Wednesday, December 10, 2008

me and my camera

When I was 18 there were two things I wanted more than anything in the world: a car and an SLR camera. My boyfriend, Steve, had both and I was green with envy, so I exploited his superior status and knowledge shamelessly. I remember how he'd cringe as I ground the gears of his beatup Datsun 510 wagon while teaching me to drive a stick, and his patience as he schooled me in the finer points of his hand-me-down Konica Autoreflex T.

I first became obsessed with cameras when I was about 10. My dad had a fixed-focus Kodak 35mm camera and even though he rarely used it (like the stereo), I wasn't allowed to use it either. I was almost as desperate for a camera that Christmas as I was for a puppy, but I knew I actually had a chance of getting the camera so asked for the only model in the Sears Christmas Wish Book that was under $10, a Kodak Instamatic 44. It was love at first sight, flashcubes, 126 cassette film and all. The first thing I photographed was my cat, Bimbo (yes, that really was his name). As you can see by the really fine quality of the photo, an artist was born. I wonder if all those years of looking through a square viewfinder is why I prefer to paint using a square format now?

It wasn't until eight years later that I got my second camera, that lusted-after SLR. I had won $500 in undesignated scholarship money (for art) when I graduated from high school so I rationalized that this was an investment in my future as an artist and went camera shopping. With Steve's advice, and the lure of an F1.7 50mm lens, I bought my Konica Autoreflex TC, the analog SLR I still use today on occasion. It's been across North America, moved countless times and been to the four corners (OK, three anyway) of Europe three and a half times ... and keeps on ticking.

This was the bare-bones camera that taught me about photography and allowed me to take pretty-picture photos like this one of Germany's Mosel Valley. But I'd been taught the lessons of thrift thoroughly and found the cost of having film developed and printed prohibitive, so experimentation was verboten. At university I finally had access to a black and white darkroom which I used whenever possible and before long was working part-time at Japan Camera Centre and doing all my own printing. What a revelation that was to me -- like a 1980s preview of Photoshop! And look at what all that freedom did to my sense of decorum and fashion while sweating it out at the printer! :) (Yes -- those really are lavender highlights in my hair.)

Fast forward to 2005 when I finally got a neat little digital camera, and the world was brand new again. I still love my Fuji Finepix S3100 and it has put up with a lot of punishment these past three years. Here I am in Okotoks, Alberta, in the summer with it in front of my face, as usual. But here's the kicker: I had fallen for the camera that took the picture of me taking a picture of it, Michelle's beautiful Nikon D80, and was ready to throw over my faithful companion for a new love. I was 18 again, playing with it every chance I got, and then some, but I knew this baby was way out of my price range.

A chain of events followed that had me buying the well-used but well-loved body of a similar model, a Nikon D70, from Michelle's dead ex-boyfriend's mother (yeah -- figure that out!), then picking up a 55-200 lens on sale at Best Buy. The sad thing is that I have barely had time to look at it let alone play with it yet, but I already love it. Here is my first day trying it at a sporting event, number one son's U17 soccer game. I had to get a photo of a tree, too, of course.

PS I have a car now, too.


Blogger Ian Lidster said...

Lavender highlighted you -- what a hottie. And even better today. My first camera was a Brownie Hawkeye that took really crappy pictures.
Ah, flashcubes. That takes me back.
I only developed any acumen with photography when I went into the newspaper biz and I actually got quite good at it.
And digital is my idea of heaven.

10/12/08 11:08 a.m.  
Blogger Barbara said...

Oh my goodness ... I had forgotten flash cubes ever existed ... the thought of those babies takes me waaaaaaaaaay back!

Love the tree shot - it's a wonderful abstract!

10/12/08 12:51 p.m.  
Blogger Heather said...

I'm jealous. I've been stashing away my pennies trying to save up for a DSLR for about 8 months now. I'm almost there. Fortunately, I have access to one from work for my overseas trips.

10/12/08 1:06 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

Yay, You finally got it! Look at that clarity and crispness. I'm so jealous. And I love the 80's photo, I had pink streaks probably around the same time.

10/12/08 2:13 p.m.  
Blogger Angela Wales Rockett said...

My first camera had "magic cubes". Don't really know what the difference was, they were just flash cubes. I loved that thing.

Congrats on getting the D70! I'm jealous - I only got the D40.

We have got to compare 80s photos sometime. I didn't do the colored streaks until my late 20s (I rebelled late), but I remember the perm very well.

10/12/08 6:28 p.m.  
Blogger WW said...

We don't get enough pix of the lovely you on your blog, Andrea, so this was a treat...

What a lovely thing you were/are...but ahem.

