Going Classic

The first photograph I ever shot was on my father’s twin-lens-reflex Ross Ensign Ful-Vue Super.  The camera was from the 1950s, the roll was a black & white 120 format, and I was hooked for life!  I’m not sure if the prohibitive cost of photography at the time played any role in making it inaccessible, and therefore, more desirable.  All I knew is that it was magic to be able to press a button and get a detailed image of that memory, once you came home and got the roll developed and printed.

Many years later, through most of my school and college days, all I could afford was to read up on photography.  So read, I did.  I would borrow books from friends and from the library, and would read up every thing about mastering the skill, even though I couldn’t really afford a serious camera to practise with!  It was only through the generosity of friends that I began experiencing the joys of using a real SLR, first with the K1000 and then with the Zenit XP12.

As so often happens in Life, over the years my disposable income increased but the time available to spend it kept decreasing… I could now afford to buy all the “gear” I wanted, but could not make the time for a passion that had gripped my interest as a young boy.  Sure, I kept upgrading the aim-and-shoot cameras in the house, and embraced the digital format, and shot a thousand family photos.  But, it wasn’t quite the same.

So, in 2008, when I got back in touch with Photography, it was with a vengeance.  I started reading extensively on it, and participating actively in forums, and shooting as much as I could to focus on improving my skills.  I also managed to upgrade some of my hardware, by taking a long, hard look at what was really relevant to my interests.  Finally, I launched a photoblog to save and share some of my favourite photographs.

All through this time, I longed to go back to my roots in old-school Photography.  The first step was to get a modern-day film-based SLR, and having a bag of Nikon lenses by then, I settled on the excellent Nikon F75.  But, I also wanted a completely manual, mechanical and metal kit (MMM).  Many months of searching yielded an excellent Super Takumar 35mm lens, and then weeks later, the legendary Pentax Spotmatic.

The Pentax Spotmatic comprises a range of 35mm single-lens reflex cameras manufactured by the Asahi Optical Co. Ltd., later known as Pentax Corporation, between 1964 and 1976. The original 1964 Spotmatic was one of the first SLRs to offer a through-the-lens (TTL) exposure metering system, initially using average metering and later center-weighting. Despite the name, the camera did not use spot metering, although it had this feature in an early prototype.

Now, only a rangefinder was needed to complete my quest.  I’m happy to write that, as of last week, I was able to acquire a classic Petri 7s rangefinder from an enthusiast who had lovingly maintained it all these years.

The Petri 7s was introduced by Petri in 1963 as a variant of the Petri 7 which was introduced in 1961. The main difference being an improved film advance lever and frame counter. It took 35mm film, had a coupled rangefinder, and an around-the-lens selenium cell light meter. Production ended in 1973. The 7s was available with either a 45mm f1.8 or f2.8 lens. The shutter had speeds up to 1/500, and the viewfinder used Petri’s Green-o-Matic system.

I’ve shot many a film roll on the F75 as well as on the Spottie;  The joy of handling a machine that was built to perfection decades ago, and still runs without a whimper, is not comparable to most things in Life.  Not to mention the fact that there’s no better way to learn the ropes than going back to the basics when you had to know something about the Art to make a photograph happen!

I’m just glad I now have a piece of history in my camera bag!

Read More:
Massive Guide to TLR Cameras
Wikipedia : Rangefinder Cameras
Butkus: Vintage Camera Manuals

True Cost of Stuff

From the Master of Simplicity comes a pathbreaking post on a new blog, appropriately titled ‘mnmlist’. 

Here’s just a minimal extract…

But there’s more to buying less. Way more… The cost of purchasing an item just scratches the surface.

… It now occupies valuable real estate in our homes (or offices), real estate that could go to living space, or real estate that we could give up if we had less stuff and a smaller home. This is real estate that’s really expensive, btw: we pay exorbitant prices to own or rent a home, and every square foot of that home costs us more precious time that we spend working to earn the money to pay for that real estate. And that’s just for rent or mortgage. Add in the cost of power or gas to heat or cool that home, the cost of maintaining the home, and the time we spend maintaining and cleaning and decluttering and organizing that home and the stuff in it.

And yet, we’ve still only scratched the surface. The item, if it’s electronic, requires power. All the time. The item needs to be maintained. Switched on and off, cleaned, oiled, and caution taken not to break it. These are more precious seconds, precious dollars. If it’s wood or metal or glass, it might need to be polished. It might break a bit and need repairing. We have to store its warranty somewhere, and not forget about that (more mental cycles spent). We might have special tools for it, cleaning products, accessories. All of those require space and care and money.

And yet, we’re not even halfway there. I’ll spare you the rest of the narrative and just make a list…

If you’ve ever longed for a simpler life, even for a moment, read this today.

Live Your Passion

ZenHabits offers some really sensible advice on how to turn your passion into a successful career

So you have your passion picked out? Here’s how to turn it into a living.

1. Learn. Read up on it, from blogs to magazine articles online to books to ebooks. Look for the free stuff first… Find others who are doing it well and study them closely.

2. Do. Do not put this step off for months and months while you learn. You’ll learn most by doing. Start doing it for free. Do it for friends, family. Find clients who’ll pay a small amount. Start a blog and write about it… Continue to do step one as you’re doing this step.

3. Get amazing at it. This is just more doing and learning.

4. Start charging. As soon as you can do it well enough to charge, do so. You can start low — the main thing is to keep getting experience, and to get clients who can recommend you to others. You want to work hard to knock their socks off. Slowly raise your rates as your skills improve.

5. Keep improving. Never stop learning, getting better. Use client or reader feedback to help.

6. Build income streams. This is where the money starts coming in. You can start this step at any time — don’t wait until you’ve done all the other steps. Build as many income streams as you can, one at a time. (Examples included in the original writeup)

When you think about it, that’s all you really need to do!  Yes, it takes some doing.  But it can help you go from dream to reality, no matter what your passion is.  That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?!

The ZenHabits writeup also offers helpful pointers on issues pertaining to quitting your job, investing in office space, etc.  So, if you have ever kindled that entrepreneurial fire within you, get cracking on it…