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Photographing Old Cars With Period Correct Cameras?


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HI folks. I am hoping there are some photographers here. Hobby or Pro. 

 

I own a 1938 Plymouth. I sort of like taking nice photos of it. Sometimes I use an iphone app that allows me to edit photos to make them look aged. Below here are a couple of examples using my iphone. One  example is a pic I took just last week at my Son's wedding. I practice editing by adding specs and light streaks, etc with my iphone ...To help the photo look period correct. Half the fun is finding an old home or other scene where you cannot tell its 2020. It still could be 1938. Sure, today I get instant digital gratification. Simple an easy photos today compared to 1938. No waiting. No developing.

 

I was sitting on the couch the other day and looked up at a trinket shelf in my room. I saw a vintage camera that I had forgot that I owned. I bought it at roadside antique (junk) store somewhere north of Scottsdale Az if I recall. $15 I think I paid. Turns out to be a 1935-ish Kodak. The camera seems to be in fully operating condition. I see that it takes Six-20 film. No longer produced, but 120 film is the same, and sellers spool it onto Six-20 rolls so it will work in my camera.

 

I thought it might be fun to go back 80-90 years and try the old camera. Maybe dig up some props and try a photo shoot with the period correct camera, with my 1938 car. Could be fun. Not cheap to buy film. Not sure where I can get it developed. Yet for the sake of fun, I may try it. Has anyone done this? Am I wasting my time? Or by chance may I get some really neat old aged looking photos of my wife suited up appropriately with the the old car?

 

I see many options for old Six-20 film on E-bay. However they all expired 50+ years ago. Are these worth trying some photos with? Or is that film wasted junk by now? I welcome your photos and comments here if you've had success, or not, doing this.

 

Below here is a pic of my Kodak. It reads: Kodak Vigilant Junior Six-20 Made in USA by Eastman Kodak Company Rochester NY. 

 

@neil morse I tagged you here to join in or follow along the discussion.

 

Thanks, Keith

 

 

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Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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11 minutes ago, keithb7 said:

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Keith, your picture of the car and house is excellent!

Almost always, there is something in an "aged" modern

picture that gives away its modernity to someone

knowledgeable.  However, this one is great!

 

Often, an old house in a picture has a few non-period

items, such as replaced windows, or flat aluminum trim

instead of wood moldings, or an incorrect newer front door--

like an incorrect interior in an antique car.  Thank you for

sharing your talents.

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My next door neighbor is into vintage film photography. All of that stuff is still going like it never stopped. You cannot go to the local drugstore anymore. I just looked online and found “Old School Photo Lab”. Great job on the pics and your instructional videos are excellent too.

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Keith, what a great idea for a thread!  As you already know, I am very interested in this idea.

 

My camera is a Kodak Autographic.  This was a Kodak camera that had a little door in the back that you could flip open and write a line directly on the negative with a stylus -- hence the name, autographic. 

 

Autographic.thumb.jpg.cd274b2b1dd9509fac8b044212a56e3e.jpg

 

 

It originally took 122 size film, with a format of 3-1/4 X 5-1/2.  Unfortunately, they stopped making 122 size film in 1971.  However, some enterprising folks have used 3-D printing to make adapters that enable you to load 120 film in the camera. 

 

https://filmphotographystore.com/products/adapter-122-to-120-film-adapter#:~:text=The 122 Adapter is the,the adapters%2C shoot and process!

 

This produces a very "long" format of 2-1/4 X 5-1/2, but it works pretty well.  However, since the narrower film requires blocking off the little red "window" that shows the exposure numbers, you have to improvise and count carefully each time you wind the film forward.

 

It looks like your camera will just take the 120 rolls without any modification.  Getting black-and-white film processed these days requires some research for sure.  There's a place here in San Francisco (actually in my neighborhood) that does it, but I don't know whether they're still open now that this COVID craziness has taken hold.  Then you will need to either find a place that will create a digital image from your negative or get a negative scanner and scan your negatives yourself (which is what I did). 

 

Lastly, as I noted on your '38 Plymouth thread, the images from these old cameras may actually look too good to imitate the look of an old snapshot.  Here are two versions of one of my Kodak pics.  For the second one, I used the "1998 Cam" app on my phone that you recently told me about.  This enabled me to add "defects" that make the photo look more primitive.

