I purchased my very own used Anniversary Speed Graphic when I was 18 years old back in 1951. I had just completed the second of two courses at the now defunct School of Portrait and Commercial Photography in New York City and had the opportunity to sign on for one cruise with Moore McCormack Steam Ship Company as an assistant to the ship's photographer on a trip to South America. I was required to have a 4X5 camera for the job and I managed to purchase a well cared for Anniversary Graphic from the school I had attended,
I couldn't believe my good fortune. Not only was I about to embark on a fantastic voyage, but I was also the proud owner of a sturdy black box with a bellows that shone with preservative and a 127mm lens in a rim set Compur shutter. I was just a kid and life couldn't get any better.
Shortly after my return from that cruise, I enlisted in the US Navy. Korea was in full swing and I thought life aboard ship would be preferable to life in a muddy fox hole. I managed to get into photography in the Navy and during my 4 year hitch, most of my photographic work was done with Anniversaries and later with Pacemakers.
I didn't like the newer cameras for several reasons. The side mounted shutter release on the camera body never functioned smoothly. I would exert pressure on the release and nothing would happen. As I lowered the camera to find out why, the thing would go off in my face. I got around that by reverting to the time honored method of tripping the release lever on the shutter itself, as we did with the Anniversaries.
What really gave me problems was the fact that the Pacemakers came with a 135mm lens instead of the 127mm's that I was accustomed to. You wouldn't think that a paltry 8mm would make a big difference. But, it did. The depth of field seemed to be reduced dramatically. At that time, I was stationed in Naples, Italy and shot a lot of news type photography along with the local news photographers. They were either using the older Graphics or were using Rollies and they all seemed to be standing two feet in front of me because of their shorter focal lengths.
My old Graphic is sitting on a shelf turning green, I'm ashamed to admit. I haven't taken the old girl out for many years now. Like all the news photographers of this day and age, I'm using a Nikon F-4 and though I am an old fossil, I still hope to be able to get my hands on one of the new digital cameras that my paper has purchased. But, although I have motor drives and auto-everything, I still try to use the discipline that I learned while shooting news with the Graphic. While I don't shoot a holder (one and a dupe) on an assignment, anymore, I also don't shoot everything that comes into my viewfinder without a thought. I try to compose my photos and wait for the appropriate moment before I fire off a single shot. And then I may change the angle, and fire off a few more. Rarely do I use the motor on automatic and rarely do I shoot more than 10 or 12 frames on the usual soft news assignment that will end up as 1 shot in the paper. Don't get me wrong. I do shoot several rolls when the story calls for more selection. But, I prefer to call my shots and not let some robot inside my camera decide when the decisive moment will be. And that, my friends, is the legacy bequethed to me by my experiences with that magnificent tool, the Anniversary Graphic.
Long Island, NY