Back in the 1980s, while teaching horticulture at Weston Creek, Richard Windsor thought himself pretty lucky to have use of the cream of the crop Nikon cameras.
He would use the school’s photographic gear to help teach his classes, shooting close-ups of plants and vegetables to explain their workings as perfect teaching aids for the subject.
“I was using their cameras,” he said, “and then I thought, bugger it, I’ll buy my own.”
He found a Nikon F3T, known also as the “War Correspondent’s Special”, along with a Rolleiflex interchangeable for $2000 together, “and it’s all been downhill for me ever since.”
He ended up buying the Nikon, but not the Rolleiflex, and developed a love for the former brand he maintains to this day.
“I just thought the Rolleiflex was dreadful,” he said. “It was built about the size of two bricks and looked like it.”
This lifelong love for Nikons took the Kambah man, now 74, all over, shooting photos mainly in the wild, but also in places he should probably have avoided.
It was a place called Craven, up near Gloucester, where his mother lived. Unfortunately, it was also a popular destination for ticks – Richard has since been bitten five times in his lifetime and, as a result, suffers poor health today.
“It was over those years that collecting cameras probably helped me stay sane,” he said.
“I suppose I have more of the mechanic bent than a lot of photographers, I just find the way they work absolutely fascinating.”
He never spent as much again for a Nikon, luckily finding many for his growing collection in op shops or online sales.
At the height of his collecting career, Richard had between 600 and 700 cameras and lenses – most, except for the Nikons, were kept in the garage. It was a little consolation for Richard when, about three years ago, fire destroyed the garage – and everything in it.
“I lost them all, everything except the ones I kept in the house,” he said.
With his collection forcibly downsized to about 50, Richard now finds he has more time to cherish the workings of traditional cameras and not so much those of digital ones.
“With mechanical cameras, you have about three things to adjust,” he said. “On digital ones, there are about 500 things.
“I just find you get a far more pleasing result with film than you do with digital.
“But it’s a personal thing.
“And these days, as film disappears off the market, I’ve found the only good source of film is from this guy in South Australia. He does high-quality developing.
“I used to do my own and I’ve seriously considered making a darkroom in my shed, but unfortunately I can’t stand up for too long and you need to be able to stand to do developing.”
With only a core collection of cameras these days, is there something on his wish list?
“My pride and joy is still the first Nikon I ever got,” he said. “But if I could choose anything? Well, I’d like a new knee. This one is bone on bone and I can’t walk or carry anything much.
“I’ve got all the lenses I’ll ever want, but I guess if there was one more to get, it would be the Nikon Nikkor 200mm.”
The perfect camera, he says, to shoot his new favourite subject – the peacock spider.
“It is only about 1 to 3mm long and they dance about with flaps on their abdomens, which they can wave like peacocks.”
And if there was another spot on his wish list – he’d like an electric scooter so he could get about more to indulge in his great love – photography.
Do you love collecting? Historic, kitsch, tasteful, weird – there’s no judgement here, except we are not immune to tacky. Just email a few details about what you collect and why to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you may well see your collection displayed right here for all to enjoy.