As we transition from one season to the next I am reflecting upon one of the highlights of the summer for me. It came in the guise of a serendipitous “development” that was years in the making. One languid weekend afternoon Linda and I wandered into a local consignment shop we had been meaning to visit as we were looking for a table. An antique trunk caught my eye so I lifted the lid and discovered a large camera bag buried beneath some cloth.
And upon closer inspection, I soon realized the treasure trove that was hidden within the bag: not one but two Canon A-1 film cameras, five Canon professional lenses, a Canon flash system and tripod, and assorted Canon lens filters and caps—all of which I got for the incredible price of $30! I was able to get batteries locally but had to order the black and white film I am planning to use with it from B&H Photo in New York City for another $30, but now I am all set.
I got the kit inspected and appraised by a couple of world class photographers associated with the prestigious Maine Media school here. They agreed that it was quite the deal, especially given its exquisite condition, and said it was worth several hundreds of dollars, if not more. And upon hearing of my experience a while later, a professional photographer friend of mine GAVE me a third Canon A-1 another person had given to him!
So, why am I sharing this story with you all? I simply hope to encourage each of you to keep alive whatever dream you may have in your heart, be it an artistic one such as mine, or another type. You see, I had dreamed for years of getting a professional grade camera like a Canon but I could not justify the cost and I was intimidated by the technical aspects like aperture settings, etc. But not only was this camera kit the deal of the century, the A-1 was the first single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera with programmable settings for relative newcomers like me.
In case you are as curious about the backstory of the bag as I was, here it is. The shopkeeper said the bag remained in that trunk for three years after a widow dropped it off upon her beloved husband’s death. Apparently, the couple were IBM executives who traveled the world and spared no expense for state-of-the-art photography equipment. Not only was the Canon A-1 revolutionary when it was released but it is still regarded as one of the very best cameras ever made. And for this photographer, the passage of time served to preserve an invaluable treasure.