I empathize with you, and sympathize. I've still got my old Canon AE-1 with all kinds of lenses, I never really got into it as much as I now wish I did, but I do know that for a short time, I took some great pix with it.

Pix I still treasure to this day.

The shutter or something crapped out on me several years ago, never had it fixed, then the digitals came along.

Now all I use is a little Sony thingamajig, but I WILL buy a new big powerful digital at some point...I just know it...

10/12/08 6:48 p.m.  
Blogger andie said...

Oh my gosh SO MUCH to say about this post!! First off, you are so stinkin CUTE in that college pic. I loved hearing your story and seeing your old childhood camera and photo. You were an artist from the very beginning weren't you.

Congrats on the new toy! A D70 rocks in my opinion. Now I am the one green with envy. I've got my hopes on a DSLR come bonus time in April, lol. The pic you took with it is fantastic! You even managed to get beautiful bokeh. Sigh...I love bokeh! Can't wait to see more pics you take.

Merry Christmas friend!

10/12/08 7:05 p.m.  
Blogger Michelle Grant said...

You still want my D80 left to you in my will?

We have shared many a *Kodak Moment* in our years as friends! You have been such a great friend...lets hope we can keep on shooting things long into the future together!

Luv Ya!!

10/12/08 7:54 p.m.  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Oh a camera is such fun! Peceli hangs on to 'our' digital camera so tightly that I can hardly get a go, but lately I have commandeered it.
Yes, I remember the days in the dark room when doing some uni studies - it was part of the fine arts course and I had fun putting one negative over another to get all sorts of effects. Can't find the pics now though. I did a lot of enlarging then and using the photocopier ad nauseum till I got abstract effects.

10/12/08 11:29 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

Great that you've finally got a digital SLR - although I use my compact a lot I really appreciate the digital too - I hope you get lots of time to play with it soon!

How come you looked older when you were at uni than you do now?

11/12/08 1:15 a.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

So much to say! But mostly: can we clone Caroline for her "older then than now" compliments?
Yes, pea-green with envy, but it's going to be so long before I need/can justify a DSLR...
I'm really quite happy with the Fuji for the little I do.But I miss the double exposures of the old roll-on film!(Kiddies: google it!)

11/12/08 3:00 a.m.  
Blogger Donn Coppens said...

I want a Konica for Hannukah!

Loved the retro many memories..the Datsun first SLR was the ubiquitous Pentax K 1000..and all those wonderful fumes in the developing lab at College.

You can have the greatest camera in the world but you still need an eye like yours to capture what you're imagining, instead of just what the lens is pointed at.


11/12/08 11:58 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ian: Digital is also my answer of heaven (and it's easy to look good when you're hiding BEHIND a camera :).

Barbara: Who knoew such a plain jane tree could look so good?

Heather: Go on Craig's List and find soemthing used. It's a LOT more affordable!

Ellen: Such nice results, eh? But now I have to read and actually attempt to REMEMBER the thick instructions book.

Angela: I permed my hair so much that it actually started falling out! And the D70 body was cheap so at the end of the day I spent less than on a D40.

WW: Digital seems to have completely cancelled out analog photography, hasn't it? (You ol' flatterer you!)

Andie: Your comment gave me a grin. And I had to look up bokeh. See? I'm learning soemthing new every day!

Michelle: Keep yer stinkin' D80 but I reserve the right to keep you as my good buddy 4evah!

Wendy: I remember doing that in the darkroom, too! The next thing I knew I was doing it with another student when we were making stone lithographs. It can be addicting.

Caro: Ho ho! It's either the heavy makeup (for me) back then or the fact that MY OLD, WRINKLED MUG WAS OBSCURED BY A CAMERA now. :)

Dinah: I'm framing her comment and hanging it on my wall. :)

Donn: I love that. Does that make me an artist? (Or -- who were you referring to? :)

11/12/08 1:58 p.m.  
Blogger Donn Coppens said...

Why you dear fragile thing, of course I adore you...and your Art! You are an ARTIST, the real even have the same number of letters in your name
ARTIST=6 ANDREA=6 coinky dink?
I think not.

You're livin' the dream, quite unlike myself I'm afraid. Although I did create some primitive Vegemite Art over at WWs the other day.

12/12/08 6:16 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Donn: Oh man, that post killed me. You guys have WAY too much fun without me!

12/12/08 10:09 a.m.  
Blogger nadine said...

Love this post :-)
My first camera was a highschool graduation present - the short lived Kodak Disc Camera. Man that thing took crappy photos.

14/12/08 2:20 p.m.  
Blogger Diane said...

great journey! I've experienced many similarities so can really relate. So much more joy along that road to come ...

6/1/09 9:42 a.m.  

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