Level Up

In Film, Inspiration
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Back in the olden days when technology evolved at a much slower pace, I was a read-the-manual before you load it with batteries, plug it in or push the button kind of customer. I worried, in hindsight probably too much, about breaking things before I knew how to use them properly. I’m not naturally inclined to dive in and play with new mechanical or technical tools and just figure things out as I go, but the rate of change seems to demand it, so reluctantly, I’ve come around to jettisoning the manual, charging up the device and assuming I’ll figure out what I need in turn.

Problem is old manual-reading me knows I’m leaving utility on the table. There’s much more my stuff can do than the bit and pieces I use, I’m absolutely certain of it, and sometimes that knowledge nags at me. I’ve had my beloved Pentax 645n for three years now, and it has felt like home since the very first roll. This camera, wearing its 75mm lens, basically sees the world as my eyes do, and I’ve found all of the controls and buttons extremely intuitive. So intuitive, in fact, that since the camera came to me used, (obvs, it’s a film camera, they all come used these days) I’ve never bothered to download, let alone read through the manual.

Early this winter I went down an internet rabbit hole, and searching for an answer about how to attach an accessory to the Pentax that had befuddled me a few times in the past, led me to, you know where this is going, don’t you? Right back to the beginning – the manual. Which, in turn, led to an ancillary, amazing discovery that one of the buttons I’d never had cause to investigate before was a multi-exposure button hidden in plain sight!

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I hadn’t realized that I could turn this functionality on for just a frame on this camera. I had incorrectly assumed that I had to shoot a whole roll of multiples at a time, which had always been more than I’d wanted, so I’ve limited my multiple adventures to 35mm up till now. I still recall my shock in going from a 35mm negative to my first roll of 120. It was stunning how much more visual information resided on that big, beautiful negative. Seeing these, my very first medium format multiples, hearkens back to that feeling for me. I’ve leveled up.

And now that I’ve downloaded it, you better believe I’m working through every single page of that darned manual!

Keep your eyes wide open,


  1. happy dance for you on learning this feature of your camera! your story makes me smile…how easy things are sometimes, when we’ve thought they were too hard. and something about this tells me that discovering the button/ feature came to you at just the right time. happy continued manual reading!

  2. That’s always the case with me – I go straight to fiddling without reading first…
    PS. I’m SO in love with that photo with the car and the neon lights! You need to print it in big!!

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