The Digital Age


When I was very young, my father had a camera. It was a fixed-lens model, and when you opened it a bellows popped out, which moved in and out to focus the lens, but it folded up small so it nearly always came with us on outings and holidays. That’s it on the left in the picture. Dad would carefully sort the resulting photos, and stick the best into post-bound albums1 that he’d made himself, and he’d paint little designs on the pages. Sometimes there’d be a caption and date and sometimes not, but those albums – which I still have – are a record of our family from the beginning of WW1 to some time in the sixties. I don’t know why he stopped, but it was shortly after we moved out of London and he took a management position at a local printing press, so maybe he was simply too busy.

I so wanted a camera of my own, and when I was about sixteen years old I bought one with the miniscule wages2 from my first job. It was a Kodak Instamatic. I took pictures of our cats and our house and the family, and places I’d been and where I worked … and at some point I won a ‘young people’s’ photo competition, which did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm.


When I met OH, I got my hands on a half-decent camera – a Praktica SLR. We met on a residential course, and something clicked between us. He lent me this camera, which had a removable lens and looked horribly complicated, but he showed me how to use it and I got some surprisingly good results. When we went home at the end of the week, he took the rolls of film I’d used and developed and printed them for me, sending them to me in a fat envelope. Looking back, he must have been besotted, because he wasn’t very well-off either, though certainly more solvent than I.


I’ve been through several cameras since then. After we were married, OH bought a Contax 127 Quartz, which I used more than he did. In no particular order3, we’ve since had, between us, a Contax Aria, a Bronica ETRS, and an ETRSi, a Minolta twin lens reflex, a Canon Powershot, and about four Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoots. Apart from the current point & shoots, we now have a Canon DSLR, and a Lumix bridge camera. And I’m looking to upgrade.

Every time I go on holiday I take a camera, and sometimes two. I love taking photographs – I suppose you could say that it’s one of my hobbies. I take photos of my family, of family events, of things I’ve made, and places I’ve been. I can’t wait for spring, because the insects will suddenly be everywhere and I’ll have a thousand new subjects to try to capture in all their miniature and startling detail.


My trouble is that I very seldom do anything with the photographs I take, apart from when I use them on my blog. I have thousands upon thousands of photographs sitting quietly on hard disks and CDs and in my own personal storage galleries online, but that’s about it. Oh, I have made a few note-cards and so on. I’ve printed off the odd tee-shirt and had the odd mug made. I might even have a photobook made of some of the nicest, but that’s quite daunting (I did one once with over a hundred pages for a gift, and I nearly turned grey overnight4). Anyhow, very few of them end up in albums like this one:


But now I’ve disovered Picfair, which seems to be quite interesting. It’s an online image market to which anyone can contribute. I keep the copyright on all my photos, and I can upload what I like, when I like, and I can delete them if I like. The fun part is that I can set a price, which can be a nominal £1 if I so choose, or I can be ambitious and ask £50. I can change that price when I like, too. Picfair make their money by charging the buyer of the license a small percentage. And I’m finding that this is addictive. I’m going through my digital albums and finding pictures I’d forgotten about, and putting them out there to see if they can help me justify the cost of a new camera5. The next step will be to scan in some of my film photos, though some I might need to get them reprinted first. They fade, in time, you know.

If you would like to see some of my favourite images, go take a look. Click here to be taken to my home page on Picfair. I’d welcome your opinion. Tell me which your favourites are, and why!


And if you feel generous, do click on any that you particularly like and view the full sized version, because that will help my ratings and maybe one day I’ll sell – or rather licence – one or two.

It’s amazing, but that picture of a hoverfly on my finger was taken one-handed with a Lumix bridge camera. Perhaps Dad, being a keen entomologist, would have kept up the photography if he’d had a modern camera with a macro feature that could do that, but sadly, they simply didn’t exist in those days.

1 Post bound means that the covers are simply two separate covered boards, and both they and the pages are punched. You buy special bolts, otherwise known as Chicago screws, or post screws, and when you want to add or remove pages, you simply unscrew them and take off the cover/s.

2 Six pounds and sixpence, if you must know! I could barely afford my bus fare into work and suitable clothing. I was officially ‘poor’ and could get free glasses and dental treatment and everything. So the Instamatic – a very cheap camera – was bought on the ‘never-never’ – that’s hire purchase for those non-Brits who don’t know the term.

