Shoot like it’s 1979

rey spadoni

In 1979, I owned a Pentax K1000 film (of course) SLR camera with a Pentax 50/1.8 lens and a Vivitar 70-300 tele-zoom.  It was all the kit I ever thought I’d need and because I was headed off to college, where I hoped to shoot for the school newspaper (not knowing I would be co-photo editor by my Sophomore year), and had very little spending money, I shot… let’s say judiciously.  Film was, for me, quite expensive.  I often shot black & white mostly because I had a darkroom and had perfected my processing skills enough to save some serious money.  I bought film in bulk and loaded it onto spools so that I could shoot 24 or 36 images at a time without having to purchase commercially available canisters at retail prices.  Occasionally, I’d use color print film which meant incurring development and printing charges at the mail order processing plant.  It all cost money and because you couldn’t see immediately any results on a LCD screen in the back of the body, I was very careful.  24 or 36 would last all day.  Or longer.

All in all, it made me a better photographer.  I would choose my compositions and exposure carefully.  I would pay attention to critical focus.  Remember, the K1000 was an all manual camera, so paying attention to these things was not only helpful, it was completely necessary.  In a word, I shot deliberately.

Now that it’s… a few years hence… and we are graced with marvelous and heavily automated capture tools, I’ve learned to shoot differently.  Incremental film expense is a thing of the past and the cost of a bad photo is zilch.  You just shoot again (sure, you might miss THE critical shot, but as a landscape photographer, I note that the mountain will still be there for another few seconds longer).  Autofocus, electronic metering, automatic white balance, auto ISO selection, etc.  Bam: you just press the shutter button and spray all over your intended subject.  5 shots?  No problem.  10 shots?  Sure.  100 shots?  Whatever.  Cheap and easy.

A few days ago, I wrote about 5 lessons learned in the process of reviewing, image by image, my entire 44k+ image library.  I’d have to say that the biggest lesson, bar none, is that it’s time to go back to a more deliberate, a more 1979 style, of shooting.

rey spadoni

rey spadoni

I’m sure my photography will be better for it.  The 17, 000 or so images I trashed speaks to that fact.

So, I’m endeavoring now to shoot far less images when I head out.  My goal is to get just as many keepers, maybe more, and to slow my pace down so that I pay attention to what I’m actually capturing.  I expect it will be difficult at first, but I will keep at it.  It’s my 2014 photographic resolution.

You’ve heard the famous Ansel Adams quote about making, not taking, images.  It has finally dawned on me exactly what that means.

And so, off I go.

rey spadoni

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18 Responses to Shoot like it’s 1979

  1. I remember those days. 1979 was the year I got married and developing film of my children in the 80’s was expensive. It was so disappointing when they didn’t turn out and you had to wait a week for them. I like your advice about the deliberate shooting. I think I might join you in 2014. Great post :).

  2. I, too, used a Pentax K1000 for my photo class with Suzanne Camp Cosby…way back in the day…loved that little jewel.

    • Rey says:

      Dennis – I wish I had never sold mine. I practically gave it away for a song as I thought my photography-days were behind me. Big mistake.

      You know then that the K1000 was quite the ‘little jewel’. Mine was SE (special edition), clad with faux brown leather grip. Loved that thing…


  3. Steven Tryon says:

    1979, you say? My c1935 Welta Weltur and c1965 Yashica-D aren’t sure about all this new-fangled 1979 stuff.

    What you describe is what pulled me back into the film world and what keeps me there. Slow down. Make each shot count. Get out the light meter and think about what you are doing.


  4. nutsfortreasure says:

    Still have my camera just like it! I also am trying slow the pace. ENJOY your time out shooting.

  5. ’79 was a pivotal year for me, as well. Although I wasn’t into photography at that time, I appreciated good shooters. Your images are keenly done, especially the B & W photos. Thanks for taking us back a few decades!

  6. Dianne says:

    I still have my Pentax K1000! It was my first serious camera back in the early 80’s. I think making my shots more deliberate is going to be my 2014 resolution. I must admit I have gotten a little sloppy with the ease of digital. Great post!

  7. Pingback: Pentax K1000 – Before the Digital Era | Night Vision Films

  8. Ray says:

    Hey Rey,

    I had a K1000 in high school and college too before moving up to an FE2 (I think that was Nikon’s model number) a few years later. I was a few years ahead of you, hitting college in 1976. I was the “sports photographer” in high school and can’t tell you how many night-time football games I shot with that 50 f1.8.

    I find that for some types of shooting and with some cameras, I still tend to shoot pretty deliberately and carefully. And with other tools for other types of shooting, I shoot a lot more and more quickly. It’s nice to do both – I don’t think I’d want to limit myself to ONLY shoot like I did back then, but it’s a good practice to maintain, at least part time.

    Glad to see you guys are still at it with the blog. I haven’t stopped by in a while, but was going through some bookmarks and saw yours and gave it a click. Some really nice content here. I’m gonna try to make it more of a point to drop by.

    Hope all is well,


    • Rey says:

      Hi Ray – thanks for stopping by. Nice hearing from you.

      Life has occasionally interrupted, but Ed and have kept at the blog. Readership has continued to be good and so that has been a very good motivator.

      Hope you’re well.

      What are you shooting with these days?


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