In 1947, for my seventh birthday, mom and dad bought me a little Kodak Brownie Camera.
Remember the white circle around the lens?
That "tiny" camera (about three times as large as today's small digital) took eight precious black and white pictures on 127 roll film.
And my life was never the same.
Not long thereafter, I taped up the unused coal chute in the house so it wouldn't leak light and cleaned out, as best a seven-year-old could, our unused basement coal room.
Tearing the back off of an old camera, I glued the bellows onto a wooden box I had fashioned to contain a 100 watt light bulb.
Thus I had my first enlarger.
The paper had to be exposed for five or ten minutes and wisps of smoke curled up
as the walls of the light-tight wood enclosure charred. Luckily, the bellows themselves
never caught on fire!
The coal dust never burst into flame, and the apparatus made decent prints as long as no one walked up above the basement darkroom causing fine coal dust from ceiling and wall
to drift down onto the prints
or into developer trays.
I grew to love the smell of fixer and developer and spent many happy hours
in the coal darkroom.
And I have loved taking pictures ever since.
Now, I travel all over giving presentations and I'm old enough to truly appreciate, as younger people never could, the digital technology that is able to turn a simple laptop computer and a seat in an airplane into the fantasy color darkroom of my childhood dreams.
As I sit today at the computer and play with my pictures I am seven years old again,
having fun with a portrait or scene, every one a reflection of God's creation.