Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Magimatic

I've mentioned before that as a kid, I had a Magimatic camera. It was a point-and-shoot device that took 126 cartridge film, and it made terrible pictures. As I recall, it took a lot of force to push the button, particularly as the camera got older, and that inevitably resulted in movement and blur.

Still, I used the Magimatic for nine years, from 1974 to 1983. I documented nearly my entire childhood on that camera.

Having bought my film scanner, I've been exploring my old negatives and retrieving some lost shots. What I've learned is that I don't have a whole heck of a lot worth retrieving! But here are a few I can share with you.

Above, my friend Theresa, pointing her Polaroid (I think?) at me, sometime in the mid-'70s. I guess we were taking a picture of each other taking a picture. How meta!

I remember taking this picture of weeds near our back porch. I was enamored with the bright sunlight on the green, leafy plants, the long strands of grass and the dark shadows. And I distinctly remember being so disappointed with the picture when it came out. It does indeed look like a picture of nothing.

When I went to summer camp in the mid-'70s I painted a toucan in ceramics class. I loved my toucan, even though it had a broken tail, and I took it with me each of the next few years when we went on beach vacations. I made it our beach mascot. Well, the year I took this terrible photo, I accidentally left the toucan behind in the condo we rented. So this is the only record of my toucan.

(A side note -- sometimes the negative scanner gives really funky color results. I wrestle with adjustments and even then I often can't get it exactly right. And look how badly that negative has deteriorated!)

Utah welcomes you! From a 1983 cross-country car trip with my dad, stepmother and brother.

From the same trip, here's the front entrance of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. You can barely see my dad, stepmother and brother on the steps at right. My brother is checking out the fountain, which as I recall featured statues of women with water spurting from their breasts. I don't think I'm making that up.

Finally, this bizarre photo was taken for a high school science project in the early '80s. I was trying to show the effect of various detergents on bean seedlings. As I recall, I fudged my data by simply abandoning the beans when we went on vacation and then declaring that they had died as a result of detergent exposure. I don't remember what grade I got, but I passed.

Anyway, I kind of like the picture -- I think I was photographing the beans (carefully numbered, you will notice) through a piece of glass. (Why?!) The glass picked up a dreamy reflection of our neighborhood.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

Yes - I like that last picture. Quite surreal. As for the statues in the Las Vegas fountain - surely they were squirting forth milk and not water? Just a thought.

e said...

I had my Uncle's old Brownie camera as a kid from which I too produced terrible photos long since gone...for some reason I seem to remember taking lots of pictures of neighbors pets while at my grandmother's house. Your photos improved with time. Mine did not.

Jennifer said...

Great post! The last photo is my favorite.

Ms. Moon said...

How odd it must be to see things like the toucan suddenly emerge from darkness and time! The most telling point of this post is that you were so very interested in photography all of those years ago. I love that!
And also- as the shot of the leaves proves- you paid a lot of attention to shadows and to light.

Anonymous said...

I love that you were out there photographing and documenting your world from such a young age. That is so cool. I didn't start taking photos until I divorced my first husband who was THE photographer of the family. Your photos make me wish I started much earlier. Love the toucan and the science project!

Linda Sue said...

This post inspires me to get out my box of childhood photos , the ones that are terrible but for some reason still around. I love the toucan shot with the deterioration, you can not fake a shot like that! A keeper! As are the lined up bean plants, sad story...for the beans. Such a fun and inspiring post, Steven, Thank you!

Sharon said...

How fun! I have so many negatives in boxes, I don't know where I'd begin with a project like this. That picture of the MGM Grand looks familiar. I'm sure I was in Las Vegas one or two times in the 80's, I know I must have seen the place when it still looked like that.

37paddington said...

You, like me, feel the impulse to record the life around you in pictures, and it is an impulse that began in grade school. i wonder what it stems from, this feeling that everything must be preserved in photographs. i feel it still, often to my family's chagrin. i love seeing your early childhood reflections.

ellen abbott said...

that's pretty cool. photography has been a big part of your life forever.

jenny_o said...

These are so intriguing. I love old photos and often wish I could step through the frame and go back to that moment, just for a minute or two.

I would have mourned that toucan - or anything I left behind by accident!

And bean science projects. Yeah. I did one with different amounts of salt in the water. Every single plant died once the salt hit them. So your conclusions sound pretty solid to me :)