Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thematic Photographic 34: "Simple" v.2.0 - Simple Imaging

"Simply Unedited"
Raleigh, NC - October 2008 (Click to embiggen)

Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi - Button Image by Smarmoofus Hosted by Written Inc.

This week's Thematic Photographic theme is "Simple". As in simple object, simple(r) times... you get the drift.

While neither of these is as rudimentary as my Dad's old Box Brownie (which nobody seems to know the whereabouts of -- curse the luck!) they both represent a much simpler type of camera than the one that photographed them. On the right is my grandfather's 35mm Fujica, which I can tell you almost nothing about other than it survived both the Korean and Vietnam wars. I never shot it, but after he passed away when my mom asked if there was anything of his I particularly wanted before she held the estate sale, this was the only thing on my list. I still haven't shot it, and probably never will. And while it may have some collector value one day when people ask "What's 'film'?" it really only has value to me. I'd love to hear the stories it could tell.

Cozied up next to the Fujica is the box you can blame for all the photos you have to sift through on this blog. That, friends, is the first camera I ever owned -- a Kodak Instamatic. (Show of hands: how many of you remember flashcubes?) I got it for Christmas in 1966, and it's responsible for getting this beer truck careening down the hill. As inelegant as it might look, these cameras took what was almost medium format film -- in cartridges rather than rolls, but still a hefty sized negative (or is it that I just remember it being so big because I ... wasn't so big?). If Kodak had put a decent lens on the front, they'd have gotten some truly amazing shots. I used this very camera until probably 1982 right after my oldest son was born. I actually have photos of him taken with it. (I can tell from the print size and aspect ratio that they must have been shot with this camera.)

Ironically, though the cameras were simpler, using them was proportionally more complex. "Auto" settings meant either "You can't adjust anything, so don't bother trying" in the case of the Instamatic or "I'll automatically tell you how much light you've got so you can figure out how to expose this shot" in the case of the Fujica. The Fujica did have a built in meter (if you look closely you can see the aperture for it just above the lens barrel) but all it did was keep you from having to carry a hand held meter. The Kodak didn't bother with a meter since it was only about a step and a half away from being a pinhole camera anyway. In both cases, you had to do all the thinking on your own. Auto exposure -- at least for the consumer market -- was still years off. Auto focus, perhaps a little closer, but not much. So shooting these was an exercise in either knowing what you were doing, or a lot of trial and error. And guessing. Or just getting lucky. Which is what happened a lot of times with that six-year-old kid who used to proudly snap away with the Kodak.

Come to think of it, it still happens that way a lot more often than you'll get me to admit.

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Pagan Sphinx said...

You wrote: "Come to think of it, it still happens that way a lot more often than you'll get me to admit."

I so agree! I had a whole assortment of instamatic cameras. The results of which are mostly photos of my kids which are in albums. There is a scanner here but it's in the office of The King and he isn't always up to being disturbed. ;-) One day The Queen will acquire her own scanner and go wild with the old snapshots.

I don't know what I enjoyed more the photo of the cameras or the little story that went with it.


Anonymous said...

A good post - rather weird because I came across it just as was organising my camera pics for a page at Nexus.
The Fujica was a good camera - you should put a roll through it for your Grandfather. I am in the process of getting three classic cameras - watch my space.

Shadow said...

lovely old camera that! i've still got my dad's one hiding in a cupboard somewhere...

SandyCarlson said...

My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic. I loved the smell of the film cartridge and felt very scientific loading that thing. It endured every kind of bad weather. I left it everywhere by accident. And some of our only good surviving pictures of those days came from that little gem.

Anonymous said...

I love the older film cameras. No editing can be done to the pictures. What you see the view finder is what you get, straight forward.
I still use at times (with permission) on some wedding pictures.

SaoirseDaily2 said...

I love the copper tone to this picture. Very nice. I hope you have a nice relaxing sunday. I plan to stay in, away from the icy chill of outdoors and watch movies.


lisaschaos said...

I enjoy the beauty of the old cameras but I'm sure glad at the advances we've made. :)

Carmi said...

This was a lovely trip down memory lane. From everyone else's comments, it's easy to see that virtually everyone has an early-camera story, and in pretty much every case, this is where the magic began.

My hand is up for the flash cubes (gaa, what a memory!) as well as the 110-format film cartridges that seem to have defined my childhood.

My late uncle had an ancient Yashica 35mm rangefinder camera that had been to hell and back. I remember using it as a child, but lost track of it when I moved out. But if I close my eyes just so, I can still see it. And I can still feel its heft, too.

Thanks for this.