"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I miss f/stops

Bought a new camera yestrerday. First new camera I've had in years.

Now to read the instruction manual.  Uh oh!

Now my son Vance, and Mark Zimmerman and Zach Nash would all say, "That's not a real camera."

It is a Nikon, but a Nikon "Coolpix."  What kind of real man's camera is named a "Coolpix," I ask myself. And really, I've had little Sony point and shoot for a couple of years. smaller than a package of cigarettes. I use it for snapshots of the grandkids, and for reference shots for my watercolor paintings...very adept at snapping photos as you drive down the Interstate in New Mexico at 75 mph and getting quick stuff. In fact, many of the photos you've seen on this blog came from it. Nothing like a Carl Zeiss lens.

But it's tax deduct time, and ever since children Vance, Dallas and Derrick got advanced versions of  those cameras, with real telephotos and more features, and video capability, I've wanted one. So that's how I ended up with this new one yesterday, my Christmas-birthday present to myself.

And it's really "cool" all the things that it will do...and not as big as the standard 35 mm electronic versions that Nikon, Canon and others put out. The older and heavier I get, I detest carrying heavy stuff around.

But then I started reading the instruction manual. Yes, I can take a photo already, but then there are all these little icons that show up on the screen...and I have to figure out what they mean--a trip to the manual. And I can't download them yet, because while I've read part of that manual, there are some instructions that aren't clear...computer stuff, you know.

Digital photography is terrific for many uses, I know. Younger generations already take it for granted. As soon as you take his picture, two-year-old grandson Max Bell immediately says, "See!," demanding to see the instant image. Photojournalism has been revolutionized by its immediacy, commerical photography by its variety and flexibility.

Then I thought about my old metal Nikkormat 35 mm camera from the late 60s or early 70s, out in the cold of the garage, in some box. I never had to read the instruction manual. Tri-X 400 film at f11 and 1/250 of a second, focus, and you WILL get a photo. It was simple to load and use and while darkroom took some time, the instructions for it and the darkroom were the same as all the other cameras. And no cute icons. Sure, it weighs more than several of the new ones put together, but the battery never discharges so the shutter won't work. (You don't need the exposure meter's little battery--because of long use, you can literally almost "point and shoot.") And there's that reassuring "slickkkk"" when the focal plane shutter captures a moment. Even though you can't see the image instantly, when you've taken a really good photo, you already know it, can see it in your mind, and excitement builds as you wait for the negative to be developed.

Reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel's "Old Friends." Always there, always dependable, always durable, always... .

Of course, I'm still excited about this newfangled camera and its use this coming year. Now if I could find which box the old Nikkormat is in, and if I could figure out how to disengage the computer virus protection so I could install the new camera's software, I'd take a photo of the Nikkormat  with the Nikon Coolpix, and, reading the instruction manual, figure out how to download it, save it, and then post it with this blog.

I just miss f/stops.

Nikkormat, from an online ad--
One professional in Michigan writes:
"It just feels great."


  1. As Chase Jarvis says, "the best camera is the one that's with you." I find this to be true whenever I take a picture with my phone's grainy 2 mega-pixel camera. Congrats on the new Coolpixie...I mean Coolpix. Should I start calling you Ashton?

  2. That's not a real camera :-)

    "Kodachrome, it gives us those nice bright colors
    Gives us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
    I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
    So momma, don't take my Kodachrome away"

  3. "Film is cheap" - The axiom well learned at photography school - VCC


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