Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Kodak Instamatic

My first introduction to photography came with a VP Twin - a small plastic camera sold by Woolworths until 1959 that took 127 roll film. They were messy to load were roll films - especially for a five-year-old. So a few years later I got a Christmas present of Kodak's brilliant new invention: the Instamatic.

The Instamatic 50 was launched in 1963 in the UK and was the first ever Instamatic camera taking Kodak's new format 126 film which came in a plastic cartridge that you just dropped into the back of the camera without having to be careful in case you got the film fogged by light. (In America the Instamatic 100 was the first model.) Controls were kept to a minimum. Top left is a metal bar that presses to take a picture. On the front is a sliding bar for taking pictures in bright sunshine or an overcast day. The setting for an overcast day could be used for flash photography - this requiring a separate flashgun that took little blue bulbs full of magnesium wire that when triggered exploded with a bright light that burned so hot the glass bulb melted and bubbled.

On the side of the camera was a lever for winding on the film. Unlike a roll film camera, where it was possible to be over-enthusiastic and wind the entire film by mistake, the camera used holes in the film to tell when enough film had been wound on and it then cocked the shutter and locked the lever so no film was wasted. Also the little triangle is the lever for opening the back of the camera for loading and unloading film cartridges. So a few photos from my Instamatic...

The very first photo I took with the camera some time in 1964 was this waterfall near Gisburn which was in Yorkshire at the time. In 1974 they decided it would be in Lancashire where it has been ever since, but I expect that a mini War of the Roses was in the offing at the time...

Every photo on that very first film had an interesting green stripe flanked by pink stripes either side, running horizontally along the bottom of the photo. It was probably caused by a bit of dust scratching the film...

Carnarvon Castle. It took many months to take a full film of 12 or 20 photos, mainly because it cost money to have them developed and printed. "That's enough now - save your film for something else..." The colour photos on this entry were taken on Kodachrome film which was a colour transparency (slides) film and the cost of the film included processing. The film cartridge came with an envelope for sending the exposed cartridge to Kodak's laboratories in Hemel Hempstead where it was processed, cut and the square images mounted in cardboard slide mounts printed with the month and year (sometimes so faint as to be invisible) and each slide numbered.

Also in Wales, these are the Swallow Falls at Betys-y-Coed. Taken in 1966 by my brother Frank (who would have taken any of these photos featuring me) it has the distinction of being the last photograph ever taken of me wearing short trousers. I was not allowed to wear long trousers until I was 13, whether for being dressed up or for everyday use. At 12 I was allowed a pair of jeans for play, but they were definitely not allowed for such formal things as meeting relatives or being taken to the shops etc.

Again courtesy of Frank here I am, aged 12 on holiday in Weston-Super-Mare, with a plastic battery-operated boat, knees that speak of having just been on the beach and foot stopping my football from rolling away. My mobile phone and tablet must have been in my pocket or held by Frank...

Blackpool, possibly during a day trip to see the Illuminations but it is possible this was an overnight or several nighter. It was September 1966 and I was 12½ here and starting to get to that awkward stage - "playing" was starting to come second to eyeing up the opposite sex.

The following year we were in Cheddar Gorge. You could probably take exactly the same photograph today - but it wouldn't have all those gorgeous 1960s cars in it!

Christmas dinner at my Grandma and Grandad Burke's house. Pictured L-R are half of Gt Auntie Elsie, my Grandma's sister, Gt-Gt Auntie Florrie, Gt Uncle Percy (Elsie's husband), Gt Grandma Brierley (mother to my Grandma Annie and Auntie Elsie) and Gt Auntie Cissie who was my Grandad's sister and called Mary really but she hated being called Mary as most people in Lancashire rhymed it with furry and she was always known as Cissie.

I have two abiding memories of Auntie Cissie from my younger days. One: that she had a tiny terraced house in Castleton, Rochdale that had an outdoor privy with a long drop to an open sewer 40 feet below. I was always petrified of falling down it and even getting to the privy meant pushing my way through tall stalks of what would have been magnificent rhubarb. Again at that age when it grows to above your head, you tend to remember it rather differently! Two: I loved tinned salmon (still do) but Auntie Cissie would never take the bones out, she believed they were good for you and just mashed them up so that you suddenly bit on a vertebrae or, worse, pierced the roof of your mouth with the pointy end of a fish rib... Ah the good old days...

They also brought out black and white film for the Instamatic and I got interested in developing and printing my own photos, which was both fun and very rewarding. The go-karts are at Heysham Head near Morecambe, a sort of fun park-cum-holiday park now long gone.

Margate, either 1966 or 67 I think. I wasn't as good at the time at labelling photos... We used to stay in a hotel in Cliftonville which had a half-sized snooker table in the lounge. Although perhaps my best memory of Margate has something to do with it being the place where I got my first brief cuddle with a young lady... Rosemary of Welwyn Garden City... Never to be seen again...

Also never to be seen again are the station buildings at Milnrow Railway Station. Once a stop on the line from Rochdale to Manchester Victoria it is now a tram halt with the platforms decorated so I am told by simple shelters. I remember it with a ticket master, station master and waiting rooms that would have roaring warm fires in winter. Progress...

And I'll finish with a photo that I can date to the exact day. The Avro Vulcan at the very first Woodford Air Show, 29 June 1968. The photo shows just how close the public were allowed to get to aircraft.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments must be passed by moderator before appearing on this post.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...