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-- 03 April, 2005 --

Ancient history in Kakadu

'Kakadu Camp'
Kodak Box Brownie

My new e-friend, Blue, who is a talented photographer and graphic artist, suggested that dedication is the key to becoming a presentable photographer. Blue tells me that it takes a lifetime, not a week.

Of course, my friend is absolutely right. What Blue doesn't know, thanks to the magic of the digital age and the tyranny of distance, is that I have quite a substantial part of a lifetime behind me already. I have been pointing cameras at things for about 40 years, beginning with a Kodak Box Brownie given to me by my auntie when I was about 12 years old.

The photograph above is one that I took with the Box Brownie when on a family holiday to what is now Kakadu National Park, in the Northern Territory of Australia in about 1965. The beauty of the old Kodak camera is that there was no settings to mess up. You just pointed at at the subject and pressed the shutter release. I think that with this photo, I put it on time exposure. That means that the shutter stayed open until you let go of the button. It was really important to lean the camera on something solid and hold your breath. There was no such thing as a shutter release cable for this baby. Exposure time was a guess and you never knew if you got it right until the picture came back from the processing lab which could take a week or more.

My big problem these days is that modern cameras have so many choices. Selecting 'Auto' or 'P' makes my camera take a short period of time to establish the correct settings before it takes the shot so, sometimes, the picture gets away from you. Silly me has misplaced the CD with the comprehensive manual for my Olympus C750 digicam so I work by guess.

OK, my friend - I have bought the National Geographic Field Guide to Digital Photography and have made it my holiday reading goal during the end of term break beginning next week. When I grown up, I want to be a creative photographer.

Posted by robynls at April 3, 2005 6:39 PM

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nothing can go wrong with a box brownie? right?
back in the '60's my aunt took a brownie on holidays and managed to get the camera upside down so she was looking into the lens instead of the view finder, she was really disgusted with herself when she came back with 12 photos of her chin

Posted by: Erica at April 3, 2005 8:50 PM

A wonderful postcard from the past, this photo. I like your delving backwards and sharing these images (including the buddha drawing) with us.

Posted by: Laura at April 3, 2005 10:19 PM

I had the same camera! It was my mother's when she was young. I still have a couple of the photographs I took with it, though I don't know what happened to the camera. Thanks for this -- it really brought back memories. (And I too would like to be a photographer when I grow up. :))

Posted by: Nancy at April 4, 2005 5:06 PM

Is that Nan and Dad and Mum and Norm?

Posted by: Sis at April 4, 2005 7:12 PM

My folks had a box camera. We weren't permitted to touch it.

Posted by: Bonnie at April 4, 2005 11:52 PM

Hi Robyn,

I really like the box brownie photo, I've seen them (the cameras) in op-shops and have been tempted to buy one only a bit of research has shown me that you can't get a suitable film for them anymore.

Have you tried what might be the modern day equivalent of the BB: The Holga?

Posted by: Stephen at April 5, 2005 2:11 AM

Hi Robyn,
I love this photo ... maybe one day the camera boffins can invent a super hi-tech digital camera that unfailingly captures the magic and mystery of moments the way old cameras could.
I have this affliction where if I find out someone has lost something I *have* to help them find it again even if they didn't ask me and actually were quite happy taking photos without the rule book ;-) But anyway here is a link to a place where I think you might find what it was you misplaced ... beware, following this path might lead to the lost innocence of experimentation ...

BTW thanks for all your encouraging comments on my blog :-)

Posted by: hellkitten at April 16, 2005 11:10 PM

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