My 1960’s Pentax and I

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.”

When I first read this prompt I could not think of a technology that I have missed going extinct. I have and will always be more oriented to the outdoors then the technological gadgets that invade our lives. My immediate association with technology was linked to electronic devices. But technology is not limited to electronics. One item in particular that I would hate to see become extinct is the 35 mm camera. Digital cameras have taken over. There is nothing to stop someone from taking 400 pictures of the clouds only to forget about them until the memory card beeps at being full. Precision is lost. There is no need to take time to set up the perfect shot. Like a drone, thinking is not required. The camera will auto correct the blurriness, the lighting, the white balance. All you need to do is point and shoot. It is easy enough for anyone. As long as you have a 32 GB memory card at least one picture in a thousand will turn out good.

In my first year of college, I fell in love with 35 mm black and white film. It required thought and planning. You had to understand light. Is it too sunny or to cloudy? What f-stop should you choose? What ISO, 50? 200? 400? lower? higher? It would be wasteful to have a trigger finger aimlessly snapping away. You had to be intentional. And then came the darkroom. In total darkness you would pull your film from the protective case and maneuver it into a silver spool. Using only your fingers to tell if it was aligned properly; hoping it was aligned properly lest you lose photos from the film touching.

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Then there came the process of washing the film. Instead of the digital instant gratification of the image you would have to wait and see how the negatives came out, if they came out. But the process is not over yet. For the digital age a quick auto correct and the picture would be adjusted. Within ten seconds of clicking print a photo would be ready.

As for me, I prefer hours spent in the darkroom. I do not have paper to waste. Carefully I have to adjust the size, the exposure, and the light filter. A test strip shows me the various tones I can choose. Ten seconds works, as long as I quickly wave my hand between the light and the paper twice. And three separate tubs filled with different solutions, being careful not to cross contaminate. Slowly, upon a white paper, an image begins to appear. There is not time for indecisiveness, a quick execution has to be made or the photo will darken beyond recognition. Fifteen to twenty minutes after I have entered this isolated room I emerge into the light to see what I have created.

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One thought on “My 1960’s Pentax and I

  1. My first SLR was a Pentax K1000. It was famous for being known as the best student camera. Shooting with a manual film SLR is so much more rewarding but as much as I like it, it’s almost impossible for me to choose it over a digital one or my smartphone even.

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