The first camera I remember as my own was a Kodak Instamatic 104. I was seven years old and my older sister helped me traverse the neighborhood recruiting kids for Vacation Bible School. After winning the bible school contest, and the camera that came with it, the real cost was purchasing the film and flashbulbs. Back then each flash bulb worked once. Yes once. Not so sustainable I suppose. The Instamatic 104 packed four of these bulbs into one “cube.” This was considered a major technological breakthrough.
In 1977 as a high school senior I got my first REAL Camera. A Minolta SRT201 Single Lens Reflex with a 50mm f1.4 Rokkar-X lens. I took money from my savings account and bought a small flash that worked with three AA batteries. This reusable flash cost the equivalent of $140 in today’s dollars. I don’t remember my first picture with that camera but I do remember, in vivid detail, taking it on my senior year road trip and coming a whisker away from losing it on a roller coaster in California.
Things were expensive back then. And if it wasn’t expensive it was slow. How many digital pictures would you be taking today if you were paying $1 each and having to wait a week to see the result? Life is kind of like that these days. If you can’t provide it fast and cheap there is no market for it. The latestiPhonecan take a video and have it uploaded on YouTube for the world to see in a matter of minutes. I’m not sure how good this is though. We pack our days and nights with activities. We do the same for our kids.
I recently bought the the movie Sandlot. It reminds me of my childhood when my friends and I spent much of the summer wearing basepaths and a pitching mound into my parents front yard. If we weren’t playing baseball we were riding our bikes to nowhere in particular and other then the times we mixed lawnmower gasoline with balsa wood airplanes and several thousand match heads with a copper tube, we managed to stay out of trouble.
Back to that Kodak camera. You really had to set up each photo carefully as you only had 12 or 20 photos per film roll. Part of the fun was getting together a week or two later to look at the finished prints. It was an investment in time and money. It’s said that a person will not value what costs them nothing. Along those same lines I think that we also don’t get the sense of accomplishment that comes with time and effort. Sometimes it seems like things are too easy.
I like to listen to the daily bible reading by Kirk Whalum. I also listen to audio books on myiPhone. But I find there is still nothing to take the place of the printed word. Like Kodachrome film, I suspect the day will come when books are no longer published on printed paper. I’ll miss those days just like I miss the routine of opening the camera and carefully loading the film. It was like loading up a roll full of potential; 20 blank slates.
I like riding my bicycle through the farms north of town. You relax and see so much more when you realize you can’t go anywhere in a hurry. I’ve watched the blank slate of the farmer’s fields transition from brown to green this spring. This fall the left over chaff will be tilled under and the cycle will start again. There is no hurrying the growing season.
Next week I’m going camping with my family. We don’t plan a lot. Breakfast in the morning. A short nap, some reading. A hike to the beach or along the creek. Dinner at night and visiting into the evening around a campfire. I can feel the stress leaving already.
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