On Cameras

22 Jul

Anyone who is a regular (or even just occasional) visitor here can probably figure out quite quickly that I like taking pictures.

And it’s true. I do.

I recently went through a few weeks of withdrawal when I sent my beloved G9 back to Canon. It felt like a little piece of me had gone missing. I still had the little Casio Exilim I carry everywhere in my purse, and we spent some quality time together, but I was frustrated by its limitations. It’s a good camera for taking quick shots on my daily commute, but lacks the flexibility I have come to rely upon in my Canon.  Thankfully, though, my Canon came back just in time for our trip to Palm Springs, and all was well.

My love affair with cameras is an old one, first kindled in adolescence by 4-H.  Our club leader had a friend with a dark room, so he convinced him to teach us some photographic basics and how to develop our own photos.  Each kid had to supply their own camera though, and my father gave me the beautiful Asahi SLR that he had bought in Asia when he was on a tour during the early days of the Vietnam War.

I don’t talk about my father a lot around here.  That’s because he’s no longer with us, and even though that’s not a new thing, it still makes me very sad.  I’ve had to build-up a sort of mythology around him based on the anecdotes I remember through the fog of sadness, from childhood and my tween years.  And when Isaac and I were preparing to get married I looked around and realized I had very few physical remembrances of him.  A few photos.  An old Cross pen.  His Airborne pin.  But what I really miss is that camera.

I know I lost it sometime in college, but I can’t remember how, or where.  My memory is that I gave it to a boyfriend who, at that time, fancied himself a budding professional photographer.  That very same guy recently found me on Facebook to say he had found my father’s camera.  I cried.  I was so excited to have it back in my life.  It took a few months for him to send it, but when it finally arrived at work I was a whirlwind of emotions: I laughed, I teared-up, I started babbling to myself as I ripped into the box. And then when I unrolled the layers and layers of bubble wrap, I found someone else’s camera.

I pinged my ex to tell him.  We laughed a little and then he told me he was pretty sure that the camera I’m thinking of was stolen out of my car when it was broken into one night in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  I remember the incident, but all I remember the thief taking was my old collection of tapes, I have no recollection of them taking my most prized possession. Funny how memory works, isn’t it?

And so if it’s gone, it’s gone.  I’ve been thinking lately about just buying an old Asahi (not a Pentax, it has to be an Asahi, since he bought it in Asia. They weren’t called Pentax there), to fill the void, but I’m not sure it would work.  It wouldn’t be the same. I want the camera my dad used to take a picture of the tiger he and his fellow soldiers shot.  I want the camera he used to take pictures of the smiling kids that he’d play with at the local swimming hole just before the War spun out of control.  I want the camera he used at neighborhood picnics to take pictures of me and my mom.  I want the camera I used the day my father made me lie on my back, in Albany, in January to photograph the D&H Building through the stark, modernist steel sculpture in its courtyard.

But I’m not sure how to get it back, or how to fill that hole.

7 Responses to “On Cameras”

  1. Christina July 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Honey, this is your best. It made me cry right along with you.

    You may find the Asahi, but I’m not sure it will ever be what you’re looking for. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Lily July 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Oh, Ann, buy an Asahi. It won’t be the same. But I think it will good in a different way.

  3. Jessie July 31, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    nice blog! i like food and taking photos too :)

  4. Tracy August 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    I think this blog, your love of photography, is a great tribute to your father.

  5. ann August 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    Christina — Thanks! It was hard to write. I CANNOT wait to see your Argentina adventures put into pixels!!

    Lily — Sometimes I think you’re right. I’ll have to save up. They’re expensive!!

    Jessie — You sure do. They’re gorgeous!

    Tracy — THANK YOU. Seriously. I just read your comment and it is the nicest thing anyone’s said in a long time. You’re very kind.

  6. noblenourishment August 12, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    What an emotional post; I was gutted for you when it transpired that it was someone elses camera in the box :'( I agree with the others, buy the Asahi :)

  7. ann August 12, 2010 at 6:42 am #

    Noblenourishment — Thank you. I’ll keep you guys posted, of course ;-)

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