How about this for my first camera!

My Dad received it as an award for community service and he gave it to me when I took an interest in photography in 1966. I wanted the camera bad, because I got an INSTANT photograph via the amazing polaroid process. At that time, a pack of polaroid pictures cost $5 for just 8 exposures. In today’s dollar value, that’s roughly $5 bucks a shot. No wonder my Dad said, “make this pack of pictures last awhile”. And I did - taking one artless picture a week.

The 3000 ISO fine grain film was way ahead of its time, but the camera was not. Its single element fixed lens focuses mechanically via a collapsible bellows housing. The shutter is built into the lens and is triggered by a cable release. Not much different than the camera system Matthew Brady used while chronicling the US Civil War - a century earlier.

In order to view the 3.5" x 4.5" print, a white tab is pulled from the pack that reveals a larger, more substantial tab. This larger tab connects to the actual raw photograph. To get your picture, this tab must be pulled firmly and evenly from the side of the camera body. The photographic process is actuated as the print is squeezed through two rollers that combine the chemicals that render a B&W print.

Take a picture, pull the tabs, view the results.

If you forget to pull the tab, then the next picture you take will result in a double exposure – something I did once, but the creative potential of that “mistake” went completely over my head. Nobody in my family thought much of my pictures and I didn’t either. Consequently, my early photographic career went on about a 10-year hiatus due to budgetary constraints and lack of interest.

Isn’t it interesting that the first years of my photographic career creating visual effects composites at ILM could ONLY be achieved by multiple exposures (known now as multiple passes) on one piece of film.

Little did I know - or care – and thats just fine with me.

PS - I wish I could admit that at 12 years old, I realized how expensive / important each shot is - thus - choosing a subject carefully, prepping for the shot and then shooting at exactly the right time to maximize the value of that $5 dollar exposure. Alas, that was not the case. But now, I do express these same considerations, helping todays student digital filmmaker in the process of being precise and responsible when planning their shots. Sometimes these lessons escape older film students as well.

I continue to try - it's my mission right now.

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