Last weekend, as I was scrounging around the house looking for film and an old camera that was still in working condition, it occurred to me how much I miss simplicity.
Not that old times were simpler times; because I don't really believe that. But my old cameras were mostly simple contraptions. I didn't have to worry about batteries being charged or tiny cards being misplaced. They only required a roll of film to operate. Sure, some of the more complex cameras I owned required batteries to trigger the light meters, but they worked just fine without. I just had to guess at f stops and shutter speeds.
As I worked my way up to thinking a good camera -- one with tiny bells and whistles such as automatic hocus focus -- wouldn't be wasted on me, the more reliant I became on batteries. Without them the cameras were lifeless.
When I unearthed and dusted off a roll of 120 film, I had three choices: a Holga; a Mamiya and a Yashicamat (my very first medium format camera, which I bought at camera show for $100). I wanted a little bit more control so I nixed the Holga outright. The Mamiya was a splurge camera ($800) so it's one that requires batteries for the shutter to work. Since it's been about seven years since I even looked at the thing I'm sure the batteries are toast. So the twin lens gets the tap.
I have a serious love for this camera. It's got a photocell light sensor and that's all. You load the film, crank the winder and you're set. Even the shutter has an anti-climactic click. Using the camera is like photographic meditation.
Every time I make images with it I feel as if the subjects and I are transported back in time.
But then again the economy of my super-dooper expensive camera on the processing end made me race to the UPS service center last night so I'd have the Nikon consumer-model apex today ... when Silas was going to be rummaging around in the recycling at work.
It all makes me vow, yet again, to do more with film. To not wait until the digital camera is in the shop for me to break out a roll. But it will likely be another broken promise. And before I know it, 35mm and my beloved 120 film will follow Polaroid into the abyss.