Wednesday, March 09, 2011


You know how when you sign up for Blog spot you are asked to fill in your interests and when other people search for people who share their interests they may eventually end up at your blog through browsing profiles. Well I browse profiles quite often but in most instances when I've clicked on some one's profile with the same interests as mine they very seldom write about what they have said interests them but write about other topics. I'm guilty of this too and so have decided to take one subject at a time and write about the things that I have filled in on my profile. So without further ado let me start with the first interest in my profile: Photography.
When I think back to when I was about 19 or 20 I remember a girlfriend I had at that time, Debbie Barber. Debbie had a brother called Ian. Mr and Mrs Barber and their two children lived on a commercial chicken farm about half way between Johannesburg and Pretoria. How I came to know them I can't remember but we spent a lot of time in each others company, especially Debbie and I. Ian was younger than Debbie but we were friends too and started playing around with photo negatives and doing contact prints in black and white.
In those days digital cameras were not yet invented and colour was not yet well developed.
My father had a Richoflex twin lens camera, which took a 6x6 neg roll, and enjoyed black and white photography so getting hold of unexposed neg was not a problem, it's a lot more difficult these days, you now have to go to one of the more specialist photography suppliers. Times have really changed haven't they?
Contact printing involves taking the developed negative, fixing it to a sheet of unexposed photographic paper, exposing it to light for a second or two and then developing it with chemicals. I can't remember what the chemicals were but I'm sure someone can remind me in the comments section. Everything took place in a cupboard at the Barber's house which we had sealed with some sort of tape to keep the light out. As can be imagined Debbie spent a lot of time in the cupboard with us and when the lights were out was always a good time for a kiss or two. Anyway we all loved printing pictures and it wasn't long before we built our first pinhole camera. If I remember correctly it was Ian's idea.

We took a cardboard box, not too big, and in our little "darkroom" fixed a short piece of unexposed negative to the inside of the box and then sealed it up to keep the light out. We then made a pin hole in the opposite face which we covered with a piece of black insulation tape. Then out into the wide wide world to take our first picture. Great excitement and anticipation. I think our first picture was taken in a "donga", a place where water seeps out of the ground on a hillside forming a tiny little rivulet before joining others to eventually form a stream. Well we got down on our knees and sort of aimed the box in such a way that the pin hole was facing the rivulet, removed the tape for a second or two, closed it again and headed back to our cupboard. Here we opened the box, removed the negative and dumped it in the chemicals for a specified time, once again my memory fails me with times and things.
When we eventually took the negative out of the chemicals and switched the light on again lo and behold, there before our eyes was a picture on the negative. By this time we had already installed a red working light. We could see something there but obviously everything was in the negative form and it wasn't until we had done a contact print that the true wonder of what we had captured became evident.
WOW! Here was this incredible landscape with huge boulders and waterfalls stretching over vast distances and completely in focus. We were amazed. The place we had taken the picture was no bigger than about 6 square inches.

Time for a quick hug and a kiss and get outside again to take another picture.We loved it and spent almost every afternoon after school doing photography.
Unfortunately with all the moves I've done over the years I no longer have those pictures. What a pity.
I eventually acquired my own enlarger, tanks and trays and with the support of my amazing father became quite proficient at not only taking pictures but developing them too. Unfortunately I lent my equipment to a friend of
mine and never saw it again. Photography became very expensive for me, being a single parent, so my photography took a back seat in my life but with the advent of digital photography has once again come to the fore. I miss the excitement and exhilaration of doing my own development and printing but I too have learned to move with the times.
 Maybe one day when I win the lottery I may go back to developing and printing, in the mean time I will take pleasure in the versatility and affordability of digital photography. Thank you Lord for digital cameras.


  1. That is so neat Geoff! I sure wish you had those original photos to share with us. It's a pity that you never got your equipment back. Been there and done that!
    My husband used to develop his own photos too, before we met. He was quite into photography way back when. My first camera was a Baby Brownie. I was about 10 years old and went around taking pictures of everything!
    I wonder whatever became of your friends?
    Love Di ♥

  2. Di.
    Oh wow I'm still trying to adjust this post and here you are commenting already. My friend is still in the country and we do speak to each other now and then but we lost contact for many years and as things happen the equipment went walk about somewhere along the way. Oh well, life goes on, no problem.
    Brownie cameras were mot available in this country at the time as we had sanctions imposed on us. Sanctions were actually a good thing in the end. South Africans of all colours became very resourceful and self sufficient.
    Keep smiling you're on camera. Love, Geoff.

  3. God's morning Geoff. I enjoyed your post on photography. I am sort of a digital camera buff myself. When I was working in law enforcement I had lots of practice photographing crime scenes. Now I like to take lots of pictures of my grandkids and scenery when my wife and I travel. God bless, Lloyd

  4. God's morning to you too Lloyd. Personally I would much rather take pictures of my grandchildren (If my children ever decide to give me some. Stupid Children! make babies already!!!!!!!!!) and travels than any crime scene. You must have learned a lot about lighting and composition through your work though.
    By the way I love my children and no they are not stupid, it's just that I ALSO WANT GRAND CHILDREN TOO. God bless my friend. Geoff.

  5. Geoff, you sure stirred up some old memories. When I was a kid my older cousin was into photography. I remember how fascinated I was watching him develop photos in the self made darkroom he constructed in his dad's garage. What a great time that was.

    Thanks for the memory :-)


  6. One of my passions is photography although I have so much to learn still. I find the photos that I thought were going to be just ok are some of my favorites. I like to do what I call "life photography". It's going thruogh life and having a camera handy at the right time. Those are the most precious push of a shutter . . . to capture a "moment".
    I so admire your creavtivty in making your own lightroom. No doubt the memories of your first photos are what inspire you to do more. And such a delight in that an occassional kiss to inspire the photographer. (smiling)
    In one of my homes in the past, the gentleman who lived there prior, had a very nice darkroom in the basement. However with no time (I had 4 children under the age of 4) and limited knowledge or equipment it never was used by me except to peek in occassionaly and dream.

  7. I never really got into photography when I was younger because it was so expensive. I remember having friends that would have the equipment for developing pictures and I thought it was pretty interesting. Digital has made everything so much easier and actually cheaper in that you don't waste so much, but you can just look on the computer to print what you want. But I still don't take many photos. Sad.

    Tossing It Out

  8. Ron:
    It's amazing how far back we can remember and how few bad things we do keep in mind isn't it. looking so far back makes it seem like we had such fun. And we certainly did. God bless, Geoff.
    One Woman's Thoughts:
    I think that just having a camera in my hands inspires me. After 25 or more years in the visual arts industry has had an impact on how I see things through a camera lens though. Keep pressing that shutter my photo friend.
    Sad? I don't know about that. Some people write and others paint. We all have our gifts from God. Yours is, as far as I can tell, writing. Don't feel too sad, I enjoy your writing. Geoff.

  9. My father was/is quite interested in photography and developed his own photos. I believe he had a camera just like the one in that advertisement. He had the enamel developing trays, the chems, etc. He even had a 'roller' sort of contraption that he would lay the developed photos on and hand crank it and they would dry. Cute story about the dark room, good thing you didn't mistake Ian for Debbie when stealing kisses... You shared a very interesting hobby here, Geoff, and you are still an excellent photographer!