Gee, look at this, I said to myself as I pulled theold camera off the bookshelf. I had been rummaging through my dad's stuff all daylooking for something for school. I moved the camera, only to find another behindit. "Hey, cool, there are two!" I exclaimed, looking through theviewfinder. It was obviously older than the other, but to my dismay, the newerone didn't work.
I was fooling around with them, pushing buttons, turningknobs and learning how to focus them, when my dad walked in. He told me thecameras had been gifts from his father, and that photography was a big hobby inour family. He said the new camera body was broken and he'd been meaning to fixit. Then he picked up the old one.
"To tell you thetruth," he said, "this takes better pictures." He explained how itworked, how to change and forward the film, how to focus, change the aperture -basic things like that. Then he gave me a box from his closet. In it was a lot ofcool camera stuff, including a couple of lenses, lens paper and a flash. Dad saidI could use his camera, as long as I asked permission.
I broughtthe box into my room, taught myself how to put on the lenses and tested them. Iwas having so much fun. I studied my camera a little more, then remembered a bookI had seen downstairs.
The Joy of Photography had everything about camerasin it, and I read the whole book in one night. I was hooked. I looked at all thestyles, the equipment, cameras and especially the amazing photographs. I wantedit all - the filters, lenses, cameras; I wanted every little bit of photographygear this world has to offer.
I did more research on cameras. Mine - well,my dad's - is a Minolta SRT-100, which is somewhat old but not out-of-date. Irealized 35mm cameras haven't changed much over the years, other than auto-focus,built-in flashes and automatic advance. Most people have point-and-shoot cameraswith auto-focus, and just have to press a button. I don't see any fun in that. Ilove photography so much because my camera is entirely manual so I controleverything.
Of course, I've had my share of failures. I was surprised thatmany pictures on one of my first rolls of film came out blurry. I figured outthat most were taken with my telephoto lens, which can make a picture blurry withthe slightest movement of the camera. I also shot two rolls of film only to havethem not develop at all. It turned out my camera hadn't been catching the filmand I needed to wrap it around a different set of sprockets.
Most camerashave the same basic elements. They have a light-tight box to keep light out so asnot to expose the film and hold it in place. A lens collects the light (many needto be focused, while others have auto-focus) and adjustable lens openings controlthe amount of light reaching the film (aperture). Shutters can be adjusted tocontrol the length of time the film is exposed. All shutters include a shutterrelease to open and close the shutter. Cameras have a film-advance mechanism toforward the film to the next exposure. They all have viewfinders to frame thepicture, and some have a socket for flashes (known as hot shoes). You can alsobuy lots of equipment, such as different size lenses, filters and many strobes.There are also various types of film, all of which can produce differentresults.
Ever since that day I found my dad's camera, photography has beenan escape for me. Some days I'll grab the camera and some lenses and run outsideto look for pictures. Other times I'll try some camera tricks.
My camerais like freedom from reality, which is kind of ironic because the greatestsubject in photography is reality at its best. I love what I do, and I'm proud tocontinue the hobby in my family. If this sounds even remotely interesting, I urgeyou to go out and find a camera. You really have no idea what photography is likeuntil you try it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.