3 Because I’ve forgotten.

4 Well, I would have done, if I weren’t grey already. And in fact I should have said ‘over several weeks’ because that’s how long it took me to try to upload my photos in the correct order, and in the correct size, with the correct backgrounds and captions where required.

5 So far, the answer is no, but I live in hope.

11 thoughts on “The Digital Age

  1. Birdie 6th February 2015 / 2:27 am

    Do you have a copy of the ‘young people’s’ photo competition picture?

    How are you feeling? Did you get any results back yet?

    • Jay 6th February 2015 / 1:10 pm

      Ha – I was looking for it yesterday and couldn’t find it! I know I have it somewhere, but where … ?

      If I find it, I’ll add it, but don’t hold your breath. It could be anywhere in this rambling junk-shop of a house!

      • Jay 6th February 2015 / 1:11 pm

        Oh, and no. No results back yet, but thank you for asking! It’s impossible to get an appointment with the doctor, it seems! I can only assume that if there was anything serious found on the x-ray, they’d have rung me.

  2. nick 6th February 2015 / 8:02 am

    I’m so not a photo buff. I never take photos of anything and I don’t have a camera (or tablet or smartphone). I prefer just to remember whatever I’ve seen or done, and taking photos just seems like an unnecessary distraction. All the photos I have were taken by other people, especially Jenny who loves taking photos. There can’t be more than a few dozen photos of me despite my 67 years. It’s not that I dislike selfies, I’m just not bothered one way or the other.

    • Jay 6th February 2015 / 1:14 pm

      I’m noticed that often your illustrations are stock photos, Nick! Well, there are those who love photography, and those who don’t, and despite the fact that it was OH’s camera I borrowed all those years ago, he has completely lost interest. He was interested when he was at art school, and while he could develop his own black & white prints, but once colour film came along he just dropped it all. Sad, really – I have to ask if I want to be in any of our holiday photos, because he simply doesn’t think of it – or carry a camera anymore, come to that.

  3. Rob Lenihan 6th February 2015 / 6:24 pm

    Great post, Jay. Those family photograph albums must be incredible–all that history. And it’s also quite emotional, too..

    I think you’re a fine photographer–a real sweetheart, to boot!– and I enjoy viewing your work. The Tuscan Restaurant shot has great depth, and the Brice Canyon photo is fabulous–to name just a few of my favorites.

    Keep clicking away! (PS. Hope you’re feeling better!)

    • Jay 6th February 2015 / 8:06 pm

      Aw, thanks, Rob! You’re not so bad, yourself! 😉

      Everyone surely loves Bryce Canyon. It’s such a gorgeous place, and very photogenic. But it’s interesting that you should name the Tuscan restaurant as a favourite, because it was rejected on another photo site – I assume because the front wall was blown out, exposure-wise. I rather liked it like that, so I’m comforted to hear that you do, too!

      Yes, the family albums are a real treasure. Leafing through them from the forties to the sixties is a journey through time – and it’s a journey through my own past, too, of course.

  4. Secret Agent Woman 7th February 2015 / 2:16 pm

    My first camera was a Kodak instamatic, too, when I was a kid. I remember saving up my money for film, flashcubes and developing. So glad we have digital photography now! I didn’t really start carrying a camera wound until I started blogging in 2006.

    • Jay 7th February 2015 / 2:20 pm

      The Instamatic was the gateway to photography for so many people. It wasn’t a particularly good camera, but it was cheap and accessible, and easy to use. It filled its space in the market very well … but those flash cubes were expensive, weren’t they?

  5. Valerie Daggatt 8th February 2015 / 10:44 am

    I remember my dad’s cameras and in particular one he bought me when I was a youngster… it was a box camera and I loved it. It wasn’t nearly as complicated as some modern cameras.

    I love taking pictures, unfortunately I’m not very good at it. Yours are remarkable – you make me feel ashamed that I don’t attempt to improve. I have a great new camera so I promise to try and do better.

    • Jay 8th February 2015 / 11:30 am

      I’ve seen some great pictures taken on box cameras, but they certainly took a lot of skill to use.

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words! I did take a couple of photography courses, which did wonders for my understanding of f-stops and shutter speeds, depth of field and lighting, etc, but I feel I have quite a long way to go, and I stopped short of the digital course because at that time I didn’t have a digital camera. Now I wish I’d done all three. But one thing which has helped me enormously is simply taking a LOT of photos for my blog. The Depp Effect ran for five or six years, and it was a rare post that didn’t have multiple photos in it. You learn by doing.

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