 

925269948_presidio4(2)E.thumb.jpg.db7072818177c3955ee5bbdc2d24ee75.jpg

 

presidio5.thumb.jpg.07530dc6c74f1a79d89906b829760000.jpg

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There's a father and daughter team that does the vintage cameras at WWII reenactments and conventions that I see at the FDR Home Military Encampment. (part military car show, part military history convention, part reenactors) I know they can do it with all different kinds of cameras, because they have photos they have taken with them there. 

At last year's show she let me hold a camera used in WWII bombers, which was awesome. 

2v2EDmQZCx2zUmm.jpg

 

I know a guy on a forum that actually shoots Daguerreotype. I haven't been on that forum in a while though. He builds his own if I remember correctly. 

 

I would love to get into vintage photography but I don't have much of the knowledge base. I DO have my grandfather's cameras...somewhere in my storage unit. I need to dig them out. 

Edited by Billy Kingsley
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One of the problems with this style of camera is the bellows.  They often crack and develop pinholes as the material ages and stiffens.  Also, film in the twenties and thirties was very different from that made after World War Two.  The color response (even though it’s black and white) is different.  Also light leaks and questionable developing and printing often lead to the “antique” effects of fogging and vignetting.  Save yourself time and money and stick with the digital system and effects unless you really want to get into the very expensive hobby of Silver nitrate photography.

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The developing / printing is no big problem,  but the film itself sure can be. Once you get away from normal 35 MM the choices narrow quickly.

I would look for as old a 35 MM camera as possible and give that a try. A hand held exposure meter is a skill  in itself . Lots of decent 1950's 35 MM 

cameras out there. The Japanese and European rangefinders are interesting and some are reasonably cheap.

 

Greg

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I was going to question the fineness of the emulsions of today versus shooting digital B&W or shooting digital color and simply desaturating the image so I thought I'd  find a decent quality digital color photo of the 1919 Model T I had saved and give it a test.

This is the result of desaturating the color with no other adjustments.

In this case I think it turned out very well.

1919Stiched_T.jpg

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6 hours ago, Taylormade said:

Save yourself time and money and stick with the digital system and effects unless you really want to get into the very expensive hobby of Silver nitrate photography.

 

Your points are good and realistic, Mr. Taylor, though I

hope Keith doesn't get discouraged.  We're all old-car fans

who deal with the special challenges of our own hobby.

We wouldn't say to someone new in the hobby, "Old cars

have leaks and need more mechanical attention.  Save

yourself time and money and stick with modern Hondas

and Hyundais!"

 

You're certainly right that it's important to go in with your

eyes open.

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I have a Kodak bellows camera,and the bellows appears to have pin holes in it as mentioned earlier.

Maybe I'm just lazy,but I find the results with a digital camera and photoshop to be hard to beat. I've posted this picture on the forum before, It was taken at our local pioneer village with my '25 Buick.

1925 Buick sepia niose.jpg

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1 hour ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

Save yourself time and money and stick with the digital system

 

The whole point of using a period camera is........... Using a period camera to photograph a period car.

In this case the ends do not justify the means.

I can dig it....................Bob

 

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Well, I've photographed classic cars with old cameras a lot, then developing pictures in darkroom in my basement; sometimes even using expired, 1970s photographic paper. I've used  35 mm "Praktica" and "Zorki",  and medium format "Agfa Isolette", "Rolleiflex" and "Kiev 6C" and even made few 8mm movies; though, I''ve never tried to "make - up" the past.

 

What about the medium - format film, Kodak cameras used 620 type, which is no longer manufactured; the film is identical to common and still aviable 120 film, but the spool is different. Some cameras can be machined to use 120 film, some are too small. Just buy non - Kodak camera, as almost every other manufacturer used 120 film, even back in early 1900s. IMO, if You want a real 30s - technology camera which would be cheap and work without any repairs, You can buy any of soviet rangefinders, as they were manufactured up to early 90s, without major changes - 50 € would get you nice Zorki, Fed or Kiev.

