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National Camera Day


cffblog6.jpgJune 29, 2017 (Thursday)
National Camera Day is observed each year on June 29th. This day commemorates photographs, the camera, and their invention. A camera is an irreplaceable tool used to record and replicate memories, events, and people/places.


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The forerunner of the camera was something called "camera obscura," which was a simple arrangement. You stand in light in front of a wall with a pinhole in it. On the other side of the wall is a dark room and your image is projected on the opposite wall, upside down and backwards. The process was refined so that a person could project an image on a smaller surface, correct its orientation, and then trace it by hand.

When the first cameras came into being they were large, bulky, and expensive, so the owners went into the photograpy business. People had to remain still for minutes and that's the reason no one is smiling in the old, old photos made back then. The photographers became mobile and moved from town to town so that everyone could come to them to have portraits made. Citizens of most small towns awaited with keen anticipation of the photographers annual visit.

The first cameras for family use depended upon development of paper or celluloid and chemicals that allowed the images to become permanent. The early cameras for families Brownie2.jpgto take from place to place were simple small boxes with a small viewer on top, a small lens, an aperture and a tiny arm to be clicked. And, of course, the film, which the user would wind forward for the next snapshot. Many of my photographs were taken with cameras like that. Although "Kodak" was a brand name, we tended to call any camera a "Kodak." In time, popular cameras became more sophisticated (and complicated).

One of the first 35 millimeter cameras that gained popularity because it was not unbelievably expensive was the Argus C-3. I bought one of those for $69.95 when I was in college and was taking a photography course. Everything was black and white and we developed and printed our own pictures. That was in 1953. Wanda and I married later that year and she already had a nice TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera that took great pictures, but we left it on the ledge beneath the car's rear window and the sun's heat melted it. I still grieve over that. I had a TLR also, but for the life of me I cannot remember what happened to it. Both of them were very good cameras, even though they cost less than $10.

In 1967, my camera began having little problems, so the folks at the First Baptist Church of Rockport pooled their S & H Green Stamps and got me a new Argus C-3 that I used on a trip to the Far East. While in Tokyo, I bought a Nikon camera with a rangefinder for under $100. Seven years later I bought a used SLR (Single Lens Reflex) 35 mm camera with interchangeable lenses and filters from a pastor who also worked as a photographer. I took many color slide pictures and they are still beautiful to view today after nearly 65 years. Other color pictures have faded badly.

Somewhere along the line I bought a polaroid "Big Shot" camera which made excellent portraits of people. Film for that camera is now almost non existent.

The Polaroids, SLRs, Rangefinders, Brownies, Instamatics and most of the popular snapshot cameras are all outdated now because of the Smart Phone and its built-in camera. One can take a picture, or even a video, and post it immediately on the internet for all to see. My children gave me a tablet that sports a camera. I also have a very small, very nice Canon digital camera. The images can be transferred to computers and printed on digital printers, which are unbelievably cheap (but the ink is expensive). Or you can take the digital images to a store and all your pictures can be printed, any size, on quality paper. What an age we live in.

Since so many people have cameras with them at all times, the likelihood of your image being shared with many people is great. Besides the smart phones, there are the security cameras just about everywhere, and the traffic monitors at busy intersections. Nowadays you can count on being recorded while shopping, pumping gas, walking down a sidewalk, or just about anywhere.

Celebrate Camera Day. Take a picture.

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