Olivia finds an old camera at a thrift store. As a photographer, she thinks it’s an awesome find. The camera has a mind of its own, and before she knows it, it has entered her life in ways she didn’t expect. A man keeps showing up in her pictures. She thinks he is familiar, but he’s wearing the uniform of an American Civil War Soldier.
“My, you’re persistent. If you insist, and if it would make you feel better, I’ll take it. It’s rather cumbersome, though.”
“It’s really not heavy at all. Why we had to haul these things over the battlefield.” He stopped himself immediately.
“Battlefield? What do you mean by that?” Olivia cocked her head.
“My reenactment group.” He glanced down and then up, and in that instant the twinkle in his warm blue eyes was gone. She knew she should probably leave when he stopped talking, although she wasn’t sure what she’d done to offend him.
He was right. The camera wasn’t heavy, as she discovered when she carried it to her car. She couldn’t believe he simply gave her the camera. Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen any other items for sale in his spot at the flea market. He must have sold out early.
And here she was, the proud owner of a tintype camera.
Once home, she started to push the camera into the closet but paused. Maybe she’d use it as a decoration once she got her own photography studio.
Her old friend, Sheldon, knew everything there was to know about cameras. She was an amateur photographer, but he was always willing to help her out. With a slow afternoon ahead of her, she couldn’t think of a better time to stop by and ask him about her new acquisition. The only problem lay in the issue that Sheldon, as she’d been told by mutual acquaintances, was in love with her. She’d laughed off the idea, explaining they were simply old friends who were comfortable around each other.
Olivia wrapped the camera in a blanket for protection and walked down the stairs of her very old apartment building, balancing the camera in her arms. Not that the camera was heavy, simply cumbersome along with the tripod. She fit her burden in her back seat, pulled out of the parking spot, and headed for Sheldon’s photography studio.
“I have a question for you,” she yelled out as she walked into the shop, cradling the supposed antique. “Where are you?”
Sheldon emerged from the back room, drying his hands on a rag. He smiled. “Well, well,” he said. “What have we here?” He straightened the wire-rimmed glasses that had slipped to the end of his nose.
He was only an inch or two taller than her, and she found him attractive. He wore his brown hair long, sometimes in a man bun.
“I found an interesting item.” She smiled. From the expression on his face, Olivia could tell he was interested in what she was holding.
He took it from her hands as gently as one would handle a baby, carefully unwrapped it, and scanned the piece. He glanced up with his deep brown eyes.
“I was wondering if you could tell me anything about it,” she said.
“I know a little, but not much,” he admitted. “I can tell you that this is definitely a well-cared for camera, though.” He turned it around. “It looks like it’s only a few years old, except for the fact that it’s around a hundred and fifty.” He put the camera on the tripod. “This was one of the earliest kinds of camera, you know. They referred to them as tintypes. They were pretty popular during the 1860s, particularly during the Civil War.”
“I knew it was old, but I didn’t know how old,” Olivia said.
“This type of camera wasn’t very expensive. Because of the coated iron metal plates they used, developing was faster, which also made them more desirable.” His voice was soft as he again turned the camera over in his hands. “The flash was akin to the light on our phones. Back then they used a powder composition of metallic fuel along with an oxidizer, such as chlorate.” He gently adjusted the wooden tripod on which the camera was placed. “When the mixture ignites, it burns extremely quickly and produces a bright flash.”
“Wow, for a man who doesn’t know much about this type of camera you gave me an earful.”
“I’ve seen them used in movies or on television but never saw one used in person,” he said.
She took a step closer and ran her hand over the old wood. “What are the odds that this camera would still work?” She gave him one of her sly smiles. She could tell he was intrigued with her new acquisition.
“To begin with, tintypes are made using wet plates. Those are just pieces of metal dipped in a solution. It’s quite a ride to take a picture with one, that’s for sure.”
“I’d like to try,” she blurted out. “I want to use all the old steps it took to make a tintype.”
Sheldon laughed. “I could probably get you the kind of solutions needed, but that may take a while.” He handed her back the camera.
She laid it down on the counter.
“What do you think of having dinner together tonight so we can discuss it?” he asked. “I really like this restaurant that just opened on Bridge Street.” Without warning, he leaned in toward her and kissed her on the cheek.
His unexpected action shocked her. She didn’t know how to deal with this kiss. She didn’t want to be rude or to take it as more than a friendly peck. He’d kissed her before, and always very gentlemanly. It wasn’t even that she disliked the kiss. She didn’t. She liked him, too, but she wasn’t ready for a more formal relationship.
He slowly turned toward the camera. “Tell you what. Keep it here, and I’ll have a good look at it. I should be able to tell you whether it’s worth taking any further.”
“Really, you’d do that?”
“Not a problem. Maybe as a thank you we can go to that restaurant tonight.”
“That sounds fair,” she said with a broad smile.