With medium format is a little harder (I mean - more expensive); I've bought my 1934 Rolleiflex for about 200 €. Bellow - type cameras are generally cheaper, but most of them don't have rangefinder, so focusing is a bit tricky, as You have to guess the distance and set it on the meter scale. They were made up to late 50s, so getting one with non - pinholed  bellow is possible; if there are some minor holes, You can always patch them with solution of black ink in bookbinding glue.

Another story is lightmeter - You simply got to have one. Old, self - feeding selenium type are almost always broken (diffusion of thin gold layer on surface of selenium cells), so You have to go with more modern, CdS type (more expensive ones from 60s onwards). Or... just install app on Your mobile phone.

 

Of course, You can always perform a 1930s newsreel and buy a Graflex Speed Graphic.

 

What is most important - as every possible hobby, it takes time. A lot of time (and a little skill). So make sure, that You have time for both classic cars and photography.
 

It's almost impossible to get the "look" of photographs  taken on film using digital camera - silver halide gives You plenty of shades of gray, having greater tone range than any digital sensor; You'd see it especially in lightest parts of image, which on digital photographs are often "burnt". So, what's the point? Probably the same as driving a 80 years old car - fun.

 

Attached photographs: Group of cars on the roadside - Praktica MTL; Packard and Warszawa with people - Praktica MTL; Ford T - Zorki 4; Packard on the wooden bridge - Rolleiflex "Old Standard"; Volga in the dark - Kiev 6C; Mercury - Kiev 6C.

 

 

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Edited by filozof97 (see edit history)
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I guess my point of sticking to digital unless you really want to get into a fairly complicated and somewhat expensive hobby would be the same as to someone contemplating restoring a car for the first time - there’s a lot more to it than just pressing a shutter button or turning an ignition key, but both can be very rewarding if you are willing to put in the time, money and effort.

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I wish I would have saved the pix of my father's brand new 54 Stude Starlight Coupe I took with my home made pin hole camera...........Bob

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Friendly enthusiasm here has encouraged me to try it. For the fun of it. Digital images are pretty-well free to me. No added costs. Yet rounding up an old roll of 620 and trying the vintage camera out, sounds fun. Sending it away to be developed? It's not practical. Nor do I expect better than mediocre results. Fun stories to tell? Yes. Maybe pull out the photos in 30 years? That would be fun.

 

The bellows look good and void free in my old camera. I will go order a couple rolls of 620 now. It might be some time in October before I see the results!

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Great idea, love it.  Make me consider finding a 30’s camera in working order.  Keep up the great work, and thanks for doing it.

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See @keiser31, that is exactly what I'm talking about right there.  That's a great photo that could have easily been captured in 1935. Great job. Thanks for sharing. 

 

I have an old tweed suitcase. A fedora hat. I need some old shoes and a pin stripped double breasted suit. Oh, and a tommy gun with a 100 round circular clip. That, I'll never find. A violin or cello case may have to suffice.

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2 minutes ago, keithb7 said:

See @keiser31, that is exactly what I'm talking about right there.  That's a great photo that could have easily been captured in 1935. Great job. Thanks for sharing. 

 

I have an old tweed suitcase. A fedora hat. I need some old shoes and a pin stripped double breasted suit. Oh, and a tommy gun with a 100 round circular clip. That, I'll never find. A violin or cello case may have to suffice.

My buddy Mike Diaz and my car....

57793517cfbbf_oldmike.jpg.391bb898da7536924d2964305ff1c1e6.jpg

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A few years ago motorcycle historian, writer, and photographer Paul D'Orleans accompanied the Cannonball cross country antique motorcycle run taking pictures using authentic tintype techniques, with great results.  His website doesn't seem to be around anymore but here's a link to an article about it:

 

http://www.antiquearchaeology.com/blog/mototintype-documenting-biker-culture-in-america/

 

If you google Paul D'Orleans tintype you can find lots of his images.

 

1494638583_DOrleanstintypephoto.jpg.21f32f73e9a9592d3750b3345e03b835.jpg

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3 hours ago, keiser31 said:

Newer camera older car and home....

16309_10203555201299597_5121953193480179561_n.jpg

 

2 hours ago, keithb7 said:

That's a great photo that could have easily been captured in 1935. Great job.

 

It is a good picture, and finding an authentic house to

match the era of a car might be difficult in some towns.

