Friday, September 17, 2010

“My Yashi”

Tonight we aren’t traveling far, just to Wausau, fifty miles away, and I didn’t travel there on a vacation. In August 1980, I moved into the dorm on the tiny campus of UW Center-Marathon County.

It was approximately a nine block walk from there to Eldridge’s Photo on Bridge Street. Where, that fall, I bought my Yashica FX-3 35 mm SLR. I had been using one of those instamatic cameras, where you drop the film cartridge in the back, snap shut the lid and you are good to go, with no capabilities to make adjustments for light or dark or motion or just plain cool effect. My instamatic had held up well for many years but it was way too limiting. I stretched my creative juices but pretty much all I could do was snap shots from a different angle.

I had been researching single lens reflex 35 millimeter cameras for quite a while. I needed to make my move. My tuition, room and board were paid up for the semester and I had a spare three hundred dollars (that was probably the last time that ever happened).

So, one Saturday afternoon, I started walking. They were extremely helpful at Eldridge‘s (which soon after became a bar), and I even signed up for a photography class.

My goodness, the pictures I took that fall. Playground equipment, stairwells, the corners of my bath towels, green grapes in a frying pan in the oven, maple trees covered in red leaves. And that was only the beginning.

That camera took me places you wouldn‘t believe. Sure it was a little heavy and if I added the zoom lens and separate flash, it really got bulky. But it worked so slick.

After running through a roll of 24 or 36 pictures, I’d take the cassette to the drug store or in later years drop it in the mail. Then wait. Sometimes the photos were awesome, sometimes not so much. Sometimes I would curse myself that I took such a horrible shot. If only I had changed the settings. If only I had put on a filter. If only….

Christmas, 2005. My husband bought me what appeared to be a simple petite digital camera. Sometimes, however, I think I have yet to really figure it out. A whole new era. A whole new story.

(There are no pictures tonight because that would be sacrilege. I have corrupted enough of my beloved 35 mm photographs by scanning them to digital format. If you want to see the picture of the grapes in the oven you will have to come to my house. Or contact me, and I will send them to you via US postal service. Or maybe pony express.)

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