My Photographic Journey by Greg Arnold

I’ve never been a talented photographer, my fascination has 90% been directed at the equipment and generally it was the gear that led me getting a few nice images. Like my Dad, it was the photo-mechanical process that I was most fascinated by.

When Dad moved to 35mm I was given his 120 roll and 1/4 plate cameras. I learnt to fold out and lock the bellows (pin holes taped up with insulation tape). Wind the knob till the next frame number appeared in the red window and rotate the 1/2” x 3/4” right angle 'focused mirror' finder to landscape/portrait. Once that was all done you were ready to take a light reading.

My first meter was an old Gossen that had opposing scales (like a slide rule) and pressing a button had the scales move relative to each other and ‘lock’. Forget taking any reading in low light. It was only ever going to get you into the 'ball park' for exposure and lots of hand shading and repeated readings were required to confirm an exposure setting. There was so much preparation to trying to get a usable exposure, let alone a decent composition but it didn’t matter, I loved the gear and the process... While the other kids had Brownie 127’s, I had a tilt/shift Ensign.

Neighbours gave me their old cameras and lightmeters for my collection and Dad showed me how to process the film and do prints with an old enlarger "on loan” from his business partner. At about 10 years old, the obsession was forming. Within a week of enrolment at Vic, I had the club darkroom in use and senior student photographers I admired.

From Uni. days (on a budget) through to my late 20’s when I was earning good money, my cameras changed and with each change, my photography went in different directions. A ($16) TLR (cost of the repair from a camera shop) at 19 sent me off looking for ‘perspective', a Takkumar bellows introduced me to the world of macro and the maths for working out exposures (preTTL metering) and my first super telephoto is (presently) showing me the magic of subject isolation.

By my mid 20’s (and after having owned about 50 cameras) I was enjoying using a Nikon F2s and a Mamiya C330 Pro. A board over the bath in a flat on Tamaki Dr., was my Dark Room. I sold everything I owned, (including all my camera gear) to scrape together a deposit on a first home and lived camera-less for a long time.

Some years later I shifted to the Wairarapa and through a pro photographer friend, I purchased some 2nd hand film gear. First an Olympus, then Contax (shouldn’t have let those lenses go) and then later still, Minolta.


The Olympus OM-1 (1972- ) and the Nikon F.  (1959-73)
The Olympus OM-1 (1972- ) and the Nikon F. (1959-73). By Greg Arnold

Pete was using and had steered me to Minolta because of his Dad’s friendship with the local Minolta Service Agent. Minolta was a much underrated camera manufacturer, with an interesting history of “fantastic” MF cameras (XK,XE,XD,CL) before, and (CLE) after their business ve