When I was a sophomore at the University of Miami, I received a nasty shock on the first day of my graphic design class. We were going to be doing photography and we would have to have a single lens reflex camera. So much for my extra cash. I had to buy a camera. I didn’t want to. I hated the very thought of being forced to take pictures when I would rather have been drawing. I complained, bitterly, the whole time I shopped for my little Pentax. I complained, bitterly, while I shot 36 frames of black and white film. I complained, still bitterly, while I learned to process my own film. I was still complaining as I pulled the film off the reel, and held it up to the light to see what I had done. Were there images? Were they in focus? Had I screwed up the processing? And the answers were yes, yes and no. And I stopped complaining. I was entranced, enchanted and thoroughly bitten by the photography bug. It became my minor. I had keys to every darkroom on the UM campus. I shot for fun, I shot for profit. I lived in the darkrooms. I even got a job years later from someone who remembered me as a girl who never had a tan, because I was always up to my elbows in the soup. My hands smelled like photo chemicals; my nails were yellow.
I can’t tell you how many rolls of film I put through that Pentax. I can’t tell you the thrill that getting my first Nikon gave me, or the heartbreak when it was stolen. I replaced it, a couple of times. I still have the F2AS, and several lenses, multiple filters, multiple focusing screens, flashes, cases and tripods. The first design for the studio that the RLA and I intend to build next to our house even had plans for a dark room. But I haven’t shot a roll of film in years. I have been shooting with a digital camera. First I had a Nikon Coolpix, now I have a Sony that is so tiny, it’s smaller than my wallet. I carry it everywhere, and if I say so myself, take some damn fine pictures with it. But.
But now I want a new Nikon. I want a digital SLR. I want interchangeable lenses. I want to be able to focus manually. I want to be able to manipulate the f-stops and exposures. I want the heft of an SLR, so that hand held long exposures are possible. I want a Nikon D40. But the cost is prohibitive, and my old equipment isn’t worth very much on Ebay. Not that I want to sell it. But it’s worth more as a memento or a film prop than it is as a working camera, and that just pains me.
I’ve been trying to ignore this desire, but it is an itch which is demanding to be scratched.