Archives for posts with tag: camera

I’m a picture taker. I hesitate to call myself a photographer because I don’t really take the time to use all the stops and lens and filters I could use. It’s been something I’ve done since I got my first Kodak Brownie camera when I was 12. I took a class when my kids were little and learned to use the darkroom, which I never used again. I took away from that class an understanding of the way you can manipulate photos to make them better after you’ve snapped the shot, an appreciation of light. Today, I do that with a computer, cropping and fixing as I go.

Mostly, I’m capturing my memories, the pictures of my mind. Maybe I think I’ll lose them otherwise, but I do go through my photos all the time, just as I went through my  grandparents’ photos when I was a little girl. Both my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandparents kept all their photos in the top drawer of a dresser. I guess that’s what people did if they didn’t put them in an album. I should have asked them more questions about the people in the pictures. I definitely should have.

Maybe it’s my impatience or my lack of discipline or my trust of the wonder of modern cameras, even on our phones, but I seldom spend too much time using all that I’ve learned in the photography classes I’ve taken. Usually, I have a camera with me and take what I see. And I see pictures all around me. I can’t drive down a street or walk a block without seeing a picture in my mind. I compose all the time, trying to capture the essence of what I’m seeing. That’s impossible sometimes, such as clouds or sunsets, but I can get a little of the wonder of it.

Yesterday, I stepped out my door and was struck by the beauty of the fall leaves in the rain. So, of course, I grabbed my camera and took pictures. For me. Here are a couple so you can see what I’m talking about.DSC_0005DSC_0014I couldn’t let the moment pass. It’s my own memory of that day I walked out my door and saw something so beautiful.

When I travel, I take photos to use in my blog or to remember my trip or to remember where I was. I now take pictures of the restaurants where I eat so I can remember when someone asks me because I would surely forget. I take a lot of photos from the car and it’s amazing what you can get, even through the windshield. It is definitely a problem when I’m the driver because I pull over a lot. A lot. Here’s a photo from Chinatown in San Francisco. I looked up and realized that there were people living lives above the tourists populating their streets. They must be immune to our presence by now.DSC_0508My favorite subjects are the people I love. I’m okay with posed pictures, but I love the candid shots that show me something you can’t see with a pose. My friends are caught in an impromptu dance. She was recently diagnosed with ALS, yet they are marching forward, surrounded by the love of their family and friends. This moment will stay with me for a long time.DSC_1052Here’s a long ago photo of my Daddy, relaxing with his paper on a Sunday morning. Most people knew him as elegant, athletic, handsome and he was. He was also Daddy with his tan line from his golf shoes, his rumpled curly hair, and his daily paper. Scan 32My youngest granddaughter is in love with all animals and not afraid to get up close. This bird was so patient to let her see how his feathers work.DSC_0161Last summer, my family got together for a swim party and I watched my grandsons play like little kids. The oldest one was leaving for college in a month and I caught him enjoying his cousins. How many more times will I get to see them all together playing?DSC_0163The boys made up game after game in the water in total joy with the familiarity of brothers and cousins.DSC_0187The boys are all athletic and I caught one of the younger ones (at 15 and 6’5″) showing his intensity in a ball game. He is a pitcher and first baseman, by the way.DSC_0145I catch my youngest granddaughter all the time in moments that remind me she is still a little one, our last for awhile. Oh, the sweetness of a sleeping child. IMG_7637Here’s another older one that I caught on the Christmas before my oldest grandson was born. All my children are gathered together in that moment before the grandchildren began to arrive. By the end of the following year, we would have three boys…but we didn’t know that at this moment. So much happened after this. So much.photoHere’s a picture I took at the OSU Homecoming Parade a few weeks ago, intending to use it in my blog. Little did I know that a horrible tragedy was about to happen about a mile down the street. Little did I know that this would capture the essence of the parade’s innocence and delight before the horror happened.DSC_0082Years ago, I was volunteering with the local domestic violence shelter. We gave a Halloween party for the women and children and I was taking Polaroid pictures for them. We didn’t use film because we wanted to respect their privacy. That event taught me so much about my camera and myself. One woman held a one year old in a body cast, wanting a photo for the father who had caused this pain. I had to stop myself. I lifted the camera to take a photo of one woman and seeing her eyes through a lens made me put the camera down for a moment. There was too much there, too much of her I was seeing. I lifted it back and took the shot, but I’ve never forgotten the power of what you see through a lens, what focusing on something teaches you in that moment.

So I’ll go on taking my camera with me, stopping to capture my family and friends, everything beautiful, interesting, funny or memorable around me. I sometimes feel artsy, as anyone can with the sophisticated equipment we have today, but mostly I do it because I can’t help myself.

You get the picture.

I take a lot of photos. I’d say too many but I don’t think you can take too many. We’re a far cry from the days when you took the picture and had to be careful you didn’t waste the film or the plate or whatever you were using. I love all photos, posed or candid, although I admit to loving the random moments we catch best.

I’ve got a lot of old family pictures, collected from my grandparents and my parents. I was looking at some of them recently and it crossed my mind that I wasn’t sure who took them. Who captured this special moment, what were they thinking? I can guess at some of them because of the setting. It opened up a whole new look at people I knew, gave them a new dimension to think of them behind the camera, catching this moment.

