As a kid my first experience of photography was the 'Kodak Brownie 127' camera. The big fat oval shaped beast enabled me to produce my first blurred picture, at the zoo I recall. The camera was used on many occasions, usually by my dad, but rarely by myself. I suppose this enabled the black box to survive so long! I did have some sort of rubbish camera around 1970 and attempted to get the thing to work. This had similar success to my picture in the zoo! Rude murmurings from those around me distracted my learning process and my interest waned somewhat. Later, far removed from such 'friends,' I did try a 'Lomo LC-A' camera, which was a Russian produced piece of rubbish that has become a cult among some. One day in the late seventies, before most of my readers were born, I purchased a 'Zorki-4,' from somewhere. This camera began after the war in a factory that had been produced a 'Fed' camera, a poor imitation of a 'Leica' camera. Such copies abounded after Leica introduced their high quality produce during the twenties and thirties. These Russian cameras worked well enough, and were being produced right up till 1978. Then one day my brother gave me a 'Zenit-E' of dubious age and condition.
My brother, ten years older and nowhere near as good looking, took to photography in a big way. So much so that he ended up in the RAF photography section. After his demob his mechanical knowledge saw him repair Leica cameras until his retirement. At one point I myself considered the RAF but while the nice sergeant informed me of all the good times I could find in the services, good pay, friends, travel and so on, he forgot to mention the millions of armed men standing guard throughout western Europe. He also forgot to mention the nuclear bombers and fighters high above as we spoke training for nuclear war, although he did say I could learn a trade, death probably! The photography section was closed at that time so I declined the joy of being told my eyesight was so poor I could not be accepted, and also my habit of screaming "We are all going to die!" would unsettle other crewmen on the aircraft.I dared not inform my brother I had considered this as I felt he may resign! He still doesn't know.
The Zorki was an excellent camera for a simple amateur, or so I was called rather too often by some. However mine had a small problem in that a hole appeared in the screen and if I recall right my brother took it to fix and I never saw it again! However the Zenit made up for this. The Zenit was an SLR camera with TTL metering. Certainly the metering was aged and of dubious quality but I took many pictures with that camera and thoroughly enjoyed using it. In time I added extension tubes, enabling me to take close ups of objects. I had wished to do this for many years, since one day I had watched a bumble bee happily brushing the pollen from his fur into those pockets on his legs. He stayed outside my window for ages and I had no means to take his picture, and extension tubes were the answer. Naturally once I had them no bumble bee has come my way. The Zenit was a popular camera, cheap, as the Soviets wanted foreign exchange, easy to use, and as it weighted a ton it was marvelous for Irish weddings. Simply by keeping the beast in its case, grabbing the strap firmly, and then swinging it around the head it became a terror weapon in such circumstances. As the ambulancemen loaded up the guests you would be enabled to take photographs of both the wounded and their broken cameras. The Zenit was photography's equivalent of the T-34 Tank!
Enjoyable though the Zenit was I had seen enough Irish weddings and spent £125 on a good second hand Minolta X-300. This was, and is a great camera for such as I. By adding a couple of lenses I was soon able to see great distances and
Digital cameras have revolutionised photography in a way unimaginable just twenty years ago! No fiddling with films, no waiting for developing, and by clever use of the pc it is possible to improve the picture in front of us. A snap taken now can be uploaded and transported worldwide in minutes! The pocket size makes it easy to slip in the pocket, and the use of a small screen instead of an even smaller viewer enables more options for picture taking, fantastic I say! One day, when rich, I will obtain a bigger version, although not a Leica! I will also find some friends and take a few portraits again as I have not done that for years. Daft I know but this is one of my favourite activities these days, simple and enjoyable, and I still don't comprehend just why it should be so enjoyable, but it is!