1940s Michigan Bakelite Camera Documents Discarded Engines in Denver
When I bring old film cameras to junkyards, I prefer hardware that’s at least 110 years old (for the same reason that old-timers think carburetors are superior to electronic fuel injection). Sometimes, though, a more recent camera that occupies an important position in American cultural history— say, the Vest Pocket Kodak of the World War I era— seems like the correct tool to document the poignant scenes at the big self-serve junkyards I frequent, and so I fitted some close-up lens attachments to my early Argus 75 pseudo-TLR camera and brought it to a nearby car graveyard.
The affordable, Bakelite-bodied Argus 75 and its variants sold in vast numbers during the late 1940s through middle 1960s, and so those blurry, square snapshots taken by your great-grandparents in 1957 have a very high probability of being Argus 75 shots. I bought an Argus 75 on eBay that still had a roll of film with 1956 photos from Columbus, Ohio, inside. This is the camera that I took to a couple of yards near my pad, just prior to the coronavirus lockdown here.
The Argus 75 had a fixed-focus lens that worked between about eight feet and infinity, but you could get a “portrait attachment” lens that would allow the capturing of subjects within about three feet of the camera. That’s what I used for these shots.
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