With a view to feeding my hybrid approach to photography (that is, old lenses on modern digital cameras), I recently picked up a rather curious optical artifact; an optica curiosus, if you will. The possible story goes thus:

The Surplus Shed had come into possession of an entire box marked to be returned to the old Brownie Hawkeye section of Kodak from decades ago. Upon opening the box, they were surprised to discover a load of  air-spaced doublet lenses that appeared to be unused. They surmised that these lenses were, perhaps, intended to be a replacement for the old single lens Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, but that this version of the once popular box camera was never made.

It’s a compelling story, yes? We’ll never know the details, but it turns out that this special Hawkeye lens is very small and can produce some interesting results. Here’s what it looks like:

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye - lens version 2 ??

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye – lens version 2 ??

Following my penchant for slightly off-beat imaging techniques, I’ve been freelensing with this little gem. That is, I’ve been popping my Olympus digital Pen camera into Aperture Priority mode and have been delicately maneuvering the Hawkeye lens in front of the sensor with my fingers in order to focus it. The great thing about this is that I can reverse the lens to distort the image, and also tilt the lens at an angle to shift the focal plane dramatically. Of course, without an aperture, it’s best to use it like this in low light.

Here are some photos produced by this special piece of glass:

Brownie Hawkeye - freelensing sunset 1

Brownie Hawkeye – freelensing sunset 1

Brownie Hawkeye - freelensing sunset 2

Brownie Hawkeye – freelensing sunset 2

Brownie Hawkeye - freelensing sunset 3

Brownie Hawkeye – freelensing sunset 3

I love the pictorial quality of these images. I reversed the lens for the second photo and also tilted the focal plane in order to distort the tree branches. I have a second Hawkeye lens that I’m considering adapting to a focussing mount and home-made aperture, but I really like the challenge of freelensing like this. Probably best not to point the exposed digital sensor at strong sun though !

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