Moreidlethoughts Weblog

humour,art,gardens, books and whatever idle thoughts float through my mind (it's a very draughty mind.)



This is for Karen, over at who is having a little fun with Photoshop.

The first camera I ever used (under paternal supervision) was my father’s old Kodak folding Brownie. Possibly this model, though maybe later. (I found the photo here:

Its bellows had begun to crack and light leaked in so Dad bought a new one in 1954. I remember the year because there were photos of my then baby brother still in the camera. fast forward six years…

I did a “repair job” on the bellows  (with some sticky tape!) and finished the roll of film. A bit shadowy on one edge, but still perfectly printable. Baby son at one end of film, teenage daughter at the other. Those photos are probably still around; I should ask my brother…

I was about to try bitumen paint on the cracked bellows when my father decided that if I wanted to take photographs I should have a decent camera. A new box Brownie. Too big for a pocket and the silliest damn’ carry strap, but what  good pictures from such a simple camera! Most of my shots were monochrome since colour film then was expensive and had to be sent away for processing. The black-and-whites I could do in a darkroom at Camera Club.

And having to buy, load and process film taught us our best lesson: get your composition right before you  press the shutter. Today’s digital wonders have  made me (probably most people!) a bit blase. The   “delete” button has made us careless.

I had some fun with double exposure, too.Sometimes accidentally, if I forgot to advance the film! But that was the beauty of those old wind-on films. Given good light you coould expose a single frame at least 3 times and still get a recognisable image. And, of course, you could take very convincing pictures of those “fairies” at the bottom of the garden!

I miss those old cameras…

My first digital  camera is OK, but small and fiddly and with limited options.

But its editing facility allowed me to do things like this without Photoshop.

I call it “Neon Coconut.”

And this: “Ghost Palms.”

Nothing fancy.

Author: dinahmow

A New Zealander, currently living in tropical Queensland,Australia (with 2 cats and one Main Man).Old enough to remember George VI, white tennis balls and life-before-television.You want more? Read the blog!

23 thoughts on “PLAYING WITH CAMERAS

  1. Oooh i love those ghost palms


  2. … but loads of fun eh!

    (ps the one thing I selected as my personal treasure from my nana T was her red box brownie camera – I keep it on top of a shelf and each time I look at it I think of her…)


    • ronnie… if the camera’s still functional you can still get the required film. I think it’s relatively easy to get in Australia.
      If you, or anyone else wants details, leave a comment and I’ll check it out. A niece has some details of such things.


  3. Hi. i have a folding Brownie just like this one and remember my father with it. Don’t think I saw him using it though. I didn’t know the film would still be available.


    • Rosalie…welcome. Yes, it is still possible to buy old film. My suggestion is doing a Google search on availability in Australia (or other country, for non-Australians).

      I would, however, have the camera(s) checked first, just in case they no longer work.


  4. A similar tale to tell, even down to the Camera Club. (Remember the small of the hypo, or whatever it was?) But what envy of those bellows cameras with those mysterious levers for adjusting ƒ and shutter speed!


  5. I love vintage cameras. A brownie would’ve been great but, being of a later generation, my first camera was an instamatic. Much lower quality. And I don’t necessarily agree with you about using film teaching you proper composition. I’m sure it helped to some extent during all those lean years, but not treating every exposure like it’s precious has freed me up to do take risks I never did with film cameras and the results have been well worth it.


    • andrea…yes, you have a point there. I often change my digital’s settings and take several images of the same thing, knowing I can now be picky. But I sometimes do the same with the Fuji SLR 35mm. I guess it’s cheaper than it was 50 years ago! 🙂


  6. I’m like Andrea – an Instamatic was my first camera, too. And I wasn’t very good, so I stopped taking pictures years ago. I got my first point-and-shoot a couple of years ago and now the Panasonic super-zoom. I’ll admit I take hundreds of pictures just to get a couple good ones since it doesn’t cost me a thing except a little bit of time to delete the bad ones.

    And thank you so much for the mention! I love your neon palm trees. Maybe a neon Empire State Building coming up?


    • Karen…I had several Instamatics and the original was far and away the best. The subsequent plastic things were rubbish!
      My favourite sky-scraper is the Chrysler. Expect overload! 😉


  7. Must brush off my vintage camera and see if it still works. Love your photos. Going away now for a couple of weeks so will be missing in action. Or inaction.


    • carol…I take it the licence hiccup is resolved, then? Happy feathers to you!


      • All hiccups resolved. Nearly got washed out on first day but things have improved weather wise. In Beenleigh Library snatching a moment to see what’s happening on web. That’s pretty tragic really, when I’m in sunny Qld and still have to find a computer. Hoping to go to Maleny today to catch up with F&B and see their work in the Montville gallery. Then who knows where we’ll go… Depends on weather I guess.


  8. Ghost palms are definitely preferable to hairy palms.


  9. won’t fill the space with my camera stories – but I do have a sequence of my own

    my fave out of all was a Kodak instant one. . .

    what I find weird is how I used to treasure good photos so much, especially the best one from a 36 film – yet now, with a digital, I am submerged by thousands that I like (well, maybe not 1000s, but you know what I mean?)

    in my last year at college I took some photos at the beginning of term and must have done forgotten to do something with the film, because I obviously used it again at the end of term and had that double exposure thing happening – same people, doing almost exactly the same things but in different combinations with different haircuts!


  10. I love my old photos and wish I had taken some in my uni days. I’m afraid I was “too cool for school” and regret it a little now. I still have some lovely old ones from when I was a kid and absolutely loved my first camera. I don’t know where it is now. Probably gone in one of my many moves.


  11. I once made a pin-hole camera out of a plastic flower pot… and then I took pictures of flowers…
    Anyhow, sometimes the old ways can be fun. And dark rooms were always really cool places to be.


    • hahaha…I followed instructions from a Boys’ Own book and made a waterproof housing. Then I took pictures of murky tadpoles-in-pondweed. And had to wreck the housing to get the film out. Stupid Boys’ Own!


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