Time Capsules

I originally wrote this for our private, family-based blog but it’s relevant here as well.

One of the supposed disadvantages to shooting film is how it doesn’t mesh with the instant-gratification, instant-upload nature of the rest of our online lives. When everyone else can share photos within a day of taking them, waiting weeks or months to finish the roll, get it developed, and then scanned is an unnecessary amount of work.

This, however, is a large part of what I enjoy about shooting film. Especially when it comes to family/kid photos. It’s too easy to get caught up in the now and the new—just spending our time documenting and sharing each new development as it occurs. The time-delay of film forces me to remember and reflect.

From my most-recent roll.

jean jacket Wearing the jean jacket he got from his Grandma for Christmas
Santa Clara
February 2011

runrunrun Enjoying the sunny day
Santa Clara
February 2011

cabinetsBusy busy busy
Santa Clara
February 2011

cage boy Hoover Park
Redwood City
March 2011

cage boy Hoover Park
Redwood City
March 2011

With each of these, I’m forced to remember when I took it and figure out what was going on. There’s no EXIF information to help me. No time stamps or geotag information to give me hints. Part of the joy with looking through family photo albums is telling the stories that accompany the photos. Shooting film forces me to open that time capsule each time I finish a roll.

Dig a Pony


Another Keeble and Shuchat $5 box find I came across in December was a Kodak Pony 135 Model C. This camera is from the mid-late 1950s and is mostly exciting because it’s red-brown bakelite. Camera itself is in excellent condition and everything seems to be working as well as could be. I can even get 27 frames out of a 24-exposure roll.

mid-century bakelite

It’s in the middle of the photo (next to the black, much more common, Brownie Hawkeye Flash). One of these days I’ll take proper gear-porn photos. Shootingwise, it’s pretty fun. Scale and guestimating focus is kind of tough on cloudy winter days. It will be a lot easier to work with in the summer. This guy is also just asking for some Plus-X to get run through it rather than the crappy Max 800 I used as a test roll.


Multiple exposures are another fun thing to play with. Since this camera is a really simple design where the film-advance, shutter-cocking, and frame counter are all operated independently, multiple-exposures are ridiculously simple to do.

All in all, this find looks like something I’ll continue to shoot. Although it will also most likely be confined to summer-camera duty unless I feel a special urge to make horrible puns about shooting my pony.

Kodak Retina I


Toward the end of December, I picked up a Kodak Retina I in the famous Keeble and Shuchat $5 bargain box. Internet research suggests it’s type 141 (has a Kodak Anastigmat Ektar 5cm f/3.5 lens) and dates to between 1937 and 1939. Camera condition seemed kind of gummy (and T and B speeds are busted) but I just can’t pass up something that looks like this.

they don't make 'em like they used to

At the very least, I have a nice-looking museum piece. But since this takes 35mm film, I had to try it out—that includes a shadow self portrait since I try and take one of these with every test roll.


Conclusions? Probably not a good winter camera as it seems more likely to jam up when the it’s cold. I’m a bit curious how it will look with better film (this is expired Kodak Max 800) but I don’t really expect to be using this all that much. The Retina IIa is quite similar and much nicer to use.