From Kodak to Praktica – Looking for Inspiration

By | October 31, 2017

So today’s the 100th post on LookThroughTheLens.com from yours truly. During that time, I’ve had the privilege of sharing so much on here: 100 posts, nearly 700 images, and 2 years come December 15th 2017. Hard to believe, isn’t it?!

From the first tentative steps to share my images of Kyoto 2015, to getting involved with Photowalkers, Critiques and TEPC, and Workshops, I feel like the journey has just begun. I’m just taking the first tentative steps along the road to taking better images. But first the good news…!

New Camera!

Readers of LTTL will be delighted to know that I finally upgraded my camera. After all, if something is holding you back, it’s time to change things up a little. I learned an interesting concept from the Interstellar. “Humanity can’t get ahead until it leaves something behind.” It’s certainly true for my photography. Before I leave things behind after this post, I wanted to reflect a little on my life as a photographer.

155+126 = No interest in photography

Kodak Instamatic 155x used under CC3.0 License by Uberprutser.

I started with a little fixed lens Kodak Instamatic model 155. Weirdly, I distinctly recall the type of film: Kodak 126 film cartridge. I can’t remember quite what it looked like, but I do remember the shutter was quite hard to press for a kid; of course, many shots were blurred because I happened to shoogle* the camera when taking a photo. (*Shoogle is the Scots’ term for giving something a shake.)

My mother also loved to use it to take family photos in the mountains of Scotland which is why we had it. In those days, the photographs were turned into ‘slides’ for family shows on a small slide viewer, we didn’t have a projector.

The photographs didn’t excite me much, nor the act of photography. There didn’t seem to be much creativity in the process, just a family huddled together faces expectantly looking at the camera, set against an uninteresting backdrop of Scottish mountains.

Lubitel 166 Days

It was a long time before I began to get interested in photography. Money was always tight as a student, no budget to really afford a better camera. One Lubitel fell into my hands in the late 80’s – Lubitel 166, I think it was.

I hadn’t got a clue how to use it, no real clue how to make use of the unique triple lens. Wikipedia says you “… can achieve excellent results when the lens is stopped down but, as with any three-element lens, the results will be soft by today’s standards at larger apertures.”

In those days, I would have thought it was just unintelligible! Oddly, my sister started using it after I abandoned it for a Praktica Camera when I set off for Asia in 1992. Not sure what she made of it. I certainly didn’t get much out of it!

A Praktica choice

On to the Praktica, which I still have, somewhere. I took quite a few photographs with it, and enjoyed using it. I developed a lot of images from Hong Kong, and recently found the negatives. I should scan them for archival!

It came with two lenses: a fix and a zoom. I probably used both fairly well, but it was expensive to develop film with results often less than stellar, so I resolved to learn how to use a darkroom at some point. But life had other plans, as did the digital revolution.

So that was my first SLR camera… but it takes more than a tool to take great pictures…

Part 2 coming up: more about the Praktica, Yashica, Kodak… Yes, I’ve had a lot of cameras!