Home' Hastings Mail : July 26th 2011 Contents 17
HASTINGS MAIL, JULY 27, 2011
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Cameras put focus on history
By VIVIENNE HALDANE.
Camera guy: Colin Trevelyan's love of cameras knows no bounds.
Retired snappers: A trio of antique Kodaks
Poster power: A vintage Kodak poster.
When Mrs Lunt of Waipukurau
gave Colin Trevelyan a camera 52
years ago, she had no idea of the
spark she d lit.
He now owns thousands of
them. All are in immaculate and
mostly working condition.
Only about five or six of them
aren t, says the tall, quietly
spoken man, who I quickly realise,
would much prefer to talk about
cameras than himself or exactly
how he collected them.
As he flits from room to room
showing off his cameras, he gives
very short answers to all my
questions such as I suppose so,
and not really, while I trail
behind him squealing with delight
at the sight of so many antique
Visiting the Millennium
Museum makes me feel like a kid
in a lolly shop.
Told you so, laughs my friend
who brought me here. More than a
lolly shop. I d call it Mecca.
Camera heaven. Just leave me
there for a week to play with the
cameras and I d be like a cow in
I d call this house of cameras an
obsession, but Mr Trevelyan
strongly denies this. Avid collector
of cameras then? That will do.
Apparently he s never sold any of
his collection. Ever.
As a school boy in the 1960s he
learned to use a camera and
began helping Bob Partridge, the
local photographer, with
weddings. But when he left
college, the boy from Waipukurau
just wanted to head overseas in
search of adventure.
I ve been around the world
about a hundred times.
His first port of call in 1969 was
Africa where with local guides he
travelled all over. After that he
bummed around in the States
and Europe, before starting a
30-year-long career working in
I ve worked in about 49
different countries before I retired
in 1999. Then I began work as a
consultant for oil companies,
mostly in Africa.
When he travels he carries only
a cheap Kodak digital camera
because if I had an expensive one
it might get stolen.
Asked if he has a favourite
camera he says Oh yeah, there s
one or two I use every now and
He could have his pick of the
bunch -- many still work as well as
they ever did.
Through his years of collecting,
Mr Trevelyan has concentrated on
high quality cameras such as
German brands Leica, Voigt-
lander, as well as Kodak: there s
an original 1888 Kodak camera
that cost $25. In those days, the
average wage was $3 a week. In
July that year, Eastman s Kodak
camera went on the market with
the slogan You press the button,
we do the rest .
Now anyone could take a
photograph and leave the
processing to others, and
photography became available for
the mass-market in 1901 with the
introduction of the Kodak
Photography has moved in
leaps and bounds from the day in
1827 that Joseph Niepce made an
image of the rural countryside in
France, with a pinhole camera. At
the same time, fellow Frenchman,
Louis Daguerre was also experi-
menting to find a way to capture
an image. But it would take
another 12 years before he was
able to reduce exposure time to
less than 30 minutes and keep the
image from disappearing
The inventor of the first
negative from which multiple
positive prints were made was
Henry Fox Talbot, an English
botanist and mathematician and a
contemporary of Daguerre. He
sensitised paper to light with a
silver salt solution. He then
exposed the paper to light. The
background became black, and the
subject was rendered in
gradations of grey. This was a
negative image, and from the
paper negative, Talbot made
contact prints, reversing the light
and shadows to create a detailed
Fast track to the modern day
and people s fascination with
taking photos continues and it
seems that most people now own a
Gone are the days of hovering
over trays of chemicals in
darkrooms waiting for an image to
Mr Trevelyan has a dark room
at his museum that he likes to use
As well as a variety of cameras
used for different purposes,
including postage stamp and air
surveillance cameras, there s
some fascinating history here: a
label on a 1931 Contax says it
reputedly belonged to Rudolph
Hess , Adolf Hitler s deputy.
Well-known Hawke s Bay fossil
hunter, Dorothy Wiffen s cameras
are also in his collection.
giant telephoto lens that used to
be owned by National Geographic
When you bought this lens
they gave you a free Volkswagen
car to carry it in.
I m not sure if he s pulling my
leg or not.
In 1973 it cost US$42,000.
He picked it up while visiting
the States -- just couldn t resist it.
On a shelf there s an odd
looking object: half camera, half
gun. Attached to the camera body
is a gun stock.
A guy in Germany was going
out hunting and didn t want to
look out of place, so he got this
Throughout the museum, rooms
are dedicated to different
categories of cameras.
There are aerial mapping
cameras from 1935 through to
2004, when the change to digital
was made. All the various
cameras used through the years
are housed here.
Some of these cameras cost
more than a house when bought in
the 1950s and 60s. They weigh
100-plus pounds (45kg), took
23cm x 23cm negatives with
200-plus exposures on each roll.
There s also a laboratory with
x-ray machines all set up and
microscopes dating from 1850 to
1960 that can be looked through.
As well, an in-house cinema has
New Zealand documentary films
from the 1940s to 1960s which can
be shown to groups and tour
The Thornton Imperial large
format camera, that was Mr
Trevelyan s very first, sits as one
amongst many in the front room.
Its only uniqueness is that it was
responsible for starting a craze
that required a museum to
Now that s what I d call a true
Any group or club that would
like to visit the museum should
phone 06 875 0987 and
arrangements can be made to
suit. Allow 2 to 3 hours for a visit
-- there s much to see.
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