I Guess I'm sort of like anyone else that sees more in a photograph than just a pretty picture. As a youngster I longed to capture some of life's experiences as a means to help describe my feelings to another. I tried words once and they came out oddly. Have you ever tried to explain how you felt about watching a beautiful sailboat ghosting through a morning fog on a warm summer day? Oh, she had graceful lines fading into the mist as the bow wake made its way amidships with a red bootstripe hidden from view half way to the foremast, and on and on more than a thousand words.
Reflecting back as a young buc, looking over some old family photos, how fascinated I was with photography. Let's see now; take a box, put a curved glass in the end, bend some light, expose that light to a piece of paper with chemicals and you have a record of place and time. Wow, that is neat stuff! All you do is point it, push a button, take it to the corner drug store and you have many thousands of words with just a few clicks. That is exactly what I did. I talked my parents into letting me snap a few photos on the family camera, a Kodak Autographic. Dad showed me a few basic settings along with some light meter gadget with lots of numbers and it did work. My dad had a mechanical mind and he loved the mechanical world. He made sure that I did too. Thanks dad wherever you are.
Growing up brought more and different types of cameras into my life. My grandparents had a Kodak Baby Brownie and I took thousands of photos with it. With the back open and no film I would eyeball the shutter speed. As I remember, this was my first thoughtful photographic composition with my eye as the film in an upside down world.
Around the age of 10, I was given my first box camera and started shooting B&W 120 film. The developed film would come back from the local drug store with a square white border, serrated design.
My parents jumped on the Polaroid bandwagon when it first arrived. A 100 series with a nice leather case, bulb flash, the works. This was the new wave for sure. No more developing time, instant gratification. I think high film cost and the smallish square photos in a proprietary format led to its demise. They had many follow-up Land Cameras, the last of which was the SX-70. Over the years these photos have lost most of their contrast and many have what I call well defined chemical vignetting (dark leaching) on the corners and edges. However, they had their hay day in the 60's and early 70's.
About this time I started looking for a little better photo quality and took note of 35mm. My first was an Argus C3 rangefinder. It provided a fairly wide range of settings and produced excellent prints and slides from Kodacolor and Kodachrome films. This little jewel brought smiles to my face with the long exposures on a tripod.
Not long after after I started hearing a great deal about SLR cameras although no family members owned one. Having no Internet at the time, information on them was somewhat limited, at least for an enthusiast such as me. I finally found a good deal on a nice Miranda Sensorex at a pawn shop. This camera was unusual in that it had a removable pentaprism making overhead shots possible looking directly at the focusing screen. This truly was a versatile camera.
I went through quite a few SLR's in the 80's and I really don't remember why. Never having the beans to buy new, I traded them in on other used SLR's for whatever reason. I don't recall any major problems with them.
My first Canon was an FT with 50mm f1.4 and TTL metering, I distinctly remember the razor thin DOF and it being quite heavy and boxy feeling but it did take nice photos.
My dad once bought an old Exacta SLR with three lenses and removable prism from someone on the street for $75 while I was in a pawn shop looking at cameras in Key West. I was shocked, not in that it looked so mechanical and manual, but that he would buy something like that from someone on the street. I did shoot a few rolls through it a year or so later. The shots were very nice but the operation was all manual and quite difficult.
I once lived on a houseboat and converted the head (bathroom) into a photo dark room. I could not afford or have room for a full size enlarger so I used a slide projector. First I connected a variac (voltage adjuster) to the slide projector for exposure adjustment then focused the image on the wall. Next i taped the print paper on the wall and turned it on for about one second. The only real problem was that once in a while a boat would come through the marina making a large wake and the chemicals would spill a bit. I could not run out and do anything or my prints would be lost. It most likely would not have done any good anyway. So the next time you are out on a boat, please please, be ever mindful of your boats wake and don't assume because no one is visible that they are not onboard.
In the mid 70'd I bought a trimaran sailboat and was spending much more time on the water so I ended up buying a Nikonos II from a friend. He said it had been in the shop a few times for winding problems so I gave it a good cleaning inside and never had one problem with it. This camera took superb photos both in and out of the water. I will not soon forget this quality and still search for it today.
My photography work ran into molasses in the early 80's, most likely due to the PC computer explosion. I am currently an Internetworking Engineer at a large company working with routers and switching devices that help businesses communicate.
I was given a nice looking Cosina SLR with zoom lens by an in-law that found it buried on the beach, yes directly in the sand. It was in a sad state but looked like it would be worth giving it some TLC. The sand was binding the zoom lens but the body just needed a very careful cleaning. I started into the lens (remember, my dad made sure I knew about mechanical things) with due care. I had never been inside a camera lens before much less a zoom. About a week later I still had what seemed like a hundred pieces on the dining table. I was not sure if I could remember how to put it back together but somehow managed, and guess what? It worked like new! I was very proud but swore I would never tackle a project like this again. This camera gave me the urge to start shooting again. Digital photography was just showing it's face and was tempting when comparing the cost of film and developing.
