GROWING UP IN England, I hated photography.
My highly competitive Kiwi father was more than a keen photographer. He was a photography fanatic.
Driving from A to B, he thought nothing of leaving the family in the car for an eternity if he spotted “a picture”.
He processed and printed all his own black & white images. He would come to the dinner table with an alarm clock when processing films, and cry “Shop”
and return to his darkroom when it was time for the next step in the process. There’s no denying that his work was good ลาวสามัคคี วีไอพี.
He gained a Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) and became an RPS judge.
From time to time in my teens I would be summoned to his darkroom to see the next masterpiece. The darkroom stank. It was awful.
It wasn’t just the chemicals. Remember, this was the 1950s – when men also smoked
in the darkroom, didn’t use deodorants and Xpelair hadn’t been invented.
I resolved that if I ever took up photography – which at that point seemed unlikely – I would make colour slides, essentially because they went off to Kodak for processing.
Realising that I could not be enticed into black & white photography, my father brought home a little Ilford Advocate camera and showed me how to use it.
The Advocate was the first British 35mm camera. It had a distinctive ivory enamel finish, a 35mm-wide fixed lens and no light meter.
You focused manually and guessed the exposure from the diagram provided with Kodachrome slide film (ISO 12).
You chose a speed and aperture setting by moving rings that circled the lens.
An exposure was made by pulling a little lever at the top of the camera, beside the knob with which you wound the film on to the next frame.
I made a few pictures, but never thought of taking the camera with me when I duly left home and went off to university.
University About six months after I left home, I sent my father a letter to thank him for some Cup Final tickets he bought for me.
I fatefully added, “I wish you could be in Oxford with your colour camera right now – it’s glorious.”
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