Monday, February 14, 2011

Something Retro 'Round My Neck

Haven't you heard?  (Being a dickhead's cool.)

Normally I do not participate in this particular style trend (or, in my opinion, Hipsterism in general, though some of my squarer acquaintances have dared to disagree with me).  However, in this case, the retro thing hanging off my collar bones is a wicked Pentax camera that was my dad's and now belongs to me.

I have had this camera for years but haven't used it since high school.  I took photography then, and learned all about developing with the little black bag and taking the film apart, spooling it onto plastic things, and then taking it into the darkroom.  My high school is a decent size but in a rural area, so it's a bit of a surprise that we were lucky enough to have a proper darkroom.  It was really so cool, and at the time I knew all about the chemistry and all that complicated fun stuff.  I don't think I could remember it now to save my life - the digital age erased all memories of such archaic image-capturing.

When my mum brought my easels, paint boxes, and canvases to Toronto for me in the fall, she also brought along the big camera bag and tripod, and though I'd known with a secret pride that the camera was sitting under my bed at my mum's house all that time, I hadn't really thought of having it at my own apartment.  Then, for my birthday my dad bought me a flash attachment which slides onto the top of it, which I'd looked for myself but couldn't find in an acceptable price range.  It was these two factors, the relocation  and the flash attachment, that made me wonder about starting to use it again.

To be perfectly frank, it's not easy or convenient to use.  It's heavy, even with the smaller lenses on (I have three, and one of them is a really big, long-range close-up lens that's probably only useful for bird-watching or using with the tripod to capture the moon), and it takes patience to use.  You have to adjust the aperture for the light settings and get the focus right, and while that's not even that much, it's also really not point-and-click.

Fortunately, my days of toting my camera around to bars at night to capture all the wild and crazy drunken fun my friends and I are having for the purpose of posting on Facebook are long gone.  The only times I take out my camera these days are special occasions, road trips and other travels, and capturing things for this blog.  There's nothing in this that the oooollll' Pentax couldn't handle.  IN FACT, I just learned that the photos taken with film can be transferred onto a CD when they're being developed, so one doesn't have to miss out on the convenience of digital copies of photos even using a film camera.

Unfortunately, I learned that too late to request it for my first round of photos, and would have to pay per image to have them put on a CD.  Since I wanted to show you some favourites from this experimental round, getting used to the camera again, I decided to just take a photo of the photos with my digicam:

Clockwise from top left: a black-and-white of a tree with Christmas ornaments,
Drew's bike locked to a guerilla knitter's work, a cappuccino from Olimpico
and a light in Patati Patata
Some of the photos turned out not-so-well, but for the most part they look great.  I really dig the depth that the Pentax achieves - for example, with the cappuccino photo.  It's so cool to be able to focus on one thing and blur the rest.  I think that the very high-tech flashy digicams that are out now can do this too, but mine certainly can't.  It's on perma-infinite focus.

It's also oddly fun to have to wait to see the photos, rather than being able to see them right away.  The first time I felt this weird dissonance between my expectation to see the photo flash on the screen on the back of the camera and my experience of staring at a smooth black metal plate with no screen in it, I suddenly realised how accustomed I am to the simple immediate gratification of knowing what a photo looks like, and knowing if I should take another.  Now it's a bit of a gamble; I have to wait weeks to see if something turned out well, and I have no idea what I've even taken photos of because I have to wait to see them all.  There's something so nice about that, and I hadn't expected it.  It's a challenge to our fast-paced in-your-face digital-age lifestyles.  It's a message on taking it slow and enjoying the moment.

It's new age fun with a vintage feel.

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