Drawing With Light

I really dislike today's use it up, throw it away ideology. It has always irritated me, which I suppose is why I'm such a packrat. I have a hard time throwing away anything that has even the slightest potential use. But, I force myself to.

My main hobby these days is to restore old mechanical cameras. Except for the high-end professional models, cameras today are manufactured with plastic cases, nylon gears, thin stamped metal pieces and integrated circuit electronic controls. You can't really fix them. If one of these things stops working, you can yank out the screws and springs and reuse them, but the rest is pretty much just landfill. That's not true of old mechanical cameras. Back then, high-quality cameras were made with cast metal or steel bodies, precision machined brass and steel and complex glass lenses. I'm not talking about your old box camera, of course, but back in the 1950's and 1960's any real man-of-the house would know how to calculate an exposure and get a good picture without any fancy electronics. So, a good camera was made to last and was something that you bought once, serviced as needed, and used your whole life. In fact, a mechanical camera is just about impossible to wear out. The shutter is rated at around 20,000-30,000 exposures. So, you'd have to shoot a roll of film every day for around three years to even get close. Some professional photographers might wear out a camera, but the rest of us never would.

About the only thing that goes wrong with a mechanical camera is that is gets dirty and the lubricants shift around or dry out. Unless the camera has been dropped, all you have to do is take it apart, clean everything, lubricate and reassemble. What you end up with is basically a new camera that if you could buy today would sell for around $500-1,000. I get them on eBay for between $5 to $30.

So what does this have to do with anything? Glad you asked. I got started tinkering with old cameras because Jesus suggested it to me. It was a few years ago and I was getting depressed about the situation in the world, didn't have anyone to talk to about it, and was complaining to the Lord about why do I have to wait for certain events in my life to unfold? One night I heard in my mind "Why don't you try photography?" Pretty ludicrous, huh? Not really, because not only did this give me something to do to keep busy, the Lord wanted to teach me something with it.

Think about what I said about how you fix an old camera. Isn't this what the Lord does to us? Spiritually speaking, we weren't designed to "wear out" but were made to last through eternity. But, we get dirty, gummed up, stuck and bent out of shape. The Lord strips us down to uncover the problem, cleans everything up, straightens out the bent stuff then puts us back together right. So, I say to people, "Camera repair is a spiritual exercise." I'm not just messin' with old broken cameras, I'm studying the way the Lord works on me.

And one last thing: Photography means "drawing with light." Isn't that what God does? He draws out His creation, an image of himself, with the light of His love. Think about that tonight while you drift off to sleep. So, I realized much later that the Lord's suggestion to "try photography" really had a much deeper meaning; it wasn't really about taking pictures after all. Try "drawing with light", and then watch what "develops."


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