Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trackside with my trusty Hawkeye

Westbound out of Capreol on VIA's Super Continental in August/78, the Instamatic I had with me started to misfire. Above is one of its last successful shots, taken during the servicing stop at Hornepayne. CN 760-VIA 5703 are in the foreground, with a GP, lots of interesting cars and the Hornepayne auxiliary behind. Upon arrival in Portage la Prairie, my aunt and uncle donated a Kodak Hawkeye for my use. Little did I know it would become my railfanning camera for the next six years.
Produced by Kodak from 1974-1979, the Hawkeye Pocket Instamatic camera reflected the shift away from 126-format film to 110-format. The smaller film format made for a thinner camera that could fit in a pocket, compared to the 126 Instamatic that could fit in...a box, I guess. The viewfinder is at the opposite end to the orange shutter button, and the film advance is below the button. Handy carry-strap and camera ready for film loading, not including the elastic band I used to keep the back from popping open:
Downside was a tiny negative that resisted all attempts at enlargement, decent reproduction, and detail. It is amusing to find an unused Hawkeye for sale on eBay for prices ranging from $5 to $40, referred to as "vintage". Notice the pedestal for the flashbulb, used for indoor photography before built-in flash. That yellow box contains the film that was in a sealed foil package.
One of the first photos I made with this new acquisition shows CP 8532-5553-5541 switching at CP's Portage station early on the morning of August 16, with CN's main in the foreground:
Not every shot was a keeper. Prone to vibration while taking a photo, the camera nonetheless documented some classic trains with CN GMD-1's and "black-widow" straight SD40's, and CP tiger-stripe SD's. In the digital age, I would have deleted some of these shots right away. (At the time, I would've de-selected them if I could've, but in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't). The digital vs. film debate was recently discussed on the MB-SK Rails Yahoogroup - click to join on my right sidebar. On August 18, CN 4245-4315-4317 were switching the yard. This shot clearly shows both the Flexicoil trucks of the Geep plus the elevator behind, proving that the little Hawkeye could do a pretty good job:
Pacing poetry in motion at 75 mph - 6759 westbound at Beaurepaire with an Ottawa train in October/78:
Over the next six years, my trusty Hawkeye accompanied me on railfan trips from coast-to-coast, surviving all types of weather conditions and minor accidents. Pacific: BC Hydro Railway 900 switches in Vancouver, October/80:
Atlantic: CN 1751 rests at the ferry dock at sunset, Borden, Prince Edward Island, April/82

To paraphrase Puff the Magic Dragon, A dragon lives forever, but not so Kodak Hawkeyes. During a week-long Canrailpass trip around the Corridor in March/84, it became apparent that its remaining photographs were few. I left the last few photos entombed in the Hawkeye on its last film. Years later, I had them developed. Here are the results of the two photos at Dorval as I received them along with a note: "Film old or left in camera too long. Subjected to heat or high humidity."

Taken on the platform at Dorval, 5186-5156-5095 haul eastbound covered hoppers ahead of International Service caboose 78108 at 1230 on March 9/84 (above). December 2014 Update! Drew Makepeace worked some colour correction magic both of these nearly-unrecognizable images. Here's the much better result:

 Seven minutes later, 4240-3726-3122 haul three tank cars and 79556 westbound:

I bought a Yashica FX-3 SLR and finally entered the 35mm world. One of its first photos (f2.8 at 1/1000) shows 2332-4349-4117 eastbound at Mi 191 Kingston Sub at 1618 on May 2/84:

Trying out the camera a week later, 6784-6865 were in charge of an 8-car VIA westbound at Mi 183 (f8 at 1/500):
Running extra...
The Christmas break is allowing me some time to work on my layout and its new prototype. Some of the progress to date shows track laid to represent CP Rail's 'N' Yard on Burrard Inlet in Vancouver. In the background are a mock-up of CP Pier B-C and some photos for inspiration. CP, BN and some CN operations will be represented.
Hey, is there any fruitcake left? Why is fruitcake so maligned, anyway? It's enjoyed in many countries, and its history dates to the Roman era. Once used to preserve candied fruit, it was enjoyed by early hunters on lengthy hunting trips. I propose "Nutty as a can of cashews" instead.
Seems two nativity pageant donkeys escaped from their pen at Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Eagle-Vail, Colorado. Following their trail, pursuers found the donkeys had travelled up the UP (ex-DRG&W) tracks toward Minturn, and were safely captured. The wonky donkeys were on burro-ed time and made complete asses of themselves.


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Well Eric, your trusty Hawkeye lived up to it's name with the GP-9 4245. Not only did you capture her Flexicoil Trucks, but also her roof top plumbing, which were the earmarks of a GP-9L, built for branch lines. The pipe running from the Denver-Gardner air compressor to the braking system air tanks located in the "short" nose! And as for fruit cake? I love it --- with almond paste if you have it!

Robert in Port Townsend said...

---- and hot rum sauce spread over the top!

Eric said...

I knew these units made it up to Rupert on a regular basis, and that you've featured several individual units on Oil-Electric. They had those "large-print" numberboards.

Did I mention mincemeat tarts and shortbread?

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Mom always made Plum Pudding during the holiday, made with beef suet. Served up with a splash of brandy topping, set ablaze!

Zartok-35 said...

That camera is something I should envy, it probably saw lots of cool trains. Thats a nice M636 up there! I like M636s. Seasons greetings.

Eric said...

Hi Elijah, I sure appreciated my aunt and uncle "lending" it to me. Sometime I'll post my shots of 6060 stopped at Kingston. Cloudy day, awesome steam, and a finger blocking the lens.
Thanks for stopping by,

Canadian Train Geek said...

I agree that the 110 and 126 cameras resisted any attempts at enlargement. I had a 110 and the photos were... disappointing.

That being said, I'm glad you had something to record those great consists!

Drew Makepeace said...

I have a nearly identical shot of BC Hydro 900! My records indicate the date was Oct 28, 1980.