Photo Essay

Playing with toys

My love of photography began with a black and white course at my local community college back in 2002. Basic film camera and darkroom processing along with history and famous photographers. When that first image magically appeared in the darkroom I was hooked. I signed up for the color class and started my collection of gear and accessories.

Then digital came along and I reluctantly embraced the beast. Learned all I could on my own and added more gear. Cameras, lenses, scanners, software and a printer half the size of my desk. I became a member of JPG about that time. I had a pretty good following. I even managed to get one published! After that I began to lose interest. I found myself shooting an image looking at it and deleting in camera. Shoot, look, delete over and over again. I became so frustrated and angry that I threw all my gear in boxes and carried them to the attic and removed all my images from JPG. That was seven years ago.

I'm retired now with lots of time on my hands. So I thought I'd give photography another try. I joined JPG again, posted some of my old images and a few new ones I shot with a Coolpix I had laying around.

"Ok now what, buy new gear to replace the out dated junk in the attic?" Then I remembered what my first photography instructor told us about gear. He said, "You can spend thousands of dollars on cameras and gear and still shoot crappy images. Have you ever had a wonderful meal at a restaurant and wondered what pots and pans the chef used. It's the photographer's image not the camera's." That's when I decided to go back to film and use the simplest cameras. I went old school plastic.

I ordered two new Holga 120N's online and found two new in the boxes Vivitar PN2011 35mm all plastic no focus camera's with panorama. The Holgas set me back $25 a piece and the Vivitars a whopping $1.50. After loading up the Holgas with 120 Ilford HP5 400 black and white and the Vivitars with Fuji Superia X-tra 400 color, I took my new toys outside to play.

I mailed my rolls off to be processed and scanned. Even if there was a darkroom nearby I don't think I'd want to go through all that again. The anticipation of not knowing what I'd get back was a feeling I had forgotten. What I expected and what I got were two different things. I had let my eye take control instead of the camera. The camera and film did what it wanted. The only control I had over the Holga was primitive focus, sunny or cloudy setting and the luxury of panorama switch on the Vivitar.

So here I am 62 years old with a bag full of plastic toys feeling excited about shooting film again. Who knows I may fall in love again. You know what they say "Love is better the second time around."

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4 responses

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (3 Feb 2017):

    Brilliant, candidly written, from the heart and yes, the second time around is proving to be your Best! Voted!

  • Gail Haberman

    Gail Haberman   said (3 Feb 2017):

    Your first instructor had it right. The gear doesn't matter. All that matters is the moment the photographer saw and froze in time; a moment that will never be again. I like your comment about your anticipation while waiting for your images to be processed. I remember those days! I admire you for coming back to photography old school. Your results are fantastic and I am so glad you have returned to JPG to share your images.

  • Charmaine Myburg

    Charmaine Myburg said (14 Feb 2017):

    Some wonderful images - the talent is behind the equipment - obviously :)

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