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My Camera Story. January 9, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, why.

Originally written 20th November, 2005.
Most of my cameras have been gifts or not my own, truth be told.

The first camera I ever had of my very own was a Kodak Advantix 2000. Remember that craze? That was about eight years ago – I remember because one of my aunts had just had her first baby, and everybody loves taking pictures of the wee ones in their lives. The camera came with this little box that held the exposed and developed film along with index cards. The index cards were the coolest thing, I thought, about the whole Advantix system. It was fun having my own camera and having my own pictures. My friends, my way of looking at things. It wasn’t just that the cameras recorded what was happening in my life – the same could be said with the doubles of prints I got from family and friends, looking at my mother’s photo albums – it was that my camera gave my record, not a record.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to record little things – not just the faces of the people who were there, but a clumsy shot of an entire room – that’s where we were. A picture of a place sitting, this is the colour of the table cloth at the wedding.

Shortly after the Advantix camera – by the time I entered high school – the Polaroid JoyCam was all the rage. The pictures were small but not too small and let’s face it, it was cool to have things instantly – or just about. The image slowly fades in, waiting until it looks really done! Trouble is, it’s expensive. Also, people tend to want the Polaroids you’ve just taken. It was a Christmas gift, so I have all these little Polaroid 500 film images of Christmas trees, lights, and my family. I like those images.

I found photography interesting but at this point it wasn’t much of a hobby. I didn’t go out of my way to take pictures of things, it wasn’t how I would spend an afternoon. I’d be going somewhere, doing something, and decide that I wanted to take pictures of the folks who were there so the camera would come along.

SLR & The Darkroom
Canon FT QLIn my final year of high school I took a photography class sort of on a whim; thought it would be an easy credit to give me a bit of a break from homework amidst my more demanding courses. I wound up spending loads of time on my photography – taking pictures, developing negatives and prints. I used my father’s old SLR – a Canon FT QL. This thing was heavy, and I had access to two lenses. A standard lens and one that worked quite nicely for portraits. Since the camera was quite old, the 1000/s shutter speed wasn’t working quite right. It was so cool to take pictures and make some parts blurry and others clear, learn about different kinds of film, crank the film in and out of the camera by hand, and above all else – work in the dark room.

Taking pictures was pretty cool – but developing prints was incredible. I could be lost in that for hours – during spare time throughout the day, over lunch hours, after classes were through. Some folks were out playing sports, but by the end of my high school career I was finished being involved in that (didn’t enjoy it anymore) and now spent most of my free time in the dark room with dim red light, stinky clothing-ruining chemicals and the radio.

As the year came to an end, so did my dark room experience – but I still maintained an interested in SLR photography. I liked the control of it, holding a small automatic camera just felt silly.

An SLR of One’s Own

The Gear - NowGifts, like I told you. For Christmas in 2001, I was given a Canon Rebel G SLR. It was great – had some automatic settings when I wanted to click through a few snapshots of friends. Had all the manual control of the old SLR.

And, I could develop things at home – negatives only, but it was great to have a piece of the dark room at home.

By now, I was really interested in it – the art & science as I wrote about prior to having a photo-specific journal. I knew we had some old cameras in the house from my dad & my grandfather, I’d taken a brief look when I was taking my photography course. Recently, though, I wanted to know if they still worked, so I’ve begun trying them.

But first …

Let’s Get Digital

I really didn’t want to get into the digital thing for quite some time. I didn’t think the quality could possibly be so good, you had to remove the film and developing prints, and everything was back to point-n-shoot. It couldn’t possibly be for me.

Then, my family gave my dad a Nikon CoolPix 2000 and I got to give the whole thing a try. It was incredibly easy, and while I didn’t think it could replace film what was amazing was the ability to shoot countless images and share them instantly.

Last year, I was given a digital camera of my own. A Casio Exilim EX-Z30, which has enabled me to take some great digital images and even videos, something totally new to me.

Camera Museum

Recently I decided to test these old cameras in my house. The discovery of flickr helped renew my interest in photography. Like many, I take photographs so that they can be looked at, and not just by me. A community of amateur, beginner, and really excellent photographers talking about photographs and photography – very cool.

So, first on the agenda was to try the Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera – worked perfectly, I think this is a great camera. Unfortunately, the film will stop being produced Q1 of 2006. Luckily, the Polaroid website has something explaining how you can use 600 film with the camera (instead of the Time Zero film). I also tried using the Adox Golf 63 camera. This was my first experience with 120 film – the little square pictures your parents used to take. Amazingly, this camera worked as well – fairly well, although there is a light leak. Not bad for a 50 year old camera – the bellows were replaced once, maybe 30-40 years ago.

SX 70 - Blue Spruce Adox Golf 63 - Cat

Those are my dad’s cameras. We also have one of my grandfather’s old cameras, a camera he used to take slides all throughout Europe. That camera is the Agfa Ambi Silette, a camera I like to photograph. It takes regular 35mm film, so I’ve thrown a Kodak colour roll of film in there I’m just waiting to work through it.

Agfa Ambi Silette II

So. That’s the basic stories with the cameras up until this photo-journal. Sheer curiosity in some instances, the desire for attention, the need to be creative in others. As things progressed I have moved into another phase..

Digital SLR
It’s here – a few days ago, got into the world of digital SLR photography. I was long hesitant but finally made the switch, insisting for now (though several have told me otherwise) that I will never give up film completely.

What I am enjoying so far is the ability to play around with the wonderful control of a manual SLR camera but get the results right away. I think the learning will be much faster now and with the ever-increasing quality of digital images, I won’t be sacrificing in that department. What is missing is the dark room post-process, but that currently isn’t happening even if I stuck with the Rebel G.

So here I am, at last, with a Canon Digital Rebel XT – and with all this new learning, I decided it was time to dedicate a blog just to photography.

A kind of notebook. So that’s where I am now. 🙂



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