 

If you don't mind a friendly suggestion:  The house looks

like a late 1910's to mid-1930's style.  The car and the

house are appropriately of the same era.  Yet the house

looks a bit time-worn and not well kept, as if it had been

around for many decades at the time of the picture.  In the era

of that car, the house would have looked new or almost new.

 

I probably notice historic architecture more than others, though.

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12 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

 

It is a good picture, and finding an authentic house to

match the era of a car might be difficult in some towns.

 

If you don't mind a friendly suggestion:  The house looks

like a late 1910's to mid-1930's style.  The car and the

house are appropriately of the same era.  Yet the house

looks a bit time-worn and not well kept, as if it had been

around for many decades at the time of the picture.  In the era

of that car, the house would have looked new or almost new.

 

I probably notice historic architecture more than others, though.

Yep. The home was in pretty poor shape and was being remodeled. After I took the photo, some homeless person took up residence in there and burned it to the ground.

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
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Well about twenty maybe 30 years ago I stepped up to a pretty nice 35 MM Cannon.

Got a couple of lens for it. One zooms right nicely.

I even bought some of those tinted lens things to ad affect.

A good flash, on and on.

New enough that it is pretty much point and shoot.

It was a lot of money for me back then, and I was broken hearted when it became obsolete just about over night.

I probably haven't looked at it in all this time but it sits in the back of my closet.

Any takers? almost free. Blue light special.....

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9 hours ago, PFindlay said:

A few years ago motorcycle historian, writer, and photographer Paul D'Orleans accompanied the Cannonball cross country antique motorcycle run taking pictures using authentic tintype techniques, with great results.  His website doesn't seem to be around anymore but here's a link to an article about it:

 

http://www.antiquearchaeology.com/blog/mototintype-documenting-biker-culture-in-america/

 

If you google Paul D'Orleans tintype you can find lots of his images.

 

1494638583_DOrleanstintypephoto.jpg.21f32f73e9a9592d3750b3345e03b835.jpg

Looks like Christine Sommers-Simmons, great lady!

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27 minutes ago, JACK M said:

Well about twenty maybe 30 years ago I stepped up to a pretty nice 35 MM Cannon.

Got a couple of lens for it. One zooms right nicely.

I even bought some of those tinted lens things to ad affect.

A good flash, on and on.

New enough that it is pretty much point and shoot.

It was a lot of money for me back then, and I was broken hearted when it became obsolete just about over night.

I probably haven't looked at it in all this time but it sits in the back of my closet.

Any takers? almost free. Blue light special.....

I sold my Canon AE-1 35 mm camera years ago and regretted it. Coming out of Prineville, Oregon (translates as remote) one day, we came across a yard sale at a farm. The guy sold me a practically unused Canon AE-1 with tons of lenses for about $100.00. I was ELATED! Best camera I ever had. Then about a month later, EVERYTHING went digital. Bummer.

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30 minutes ago, keiser31 said:

I sold my Canon AE-1 35 mm camera years ago and regretted it. Coming out of Prineville, Oregon (translates as remote) one day, we came across a yard sale at a farm. The guy sold me a practically unused Canon AE-1 with tons of lenses for about $100.00. I was ELATED! Best camera I ever had. Then about a month later, EVERYTHING went digital. Bummer.

I feel your pain. I have 2 nice minolta XE-7's and extra lenses sitting in a drawer. Excellent cameras turned to boat anchors. I can,t bring myself to trash them.....bob

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When my kids were young I bought one of those VHS recorders that were so popular in the 80s.

I sold it at a racers swap meet this last February. The batteries were shot and I couldn't tell the guy much about it as it has also been in the closet for 30 years or more.

But  !!! Ran when parked.

Now if we want to watch the old home videos we will have to buy a VHS player at a garage sale somewhere.

The last VHS player I had also played dvds. Loaned that to my daughter a few years ago and haven't seen it since. Oddly enough neither has she.

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There was a guy on the Ford Barn that used a drone to make a short movie of his drive 'down a country road to the mercantile'. He had it in B & W. Very good production value. Not a still but it was pretty cool. 

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Several years ago , at the Threshers convention in Wood County Ohio, a fellow had a 5x7 bellows camera 

using original equipment, of the era, except not " glass plates" but film stock in original camera....very cool.

