Tuesday, October 25, 2005


With my XT in the shop, I've had to go back to using my film camera. Surprisingly, this hasn't been such a bad thing. My film camera is an Elan 7e (also Canon) and I do love it, but it's different to work with.

The Elan wasn't my first SLR. That was a Konica FC-1. A heavy brick of a camera that required me to do everything. I had to think about each shot, carefully focus everything by hand, watch my meter and adjust my exposure myself. Every single frame was considered before I squeezed the shutter release. I had to think or I would get nothing. I had so many out of focus pictures because the kids would move at the last second or I would try to shoot too quickly. It drove me crazy and I begged my husband to help me find room in the budget for something better.

I researched for months. I went to camera stores and held different models. It was a tough choice and there was a moment where I almost went for the Nikon. But I wanted my Elan. I wanted the "e" that stood for eye control focus. It was auto focus, auto exposure and heck, with eye control focus, it had auto focus point too. I didn't have to stop and think quite as much. the camera was thinking for me. I still had to worry about the expense of the film and the developing though, so I still spent time considering each frame.

But after a couple of years, I wanted more again. When we got our tax return money, I talked my husband into letting me spend a good portion of it on a digital SLR. The Rebel XT. That baby was brand new. I was able to buy it five days before the offical release date. It wasn't even out yet and I had it in my hands! Bliss! Heaven! I could take as many shots as I needed to get what I wanted. I could fill up my memory card as fast as I could think of pictures and never have to worry about the cost. Delete at will became my mantra.

And my photography changed. I was a bit more creative, but mostly, I wasn't thinking as much. I began to hate my own work. It was ugly. Most of my pictures were worse than snapshots. I let the advantages of digital become my weakness. Because I could just delete the bad ones, I wasn't taking time to have good ones.

Recently, however, as I've taken up my Elan again, I am thinking about my pictures. I'm taking time to compose the frame, to really take a photograph instead of just snap a pic. I am happier when I'm actually doing the photography. that's not to say that I will sell the XT and just go back to film permenantly, the advantages of digital are too hard to pass up. I think that I will pull out my Elan a bit more often though. When I find myself just "snapping a pic" I will take a moment to breathe. Load a roll every now and then and use a format that makes me think about what I'm doing.

And every once in a while, I will feel nostalgia for my Konica, for the camera that made me do all the work myself and gave me some of my very best work in the bargain.

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