The History of Photography: 1975

by Matthew Cole
1974 The 1970s 1976

I Want To Direct
I Want To Direct: And Write. And Produce. Here we are on the set of 'Star Trak', actually the light booth at Valley High serving as the bridge of the USS Intercourse. From left to right you can see Chris Lucas (seated and out of focus, playing Ensign Solo), Carl Barrows as Ensign Deadmeat, Paul Salamon as Spot, Steve O'Brien as Captain Quirk and the crutch-hobbled Chris Lucas as Bone. Wearing white sweaters and shooting in a set all painted flat black turned out to be a challenge but fortunately the rest of the movie sucked too.

Make (write, photograph, direct, edit) lip-synched double-system sound Super 8 movie 'Star Trak' which, despite sucking really bad, actually teaches us a lot. It comes in way over budget, just like Hollywood, at $85. To fund this, we sell shares, which we craftily print on a mimeograph so that all the profits will be ours when the shares fade. My mom is a big buyer. Profits fail to materialize. Graduate from high school despite perhaps the most shameful episode of my academic career.

Buy a Vivitar 28 f/2.5 TX mount lens that summer after graduation. This lens will be a mainstay for four years but is not a very good lens. It is extremely flare-prone, not terribly contrasty and not overly sharp. Makes a great set with my Focal 135! Still, it's about all I can afford. Exchange my variable-leg tripod for another one a little heavier. Try out other cameras, particularly the Minolta SRT-101 and SRT-201. Buy a Yashica bellows at Woolco, try close-up stuff. Try Focal bounce flash unit (ASA 100 Guide Number of 80), but it is inadequately powered and is unsatisfactory. Get very horrible looking vinyl camera bag which has the cool feature of being usable as a changing bag through the device of having arm holes in the end pockets. I am unduly impressed with feature, which comforts me even though not once in the following 25 years am I ever going to need a changing bag.

Head to Iowa State. Join and start to run camera club, with junior high buddy Paul Salamon get big budget request approved, install wonderful colour darkroom in Friley Hall's UDA Camera Club. Start buying Dektol in 25 pound bags. Buy used Rolleicord Vb at Ames Stationers for $125. Begin desultory career on Iowa State Daily as a photographer although I am sneered at by older, Nikon-using photogs on staff. They get the cool assignments while I get the schmuck ones (e.g., they photograph President Ford while I take the pictures to accompany the man-in-the-street article about "why aren't you at the speech?", they get ISU/Nebraska, I get ISU/Kansas State). I would be less sensitive to equipment barbs if I didn't have to send the stupid Fujica ST-801 in four times to get shutter fixed. Vividly recall freezing bike ride into downtown Ames to get camera. I think they finally replaced the body. My shutter speed dial rebuilding skills still come in useful. Read review in November (?) 1975 Modern Photography about Vivitar 283 and decide it sounds like the ideal flash. I still more or less think this.

More Photo Hints from 1975

Dress For Success
Dress For Success: Here's Steve taking pictures. You gotta love the belt and the camera strap. It's so 70s it's probably back in fashion. I think this is one of the camera bags that doubles as a changing bag, a feature with which I was unduly impressed.Fujica ST-801, 135mm f/2.8 Focal, Kodachrome 64
Have Fun With Your Shutter Open
Have Fun With Your Shutter Open: I suppose now if a couple of 18 year olds dressed in black jumped the fence at the Des Moines airport and set up tripods out in the middle of the airfield someone would come and take a look and maybe a shot or two. In 1975 we weren't noticed or at least were just left alone.Fujica ST-801, 50m f/1.8, Kodachrome 64
More Fun with the Shutter Open
More Fun with the Shutter Open: At one point years earlier we'd been too poor to buy both model rockets AND model rocket engines. Steve and I came up with the expedient of gluing balsa fins directly on the Estes engines (at an angle--this was critical, it turned out) and launching them out of a cardboard tube he'd gotten a Porsche poster in. We called this the Mazooka. It was an easy matter to cram three (illegal) firecrackers fuse-down in the front of the engine for added sound effects. Every once in a while we'd resurrect it for old times' sake. You can see in this photo, with the Mazooka mounted atop one of my cheesy tripods, how stable the flight path of these projectiles was. Also, looking at this photo from the stodgy viewpoint of middle age, this seems awfully close to Mr. O'Brien's nice shiny car. Also wish I'd kept some of that hair! Practika Super TL, lens unknown, probably Kodachrome 64, photo by Steve O'Brien

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