My Dad's Old Kodak Retina IIIC

In recent days I have been thinking a lot about my dad.  He passed away in January at the age of 90.  He had a good life.  He was devoted to his wife Jean, and she to him. And he was an awesome dad.  As is expected, I have frequent and unpredictable moments where I find myself lost in my memories of him. They’re all good. Nevertheless, the first holidays without him will be difficult.

When it comes to photography, he was the one who got me interested.  It wasn’t intentional on his part.  I just loved his camera and the images he created with Kodachrome slide film.  

No one did a lot of photography back when I was a kid.  Certainly there were professionals, but I don't think families generally owned cameras.  Or, perhaps they owned one Kodak Brownie or Instamatic. But Dad came back from Europe in 1955 with a German-made Kodak Retina IIIC, a rangefinder style 35mm camera with a 50mm F2 Schneider lens.  This was an expensive camera, though as I recall it was bought by serious shooters who could not afford a Leica. 

The "Retina" is beautifully made...German engineering and German craftsmanship the way it used to be.  It was a gorgeous tool. And I loved the Kodachromes he made with it.  

Below is a photo of his camera.  The shutter seems to be working well, as is the light meter.  Amazingly, there is no battery required! Not even for the light meter. How that can be, I do not know. Unfortunately I have recently discovered that the viewfinder is a bit cloudy, making it impossible (nearly) to find exact focus. 

This old camera has great meaning to me.  Even though it hasn't been used in years (my last use was approximately 1975 and I don't know when dad last used it), Kodak Retina IIIC serial number  277759 has a permanent place in the family.  A reserved seat at the table.

Most of the memories I have of my dad and this camera were of slides taken in the mid 1950s as we drove from Massachusetts to California (and back to Massachusetts a year later) through many national parks.  

Below are a few photos scanned from his slides. They are low resolution files for blog posting.  Higher resolution files can be viewed on my photography website, here:



1955 Chevy.  No seatbelts, until my dad himself installed two in the front bench seat.

Incredible.  This  is the end of August in Yosemite Valley.
Today it is so busy cars are not allowed

Crater Lake
(My mom bought us clothes we had to grow into!)

Niagara Falls

Bryce Canyon




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