Friday, 4 July 2008
Farewell to Old Cameras
How sentimental or affectionate should one be for old possessions? How much is invested in these physical links with events and adventures, times and places? How significant are the memories they hold? Over the years I’ve accumulated a collection of cameras, going right back to manual film SLRs and classic film compacts like the Olympus XA. There are cameras that travelled the length of the Canadian Rockies, through the Yukon Territory, along the Arizona Trail, to Everest Base Camp and on many more trips. In boxes of slide sleeves and now on hard discs I have the thousands of images taken with them, which are often referred to for articles, books and talks. The cameras themselves have been lying forgotten in old dusty camera bags in corners of my office, occasionally moved when in the way but mostly ignored. A decision to buy a new camera made me think about these old ones. Did I really need to keep them? Wouldn’t it better if they were with someone who would actually take pictures with them? I was considering selling those that still worked – not that there was much monetary value left in them – when my partner Denise mentioned that Hazel, my stepdaughter, had a friend at art college studying photography who might be interested in some cameras. As we were going down to Edinburgh to visit Hazel soon anyway I emailed her friend, who showed great excitement at the thought of the cameras so I took them all down with me, filling half a big rucksack with bodies, lenses, boxes, cases and accessories. We commandeered the back room of the excellent Scott’s Deli and after lunch I laid out my old gear on a long table. How does this one work? I fiddled with the buttons and levers. Like this, I think. Or maybe not. Can you get this lens on this body? Um, probably. I think it goes this way. Oh, it’s the other way. I may have used these cameras hundreds of times in the past but I could no longer remember exactly how they worked. Watching Claudine handle them with excitement, her eyes lighting up as she looked through viewfinders, zoomed lenses and played with the controls, I realised that these old cameras still had much to offer and that it really was a waste to keep them lying round as barely remembered souvenirs. So they stayed in Edinburgh where I hope they will take many more photographs. And I returned home to all the photographs I took with them and to my new camera, which I am still learning to use.
A table of camera gear in Scott’s Deli. Photo info: Ricoh GR-D, flash, program mode f2.4@1/30, ISO 100, raw file converted to JPEG in Adobe Camera Raw then cropped in Photoshop Elements 5.