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Is film coming back?
Random Thoughts, October 27
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - I was surprised recently when Public Television reported the use of film for taking photographs is coming back, at least among young hobbyists. I wasn’t aware that film, or places to get it developed and printed, are available.

Electronic digital photography has taken over to the point that most people have a camera in their pocket in the form of a cell phone. Plus, surveillance cameras are everywhere, from the woods with trail cameras to cameras embedded in doorknobs. The nightly news reveals if you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing, it’s likely someone is going to have a picture of you in action.

One of my favorite cartoons showed a couple of young people looking at a 35mm camera and one of them said, “Can you believe my parents used this thing to take family photos?”

The other person responded with “That’s the ugliest phone I have ever seen!”

It might be surprising to learn our daughter has a really big and ugly camera in a place of honor. That camera has a family history. I used it when I was in the army serving in Korea. That was about the time when 35mm cameras were becoming popular. They were small, less expensive and produced good photographs. They were taking over the camera market with names like “Nikon” and “Canon.”

When I was about to return to the United States I asked my captain what I should do with the big “Speed Graphic” I had been using for 16 months. He said “You might as well take it with you – you’re the only one here who knows how to use it.” So it went into my duffle bag for the troop ship trip home and it is still a member of our family.

Cameras have been part of my life for a long time. My dad had a camera that took postcard-size pictures and he used it as a hobby, occasionally taking a shot that was published in the “Omaha World-Herald” daily newspaper.

When I was at the University of Nebraska School of Journalism I took photography classes and learned to develop film and print photographs. It was that background that earned me a spot in service. Someone was needed to build a darkroom from scratch and then print pictures. It was a challenge as the packages of chemicals needed to develop film and print pictures all carried instructions printed in Japanese – which I could not read.

When Vi and I bought our first house in Muscoda, one of the first things I did was build a photography darkroom in the basement. Through the following 60 years I have had several cameras. In fact, I have a drawer filled with old cameras and lenses. They are all film cameras, as I switched to digital about a decade ago.

During our early years here we did various things to earn a little extra money. One of those projects was taking pictures at weddings.

At that time the priest who was serving St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Muscoda had rules for photographers to follow. He didn’t want them interfering with the seriousness of the ceremony and certain spots were off-limits.

When changes were made in priest assignments it was Fr. George Grotkin who came to serve the Muscoda Parish. I asked him if he had rules regarding photographers at weddings. His answer was. “Weddings are for the couple so you can be where you need to be to get the photos the couple wants you to take. Just don’t get run over by an altar boy!”

That sounded good to me. Taking wedding pictures was going to be about like getting football shots at the high school – “don’t get caught up in the action!” @font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073711037 9 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:Times; panose-1:2 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;}@font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;}@font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}