May 18, 2011

Ah-ha moments, Vol. 2

I was seventeen. I had been shooting on an SLR for about a year (a Praktica MTL-3, if you're curious). It was a perfect starter—from K-Mart!—that was equipped with a 50mm prime.

I think it was a 1.8, but whatever its maximum aperture, that's all I shot at. Not because I was addicted to shallow DOF or anything, but because—unbeknownst to me—that was the only position at which the iris rested.

Totally ignorant, I shot this way for about a year; always twisting the aperture ring back and forth, trying to understand why the light-meter never responded to my input. It was like flicking that light switch in the hall that does nothing.

(I think I assumed that the meter was broken, or that in photography, aperture had way less effect on exposure than I was led to believe. What did I know? Only one of my friends had an SLR, and I sure as hell wasn't going to reveal my colossal stupidity to him.)

Anyway, I got some nice images, and just rolled with it.

I started reading a lot more about photography, and one day said to myself, "Seriously, what the &^%$?" I unscrewed the lens with the tip of a steak knife, and tried to figure out what was going on in there. Well, something had obviously come loose, and with zero tool skills to rely on, I rubber-cemented the iris leaves to the most likely thingamabob.

Jesus wept.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, that fixed nothing, but it somehow didn't hurt the lens, either. I kept shooting, and moved on to a Chinon CE-4 in 1988, where I re-discovered the magical world of actual iris adjustment.


Epilogue: the Practica was stolen—along with my Nikon 601 and a bunch of other gear—a few years ago, and no doubt, some guy out there is wondering who the f*ck rubber-cemented his 50 mill.

Choke on it, sucka!