Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Shutter To Think!

   "Get the Swinger, Polaroid Swinger, Get the Swinger, Polaroid Swinger. It's more than a camera it's almost alive, it's only nineteen dollars and ninety-five. Swing it up, it says yes, take the shot, count it off, zip it off!"
Polaroid Swinger
 Anybody remember that song? Probably the catchiest camera tune ever, witness the fact that I still remember it from the late 1960's.
   I've always enjoyed photography. I haven't often had the money to do it as well as I've wanted to. My first camera was some kind of plastic off -brand 127 film camera in about 1957 or so. (I would have been 7, if you're keeping track.) We couldn't really afford to buy film much, so I was told to only shoot "special" stuff. My grandfather, W.K. Seward, had previously had a hobby of photography, even had his own darkroom set up in an old smokehouse on the property. The equipment had aged a lot by then, but I actually got to use some of it eventually. Somewhere I still have his Kodak, complete with flash.
   That Swinger I mentioned (and pictured) above? I got one just before graduation in 1968. It was black and white. I still have some of those shots I took on my senior trip to New Orleans. You had to coat each print with the fixer chemical with a swiper brush from a black tube. Wherever the coating missed, it faded away. By now, even some of the places I didn't miss have faded. Oh well.
Kodak Brownie 2A
   In my collection I also have an old Brownie 2A box camera.  It was really not much more than a slightly advanced pinhole camera. The Brownies were produced by Kodak in 1900  to afford an affordable outlet for everybody to get hooked on photography and buy film! It was a move of genius and one of the things that "made" Kodak. My model 2A was made about 1910 or so. It used 116 film. I actually shot a couple of rolls with it when I got it, I found some film somewhere. That film is no longer available now, although it is possible to use other sizes with it.  It had no clear lens, only a metal slide with holes in it, the "pinholes". Kind of cool, really. No flash, daylight only.
Realist Stereo 3D
   While I'm on the collection, I also have a Realist 3D camera. It's a 35mm camera with two lenses that produces a double slide to use with a viewer, sort of like the old View Master or even older Stereopticon viewers.  I played around with it a while. It's still usable, in fact, when you can find slide film available. I think there are still places to get the mounts.


Argus C3
   I used a number of snapshot cameras over the years. Finally, sometime in the 1970's, I traded for an Argus C3, 35 mm camera from my father. He had a pawn shop at the time, and that gave me access to pursue my photography hobby for awhile. The Argus is an American made rangefinder camera. It performed very well for me for many years. Nothing automatic about it at all. You adjust every setting by hand and learn a lot about what it takes to take a good photo.
   Finally, after several years, I got a bit more serious and traded for a nice 35 mm SLR back at the pawn shop. There was an Exakta in the display case, and I went for it. Still not an automatic camera, but it was an SLR, meaning what you see is actually through the lens so you actually see what you are picturing. The Exakta was made in Germany before and during WWII.
Exakta VXIIa
   For me, it was the right camera at the right time. I was able to do some good photos with it and even competed in the Austin Camera Club now and then with it. I even was able to use a friend's dark room a couple of times. Composing my shots was so much easier with it, since I was actually looking through the lens. It was very dependable, but it was very hard to get an sort of other lenses or such for it. I finally ran into problems with it and had to retire it.
   I next traded up to a Mamiya-Sekor 1000DTL. Another 35mm SLR. This one had a lot going for it, including an inner light meter. Even better, it came with an extra lens, and the lens mount was a bit more standard, being a screw-thread mount common to the Pentax and other cameras. I picked up several different lenses at the pawn shop and I thought I was in heaven! It was actually made in the late 60's, so it was about 20 years old when I picked it up. That didn't matter, though!
Mamiy Sekor 1000DTL
   I took a lot of pictures with the Mamiya Sekor. Finally, about 2000, it developed (so to speak) an electrical problem. I had hopes of finding another one so as to be able to use my lenses and other attachments, however, the other ones I picked up used had much the same problem. A common failing, I suppose, of course, after 40 years I guess those things will show up!
   I actually regressed a bit after that, went through a few 35mm rangefinder snapshot cameras of various types. I was always finding them at garage sales and Goodwill. Most served me well until I took the plunge and went digital.
   My first digital camera was a really cheap one that worked, ummmmmmmmm, okay, I guess. Nothing to brag about. I finally got a Kodak Easy Share C533 a couple of years ago, my first really new camera since that one when I was 7!
Kodak EasyShare C533
I do enjoy digital. I never did get my own dark room, and now I don't need one. I can do all the processing and editing I want to on my computer without absolute darkness and smells. I do, however, plan to save up and get one of the more advanced digitals. Particularly one that takes the 35mm type of lenses.
   I enjoy the heft and feel of those SLR's. I admit, the heavier cameras are steadier in my hands as well. It's much to easy to shake the camera when it's so small and light. Somehow the view on the digital display on the back of the Kodak just doesn't feel right. The camera's viewfinder is often faster and more exact, but the lag time between pressing the button and the picture actually shooting sometimes causes problems. If you're shooting a moving target, you often miss, unless you're foresighted enough to press the shutter a second or so before you actually want the shot. Not easy!
Anyway, if you do email, or blogging, or use the computer much at all, the digital is the way to go.
   I did come across a nice Olympus OM-1 SLR a while back at a Goodwill auction.
Olympus OM-1
I picked it up cheaply. Olympus is a very nice camera, and this one is no exception. Yes, admittedly, it was made back in the 1970's. It's about 40 years old by now. It's a classic already. I've been using it a little lately, though. I think I should, while film is still around! I don't think 35mm is dying soon, at least I hope not. I still have the bug!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! I love photography as well - thank you for sharing your collection! I have a Nikon SLR and a little waterproof point and shoot, but I recently bought the Diana Mini 35mm camera. I love to lomographic, lo-fi style. You're right, film isn't going anywhere with this new resurgence in interest. Everything old is new again...