Warning, this article may insult you…I don’t care.
I was recently gifted an old Asaia Honeywell Pentax 35mm camera. I belong to an online social group centered around the ‘submariner’(R) style watch. A fellow member had inherited this camera and did not know what to do with it. After mentioning that I had one very similar to it back in High school (1977) he gifted it to me. It needed a little maintenance around the battery compartment (it used an old lead button battery to power the built in light meter which has become out of production since) and after some simple research, I found a supplier of a replacement alkaline button battery. I also found that Ilford still manufactured 35mm film in my favorite medium, black and white. And now I was ready to take some pictures. A flood of memories came to the surface as I loaded the 35mm film.
As a child, my parents had purchased something big that came in a large cardboard box and, like a child I found that cardboard box to be fuel for my childish imagination. A place to hide from God, a rocketship to a planet of all girls, a clubhouse for me and the inside of a camera. Actually, I was inside of a very simple ‘pinhole’ camera. There was a small hole in the side which was the only light in that dark box. And I noticed my dog ‘Chief’ on the inside wall opposite the hole. I could see the grass, trees and my dog playing in perfect clarity. But the picture was upside down. It was like a projector was playing life in full color but had been set up upside down.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was actually inside the basis of a camera.
About that time, a breakfast cereal that I liked, I forget which one, has a special deal at that time. If you sent in a certain number of boxtops and a small amount of money, presumably to cover the cost of shipping, they would send you a camera. I remember it was a simple camera that used a film size called 120 and the film came on a large paper covered roll that you loaded. I became the scurge of the house, taking pictures of everything, including a picture of me mother scrubbing the toilet (eww!) The power that I had to capturea moment on film for everyone to see for future reference, and yes, 50+ years later that very picture of my mother scrubbing the toilet still exists much to her dismay.
Then, in Jr High School, I begged my parents for a Minolta Weathermatic A waterproof camera in 110 cartridge film size. And on Christmas, even though ouf family was not rolling in money, I recieved that camera.I had wanted to become an Oceanographer/Marine Biologist and loved to swim. And I got my chance to do what I loved one day at a place called Marineland California. They had an attraction called ‘The Baja Reef’ in which you could don a wetsuit and swim through four seperate areas filled with different types of fish from California rays to colorful Gerabaldi fish. My mothertook me there and I took a whole roll of pictures underwater with that camera, snorkeling down amongst the fishes.
And my interest in photography did not end there, no. I High School, I took photography class and my parents got my a 35mm camera from a pawn shop. An Asaia Honeywell Pentax screw mount camera that I used in two semesters of Photography class. The only computer we had in our cameras was our brain. Some, like me and my camera, had a light meter but you still had to know how to use the light meter, how to set the shutter speed and aperture ring for optimum picture quality.
With the gifting of a camera very similar to the camera I had in 1977, I still knew how to use the settings to take pictures and, with a little refresher course in developing, I can process my own 35mm film negatives. I have a digital single lens reflect camera. It is a Nikon D530, but I ask, while looking at that suprised snapshot of my mother cleaning over 50 years ago and I still have my grandfathers negatives of pictures he tookalmost 90 years ago, I have to wonder if a picture I take with my digital camera will be viewed and/or valued in 50 years? Also, look at the creativity and knowledge lost in the digital age. Anyone can purchase a digital camera that does it all but press the shutter release for you. Now, you dont even need to buy a camera since there is a built in camera in your cell phone. Now everyone feels like they are a photographer.But look at the knowledge lost. I had to leard how a camera works, how to use light like a pain brush to create a moment in time. The lens in my camera is the size of a soupcan compared to the lens of a cell phone. And no matter how good digital photography becomes, it can’t compare to the clarity and versatility of film photography. I have to ask again, in 80 or more years, how many digital pictures will still exist, be viewed and charished as much as the negatives like my grandfather left me? Or the 50+ year old embarasing photo of my mother cleaning.
The digital progress has made us all dumber and more reliant on digital technology. Your cell phone is no longer a tool but a device of worship. How long can you go without your cell phone? When was the last time you looked up something in an actual dictionary or read an actual book? The periodicles of old have been replaced by digital content. Even this blog post is created on an iPad for posting on the internet. How lost would we Americans be if the internet was somehow turned off? Could you survive in a non digital world? How stupid have we allowed ourselves to become?