Mr. Olney's Diary

These days, everyone carries a camera. Take myself, for example. I'm known to carry around three with me at any one time, if you include the one in my phone, just in case I happen upon that perfect moment of candid spontaneity that usually creates the best photograph. It's a part of the every day, something we don't really think about so much. We point, we shoot and we upload to our computers to share with our friends. Thousands of preserved memories, at the very tips of our fingers.

Of course, it wasn't always like this. Before the world went digital, everything was recorded on film. But before there were stores that would process your film for you, it was all done at home in your very own dark room with an artful and scientific mixture of chemicals along with expensive equipment.

In 1939, the year Free / Man's very own Walter cheerfully posed with his rifle; photography, although becoming more and more mainstream, was still reserved for a select few. People were careful about what they photographed, in order to preserve their film, and by extension their money. It only makes sense that someone like Mr. Olney, an obvious photography enthusiast, would use something to both catalogue and plan their shots, the equivalent of a modern day blog in many ways.

This 1939 issue of the Photographic Exposure Calculator, Handbook and Diary, offered not only charts and diagrams in order for you to work out your camera settings depending on season, time of day and distance, but also the space to write down what photo you had captured. It also allowed you to document what your camera settings were and where on the film it resided - something our cameras can do for themselves these days. It added an element of organization, of design, to a still novel art form; it became an entire creative process, rather than just the closing of a shutter.

Looking through it, a little book that was essentially a photography calculator, there is so much of Mr. Olney's life, documented so carefully and neatly, that has been safely preserved within it's pages.

It makes you wonder, in 72 years time, what our descendents will think of our chronicle of images and our methods of creating them.

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