Wednesday, April 22, 2015

365 Project - Day 112 - "Photographic Roots"

April 22, 2015 - "Photographic Roots"

Today I find myself looking back on my "photographic roots", so-to-speak.

Here we have my first Professional 35mm SLR camera (left) alongside my first Professional Digital SLR camera. My first light meter (left) and my Grandfather's light meter. My Grandfather's badge for being an official photographer for the Knights of Columbus in Connecticut. And, of course, a print of the very first photo I ever took using that 35mm camera: A photo of St. Peter's Church in Danbury, CT.

I'm also re-visiting and updating a post I wrote back in 2010 about receiving that first 35mm camera from my Grandfather.

Here it is...

My grandfather (my father's father) was a photographer. When, at age 16, I decided that I wanted to get into photography as a serious artistic interest, I turned to my grandfather for advice on choosing a camera. He asked me what I wanted to shoot... then told me to "come down to the house next weekend and we'll discuss it".

I arrived at my grandparents house the following weekend, only to find the dining room table absolutely covered in cameras and camera equipment... and my grandfather practically glowing! A 35mm camera body... and at least a dozen lenses... plus flashes... motor drives... light meters... and other accessories - and we discussed the details and nuances of each and every one.

My grandfather seemed more "alive" that night than I had ever seen him in my entire life. We talked for hours - and not just about photography... but also about music (he had been a musician, playing a variety of instruments from flute to sax to, I believe - trombone) - as well as "deeper" subjects, like marriage.

We had a wonderful day together... and I thought that that was that. I had a wealth of information about cameras... and basically learned that if I was going to buy a 35mm SLR camera, it HAD to be a Canon - or it simply wasn't worth buying! I figured that I now had enough information to go out and buy what I needed... probably a used Canon AE-1 or something like that.

Then my grandfather absolutely shocked me: He told me that what I saw on the table was now mine. A Canon "New" F-1 body with an AE Finder... a dozen Canon FD lenses, each with filters, hoods and cases... Canon Speedlite flashes... Canon Power-winder/Motor-drive... and all of the accessories. This wasn't a simple 35mm camera... this was Canon's absolute top model professional manual 35mm camera... their last manual 35mm camera before switching over to the EOS system of Auto-focus. It was absolutely beautiful to me!

I was in shock!

Enough "Thank You!"s could never be uttered! I swore to put the camera to good use... and it wasn't long before I had blown through ten rolls of Kodak T-MAX B&W film. My first "real" photographs.

The black metal rings which capped the cartridges from those first ten rolls were placed on a ball-link chain... and became my "Creativity Mojo". I've worn them on my belt almost every day of my life since then.

And the camera? Obviously I still have it... and while it's no longer my primary camera (having switched to a digital SLR several years ago) - I do still use it from time-to-time. The camera is almost 30 years old... and still works absolutely perfectly! 

Since receiving the F-1 over two decades ago... I've used at least a half-dozen other cameras... and every single one of them has been a Canon. While I also own a Leica M3 35mm camera - Canon is just part of my life... and I can't imagine ever being without one. I certainly won't ever get rid of that F-1!

So... this is "the camera that started it all" for me. After all these years I still find it to be absolutely beautiful! 

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