Thursday, January 21, 2010

Photographic Nostalgia

It's been raining all week!

I can't remember the last time it rained this much, this consistently, and for this many days in a row in Southern California.

Generally, we're a fairly rain-starved state. Leastwise, in this part of California. And I'm sure there are many reasons this much rain is a good thing. But still... I'm so done with it!

Enough already!

Continuing rainfall like we're experiencing doesn't do much for my mood. Ongoing rain puts me in something of a funk. It makes me glum. It makes me pray for the sun and I ain't much of a prayin' person. There's no way I could live somewhere where rain is more the rule than an occasional condition. I might end up a suicide statistic. Okay. That's an exaggeration. But I'd be fairly depressed much of the time.

According to the weather prognosticators, the rain will last until the weekend and then it will clear out and our usual sunny conditions will return.

Can't wait!

Besides feeling generally funky and glum, a side-effect, for me, is nostalgia. When my mood dips, I find myself focusing more on the past than the present or future.

Photographically, for me, nostalgia goes back a long way. I became interested in photography at a fairly early age. It's been a life-long pursuit: Sometimes more active, sometimes less. But through the years, photography (and later, videography) have been a big part of my life, either as a hobby, an avocation, or a full-blown vocation.

When I was 12, that is, on my twelfth birthday, my Dad gave me my first camera: A Yashica Penta J. I have no idea how or why my father chose this particular camera. He might have come by one that "fell off a truck." Yeah, my Dad had some friends that were *those* kinds of friends. Not so unusual for back-in-the-day back-East Italian-Americans. Probably not so unusual these days either. (I have some of *those* friends myself.)

The Yashica Penta J was an all-manual, SLR camera. No auto modes. No bells and whistles. It didn't even have an internal light meter. Instead, Yashica produced and sold an accessory selenium meter that clipped onto the camera's front-side cold shoe.

In retrospect, it was the perfect camera to learn photography with. There was no way, other than accidentally or by sheer luck, a decent photo could be snapped with this camera without first learning the technical side of exposure or finding the right exposure in all kinds of lighting conditions. A few years after receiving the camera, in high school, I learned how to process film and make prints. (Fortunately, my high school had a good graphic arts department that included a well-equipped, if B&W only, darkroom.)

Back to the present...

My rain-inspired nostalgia caused me to peruse Ebay with the goal of finding another Penta J, one in operating condition. And I did! In fact, I found one, bid on it, and won the camera for five bucks!

Five bucks!

Such a deal.

It's already in the mail and heading my way. It should arrive by the time the rain departs.

I'm stoked!

I don't even know if I'll shoot anything with it. (I probably will.) But, for the most part, I just wanted one. It might end up displayed on a shelf: A reminder of what got me started with this life-long love of photography I've enjoyed so much.

Maybe there is a (personal) silver-lining to these rain clouds?

The pretty girl at the top is Cindy, snapped a few months ago. As I recall, she's from some Eastern European country, maybe Hungary or Romania. Nothing special photographically. Just some standard pretty girl pics shot for a client on a white cyclorama. Besides a small fan to blow her hair a bit, three lights were employed: A big main (5' Octo) and a couple of kickers behind the model, either side from above, modified with small, shoot-thru, umbrellas.

Here's a more revealing pic of Cindy. I never shot stuff like this, back in the day, with my Yashica. Maybe that will change sometime in the future?

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