Things They’ll Never Know

I picked up a new camera a few weeks ago. It’s a current generation digital monster, and it takes phenomenal pictures, almost too easily. I’ve been a long-time photographer. I had a B&W darkroom in a basement closet when I was 12-years old. I had a camera pretty much glued around my neck through high school as the year book photographer. I even started college as a photojournalism major, before realizing how bad the career prospects are.

I look back at how photography has evolved and there is a whole lot of history, tools and techniques modern shooters will never know. I love me some Photoshop, but I’ll always have a nostalgic weak spot for these things:

  • Nikon FM3A – the best all-manual SLR ever made
  • Bulk Film Loders – to save money, we bought film in 100′ rolls and loaded it on to 35mm cassettes ourselves
  • Tri-X B&W Film – ISO used to matter. Shooting indoors with and without flash usually meant Tri-X in the camera
  • Split-Image / Microprism Focusing – A lot of people never knew a day without autofocus. This was how it was done prior.
  • Deketol Devekoper & Indicator Stopbath – These were the first two steps in the chemical bath for processing enlargements. They have a distinctive smell that brings about a reaction similar to eggnog at Christmas for greybeard photographers.
  • Rolleiflex TLR Camera – I always lusted after one of these. Now, my digital camera takes higher quality pictures.
  • Kodak Polycontrast RC Paper – Contrast for prints was controlled by putting purple filters in the light path during enlargements. The Kodak paper was the baseline, although I also liked the Ilford papers a lot.
  • Bessler 23C II Enlarger – This was the equivalent of the WW II Jeep in the darkroom. It did it all and was built like a tank.

Times have to change, but it’s sad a lot of kids starting in photographing will never these things, or know that photography used to be a lot of work.

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