Tag Archives: sunset

Passing the Baton


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My twelve year old son Jack at the Seal Beach Pier.  He just began taking pictures at this time and I wanted to capture that moment.  I guess that’s the photographer in me.

With all the researching, translating and documenting I’ve done on our family history during the past several years, I’ve come to the realization I was living in the past.  And as time marched by, I wanted more time…but now, that time has gone.

I reflected on the near future; in the past month, things have changed.  Things that cannot be undone.  And I realized, too, that in addition to passing on what I’ve learned about our family history through these blogs, I need to pass the baton on as well for tomorrow.  Small things.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve held a camera in my hand… from the time I was perhaps eight years old.  I vividly recall looking down on the ground glass of my dad’s Rolleiflex TLR.  And I know it was my grandmother or aunt who sent me a “Fujipet” 120 film camera from Japan as a gift.  It had a plastic lens.  There were two levers, one on either side of the lens; you pressed one down with your left finger to cock the shutter.  Then with your right finger, you pressed the other lever “to take the shot”.  I took a bazillion shots during our 1964 road trip to Chicago and burned through a lot of 120 film.  I don’t think mom was too happy.

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I’m in the center; dangling from my neck is the Fujipet 120 film camera. The “model” on the left is my cousin Jane.  Chicago, circa 1964.

When I was twelve, I spent a summer in Tokyo; I was born there.  My Aunt Eiko got me my first “real” camera: a Canon Demi-S.  It shot 35mm film but in “half-frame”.  In other words, if you had a 36-shot roll of film, you would get 72 shots – plus about four or five more at the end.  I loved it.  It even had a built in light meter, a soft case and a wrist strap.  It went everywhere I went.  I even bought yellow and red filters.  I used it to take photos of the TV set when Armstrong landed walked on the moon…but none of the images came out because I wanted to use my new fancy-schmancy electric strobe with a DC cord.  I got great pictures of our RCA color TV, though.  LOTS of great pictures of our TV set.  But on one – just one – you can BARELY make out Armstrong as he stepped of the Lunar Module.

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The Canon Demi-S, complete with the soft case. Under the lens, there is even a filter that enhances skin tones when shooting color.

While I did take one class in photography, everything else was self-taught through the years.  Trial and error.  That means lots of moolah down the drain…literally.  I had a full darkroom in my parent’s house at one time.  I must have developed and processed over a thousand rolls and printed thousands of pictures.  While I did win a few contests in sports photography, I never learned the critical things that define a pro…like my bud Alan Miyatake (but I did best him in ONE contest. LOL).

Since becoming a young adult, I’ve always been the “photographer”…  taking pictures at events, parties, of this and that…  I don’t know if I was any good at it but people always seemed to ask me to take photos.  Perhaps because I took them for free.  But finally, I took snapshots at my own daughter’s wedding…and not someone else’s daughter for a change.

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As I was taking my kids back to their mother’s two weeks ago, my twelve year old son surprised me by asking if he can have a “real” camera.  Totally out of the blue but I was happy.  He wanted to take pictures like his old man.

So yesterday, we headed towards the nearby beach; he wanted to take pictures of the sunset!  I handed him my (getting old) Canon DSLR and monopod and while in the car, I gave him a crash course on shutter speed, f/stops,  and ISO.

But he asked, “But don’t you just push the button, Papa?”

So with temps in the high 50’s (cold for us here) and a chilling wind, I gave him some basic instructions and I left him pretty much alone.

He took on his own challenge.

Here are a few of his photos; sure, I edited them a bit but he did darn well for his first time.

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Must be in his genes.

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As I watched Jack from a distance in that chilling wind, feelings of being alone and lament swirled.  Sadness that time has surged by with tomorrows dwindling.  It felt as if I was looking at myself…  fifty years ago… with that Fujipet camera with a plastic lens dangling from my neck.

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My son Jack must be thinking of his next shot…

I hope he continues.  The family needs a photographer.