Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I stopped being interested in taking photos after I invested in my huge Nikon DSLR, but way back near the beginnings of this blog taking photos every day was quite important to me, not that you'd ever know it now from my hasty iPhone snapping, Instagramming ways. Meeting Charlotte, Brian and Elle last week, who take such beautiful photos on film - and then meeting lovelies Anabela, Kate and Vic again at the weekend* - who were all wielding either a Canon A-1 or AE-1, reminded me that I'd been meaning to do a post about my dad's old AE-1 for ages.

I'd had a go with using it, but my pictures always turned out really dark (I've recently been let in on the secret of the magical "A" button so I don't have to rely on my randomly chosen settings anymore - thanks Vic!). Then the winder onner (technical term) got jammed and I had to get it fixed, which cost probably twice as much as a new/old AE-1 would. But this is the camera all my childhood photos were taken on, so I felt it was worth the cost. Then the winder onner thingy got jammed again and after about six months of pressing and wiggling things to try and un-jam it, I gave the camera to its original owner (my dad) to analyse the problem. He handed it back to me about one second later saying, "You've come to the end of the film." Oh yeaaahhhh...and I can just imagine the sniggers in the camera repair shop in Soho where I got it "fixed" before.

So yes, not exactly an analogue queen.

But I'm willing to give it a try - and look at the goldmine I've got to play with.
 Lenses and filters galore - but the real gold is the 1970s instruction manual, which is vying with my 1950s Italian phrasebook for most guffaw inducing document of its time.
 Above: because every budding amateur professional photographer aspires to the Sports Illustrated school of photography. And of course, it's the wife who thinks they should throw the instruction manual away, and the husband who sensibly reprimands her. And who has no idea how to hold a camera correctly? Actually, I have no more words for this.

"If a wall or tree is available."

{*All thanks to this, which is still on until the 18th.)


anabela / fieldguided said...

So wonderful! I have to admit that if I didn't have a live-in camera expert (well, not quite an expert, but someone with experience), I would probably have never picked up a film camera. I hope you get some use out of all that analogue gold!

elle :: everything reminds me of you said...

Wow! What a haul. I have a Canon A-1 (which Anabela gave me great advice on when I first got it) and it quickly became my absolute favourite! Perfect for cat portraits and capturing London.

Have fun!! x

If Jane said...

yeah claire!!!
thank you for helping the film world...(a tear of happiness rolls down my cheek)

charlotte said...

bring it to the chelsea physic garden!
i look forward to seeing you with it very soon :) x

Camille said...

My first Pentax came from my dad as well. I liked taking photos with it so much that I ended up taking photography classes. On the first day of class, I realised its battery was down, and brought it to the repair shop only to be told those batteries didn't exist anymore. That one, the original one from 1973 was "Made in West Germany"... So my second Pentax was given to me by my dad who exchanged, on the spot, his 1973 model for a 1975 model(the batteries required for the light meter still exist). I'm looking forward to seeing your photos!

Kate said...

That manual is amazing!! My A-1 is from the 80s and just has awesome haircuts and beards.

ps. it was SO nice meeting you!

vic said...

My pleasure! I can't wait to see the results it yields!

It was lovely meeting you!!


Bombay Beauty said...

a useful reminder -- i've been meaning to borrow my dad's nikon before he gets rid of, as he did his old polariod, one of those models that flattened and fit into a leather case... xo bb

Badaude said...

Actually I really like the fact that here the man is the sensible one: I find the sterotype is too often the other way round: man thinks he knows it all - woman plods through it the long way obeying rules designed by someone else (unfortunately she's obviously co-opted into obeying the rules later in the piece). Here's to journeys without maps (photographic or otherwise)!