I’ve had a variety of cameras over the years. In 1972, the folding Polaroid started spitting out color photos. I remember the thrill of instant satisfaction (which almost seems foreign today when everything seems instant) watching the picture emerge within a few minutes after it shot out the front of the camera. I never got into disposable cameras. Before phone cameras, I owned an Advance Photo System (APD) for about 10 years. The camera used the oval-shaped canisters. Advantix was the name brand name of Kodak’s product and, as you can see from the photo and the telltale Kodak colors, was the brand I used most often.
The initial start up budget I created included $5,000 for “extras.” My intent was to make sure there were built in funds to purchase items I wanted for the adventure but didn’t already own. These included binoculars, telescope, hiking poles and an inflatable kayak. You get the idea.
It also included a high-end digital camera. On the road I want to share photos of my adventures on this blog and other social media. And while phones take decent photos, the vision in my head is to take amazing awe-inspiring pictures. I haven’t bought the digital camera yet though I have researched many. High on the consideration list are the Sony RX100, Canon G7X and Sony A6000.
But this little fantasy of taking amazing photos existed long before I had the idea to take my life on the road. So Christmas of my junior year in college, I asked Santa for a camera. I didn’t want a point and shoot. Santa asked me repeatedly if I was sure about this because in his mind why would you get a camera that you had to work when you could get one the would do all the work for you. One you could, literally, point and shoot.
But I held my ground. A “real” camera is what I wanted. I wanted to turn dials, poke buttons and focus my own frames. I wanted to be a “real” photographer.
On Christmas Eve day, Santa and I drove to Ludwig Photo, a camera shop, in downtown Laramie, Wyoming. A company, by the way, that remains in downtown Laramie even today, though they have morphed into a photo studio. Santa and I looked at many options until I settled on the Pentax K100. We added a Starblitz UV 49mm lens/filter which I was advised to keep on at all time to protect it from UV light.
We went home I wrapped the camera and, a few hours later, I unwrapped it and acted surprised and delighted that Santa knew exactly what I wanted.
The Pentax K100 was manufactured from 1976 through 1997 and is one of photography’s greatest, most popular and longest-lived cameras.
I had the camera for 30 years, including (and this won’t surprise readers of this blog after knowing I kept the $11.99 Pink Cooler receipt for nearly as long) the manual, the round plastic container for the UV lens and the purchaser’s record.
But like so many things, I cannot haul into my Supersize LIFE. It sold on eBay for $89.
Years ago and years after I stopped using the Pentax, I discovered I never finished the last roll of film. It sat patiently waiting in the camera. I wound the film back into its canister and trotted down to a processing place. It was so exciting. It had been so many years I had absolutely no idea what photos awaited me. Some long-forgotten juicy memory, I hoped.
But, alas, the film spent too many years in the camera waiting for me to discover it. It degraded to the point where every photo was a gray-black fog. I knew that was likely to happen but for those few days it was great fun roaming through memories wondering what moments of my life that film might have captured.
Every once in a while I will think about that.