Monday, January 11, 2010

My First Camera

Technically, my very first camera was a Kodak Brownie-type thing that my parents bought me when I was seven or eight. What I'm referring to here is the first camera that I bought for myself: a Yashica TL Electro X 35mm SLR that I bought in 1973 at the age of 16. I don't remember where I purchased it or for how much. I know it was brand new.

Yashica TL Electro X

This was the camera that first inspired me to pursue photography, even though by today's standards it has little to recommend it. It was heavy as a brick, completely manual in every way and used the old Pentax screw-in lens mount, which was virtually impossible to use.

But I loved this camera and used it for everything. As a teenager I was very interested in experimental photographic techniques and did a lot of infrared, time-lapse, and multiple exposures with it. I also did sports photography for my high school yearbook, specializing in Track and Field and Football. Some of that early work was even pretty good.

Unfortunately, none of those images survive today, other than a scan I made of a print I gave my parents of sunrise from the top of Mt. Whitney, taken in 1979 (yes, I hauled that monster all the way to the top of Mt. Whitney).

The early morning sun lights the crest of the Sierra Nevada from the top of Mt. Whitney.

However, despite how primitive that camera was by today's standards, it introduced me to serious photography and gave me the ability to learn to see as the camera sees.

Though it wasn't a terribly special camera in many ways, I still like it's functional lines and robust build. There is an immensely satisfyingly heavy 'clack' when you trip the shutter.

Yashica TL Electro X - Detail

Yashica TL Electro X - Detail

Yashica TL Electro X - Detail

The last photo juxtaposes my first SLR with my most recent DSLR purchase, the Canon 7D. It's interesting how much - and how little - SLRs have changed over the past 36 years. The basic form the SLR is essentially unchanged, but where the Yashica TL Electro X was "the first camera with electronic lights for exposure information", today's cameras are fully digital image acquisition and processing platforms, some even wifi ready.

Yashica TL Electro X and Canon 7D

And though the technology has changed radically, the process of photography - the seeing and making of an image - has not.

No comments:

Post a Comment