Here’s what I mean…

Who took these photos of my great grandfather and great grandmother? Who had a camera on that farm? Who wanted to capture him chopping wood or her feeding the chickens?

Benjamin Holt cutting wood

Grandma Holt 1

Who took this picture of my father? I know they hired professionals sometimes, but…

Scan 53

I’m guessing my grandfather took this one of his parents with his children. I never saw my grandfather with a camera, so this is a revelation.

Mom & Dad Hamilton with J. C., Ed & Sara

This one of my great-grandmother with my mother and her brothers is a mystery. My grandfather had already died when this was taken, so who took it? I don’t think my grandmother had a camera then.

Scan 2

Did my grandmother or one of my uncles take this of my mother at her high school graduation? Who would she pose for?

Scan 59

I know my father took this one of me as a baby…

Karen   June 1946

He must have taken this one too and it touches my heart that he captured this moment.

1949-Jim, Karen, Mommy

And I guess he took this one of his father with my brother and me…

Jim, Karen, Grandad

My mother always said she didn’t like photos, but I bet she took this one…

Scan 2

I know how I feel behind a camera and I know what I’m looking for, the moments I’m trying to capture. I know when I get a picture that has caught a look we all know. Now I’m thinking of all the members of my family who went before me. The photos they took, the ones they kept teach me a lot. I feel even more of a connection with them through these photos. I hope I’m passing that down to my children and my grandchildren and that they can feel those same connections. There is something about looking through a lens…

My lifelong obsession with photography began with looking through drawers of photos at my grandmothers’ houses.  They both threw them in a top drawer of a chest of drawers in a back bedroom and I would just stand there going through them, looking at my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and friends and relatives that I didn’t know.

My father used to take a lot of pictures, especially during the war.  He had movies he took from his bomber while traveling to Puerto Rico and South America before flying over to Africa, snapshots of the guys stationed in Africa, and color movies of African cities.  He even took movies while on bombing missions.  He was the Squadron Commander and pilot.  He laughed much later, saying he took rolls of color film with him, not realizing he couldn’t replenish it easily during the war.  He took a few pictures of me when I was a baby, but he didn’t take that many through the years.  A few when he and my mother travelled, but not so many.

My mother didn’t really like photos until much later in her life.  Her father died when she was 5 and her mother struggled to raise three kids during the depression, so maybe she was trying to put those memories behind her, although she recalled those years with much humor and love.  She just didn’t like photography as much as I did, I guess.  In her later years, she treasured the photos of Daddy after he died and loved the ones of her grandkids.  They began to mean more to her.

When I was about 12, I got disgusted with the photos in our house being thrown in a box and put them in an album.  I didn’t really organize them and I glued them, so they’re hard to get out now.  I got my first camera around that time.  It was a Christmas present and I can still remember the bright yellow Kodak box it came in.  I was so proud of that camera!


It’s hard to explain to this generation, with their phones that have cameras built in for instant gratification, what it was like to have a camera until very, very recently.  My Brownie Hawkeye was the latest thing at the time for the general public, not like the fancy Nikons and Leicas that real photographers used.

My camera used flash bulbs, which were sometimes unreliable and not always handy.  You could take the flash attachment off if you wanted and we took a lot of pictures outside.  At my age, I was dependent on my parents for supplies, like film and bulbs, so I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I would like to.


Basically, here is what you had to do to get a picture:

1.  Load film in the camera.  This was tricky because you had to insert the end of the roll in one spool and roll it around, then insert the spool in the camera.  Sometimes, you didn’t roll it straight and had to do it again or the film would break.

2.  Once the film was in the camera, you rolled the film with the little knob on the side until the number 1 showed in a little window at the back.  Rolls of film had 12 pictures back then.  Later we got rolls with 25 pictures.

3.  If you were using flash, you had to attach the flash attachment and then insert a bulb, making sure it was in all the way.

4.  You looked down into the viewfinder and held the camera very still while pushing down on the release.  If you pushed too fast, you jerked the camera and ruined the picture, which you wouldn’t know until you saw the pictures later.

5.  Then you rolled the film to the next picture so that you didn’t double expose the film and have one picture on top of the other.

6.  You removed the flash bulb, which would be hot, and threw it away.

7.  At the end of the roll, which sometimes took weeks since we couldn’t take as many pictures, you rolled up the entire roll before taking it out so you didn’t expose the film to light.

8.  You took the roll to the drug store or someplace where they could develop it and waited a week to pick it up and see your pictures, which were small squares with black and white images.

Betty & car

Needless to say, I have embraced the advances in photography through the years, having many cameras, and loving my digital Nikon D5100 I have today, which takes photos and movies and gives me more than instant pleasure.  I took classes years ago, learning to develop and print, which has helped me now that I can edit on my computer.  I don’t know if photography is less or more trouble now since we spend more time on way more images, but it sure is fun.  My kids and grandkids won’t have a drawer of photos to look through, but they have my computer and Facebook and albums.

My lifelong fascination with capturing moments in time is undiminished through the years.  Click!