THE LOST ART OF ANALOG SLR PHOTOGRAPHY.

“See them walking hand in hand across the bridge at midnight. Heads turning as the lights flashing out it’s so bright. Then walk right out to the four line track. There’s a camera rolling on her back, on her back. And I sense the rhythm humming in a frenzy all the way down her spine. Girls on film, girls on film, girls on film, girls on film.”

Duran Duran lyrics to “Girls On Film.”

For this article I wanted to talk about SLR photography and not about DSLR. So If you thought my title was a typo you are mistaken. And that is totally fine with being mistaken, for I feel that we don’t talk much about the old days of photography nowadays. Hence why I called it a “lost art.” Below is the definition of the two acronyms.

single-lens reflex (SLR) camera is a camera that typically uses a mirror and prism system (hence “reflex”, from the mirror’s reflection) that permits the photographer to view through the lens and hence see exactly what will be captured, contrary to viewfinder cameras where the image could be significantly different from what will be captured.

A Digital single-lens reflex cameras (also named digital SLR or DSLR) are digital cameras combining the parts of a single-lens reflex camera (SLR) and a digital camera back, replacing the photographic film. Features like live preview, HD video recording with contrast detection autofocus or ergonomic integration like dedicated film speed (ISO) buttons took further advantage of the digital image sensor. Although the term DSLR often refers to cameras that resemble 35 mm format cameras, some medium format cameras are also DSLRs.

Now that the difference is known between SLR and DSLR with in the definitions above for those that don’t know, you will have a better understanding now of the subject matter if you are a novice photographer.

Canon AE-1 Program camera with Canon zoom lens FD 35-70 mm 1: 3.5 – 4.5

Now the Canon camera in the photo above has some personal history with me. It was my very first camera. I guess you can say that it was my “first love.” And it was with this camera that I had started to take an interest with photography.

I had purchased it back in the mid to late eighties along with two more camera lenses. And I of course bought film (Yes… Rolls of film. Media cards where not around back then.) And took random photos accordingly, while learning at the same time how to use my camera. And the finer points of SLR photography.

There was no “point and shoot.” Back in the old days. You seen your subject, focused your lens manually. And then took the photo that you wanted to capture on film. Then of course after taking the photo, you could not see what you had taken right away.

Nikon D90 Digital SLR Camera in “liveview” mode.

*Photo of Nikon D90 from.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DSLR_Liveview.jpg

As seen from the example above. You had to go to your local pharmacy, with your roll of film to have someone develop it for you. And as you waited for your photos to be developed and processed, you would hope and pray that the picture would come out fine.

The days of shooting with rolls of film and having pictures developed now seem to be a thing of the past with all the advances of current technology. “Point and Shoot” also seems to be the new normal. Just point the camera, partially press down the shutter button and let the cameras micro-computer take all the guess-work out of taking the photo then snap your picture.

It’s something that we don’t seem to do anymore, manually setting a camera or use film to take a photo. Nowadays it’s all digital. Recently I was on a photography outing with another photo enthusiast who made the following comment to me.

“When I started to get into photography I never used a film camera, all my photos have been taken with digital camera equipment.”

My initial first thought was “Wow! Really?!? I guess film photography is becoming a lost art in the digital age of technology.”

Which now brings me to the point that I am trying to make. No advance preview of the photo you had just taken, no auto-focus, manual settings to be made and adjusted. And the development of the film you used to take the photo. In a nutshell… “Analog Photography.”

This is how I learned to take photos. Back in the year two-thousand and one. I took my old Canon camera to London on what was to be my first over-seas trip. When I had gotten to London and to the hotel I was staying at. I had realized that my camera was damaged during its travel to London and I could not use it to take photos. I had to borrow my friends camera that traveled with me and we shared it to take photos.

Once I returned home back to the United States. I never got around to fixing the camera. And as time went on I just went and purchased a new digital camera. And the old Canon camera was “retired” from service in two-thousand and two.

Recently I had found my old camera in storage when I was recently they’re looking for other items that I had needed at that time. I took a look at it and thought of the old memories of when it worked and the adventures I had with it. I guess I got a little nostalgic you can say.

So I took the “old girl” home with me and I thought to myself as I traveled back home. “I wonder if I can fix it?” I was a little hesitant at first, but thought to myself. “The warranty expired years ago, I really have nothing to lose from taking it apart.” So… I took it apart, found what was wrong with it, and corrected the problem. Then came the moment of truth. Test firing the camera. And to my shock and joy it worked!

If you remember the Duran Duran song “Girls On Film.” The first ten seconds of the song starts with the sound of an SLR camera taking photos in rapid succession. You just hear the sounds of the clicks and the power winder going. Then the drum starts beating and the song starts.

That same exact sound of an SLR camera taking photos in rapid succession, the sounds of the clicks and the power winder running was exactly the same sound.  Then to make sure that it wasn’t  a fluke moment I tried it again.

And once again I heard the sound of the camera taking photos. And I just starting singing to myself  “See them walking hand in hand across the bridge at midnight. Heads turning as the lights flashing out it’s so bright.”  Yea… I started to sing the Duran Duran song “Girls On Film.”

I had actually fixed my old camera! I was so excited about accomplishing this. I am actually going to test it out over the next few weeks to see if it fully works and to see what level of quality photos this camera can still produce.

It was not worked in over ten years and now that it’s fixed I am very interested in seeing what this old Canon camera can still do. So over the next few weeks I will be rediscovering the old art of analog photography. And I will report back with my overall findings.

Personally on a side note. I want to be extremely versatile in all forms of camera equipment. Not just manufactures such as Canon Or Nikon. (As you could tell from this post that my camera of choice is Canon. But I am willing to explore Nikon equipment as well.) And as well explore old film/analog photography too.

It all goes well with this Canon AE-1 Program camera I just may put it back into active service. I will report back my findings in a few weeks.

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