 

cr5.jpg

cr2.jpg

cr7.jpg

cr1.jpg

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As a practitioner of early photographic processes (I do most processes including Daguerreotypes, wet-plate collodion, gelatin dry plates, and roll film) I can attest to the endless rabbit hole.  I built a full wet darkroom when most are ripping them out, playing with ‘dangerous’ chemicals, lugging heavy and expensive field cameras around, spending mucho $ on original lenses, on and on.  It’s as bad as my antique car addiction. 
 

My latest endeavor is making my own photographic emulsions to hand coat film in obsolete formats so I can use my antique film cameras (122 format). I’m already hand coatIng glass plates for gelatin dry plates. So film is just a natural extension of that. 

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There’s a lot to be said for the ability to take a quick photo on a phone or camera and to be able to see it instantly (mostly just to see if it’s decent),  but I like film. Used to take a lot of shots on slide film, as the colour saturations were richer. 
 

It made me smile 2 years ago when Kodak announced that they were bringing back Ektachrome slide film; obviously a demand for it in some form.  
 

Kodachrome was a really superior film, but the processing of it is quite more involved, which is one of the reasons it was phased out. There’s a great book that was published after the end of Kodachrome called “End of the Run: photos from the final batches.” Showed some great shots of people just going out and seeing their world one more time in those “nice bright colours.”

 

I have an old, long expired box of Kodachrome that I keep in my fridge, for nostalgia’s sake, right next to my eggs...which have also likely expired. 

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13 minutes ago, JBP said:

I have an old, long expired box of Kodachrome that I keep in my fridge,

 

The best fridge for that is an old GE turret top...............just for nostalgia,s sake....🙂.........Bob

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I have a 1965 Studebaker Wagonaire and a 1965 Nikon F 35 mm camera (full manual, no metering).  So, here is a "period correct" photo of the Wagonaire in motion taken with the Nikon.

 

wagzphires.thumb.jpg.ee23fc4de53219268eaf8bd61768d3d9.jpg

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Very interesting thread, I think you are onto something and I am sure there are more folks out there using old film cameras than we think. My father was into photography his whole life and set up a home darkroom so I followed him using cheap 120 reflex cameras and winding up with a nice Rolleicord. I switched to color slides then to 35mm and got pretty serious with a Canon A-1 and a bag of lenses. I got tired of all the work involved so digital was a revelation for me and I will never be going back. I do have a small film camera collection including my Rollei, my Dad's Graflex 22, and my worthless A-1. I also have a nice Crown Graphic press camera and a few other antiques. I will follow your thread and look forward to seeing where it goes.

20200808_114317.jpg

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Edited by TexRiv_63
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TexRiv_63, I don't know if I still have it or not, but I used to have a camera almost exactly like that red bellows boxy looking one in your pictures. Many years ago, I had a small collection of era cameras, and used them often on antique car tours. Over thirty years ago, I sold most of the cameras to pay one of the kid's hospital bills. That was one of my favorite cameras, but frankly, I haven't looked at most of the few I have left in a long time. 

I do have a couple common Kodak box cameras, including one my grandmother had from about 1915. I also still have a 120 bellows camera from the 1920s that I used to use often on antique automobile club outings, but it developed a light leak in the bellows, so I won't use it anymore. I have wanted to get a good 120 box camera to use on tours again, but haven't found one I like and wanted to spend the money on. I also have a 1929 hand crank movie camera! Stashed in storage somewhere is movie film taken of my 1925 Studebaker being driven around a car show about 1980. Film and developing for that was expensive even forty years ago.

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13 hours ago, TexRiv_63 said:

My father was into photography his whole life and set up a home darkroom........I got tired of all the work involved so digital was a revelation for me and I will never be going back. I do have a small film camera collection including my Rollei, my Dad's Graflex 22, and my worthless A-1. I also have a nice Crown Graphic press camera and a few other antiques. I will follow your thread and look forward to seeing where it goes.

 

So you know the real photographic magic happens in the darkroom much the same as using a program to manipulate digital photos.

Also one can take 40 shots of something which cost nothing, they're just pixels.

I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from using their period cameras but, by comparison, they're a lot of work with results that are much more difficult to correct.

 

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