Sunday, I went exploring with my Dad’s Canon AE-1. This one is the most valuable camera in my collection. It is the camera my Dad used to take picture of my siblings and I when we were kids. I knew it existed from one conversation we had in his backyard. I had my 35mm Canon Rebel with me, and we were comparing notes. It was the only thing I really wanted when he passed away.
This was just the second time I have ever used this camera in the 12 years I have had it. The first time was in 2010, and the AE-1 had just been repaired. It was wildly emotional outing that was heartbreaking for me. I only got a few pictures, but they really captured how I was feeling that day.
This time was different. The reasons I took it out were the same, but it was not something felt obligated to do this time. It still took a lot of time to get out there, and was very overwhelming to me. There is so much emotion wrapped up in this camera.
Whenever I pick up Dad’s camera, I can never get over the strap. It is a bright and colourful strap that is woven fabric on one side and strange vinyl like material on the other. It reminds me of a t-shirt I bought when I was at the CNE years ago. It was embroidered, with people holding hands around the world.
The camera is heavy and cold. It is slim, but solid too. It’s unlike my 7D which is lighter and warmer and much larger. It has a lever to advance the film, and and winder to pull back all the exposed film. Every piece if this camera has very different textures.
There is something about the way it smells. Even after all these years sitting out in the open at my house it is still like a time capsule of nostalgia. If you have ever been inside an antique shop you will know exactly what I mean. It is a little bit musty, mixed with equal parts of what I can only describe as an ink like odour.
Finally, I cannot forget about the way it sounds. The way the rings and connectors on the strap jingle whenever I move the camera, or the way they clank against the metal body. There is also a slight pop-pop-pop that is audible whenever I change the aperture setting, and a gentle rubbing noise when adjusting the focus.
However, the most beautiful noise is the shutter. When the shutter button is pushed, it fills me with anticipation. It makes a cha-ching like noise. It releases quickly and with enough force you can feel it, and then quickly springs back to place. That is then followed with a pull and a quick snapping noise to advance the film.
To be honest, I’m not sure if the pictures will turn out. I used some old and very expired film I had – Truly brand from Zellers. I am also not very familiar with how the camera works, seeing as it was only my second time shooting with it. Here is hoping for something good!