ouyama yo' mama

I bought this camera a loooong time ago on Oxford street from one of those scam auction shops. You know, the ones with some guy on a microphone selling ‘unbelievably cheap’ items to naiive onlookers.  The camera looked impressive to me at the time. It had a big flash gun, and a massive looking lens.  Besides, compared to my point and shoot Miranda, it looked like one of those ‘big cameras’ (SLRs) those professional guys used.  In my defence, I managed to haggle the price down to £45 from £60 I believe, which in today’s money is a mortgage deposit.  Besides, they threw in some fake Eternity cologne, a hair brush and plastic mirror.  Bargain! The regret started when I announced the purchase to my aunt later that day. She must have laughed for hours, but she was glad I only got taken for £45 and not much more.

I never used the camera for some reason. It just got put in storage where it laid dormant until this spring when I unearthed it in my clean out. I immediately put a roll through it, sent it off to be developed and got nothing but blank negatives back from the lab.  I tried again. Nothing. I must have been loading it wrong, or perhaps the sprockets were not being caught by the winding mechanism or whatever. One last chance before dumping it in the bin for all time.  I loaded the film and watched it wind with the back open.  So I exposed the first few frames, but I was sure the film advance mechanism was working. I also made sure I put in brand new AA batteries, which this thing is hungry for.

On a brisk, freezing walk from the ‘city’ to the ‘west end’ of London, I snapped away at random things of interest. Again, the objective was to see if this thing actually worked, and how well. It was only a 24 exposure AgfaPhoto Plus 200 from Poundland, so I didn’t feel too bad wasting the film.  To be honest, I felt a bit silly holding the huge awkward looking camera, and I did get noticed by some trendy teenagers who threw me a reserved smile now and again. The smiles were confirmed to be compliments as one of them finally approached me and declared ‘your camera looks awesome’.  Who’d have thunk it?

Two weeks later, today, the photos are back from the lab.  It appears that after decades, the joke is still on me. I could hear echoes of my aunt’s laughter propagating through the time-space continuum to torment me even today. Not only were most of the photos underexposed, the lens appears to be made of liquid rubber, rather than plastic. It’s supposed to be able to achieve f3.5, which was perfectly fine for the late afternoon overcast conditions, but alas!  I’m not sure if it’s the camera or the film, but the colours were way oversaturated too. I remember reading somewhere that film would do that when overexposed. 

There were one or two almost ok shots though. Noticeably, they were all close-ups which probably says something. And ironically, my favourite shot from the lot was the one taken in the worst light under a bridge with the silhouette of a pigeon and three people walking away.

So maybe I’ll just hand this monster to a hipster on the streets one day. Otherwise it’s heading for a landfill somewhere. Sayonara Ouyama!


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