I’m late again. My apologies. I had a bit of difficulty with today’s post – not because it was difficult to find something to write about my father, but because I found too many things, and had to struggle to narrow it down.
Like yesterday, I’m sticking with adoptive parents here – a post about my biological father would be very, very short indeed.
As I struggled to coalesce my myriad thoughts into coherence, my eyes fell upon my bookshelf. There lies a Canon A-1. Of the cameras on that shelf, the A-1 remains my favorite.
It’s a film-back SLR produced toward the end of the 70s, which officially makes it older than I am. It was one of the last cameras to use a cloth shutter, and the first to use a microprocessor to calculate exposure. It, and the lenses and autowinder I have for it, has taken a BEATING over the years. And it still works great (no, I’m not going to make some metaphor for life here…).
This camera was a gift from my Dad. He went to school to be a photojournalist, before becoming enamoured with the newly emergent field of emergency medicine, which later became his life’s work.
Early on in my teenage years, Dad took us aside and handed each of us a camera, a Canon A-1 and an AT-1. He also gave each of us multiple lenses, explained how to use the light meter, how to focus it, and let us loose.
Back then, film was a lot cheaper. And we definitely took advantage of it. I remember once my parents enrolled us in a “photo-safari” at a local zoo – more specifically, the Wild Animal Park, which is a part of the “World Famous San Diego Zoo”. We spent the day driving around enclosures (yes, the enclosures are THAT big), getting up close and personal with giraffes, rhinos (OK, not TOO close to those…) and myriad other animals. And we filled multiple rolls of film.
I think my sister eventually abandoned photography, and I did too, for a time. Then in my twenties I “re-discovered” it, and have loved it since (although I’m not great at it).
My Dad once asked me how I’d take a specific photo he wanted to take for a magazine cover, and I didn’t really know how to respond, mostly because I still relied on the automatic exposure settings. Today, I know: Dad, I’d meter off the family, speed up the shutter by four or five stops, and take the shot, bracketing a stop on each side.
Unfortunately, due to the prohibitive cost of film, I don’t often use the A-1 anymore (digital shots are free), but I still treasure it. I don’t own many things I would be incredibly upset to lose, but that camera is definitely on the short list.
As I said, it was a gift from my father, and someday, I hope to give it to Matthew. And I have no doubt the beast of a camera will still be working just fine.
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Niki: Sometimes I Write