and a prayer kind of photo’ that film gives you, has fuelled my fire of producing more film photography.
As I had come to the Brownie 127 Project quite late, it seemed the perfect time to have my 9 exposures entitled ‘The Last Day of Summer’. So on the sunniest and warmest day of August 2015, I loaded up the Brownie 127 and spent some quality time in my garden.
I was fortunate enough to have ben lent a Brownie camera with a film by a fellow artist who is also submitting work for the Brownie 127 project. This and the advice via email from the project lead made this start very easy.
I was however a little apprehensive to start…..with my staple 35mm Canon Film camera, (make sure its loaded in a dark room, automatic wind on, be careful when handling the film, make sure its in a dark room etc etc), the ease and simplicity of the Brownie camera seemed a little too good to be true! but it was! Loading the film in the shade was a breeze, it was quite difficult to work out if it had caught on the spool, but after a few turns it was. The number of exposures from the rear of the camera, didn’t appear as easily I’d hoped from the instructions with ‘2 or 3 turns would suffice’, however the roll needed to be turned at least 6 to see the exposure numbers. The Brownie seemed pretty hardy and robust.
I had posted a photo of the camera on my Instagram and my Facebook business page, and quite a number of family members and friends were posting that they too had a Brownie camera exactly the same back in the day. This was also great way of getting any further tips on using it!
I really wasn’t too sure if any of my photos would come out, however as the day was bright and all photos were taken in the garden, so thought at least they would be well lit!
Due to the timescale to the project submission deadline, I sent the film away for developing, and within a week they had been returned, I think the price was reasonable for the developing. I will in the future have an experiement and develop my own.
When I had received the photos and the film back, it was evident that stillness when taking the photo was key (a skill to perfect on especially without the stabiliser function on digital cameras!), and to keep the subject wide in the view finder. I had perhaps been a little too close in shots of my dog (and that he was very energetic!). It was great to see however the contrasts in the photos were good (which I love high contrast photos), and some ‘happy mistakes’ were made when I didn’t turn the film on enough and got a double exposure on part of the film. This double exposure reminded me of when I went back to the very basics and made a camera obscura out of a shoe box. These ‘imperfections’ of slightly blurred, out of focus, and contrasty photos, I absolutely love. This camera is definitely one for more abstract photography (and great for quick holiday snaps).
I also couldn’t resist taking a photo of my digital camera, as homage to the film!
Nikki Price, The Last Day of Summer (2015) 127 Film
For those of you who would like to be involved in a Nikki Price Photography project then carry on reading:
I’m revisiting a significant/memorable place for those of you who were children/young people growing up in the Medway Towns (or near) in the 1950’s, to have your photo taken at that place today, and to give this a short paragraph of why it is memorable/significant.
If you are interested in volunteering for this next project then drop me a line through the contact me link here:
Red House is in a pretty residential road in Bexleyheath next to the vast Danson Park, not as a spectacular setting as Castle Drogo , but no less impressive. Originally owned by creative William Morris, Red House is a nice little haven in the middle of the other residential homes.
The guides were very welcoming in the ticket office, which was originally a stable block, the original blocks had been kept, even the hay feeders. At the time i visited there was a ‘bread crumb’ trail around the site, with little post labels tied to various things such as trees, each with an individual poem or inspirational quote.
Exploring the Garden was a real treat, being in a residential road, you would think that the garden would be fairly small, however it was about the same size as the house either side, just enough to think you were in the middle of nowhere. As well as kept lawns and flower beds, Red House has a vegetable and flower patch at the rear of the house, well protected by the resident Scarecrow, pumpkins grown far better than my ‘un-green’ fingers! The little potting shed reminded me of my Grandads Shed, the familiar smell of potting compost and general musk of the shed, the little spiders making their homes in the corners.
I fell in love with the house as well as the Garden, definitely a place I could live in. The wooden floors, the stained glass windows above the grand front door. A fabulous little find was in one of the bedrooms, apparently occupied by Lizzie Siddal and the Pre-Raphelites at one time, the National Trust had found a painting of Lizzie Siddal in the walls behind a built in cupboard. Following my visit there, more paintings were discovered behind the wall paper, the uncovering these gems still goes on.
If you visit Red House I would also recommend a trip around Danson park which is close to the house, with vast greens, trees and friendly squirrels.