As promised, here is Mary's first entry for her very own Photo Diary series wherein she dissects her affinity with her favourite SLR camera.
Hi, I’m Mary Robinson and I’m a 17 year old photographer from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m going to art school this fall and I plan on majoring in photography.
My first “serious” camera was my Canon AE-1. My friend Isabel (the dark haired girl in almost all of my pictures) started taking pictures with her dad’s film camera and I was jealous and wanted a film camera of my own. My mom found her old Canon AE-1 and I took it to a local camera store to fix it up. The store is great a great place for film photographers (it’s actually a local Lomo dealer!) and I later took darkroom classes there. My first rolls with my Canon were horrible! I didn’t take the time to learn about shutter speed and aperture before shooting so all of the pictures were super bright, and honestly, not very pretty. After I googled the Canon AE-1’s user manuel and read up about it’s features, I started to take pictures I liked. The Canon AE-1 is honestly the best film camera ever made and I’m obsessed with it- I don’t think I’ll ever love a camera as much as I love this one. The owner of the store, who has hundreds of film cameras, said the same thing when I took it in to get fixed. It’s a great camera for beginners and I’ve recommended it to so many other people.
An example of one of those beginning shots when I had no idea what I was doing:
After I learned about my camera:
After you get down the basics of your camera, you can start to experiment with it. These are some of the techniques I’ve learned through my camera:
Double exposures are fairly easy with film cameras. You just expose the picture, press the film release button, and wind the film-advance back.
Another easier way to do double exposures is to send the film through your camera twice. Just don’t wind it all the way back up after the first round. Tierney Gearon, one of my favorite film photographers, uses this technique in her “Explosure” series.
If you hold a finger over the lens, it creates a gradient-like effect. This is sometimes tricky to do- you have to just barely cover the edge of the lens.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid to try new things! Try every single thing your camera can do. Don’t limit yourself. My Canon AE-1 was my first real camera and I’m still learning all of the neat tricks it can do.