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My God, I’m a Hipster

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    Seeing Green by Orionid, on Flickr

    After I flipped the lens for DoF/Bokeh mods in one of my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flashes, I wanted to be able to quickly differentiate it from the other one. So, I stripped it down to parade rest, cleaned it, primered it, and painted it.

    My first thought was metal-flake sapphire blue, but I didn’t feel like dealing with the cure times of enamel paint, so then I thought yellow. But I couldn’t find my can of yellow paint. Out of what was left, powder blue and almond were cut right away, so I left it up to fate and tossed some coins between dark green, emerald green, deep purple, and dark red. As you can tell, emerald green won, which makes Kestrana happy because now the camera is NY Jets colors. I guess this means my other one needs to be Steel City black and gold.


    Purdy! But out of curiosity; with the green near the aperture affect the image (reflections, etc) in any way?


    Just… wow.
    That had to take far more time than you’re letting on.

    We’ve got like 20 old cameras here (they’re very decorative and go well with the B&W photos on the wall -all mine, btw) and I don’t know that I’d honestly even think to take the time to do what you’re doing.

    Query: how many people do you think are doing what you’re doing with old cameras?

    I ask, because even though I live in the same town, yesterday was my very first visit to the George Eastman House. They’ve got a display of a history of commercially available cameras, from the early box brownies to a few modern dSLRs, to some toys (most dramatically a Voltron camera). If what you’re doing is unique and innovative enough, they probably would LOVE to hear from you. I’m thinking it is, and they would.


    I saw one of these old Hawkeyes in an antique store about a month back. It looked vintage, and I was sure I could scrap it together for something, and then I saw the asking price – $100. WTF. Same went for any other “antique” camera they had – the ones with broken lenses, broken shutters, etc., were all decorations that people apparently are willing to shell out over a hundred bucks for. That’s when I finally broke down and bought a holga on ebay for $20.


    Yeah most antique/misc shops seem to charge arms and legs for old cameras. Ebay is much more reasonable, and sometimes Craigslist. Goodwill is iffy, it’s either really overpriced or really underpriced.

    And production time on the Brownie was within the span of watching dVR’d SytycD results, 2 episodes of How I Met Your Mother and 27 Dresses yesterday. It takes him next to no time now to strip down cameras.


    The hawkeye flashes are extremely simple cameras. Stripping it down and putting it back together was about ten minutes each. I’d already pulled out and cleaned all the glass, so I didn’t have to worry about that this time. Cleaning the body took about 20 minutes with lots of q tips and alcohol, followed by cheesecloth. Primering and painting took about two hours for three hours total.

    I actually had a thought last night about buying craptons of these and doing it as a side venture. If you do a flickr search for paint hawkeye flash you get a lot of random crap and exactly three hawkeyes that have been painted. Since there are literally millions of these in circulation, $5-10 is the norm. I could probably sell them on ebay to hipsters for $40-50 for standard colors, and $60-70 for “designer” enamels like metal flake and pearlescents.

    rav – I don’t know for certain. For this camera, I’m willing to risk it. That’s not to say, however, that I didn’t consider hand brushing in some flat black to the cone.


    Goodwill is iffy, it’s either really overpriced or really underpriced.

    Herm…there’s something to do today (I’ve been wondering what to do today)…and I’ve been meaning to check out their albums for “Sleeve Faced”.

    Grand idea! Thanks! 😀

    Regardless whether it does or not (and if it did, you can fix it), it’s a beautiful creation, orionid, and you can always go back and fix it. For the 80’s hipster, maybe you could do a Rubik’s cube version.* 😉

    charge a major premium, of course, and don’t use the word ‘Rubik’ so’s you don’t get sued.


    To find old cameras for cheap, all you really need is time and enough communities near you to have a variety of garage sales every weekend.

    Even though I’m in Kodak-land, the antique shops generally charge sphincter-clenching amounts for old cameras, but garage sales can be as low as $1 each, so just stay alert.

    Despite having almost more than we can decorate with, we never paid more than $5 for a camera (I don’t think). Hell, my first one I found while I was in HS (decades ago) and was on top of somebody’s trash pile. Free is good.


    To find old cameras for cheap, all you really need is time and enough communities near you to have a variety of garage sales every weekend… but garage sales can be as low as $1 each, so just stay alert.

    I got the DP lens for $40 at a craiglisted estate sale, and now I spend my nightly breaks looking for another such find (no luck, of course). And at a couple, they’ve way overpriced. Every once and a while I get a good find, like the lens I converted into the faux-tilt lens. Most of the time, I ‘came for the photography equipment/found crap or overpriced trinkets/left disappointed.

    But you never know, I keep looking. Some of my props come from garage sales/flea markets (no fleas, yet)/thrift stores–and add in dollar stores for props, too–they’re the bomb.


    I will second the garage sale angle for picking up cameras. I’ve gotten a few range finders, old leather and metal box cameras, and even a nice Agfa Isolette II. Most for under a dollar. Even when they put a price of $20 on an old camera, just open it, check the shutter and stops, then offer them $2. Works quite often.

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