Snap 3

The biggest problems with people’s snaps were ‘out of focus’.

Well, that’s what you would assume. Sometimes, the camera was indeed not focused properly – those simple cameras had fixed lenses and worked in a given range reasonably acceptably, but too close and it failed. Some, like the one in the previous post, had a simple switch that did help a little.

Sometimes the cameras were simply broken, or there was yuck on the lens.

But, for the most part, ‘out of focus’ meant camera movement. The shutter of the camera has to be open for a certain amount of time to allow the light in for a perfect exposure, and moving the camera in that time, which would only be a fraction of a second in daylight but could be longer in dark conditions, makes a smeary picture.

When I was learning how to take decent pictures, I was always told:

  • hold the camera with both hands
  • feet slightly apart
  • arms by your body, tucked in
  • hold your breath for a fraction of  second
  • wait a fraction of a second after the pic is taken
  • use a tripod at night, or some other stable surface, if possible

Having a camera with an eyepiece/viewfinder is essential, I think. A camera with only an LCD screen means you have to hold it away from your body, increasing the chances of shake. But, since, with a digital camera, you can take thousands of pictures until you get it right at no cost, it should be easier to take sharp pictures, shouldn’t it?

Snap 2

People would bring their exposed films before we closed at 10pm. The manager would drop them into the nearby processing house, George Stocks, surely long gone, and they would be delivered back by tea time the next day.

Then we did a slightly naughty thing. The manager would go through all the packs quickly to look at the snaps. There were several reasons for this.

Firstly, to identify any consistent issues, under or over exposure, out of focus, poor flash etc, so we could advise the customer what they were doing wrong.

Secondly, to find a nice picture with recognisable people on and put it to the front of the pack. So, when the customer came in and we opened the pack to say “Are these yours?” (mix ups could happen) they could see a nice picture of someone they could recognise, be happy and then pay up the fairly high cost of developing and printing needed.

On a good day we could get sack loads of film in for processing.

Snap 1

I used to work at a camera shop by the seaside. In truth, it wasn’t a camera shop like Jessops. We catered for the people on the beach, so we did sell cameras, mostly Kodak Instamatic, some Polaroid and others, but we sold lots of film, postcards, batteries and other bits you would need on holiday eg sun cream.

On a busy Sunday, when the sun was shining, we could sell literally a van load of film. We would run out. Mostly it was the 126 format. I can still remember the routine:

  • Black and white or colour?
  • Prints or slides?
  • 12 or 20?
  • Kodak or Agfa?

99% of the time it was Kodak (recognisable in the yellow box) colour prints. 68p or 81p. 20 prints seems better value, but there’s processing to be added. Sometimes we asked about film speed too.

The little cameras were simple but pretty foolproof. Some people thought they were instant pictures, but no, instant loading, in daylight, unlike the slightly more tricky 35mm format. But there were many others. Agfa Rapide was my favourite.

Taking the camera onto the beach could be a problem. There were little holes in the film and a small pin that would ‘lock’ the film as you wound on, when it reached the right place. Sand could get into the camera and the pin would stick, so the film just kept winding. Really, you needed to dismantle the camera and give it a good clean. When you’re on the beach having fun, you don’t want that. Plus, it’s too expensive.

The cameras were brought in and we did what we could, at no charge, but I remember the manager failing more often that succeeding. Until one day, when he put the camera rather firmly onto the counter. “I bet that’s fixed it”, I remarked, and it had. The grit was dislodged. It was a temporary fix, but it worked nearly all the time.

Eurovision – the result

It was a very exciting contest. The songs were generally better than usual, the lack of silly performers a refreshing change, a majority of female performers, I think, with deep cut cleavage being the order of the day. I missed the lack of enormous video screen at the back – it has been responsible for many great shows.

Congratulations to Israel for winning. On the night, she really gave it all.

We voted for Lithuania, which was a rather quiet and rather sad little song.

And the voting, which is the best part of the show, gets shortened every year, but even so the show ran nearly four hours. Perhaps they could remove the interval acts? And since it’s presented in English, why do we need a UK commentator talking in English over people explaining things perfectly clearly anyway. And he was talking over the songs!

As you may have seen, the much hyped UK entry did not do well. We were third from bottom. Had we been made to compete in a semi-final, we may not even have got through to the final.

During the song, some man ran onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted a message. You have to wonder what the security people were doing. The singer, SuRie, was given another microphone and finished the song, and was offered an opportunity to sing it again, but declined. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a bad song, and she sang it OK. Another exposur does help people get used to the song, and she may have done better than she actually did. Perhaps she declined because she already knew it was a lost cause.