Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I got my first camera when I was 13. My grandma gave me one of those Brownie cameras that were so popular at the time. It wasn't a fancy model - just a basic beginner camera. It was a light green colour - sort of a mint green shade.

I don't recall asking for one, but it was a birthday present so I said thank you and that I looked forward to trying it.

Having my picture taken was never something that I enjoyed. In fact I still hate it - but being behind the camera and deciding what to photograph was kind of fun.

Several people tried to teach me how to get the film in and out, but I just couldn't get it. I enjoyed taking the pictures, I just couldn't load or unload the film. This got to be very frustrating and inconvenient, so I pretty much stopped taking pics after a year or two.

That probably would have been the end of it, but then I received a Kodak 126 Instamatic camera. It was so simple. You just dropped in the cartridge. Even I could do that! The flash was a cube shape with four flashes/cube. The camera was a breeze to use as it was straight point and shoot.

I took a lot of pics with that 126. The quality wasn't great but I enjoyed the experience of being behind the lens and capturing candid shots and shots of my surroundings.

By the time I graduated high school in 1976, I had moved on to the 110 camera. It was the newest craze. Very compact and the pictures were 3"x5" rather than the old 3"x3" of the 126 and the brownie.

During the summer of 1977, a friend offered to teach me how to use a 35mm camera. He actually became a professional photographer a few years later. He lent me one of his cameras - nothing fancy - just a basic beginners model. I really did try, but I just couldn't get the thing to focus or understand the settings. I went back to my 110. At least with it, I had a good idea what I was doing and knew most of the pics would turn out!

Over the next 20 some years, I went through three 110 cameras and countless films! The first one got to be rather expensive with buying all the flashes so I got one with a built in flash AND a telephoto lens! That was quite a big deal in those days. I wore the second one out and bought my third one in the mid 1980's.

I wasn't taking as many photos by then, but I still enjoyed having it. After loosing so much of my sight in 1990, I more or less quit taking pics. The last 110 wasn't working that well anyway and I'd pretty much lost interest in photography.

I did buy a few disposable cameras in the next few years, but those were getting expensive - both to buy and develop. It could take me months to fill even one film and I really wasn't willing to spend money to buy a real camera.

By 2000, 110's and even the disposables were quickly becoming obsolete. The digital camera was becoming the new standard. They were rather expensive and I certainly couldn't afford one. Nor did I see the point of getting one when I didn't have a computer. I also wasn't sure that with my sight, I'd even be able to use one.

In the last few years, the prices have really come down and the quality of the pics has improved a lot. The size of the LCD screen had also increased.

A few months ago, I decided to see if maybe - just maybe - there was one out there that I could actually use.

I researched online and in print on the various types of digital cameras and the features. I was able to eliminate a large amount just by the size of the screen. I knew I would need a 3" to have any chance of seeing any amount of detail.

There were still a lot of options out there, so I emailed and talked with several friends who owned digital cameras. Their levels of expertise and their camera experiences varied greatly, but their input helped me narrow down my choices even more.

After a little more online research, I hit the stores. Prices varied greatly. but they were all pretty basic and simple to use. It was actually pretty easy to eliminate a lot of cameras once I had them in my hands.

Most people can SEE the various dials and controls on the back of a camera, but for someone like me, I have to rely more on how tactile the camera is. Anything that was a touch pad was out as well as very small dials/buttons.

This may sound strange, but I also had to take the colour into consideration. Many of the models out there are silver or a bright colour. For me that is very distracting. The colours or the shininess of a silver can create a glare that visually, I can't see past.

The camera I choose isn't top quality, but it has a large 3" LCD screen. The camera itself is black, but the dials and buttons are a muted silver tone. The menu options that appear on the screen are large enough for me to see with my reading glasses on. In fact, I often take the pictures with my reading glasses on so that I get a better idea if I'm capturing what I want to capture.

I've only had it a couple of months, but I love it! Once I load the photos onto the computer, I can see the pics in full screen on my 19" monitor. For me, it is amazing to finally see even a portion of what sighted people see without a visual aid.

My photography skills are pretty rusty, but they are improving! I've been taking pics of all kinds of things: the things I bake; objects in and around my home; the beautiful autumn scenery and the faces of the wonderful people in my life. I love the fact that I'm not wasting film and that I can quickly delete anything I don't like. I can crop and adjust any photo.

Hopefully, I will have sight for many years, but I want to take pictures of the people and things I love while I still can. Having those pics lets me see detail that I could never see on my own - and that is something I will always treasure.


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