Visual Memories

June 29, 2017

Written by Art Petrosemolo

Do you own a camera? Do you use it? If you are as old as I am (and I’m probably speaking to the choir here), you remember the small Kodak Brownie film cameras of our youth. You may even remember the Polaroid craze, when a camera developed its own photo print.

But there is a good chance, that for many of you, the digital photo revolution is like learning Latin…. Just not worth the effort!

Well I’m going to talk about cameras and sharing photos and memories in a way that is not too hard to master. Why, you say, is he wasting my time?

I started to take photos seriously in 1964 when I was in Egypt for the summer of my junior year in college helping to train Egyptian swimmers for the Pan-Arab games. I had a small rangefinder film camera (bought for $15) and took hundreds of slides. I still have one sleeve of those slides some 53 years later. I take great pleasure looking at them – especially the one where my colleagues and I climbed to the top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops…. Today I don’t think you can even get close to the pyramids.

My first professional photos were in 1965 when I started my career as a newspaper reporter for the New Haven (CT) Register. They paid $5 extra if you turned in a photo with your story. I was all-in. So, I’ve been at it a long time…but no reason with current technology I could not start today.

I swim with Gladys Ziegenfus early every morning. Knowing of my photography interest and skills, she asked me over to view the photo prints on the wall in Mountain View by the new camera club. She says the group is small but enjoys taking photos around the campus and on trips. I look forward to my visit.

So what’s stopping you? First, let me explain the basics. There are still cameras that use film today but not many (remember the old mail film stores?) places to process the film and make prints.

Now, just about everyone uses some kind of digital camera. For your grandkids, it is probably their smart phone. They take hundreds of photos of their friends and “selfies” of themselves in cool places. They upload the photos through special software (called apps) and share photos with lots of friends… their parents will probably say they probably share too much!

So maybe you don’t have a smart phone. That doesn’t mean you can’t join the digital photo revolution. Small, easy to use (what are called point-and-shoot) digital cameras are available in price ranges from $25 up. I like to have a camera with me at all times, so recently I purchased three used, small point-and-shoot cameras and keep them in my vehicles, my pockets, my house and garage…. And I have a photo capable smartphone. My professional cameras number six with probably double that many interchangeable lenses. You just never know when there is an image, especially here in Lancaster County, you want to capture.

So consider investing in a small camera…but big enough so you can make the small adjustments needed to both take photos and look at them. Not good to have a camera when your fingers can’t make the simple, but necessary, adjustments needed. You also need a digital recording card to capture the images and some batteries to power everything up. Most small digital cameras use SD cards and they are inexpensive. It is best to have two or three cards. Batteries are either AA or AAA.

The instructions will tell you how to take simple photos automatically without making any further adjustments. It works well 95% of the time except when there are lots of shadows or so dark that you have to activate the flash (unless it is automatic). There is usually a small button on the camera with a triangle that when pushed, lets you look at the photo you have taken on the screen. Unlike film, where a roll had a limited number of exposures, the size of the recording card determines how many images it can hold. But even the smallest card will give you hundreds of shots on a small camera.

OK Art, so you have me interested. But what do I do with these photos and what do I take? Well, first practice with your friends…. At lunch, in your apartment, outside for a walk or at an event. You’ll see it doesn’t take too much skill to take basic photos.

OK Art, now what do I do with them? Well, I have a friend who just leaves them on the card in his camera and flips through them to look at them when he wants. That works, but if you take lots and lots of photos, it gets a little awkward…but it works. When you fill up a card with photos, you put in a new one.

However, a better idea is to talk to your grandkids and they’ll know how to download your card to a folder on your computer (if you have one), to your tablet (if you use one) or simply to a small digital thumb drive that you can put into an envelope and label with overall dates taken or some other designation. That way, if you want to re-look at them, it won’t take hours to find that shot of lunch with the family at Shady Maple or the New Holland summer park concert.

For me, photos are part of my work. I write for the weekly newspapers, as you know, in Ephrata and Lititz and I really write so I can photograph…everything from Lapp’s Ice Cream to Lancaster Polo and women’s roller derby. I sometimes get my best photos with the smallest (what I call pocket) cameras as I’ll show you.

So, believe me, it’s never too late to start a new hobby. If you and friends decide to give it a try, give me a call and I’ll be happy to come over and talk you through your apprehensions.

The photos featured in this article are some that I’ve taken. The barn at the top of the article was taken at a local farm here in New Holland, just off of Railroad Avenue, that sells succulent plants. I am sure you have seen the sign. This photo was taken at their Memorial Day (2017) sale. The clouds were inspiring and I used my small, pocket camera and photographed leaning out the driver’s side window of my car.

For the past 15 years I have photographed large sailing regattas across the country in a variety of sailing classes. The photo at the bottom of this story captures Flying Scots struggling with spinnakers in a strong wind. I’ve also photographed the America’s Cup boats in New York City. I don’t miss a lot of things here at Garden Spot, but I do miss sailing. I will photograph two big Lightning Class regattas in Vermont and New Jersey this summer so I don’t lose my touch. The shot was taken with a professional Nikon camera and a long, telephoto lens.

Remember, I talked about memories. 1964 on top of the Great Pyramid of Giza (Cheops) with friends at sunset. That’s me, second from left, kneeling, with blue T-shirt. It is a memory for sure.


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