By Norris Chambers

             There was a time, many years ago, when there were no digital cameras. Now lucky youngsters can snap a picture with a telephone, an ipod, a harmonica, a pencil or just about anything except an old shoe. And it’s quite likely that will be one of the next new gadgets. Once the picture is snapped it can be put on a computer or special printer and any size print rolled out immediately. The file can be sent by email to just abut anywhere and if it doesn’t look just right it can be edited. Special computer programs make all sorts of thing possible. One time I took a nice picture of our senior band and put the same guy’s face on every picture.

                        Some things were possible back in the old days. I had an uncle who took a picture of an old Model T truck and loaded it down with three turnips. He took the same truck picture and filled the whole bed with one head of cabbage. They called these double exposures and they were made with an enlarger. In making these pictures he projected the truck negative on a sensitive sheet of photographic paper then projected a negative of the turnips or cabbage over the bed area. When the paper was developed both pictures were printed and it looked like the vegetables were on the truck bed. It’s much easier with a computer.

                        Clifton and I did many things but we did not become interested in photography during our developing years. I wish we had, then we might have pictorial records of the many things we built and some of the crazy things we did.

                        I did become interested in making pictures about the time the war effort started and steady jobs became available. I had an old box camera that I had made a few pictures with in previous years. Film for these cameras was on rolls and usually made either eight or twelve pictures on a film roll. A winding key on the side turned the firm and a number was visible through a red window on the back of the camera that indicated which picture was being made. The most popular film sizes were #120 or #116. These sizes made a convenient sized snapshot. The 116 was a little larger than the 120. These film sizes were later changed to 616 and 620.  There were smaller and larger sizes for different cameras, but these two sizes were more common.

                        After Ella and I moved to San Antonio and our first daughter was born, we bought our first expensive camera. It was a 616 and cost $11.95!  When we began making pictures with the camera I first became interested in developing the film and making the prints. In those days pictures were black and white – no color yet.

                        It is really a pretty simple process. A developing kit was available at a very reasonable cost and contained a small developing tank, plastic pans, a set of tongs,

            two large polished sheets called ferrotype plates, some developing powder and a bottle of fixer. The developing tank was a round plastic can with a removable lid with a small hole in the center.

                        Developing and printing the pictures was a pretty simple process. The whole operation had to be performed in the dark or in a room lighted with red light. The film was not sensitive to red. The negative was formed by developing the film and the prints were made by exposing the photographic paper to a light through the negative. The pictures were the same size as the negative and made a very nice picture.                                                          

To mak           To make different sized pictures it was necessary to use an enlarger. This was an expensive item – even a cheap one was twelve or fifteen dollars. I owned several enlargers and many cameras after those first efforts.

                        Making pictures is fun. It can only be work when you make thousands of them like I did when I operated a printing shop and had to have negatives to make printing plates, rubber stamps, positives for screen printing, decals, signs, etc.

                        Like picture developing the computers have just about replaced cameras and film for printing and other graphic arts. Time changes everything.

                        When they come out with a camera in a soda straw I’ll be one of the first to photograph the bottom of a glass through five inches of fluid!

                        Get yourself a digital camera and get busy – there’s still fun out there!