Vintage Sounds: The Whirs And Clicks Of Film Cameras

In the first installment of the series "Vintage Sounds," we hear from listeners who tell us stories about the vanishing sounds of cameras.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Last week in All Tech Considered, we invited listeners to share stories of sounds from older technology you miss. This invitation was prompted by a story about some young people who choose to shoot pictures on actual film, a kind of digital counter-revolution.

We asked you to send in samples of audio from older technology that's been overtaken by all the new devices we now use.

(SOUNDBITE OF A RECORD PLAYER NEEDLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: A phonograph needle dropping onto a record is like a drum roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF A TYPWRITER)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: I think of all the comforting sounds wrapped up in a simple typewriter ribbon.

(SOUNDBITE OF A TELETYPE MACHINE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The Associated Press teletype machine just clacking away.

(SOUNDBITE OF A TELETYPE MACHINE)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: The vintage sound that I recall is an adding machine.

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ADDING MACHINE)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You sent us many memories. And from time to time, we'll present more from those people you just heard and others. But since our invitation grew out of a story about cameras, let's start there.

BLOCK: Carol Coffin, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, has memories of a Kodak Brownie Starflash camera her parents gave her for her 12th birthday in 1959. She still has that camera and loves the sound of the film being manually advanced.

CAROL COFFIN: It was kind of a subdued crescendoing(ph) of a ratchety, clicking noise.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA ADVANCING)

COFFIN: It took two full turns to advance the Kodak 127 film to the next number.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA ADVANCING)

COFFIN: It sounded like the sound a cicada makes on a summer night.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA ADVANCING)

SIEGEL: Another camera belongs to listener Elaine Heveron of Rochester, New York. She sent us the actual sound of her old camera shutter along with a poem called "Nikon."

ELAINE HEVERON: I miss film. I miss my Nikon F3. I miss the careful capture of the right moment...

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA SHUTTER)

HEVERON: ...the slant of light just before the shift in the day to the slip of night. I miss rewinding unseen images into a film canister, then waiting days or weeks to see how many came out as I saw them in my mind. Look.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA SHUTTER)

HEVERON: See for yourself.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA SHUTTER)

HEVERON: Do you see what I mean?

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAMERA SHUTTER)

HEVERON: Snap.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMERA MUSIC)

BLOCK: This is a composition from listener Aaron Doenges of Nashville, using sounds from his own cameras. It's called "Poseur."

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMERA MUSIC)

AARON DOENGES: The moment that the idea sparked for this piece, I had heard a sound that reminded me of the charging flash on one of those old Kodak 110 cameras. I remember walking around with basically that brick...

(LAUGHTER)

DOENGES: ...strapped around my wrist and flicking on the flash, you know, in order to get ready to take the picture. And just hearing that shrill electronic charging sound that rose in pitch until it was finally undetectable. And then that little orange light right next to the switch just kind of flicks on.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMERA MUSIC)

SIEGEL: If you have fond feelings for the sounds of film or slide projectors, dial telephones or 8-track cassette players, share them with us. To do that, visit to NPR.org and click on Contact Us, put Vintage Sound in the subject line.

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