Film Photography

Verichrome Pan in the Kodak No. 2 Brownie, Model F

I had such a nice time with the No. 2 Brownie that I immediately loaded another roll of film, this time some Verichrome Pan expired since June of 1982.

Kodak No. 2 Brownie, Model F

It felt so right to shoot that film in this camera. It was the film of Everyman for many decades, recording millions of family memories.

Moreover, unexposed Verichrome Pan has a great reputation for deteriorating slowly. When I mentioned to a film-photography friend that my VP was from 1982, he said, “Only 1982? It’s still fresh!”

When this box Brownie hits, it really hits. Just look! This is the statue before the Carnegie library in Thorntown, Indiana.

Carnegie Library, Thorntown

Yet I whiffed about half the photos on this roll thanks to camera shake and misframing. It’s very challenging to see whether a subject is level in the tiny viewfinders. I leveled subjects in Photoshop, but that tool can do nothing about motion blur.

Carnegie Library, Thorntown

Every distant subject I photographed ended up at the very bottom of the frame, with tons of sky above. I can’t tell whether that’s a fact of Brownie life or not. These cameras were designed with group shots in mind — Aunt Edna and Uncle Bill and Grandma and the cousins, at 15 feet. I never had any trouble framing subjects about that far away. Next time, when I shoot distant subjects I’ll try to compensate by moving them up in the frame.

IOOF Thorntown

It must be statute that every Indiana town have at least one building marked I.O.O.F., for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. I should do a series on Indiana Odd Fellows buildings. I’ve photographed dozens by now.

Downtown Thorntown

Downtown Thorntown is fairly plain. This building is in good shape but others could use a little love. There were few signs of life in the commercial district — I encountered nary a soul here. Speaking of souls…

Thorntown Presybterian Church

But it was a Saturday. The Presbyterians would have to wait one more day to corporately honor the glory of the Lord.

Thorntown Police

Coming upon the Thorntown Police Department reminded me of the time I nearly got a speeding ticket here, but my young and beautiful first wife got me out of it. Read that story here.

I shot this roll of Verichrome Pan the same day I finished the roll of Ektar I shared with you in this camera’s review. I sent both rolls to Old School Photo Lab, and I had the Ektar scans in a couple weeks. After two more weeks I inquired after my Verichrome Pan. The response: to get the best results from “the old stuff” they use a different developer and a special processing run, at no extra charge — and they were awaiting shipment of more developer. Color me impressed.

When I shot the Ektar, the frame numbers were in the very right edge of the ruby window, making accurate winding difficult. The Verichrome Pan frame numbers appeared smack dab in the middle of the ruby window — as if this film was made for an old box like this.

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21 thoughts on “Verichrome Pan in the Kodak No. 2 Brownie, Model F

  1. I think one of these captured much of the early history of my mother’s family.

    The Odd Fellows were certainly everywhere. My father is buried in an IOOF cemetery.

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  2. Nancy Stewart says:

    My dad and uncle were Odd Fellows for over fifty years. They wouldn’t have missed a Lodge meeting unless they were on their death bed. It was a very important part of their lives and they both were “Grands” at one time or another. My dad is buried in the I.O.O.F. cemetery at Leiter’s Ford and my uncle is buried in the I.O.O.F. cemetery at Rochester. The lodge brothers were very loyal and helpful to any other needing help. I remember reading in the book about Andersonville prison, during the Civil War, that if the prison guard and a prisoner belonged to the same lodge organization ( I.O.O.F., Masons, etc.) the prisoner would get special treatment. The narrator said if he made it out of Andersonville prison alive, he was going to go home and join every lodge organization he could, just in case.

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    • My parents weren’t joiners so we weren’t Eagles or Lions or anything. My grandparents were Eagles and so whenever we went anywhere with them we’d stop at a lodge so they could have a beer. By the time I was a kid the Odd Fellows were barely a thing anymore!

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      • Nancy Stewart says:

        I was only allowed in the lodge a couple of times, as a guest when my father was the recipient of an award. There was a password, but I don’t know what it was. The women of the lodge were the Rebecca’s, and boy could they put out a great spread of food. I think the men really looked forward to what went on after the meetings were over … someone would make popcorn, or carmel corn in a brown paper bag ( somewhere I still have the recipe for that) … and they would play cards till late in the night. Back then there were not all the entertaining things that people do now, and as times changed, it was becoming more and more difficult to find young men who had the time and interest to join. My dad and the men in his lodge were loyal and helpful to each other and to their community … kind of a rare thing in this day and age , when neighbors keep to themselves.

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        • We used to be so interdependent on each other, but we aren’t anymore. There’s good in how things are now but the lack of interdependence is surely a loss. It did lead neighbors to treat each other better.

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  3. ronian42 says:

    Like the idea of a series. Got me thinking I’ll have to start looking out for Masonic lodges here in the UK, and any other buildings along similar lines

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  4. kurt munger says:

    Hi Jim, I hear you on the viewfinder and camera shake, I have the same issues; sometimes it’s a bit disappointing when you develop the film and find out only a few turned out right(!) I have a bunch of Verichrome pan in the closet from the 50s to the 70s and it all still produces great images. Thanks for taking the ole girl out for a run, and for a nice review!

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  5. SilverFox says:

    A good reminder of how simple a camera can be and take great photos, all of the sophistication of modern cameras is just gimmicks and convenience – all you need is a dark box with a hole at one end :)

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  7. Verichrome is comparatively new and had a short life (1956-1975). The original Verichrome (1912-1956) which I used in my box camera was Orthochromatic (i.e. blind to red light) because Panchromatic film was far more expensive than Ortho..
    You ended up with black lips and ladies had black nails. Various advances lowered the price in the 1950’s. I don’t believe that Verichrome was ever made in 35mm, the equivalent that I used in my first 35mm was the greatly missed Plus X.

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    • I’ve always been curious about shooting original Verichrome. I’d have to guess that even the best-stored of it is pretty useless now.

      Verichrome Pan was the first BW film I ever used, as a kid in the 1970s, and it has a place in my heart as a result. Plus-X does too, to a lesser extent, because I shot it in 35mm as a teen.

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  8. tbm3fan says:

    This little story gave me the idea to pull out a Brownie Hawkeye I had in a display case in my office. I took it apart and cleaned everything. My son saw it and thought the viewfinder on top was interesting and wants to try it. I actually just looked in the freezer to see what my choices were and they are Verichrome Pan, Vericolor VPS 160, and Agfa 100 APX in the mid ISO range. More than likely B&W so I can develop but need to wait for a sunny nonworking day.

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