It’s a digital photograph of analog photography equipment…how meta. A couple of months ago, I was home in DC to visit my parents and was advised to pack up all my books and things from the attic. Now that I have a house of my own, this was not only a good idea, but I missed my books. They are old friends that trace a very turbulent part of my history. The books I read in middle school and high school were a crucial part of my self-discovery. And while they did hold meaning sitting on the bookshelves of their birth – in a museum kind of way where I could go and look upon the space of my youth, they truly belonged with me. Among the double-packed books was another old, but not forgotten, friend: my Canon FTb Ql camera.
It had actually been my dad’s camera as a child and then he gave it to me when I became more and more interested in photography – sometime around middle school. In addition to the camera body and 50mm lens, I had a kit that contains lens extenders, a macro lens that screws onto the 50mm, a wide angle 28mm lens, a UV filter (yellow), a polarizing filter (grey), and a high contrast filter (red). The last three filters were among my most used getting clouds to pop or a reflection to shine off water, and for some reason I loved pushing images to their black and white extremes.
I couldn’t find my telephoto lens, so that’s next up on my hunting trip.
I immediately began fiddling and touching the camera as I pulled it out of its box. I was planning on using it in my Production class to demonstrate the workings of a lens. I showed it to my kids, had the back open to see the shutter open and close in the blink of an eye. “That’s what happens when you take a picture.” There’s something so concrete about manual, analog materials. I learned everything from this camera and it tells me more about how an image is captured than the flat touchscreen and “snap” sound of my phone.
But now, it’s its own museum piece. It needs a new battery for the built-in light meter that never really worked. I don’t have a darkroom anymore unless I went back to DC, and I don’t think I can even buy the chemicals. But I think I’m going to investigate. This digital age was never something I was fully comfortable with. I’m so much more tactile by nature. And I wonder what we’re giving up as we progress, because I don’t think our bodies are changing as rapidly as our technology.