In the 90’s I entered the back door of digital photography. With my Canon AE-1 slung around my neck or over my shoulder, I continued snapping my shutter at my favorite subjects: family, friends, flowers, the beach and nature in general. I mailed my completed rolls of film to Seattle Film Works. In a timely fashion, they returned prints and a disk of the digital files. I used this digital file, learning for the first time what a jpg is, to share photos with my e-mail friends and family. Seattle Film Works also provided an online storage facility for storing my digital albums.
In 1999 my world rocked, in a good way, with the birth of my first grandchild. She was born in England, and there just wasn’t enough film on the island to satisfy my need to capture her every moment. Plus, I was in England in the summer. Have you ever walked down a street in Hamstead on a summer day, every other house with an English garden, the smell of lilacs and roses and jasmine filling the air? What a magical summer.
My daughter and I took the baby on these lovely walks. The baby slept in the stroller while I took pictures of all the flowers, geese in the ponds, and colorful vines wrapping around posts and fences. The expense of developing all these rolls was considerable.
In 2001, a grandson was born, this time in Chicago, and the Canon was a constant companion. Somehow all the pictures weren’t getting into albums like they “used to.” I started collecting shoeboxes of photos, along with the disks of their digital counterparts. A light bulb went off in my little head and I figured I could save a few coins by only paying for the digital files. I purchased a good Epson photo printer and printed out selected exposures. I began snapping more and printing less.
In 2002 my daughter and family moved to Paris. It was time to purchase a digital camera. I decided on an Olympus camera. I had a friend who used an Olympus, taking pictures of surfers and the ocean; I was impressed with the colors of her photos, so I purchased an Olympus 4010, 4 megapixals. I had also purchased a Canon Rebel from a friend. The Rebel was not digital, but it had many more automatic settings than my AE1.
Off I went to Europe with three camera bags and accompanying lenses: my trusty Canon AE1, my new automatic Canon Rebel and a new little thing with a little strap called a digital camera. What an adventure. I took rolls and rolls of film because that was what I was used to, but I also was learning to capture the moment quickly with the new Olympus.
In France I found one of my favorite places on earth, Claude Monet’s historic home in Giverny, north of Paris. While there, I observed an American taking pictures with a camera that looked exactly like my new digital one. It appeared to be the only camera he had with him, and no strap around his neck; he put it in his shirt pocket when he wasn’t using it. I was so curious, I struck up a conversation with him and learned, yes, it was exactly the same camera as mine and it was the only camera he traveled with. He was a seasoned traveler and digital photographer and explained he always had extra media. I didn’t even know what media was at the time. But I was learning.
Later that year the screen on my Olympus 4010 cracked while under warranty and Olympus replaced it with their newest model, an Olympus 5010. This was not a pocket camera. At 5 megapixals, it was larger than the 4010 and looked more like a small SLR 35 mm camera swinging from a strap around my neck.
I went back to Paris in 2003 to welcome my third grandchild. April in Paris. Oh what beauty!
“I never knew the charm of spring. I never met it face to face. I never knew my heart could sing. I never missed a warm embrace . . . till April in Paris.”
I came to Paris for the embrace of a little baby girl. I had all three cameras with me, ready to capture all the wonder of the City of Lights and three grandchildren.
In 2004 I was invited to join my daughter and her family for three weeks in Tuscany. My son-in-law explained we would be renting a car in Florence and driving to a villa he’d rented—it was a European car; a small version of its American counterpart.
I was told to pack lightly. Throw away the clothes and makeup, but, please, I need lots of space for all my cameras and lenses. Maybe it was time to downsize. I took a chance, and took ONE camera, my Olympus 5010 and lots of extra media, and delighted in looking at the golden sun of Tuscany through its lens.
That camera worked well for everything for several years. I could get down and take a close-up of a flower stamen or capture the sun shining on the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But as the grandchildren got older, it became a little cumbersome, pushing them in a swing with a camera around my neck or running in the park, but I didn’t want to be anywhere and miss anything without it. Time to downsize again. I put my Olympus 5010 on a shelf and got a pocket camera. An Olympus 1010 – 10 megapixals. It has been my constant companion since. It easily slips into a jeans pocket while I am hiking in the backwoods, or in a clutch purse at a formal affair. I’m pleased with the convenience of this pocket camera, but I also miss the days of changing lenses and the depth and variety they give to photography.
The other day I was on a plane and the young lady sitting next to me had a large camera bag at her feet. She was about fourteen, traveling alone. As we talked, she shared her passion for photography and showed me her camera: a Canon SLR digital. Maybe it’s time to upsize? What do you think?