Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Grandfather's Kodak 3A

My grandfather was a machinist, but he was also a tinkerer. He loved to make things in his basement - from shovels to hand saws and knives, he built many homemade tools throughout his life. He even did so after he went blind for the last twenty years of his life. Before that, he had a love for photography and that is something we shared together. We talked about it often. Shortly before he passed away, he made a point to give me his Kodak 3A Model C and all of his negatives. He shot on roll film as well as glass plate using the combination back glass plate adapter. The camera wasn't worth much, and you can still find them on eBay for about $40 or less. By the time I inherited it in the 1990s, the bellows were cracked so it didn't have much photographic use. I put it up on my shelf for inspiration. As the years went by, digital photography grasped my photo interest and this camera became more of a family relic than a useful tool. After all, where would I find Kodak 122 roll film these days anyway?

Years past, and like others my photographic interest was reborn with my rediscovery of film photography. Like others, I got back into film due to it's simplicity, beautiful formats, unique equipment, and it's hands-on approach. As my interest grew, I kept staring at this thing on the shelf and wondered how I could bring it back to life. I did some Googling and found that people have easily converted these cameras to 120 roll film. I examined my grandfather's camera more and did some research on bellow restoration. I decided to take it on. First I tried to restore the bellows. That was a fail. The bellows were long gone. I would really need to get new bellows. The only way to do that is to find a donor camera on eBay with good bellows. And that is what I did. A couple of weeks later I successfully converted it to 120 roll film. Here are some shots:

Photos by my grandfather Roosevelt Decker (roll film)
Buck Hill Falls, PA
May 15, 1932 (dated on negative envelope)

My latest shots using 120 film to create a 6 X 14 image:

Morning Fog - Lincoln Park NJ
Film: 120 Film - Ilford Delta Pro 100
Developer: D76

Test Shot
Film: 120 Film - Shanghai GP3 100 iso

Developer: D76

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