Last weekend I met up with some fellow photographers, one of whom also happens to be a musician, for a little expedition in lower Manhattan. On that particular occasion, he was wearing the latter hat, leading the world’s only all-brass Nirvana tribute band around the streets of the East Village. The rest of us swarmed around like so many camera-brandishing flies, taking lots of photos and generally making a nuisance of ourselves.
The collection of cameras was eclectic to say the least. Two TLRs – a Lubitel and a Yashica D – a Pentax K1000, a Rollei 35, and a Canonet were all aimed at the band and bewildered pedestrians alike. I was carrying two cameras: one of my trusty Leica IIIcs, that day mounting a Jupiter-12 35/2.8, and my too-infrequently-exercised Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. The latter, you may recall, has the lens reversed, producing a rather wild distortion out toward the edges; it seemed like it might be well-suited to the task.
When all was said and done, I had shot up three rolls of film, so I figured the odds were in favor of getting something worthwhile. Once developed I was pretty pleased with what I found. In retrospect, the choice of a 35 was about right for that sort of shooting; normally I prefer something a little longer for shooting in the city, but the ability to get closer more easily lent itself to a wider angle. I did briefly consider taking the Snapshot Skopar 25/4, and I still wonder if that might have been a better choice. Maybe next time.
The Brownie Hawkeye was an inspired selection if I do say so myself. With the reversed lens, using it requires a very different approach to composition than you might want with a typical 6×6 camera, so I had to keep reminding myself to keep the subject centered and to frame loosely. Thankfully the viewfinder is pretty conservative, so there’s always going to be some additional coverage beyond what you see. Even so, it’s a lot less predictable than most cameras. When it works out, though, the results can be pretty cool.
After the band was done we retired to a local bar (as you do), and a good time was had by all.