May 1, 2010

As I visited a photography museum a while back,  this small black cube in a show case attracted my attention. And memories started coming back in  waves. Lovely ones. My grandfather Ulysse owned such a camera, I never saw him using it though. Books were what he mostly had in his hands. He probably gave it to my father who used it quite a lot when the family travelled abroad or simply when he felt like taking a shot wherever we were. The result were tiny b/w pictures with a large white indented frame.

This small camera really saw a lot ! and experienced just as much too… oh, the drama when my sister and I forgot it on the table of a restaurant in France (we were in charge of it) ! My Dad simply turned around his old Chevrolet  and off we went to look for it. And we found it 🙂 Françoise and I kept a low profile about the incident but never forgot the place and the table ! And my Dad’s smile ! So precious was his camera. The first one I ever remember seeing in the family.

While on a journey to the North of Switzerland, I stopped in a pretty old town close to the German border, Rheinfelden, near the Rhine Falls (our Niagara 😉 . It was midday, all shops were closed and as I walked through the narrow paved streets I spotted this second hand place with the most striking ancient cameras behind the window. I wish I could have gone in and get a closer look. Instead I took pictures from the street. This particular camera was an  Ensign, Selfix 20. This is what I could decipher on my picture later on. A real beauty !

As I took the picture, another camera came into view… one from another century, digital, my own camera, a Sony DSC-W5.  A meeting of photographic generations, eyes/lenses’ contact.

A friend of mine experimenting in the Swiss Cameramuseum in Vevey


12 Responses to “Cameras”

  1. giiid said

    This camera looks very handy, it must have been top modern at that time? Is it still in your family? Many things have disappeared because they were outdated and old but not yet old enough to be interesting again. It demands a big barn to be aware of things that might be interesting one day…
    It was nice to read about your tour, you make me feel like visiting the place. 🙂

    • Yes indeed, giiid, this small camera was very modern and not unusual at all at the time. I don’t know where it went…my parents moved house and maybe the camera moved away ;)we have no barn, you see ! thank you for always visiting and commenting.

  2. Gerry said

    I think old cameras are interesting because they can make stunning images if they are used with skill. The lenses can be exceptionally fine, and the cameras themselves are wonderfully intricate mechanisms. It was fun to look at these, and even more fun to hear the stories they evoked! I love people’s stories.

    • You are quite right, Gerry. Old cameras did make unique kind of images. My very first one was a Nikkormat FT2, a jewel, it travelled to so many places with me in spite of its weight (all metal) ! I kept it for years, I still have it but it takes a well deserved rest now.

  3. ancientcloth said

    What a sweet memory of you and your sister and dad.
    Cameras are interesting…what if we are like a camera
    or a projector? hmmm?

    • I like your image, ancientcloth. We, being like a camera or a projector. You and I, for instance, seeing the same object or scenery and projecting quite a different image according to what those evoke to us.Interesting. Thank you.

  4. I keep meaning to photograph all the old cameras I have…we got them from my husband’s dad and some are just so lovely in shape and form. Hard to believe all the work photogs used to have to do just to get a single shot! What a fun museum!

    • Hi Tracy ! The museum was fascinating, four floors all about photography from the first “camera obscura” to the newest digital technology, a lot to see and experiment. A second visit is planned 🙂

  5. So, the hunter becomes hunted …refering to yuor reflection in the window, it’s intriguing how in that moment old and new comes together … or does it all comes from the same place…which image is the real one …questions

    • Intriguing indeed, Robert. A blending of images through time. What fascinated me was the thought of all images that went through this ancient camera, who was his owner, where did he go with his camera… if cameras could talk, what would they say ? Thanks for your visit, Robert.

  6. iniyaal said

    Wow… the last camera is one I have studiend a lot about. The way it wa designed to mimic the human eye and how it was improvised. History is cameras is as interesting as photogrpahy itself.

  7. You are right iniyaal, history of cameras is fascinating, so much change over the years, centuries, this need of men to capture what his eyes see although I find sometimes that written words convey more than a picture. Then, it is up to the reader to let his imagination work… Thank you for your visit and comment.

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