Friday, February 20, 2015

When "Old" is "New" again....

Years ago, when I was young, married and living in San Diego, I drove a sporty car.

Not really designed for harsh weather, but a delight in usually sunny Southern California.

To romp in the snow, you had  to make an effort.

A Sunday drive up to the nearby mountains to see snow. And ice and all that other horrible part of Winter.

But, back then, it was a fun jaunt into something different.

Now, it's many years and many cars later.

I drive a proper sedan with roll-up windows and a good heater.

I'm back where I was born and remembering the cozy small photo darkroom I had set up at our house downtown in Ansonborough.

Being a high school photographer at Bishop England taught me many technical skills that still serve me well as an aging, retired camera-toter.

Oh, the cameras are much smaller now and it's digital instead of film...but hey,  not always.

In fact, a person can pick up some great bargains in cameras and lenses like I grew up with.

Film cameras and equipment is languishing online as digital Nikon and Canon, Sony and Kodak SLRs (Single lens reflex) command top dollar.

Craigslist, eBay, and other online  sites offer equipment that cost an arm and a leg in the past - when I was buying - and now are VERY affordable.

You don't even have to build your own photo lab.

"Learn Black and White in the Charleston Darkroom," is the headline on a flyer I just saw from CunningFox Photography Education.

Yep, a complete film processing and print making darkroom facility staffed by professionals and open to the public for reasonable rates.

I doubt that many remember when hubbub on the street would bring a mother and her children out to see a pony plodding along on the sidewalk.

Waiting to pose for a picture of the little one astride the noble steed!

Well, my brothers and I had our "riding picture" taken on the corner of Society and Meeting Streets.

I believe the itinerant pony wrangler provided the fancy chaps and kerchief and cocked my hat at a jaunty angle before he froze the fast-paced  action with his camera.

Which brings up another point in these modern times.

Will our children have snapshots like these, available in albums,  to pass around?

Will there be writing on the back to identify the who, what, when and where of the event pictured?

I am still finding albums overflowing with snapshots that my folks had (sometimes) tagged with identifications and pasted on the black pages of a photo binder.

But now, a picture is taken with a digital  camera - or with a phone - and you see the image immediately on a small screen on the back of the camera or cell phone.

It may be posted on Facebook or on a variety of other online social media sites, but  there is no print to stick in an album or stuff in a shoe box.

I miss not having a negative to protect and save in a glasine envelope. for future reprints.

Oh, we have digital back-ups and cloud storage but is any of this as permanent as a photo in an album?

Already we have seen "storage" of images on floppy disks and on video tapes.

But can they be retrieved and showed again. Uh, no, the equipment is no longer available.

In music recordings, we passed from 78 records to vinyl playback machines to 8-track, to cassettes and CDs and now you pay 99 cents for the one song you like instead of $15- $20 for an CD or LP album with 12 songs.

I think this Charleston Darkroom concept is a good one. Making a tangible product you can have in your hand.

Something to keep and pass along to others.

I found a tintype photo of my father's mother when she was a baby. It was tucked into the back of an album I was looking through. It was taken in 1895.

I can hold it out to show it to others.

And I do.

(Click on the photos if you like black & white.)

This is the way it used to be done.

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