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Kodak No3A Folding Brownie post card format roll film camera

Since post card sized film is no longer available for the No.3A Kodak, it was decided that the paper negative route was probably best for this camera. The image size is an impressive 3.25 x 5.5 inches or 83 x 140mm. Making paper negatives is simply a case of placing a piece of black and white photographic printing paper where the film would normally go. This paper is not sensitive to daylight in the same way that film is, and renders some interesting results, it doesn't react to reds and yellows very well, or even at all if the conditions are right. It's also very slow compared to film, but these differences ought not to be seen as problematical - they are to be embraced.

The first hurdle to overcome was exposure times. When making prints in a darkroom, a test strip is often made, consisting of a stepped exposure across a sacrificial length of paper. We rigged up a system with this camera whereby a red paper mask was withdrawn using the camera's take up spool, to produce the test strip below, on Ilford Grade 2 gloss paper.

exposure test strip for paper negative

This view was handy as the foreground sheds were in shade and the houses bathed in weak evening sun, effectively giving me two test strips in one. The exposure was made at f/44 in steps of 5 seconds. The first thing that is interesting is the paper is quite sensitive, recording a clear image at 5 seconds. The outcome of this test suggested that bright sunlight would probably only need 5-7 seconds and that overcast would need about 20 seconds. Note that the steps are readily visible for the first four steps, continued exposure becomes progressively less effective thereafter, only serving to deaden the image.

A further test will be conducted at smaller stops.

Saint Cross, Winchester

April 15th 2013. This was the first exposure made with the Kodak, at f/44 for 20 seconds, in very weak late sun through an overcast, the exposure took into account that the bulk of the walls were in shade. The result is amazingly vintage, the addition of some suitable attired people would have made it better. The method has a lot going for it, so the experiments will continue.

The location is St. Cross, Winchester. UK

Old railway viaduct at Winchester

This was exposed in fairly strong evening light, though you'd hardly guess it from the image, except for the strong shadows under the arches of this old railway viaduct near Winchester, it hasn't seen a hint of a train for decades, but has recently been incorporated into the Sustrans network.

This image was made at f/128 and exposed for 4 seconds, there were some light clouds in the sky but these were burnt out, paper negatives aren't that flexible. There isn't really enough texture in this scene to suit this medium, it's all a bit dull.

Groynes at Titchfield Haven

December 2014. You can never get an interesting sky when you need one. Titchfield Haven.

Titchfield Abbey Ruins

Titchfield Abbey, in the summer of 2018. I return here regularly with these old cameras, as it's local to me and free to get in. An important consideration I can tell you.

Giant's Causway, Northern Ireland

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, back in August 2013. It was a very long way to take a camera for a single shot, for that is all you get when using printing paper as your film stock. Truth be told, having got it home, it got damaged in the developing tray and a nasty unsightly stain appeared in the sky. I finally got around to retouching the image to make it presentable in 2018. In due course I hope to wind some film onto an old spool to give the camera a more representative outing.


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