Sunday, April 1, 2007

Humble Beginnings

I want to talk a little about the camera I learned photography with. A Kodak Pony IV camera that my parents had. A bit of a trip down memory lane in my new photo blog's first "real" post.

But first, today's photos, OK? Neither one of these is a great photo. Not going for artistic merit here today; just wanted to give a couple of examples of photos I have that were taken with the Kodak Pony IV that I'll show y'all in a bit.

This photo is a scan I did of a 35mm slide that Sainted Mother took of us kids in 1966, using the Kodak Pony IV camera. From left to right, Me (in red shirt), Big Brother, Cousin Scott, Big Sis. I think this was a Cypress Gardens, but I'm not sure.

This is a photo that I took in the Ozarks of Arkansas, at DogPatch USA, using the Pony IV. DogPatch no longer exists, and was a small theme park based on Al Cap's Lil Abner comic strip. This girl was dressed as one of the characters and was just messin' with everyone that walked by. I was about 13 at the time, and asked her if I could take her photo. She immediately dropped into this pose and started flirting with me. She scared the snot out of me, but I took a picture anyway.
That second photo, is a flatbed scan of a print. It has started to change colors around the edges a little. I chose this photo because I distinctly remember this girl and taking that photo. I cut off her foot. Oh well, too late, no do-overs.

Kodak Pony IV camera.

When I was in the eighth grade, at Robert E. Lee Jr. High School in Monroe, Louisiana, I decided for some reason, that I wanted a camera. I mentioned it to my parents, and Sainted Mother said, "Well, we've got that old Pony IV in the closet over there."

My reply was, "What's a Pony IV?"

"It's a camera that's in it's box in there on one of the shelves."

So I went over to the closet close to our den and started looking around. I found this box.
Inside the box were these items.
Here's a good look at the camera.
The Kodak Pony IV was made from 1957 to 1961.

It has a Kodak Anastar Lens: 44mm, f3.5
Manually selected shutter speeds B, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, and 1/250
Manually selected apertures: f3.5, f4.0, f5.6, f8, f11, f16, f22

It just has a viewfinder like a point and shoot camera, not even a rangefinder. You have to estimate the distance to the subject and manually adjust the focus to your estimated distance from 2.5ft to infinity.

I didn't have a clue as to how to work the darn thing, and it had been enough years since either parent had even taken it out of it's box, that they were as clueless as I was.

Luckily this was back in the days of the little piece of paper that came with any roll of film that would give you guidelines on how to set the aperture and shutter speed for what ever ASA of film I had bought. ASA later became ISO that we still use today; same numbers though. Basically it gave you tips based on the sunny 16 rule, if any of you remember that. On a sunny day, set your shutter speed to the closest one to the ISO of the film, say ISO 100 = shutter speed of 1/125, and set the f-stop to f16.

Then in the shade, open up the aperture another stop, and so forth and so on.

I didn't know squat about film lattitude either, but I lucked out and used print film in this camera, which was naturally forgiving of exposure errors.

So this was my camera between 1975 and 1979 for traveling, and outside shots. I never bothered to try to find flash bulbs for that flash gun; I had a pocket 110 camera I used indoors because it had a built-in flash.

In 1979 I scrimped and slaved and saved and bought myself a Canon AE-1 with a 50mm f1.4 lens, and a Speedlite 155a flash. I was stylin' then!

But I obviously still have ye olde Pony IV. I take it out every month or two and work the shutter and apertures to keep it operating well.

Good times, good times.


John Roberts said...

Thanks for your kind words about the photos on my blog. When I looked at your profile, I was amazed what we have in commmon besides being Tech grads: We're both Christians, have two daughters, are LA transplants to other states, and a love photography. Then I read this post and I couldn'rt believe it because my mother had a Kodak Pony camera. Her's was the Pony 828 model, which I now own as a keepsake. Yes, it is a small world!

AphotoAday said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane... Amazing that you would still have the camera in it's original box... Will have to dig through some stuff and see if I still have some of my early cameras...

Mike said...

Neat story about the old camera. It is fun to go back and remember things like this. The photos were fun to looks at.

Last time I went down by Dogpatch it was gone and the forest was reclaiming it. Would be fun to know where that girl was now!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.


bluemountainmama said...

wow.....i know nothing about cameras or photography....all i know how to do is point and shoot....and my camera is a hand-me-down digital that's currently being held together by duct tape. photoshop is my friend.... :)

looks like you got an early start! neat to read about the camera and your start in photography......

Chad Oneil said...

Great shot of the camera by itself. Thanks for letting me know about your other site, I appreciate that.

Ben said...

Great story and your passion to the photography is smiler to mine.
I do pretended to be a great photographer when I take a shot. I think it is very important to have such a attitude.
I do use digital, film and very old flat-bed/film scanner. It is fun and ton of leaning every time. Great hobby (for me) and profession (for those of who are professionals).

Thank you for stopping by and left your foot print.

I'm totally welcome for any constructive criticism, so do feel free to left your thought there.

MariesImages said...

This was an interesting post. I also used thye canon AE-1 for many years, then about 5 years ago before the prices of digitals came down I purchased the Elan 7E, then I got brave & went for the 20D Ü. It's as good as the Nikon & I love it!

JAM said...

Thanks everyone, Marie, the Canons are indeed fine cameras. The Nikons are like putting on a favorite old flannel shirt for me though. I just wish Nikon was as quick with cool new technology and meeting the supply demands for their products as Canon is.