Purchasing vintage cameras requires a certain leap of faith and sometimes instead of landing on your feet, your fall flat on your ass. Take my Brownie Junior Six-20. I spotted it in an antiques shop and thought it was a bit overpriced at eight bucks, but I got it anyways (turns out that’s about list price but I digress).
After figuring out how to get the damn thing open I shot a roll of film (which I haven’t developed yet). When I tried to get the camera open to retrieve the film, it was jammed. The back just would NOT come off. Disgusted, I set it on a shelf until this afternoon. I decided to pry it open using two small screwdrivers and discovered that the full take up reel had problems fitting (even though I used 620 film and spools). That, coupled with the monumental effort it took just to open and close the camera rendered it inefficient to use as a picture-taking camera. It’s destiny was to forever sit on some decorative shelves until, I had a lightbulb moment.
I’ve had the idea of making a light out of a camera since I saw one a few months ago. I knew it would be pretty simple and it truly is. Here’s how I did it. You need a camera in which the aperture can remain open and a light source. In this case it’s my old piece-of-crap Brownie and a little reading light that I got from the dollar store.
To keep the Brownie’s aperture open you simply need to pull out the little lever on the side (look below the red crayon) then push the exposure lever down.
Then, position the light so that it aims directly through the open lens. You may need to stuff some paper or other soft filler behind the light so that it doesn’t move out of place.
It’s not very bright as you can see, but it’s much more interesting looking than your standard silver and black model flashlight.
I’m really glad I was able to give a new life to this old beauty. It may have fallen pretty flat as a camera but it lights up my nights as a light and my kids are having a blast with it. Plus, I think it might look quite nice dressed up in some festive decor and placed on my mantlepiece or even on my Christmas tree!