My first plunge into digital was with the Nikon Coolpix 990. It was a great small point and shoot 1Meg Pix tilt and swivel camera for $700. Some of the photos taken with it and printed 8x10 on a dye-sub would compare nicely with a new Canon 20D. Don't laugh, it's true, I have prints for comparison. This little digital ate AA batteries fast but I always had a set or two in my pocket. It was also a little slow but all-in-all it was a very good little camera. It made 6000 clicks from 9/98 to 11/01 and survived a sailing race to Havana, Cuba - a lens focus motor went to sleep and I had to say good bye. I tried but no mechanical wizardry would do. It sold on eBay for parts.
For a few years my wife Pam and I would drive a nice neighbor to see her WWII husband Arthur Swenson at the Veterans Hospital. While visiting some years later Noni walked out with an old leather camera bag and handed it to me. She said it was her late husbands and that he would have wanted me to have it. It was a nice old GemFlex mini camera #3715 complete with Rothco #C-2 & OAMG filter kits and two light meters. Noni said Arthur used it quite a bit overseas during WWII.
Having such good luck and photos with the Nikon I figured I'd give them a go again so I picked up the Coolpix 775. I was hugely disappointed in this little camera spite it's good reviews, maybe I had a dud but it turned me off that Nikon could produce such a little monster and that was that.
Back sailing quite often again therefore searched for a small waterproof digital camera for all around shooting. May have missed some but I came out confused. Ended up with a Canon S110 and Canon underwater case, about $550 for the two. This is a 2.1M Pix camera and makes little movies with sound. The clear poly case is only rater for 3 meters or about 10' but I have had it over 15' with no problems. This has been a very nice little point and shoot digital camera and has now taken over 5000 snaps since Jan 2002. No where near the quality of the Nikon Coolpix 900 photos but much faster and the proprietary Li-Ion battery lasts 5 times longer.
In 2005 a friend at the office had a new Canon 20D and took a few shots of my bike. When I first laid eyes on them I knew things had changed in the digital SLR world so I began reading in earnest. The more I read the more I wanted. Not long after I had my own 20D and was back in the 35mm SLR business and having fun. It had been nearly eight years since putting a 35mm SLR to my eye. Where had I been?
Nearly a year and more then 6000 shots later, along comes the Canon 5D. The 5D had all the right stuff for me. The full 35mm frame allows more light in the viewfinder, not to mention the huge LCD display and superb photos produced. Over the hill age has taken its toll on my close-up vision and this camera was a godsend for my eyes.
So here I am today splitting my time between doing what I really enjoy and putting bread and butter on the table. I have four short years to early retirement and with any luck may live long enough to live my dream.
It is 2008 now and since the last update to this page I have owned four more cameras. I needed something very portable compared to an SLR so a Canon S3 IS joined the list. It is an awesome little inexpensive super zoom with a fantastic Macro to boot. At 10K photos, I sold it and bought the newer Canon S5 IS which is 2M Pix larger without a ton of added noise. For daylight these cameras rival my 5D for 8x10 prints. Yes I still love the Canon 5D but have limited time to get out for shoots.
I also purchased a small Canon SD800 for the pocket but decided it was to soft around the edges so back it went for another. It too was soft in the corners and I just could not live with that so back it went in exchange for an SD900. Now we are talking...the Canon SD900 has been great pocket camera. I then went for the underwater case designed by Canon specifically for this camera. I can now cover most any photography that fits my fancy.
Currently I use all three cameras and very happy with them. Believe it or not my order of usage is (1) S5 IS (2) SD900 (3) 5D but the order of image quality is (1) 5D (2) S5 is (3) SD900 - each has it's place.
All of my 2008 Everglades Adventure Photos were shot with the S5 IS or SD900 in the underwater case, depending on the weather!
Well it is 2009 now and my day job is still my day job. The real estate market has put a damper on retirement plans so on I go...and I'm not real happy about it! OK, what has changed in photography...still shooting the SD900 and S5 IS for everyday always with stuff. Sold the 5D and put in multiple pre-orders for the new Canon 5D Mark II Should have waited on selling the 5D because there was a huge delay with the Mark II's coming to market. I picked up a Canon XSi in the meantime to keep the glass clean. The XSi is a nice little 'Rebel' series 12Mpix 1.6 crop body that is very small and lite. The pre-orders I had been waiting on were not coming though and I finally found one at a small shop in Utah - pictireline.com Very nice people to work with, Xmas shipping was delayed due to bad weather and it was Jan 5th before it arrived. I was really anticipating this 21Mpix high ISO beaut... It only took a few shot to realize that something was not right. The cam had an extreme amount of chrome noise easily visible in the shadows. I was sick about this as I do a fair amount of long exposure night work. Pictureline was very helpful working with their Canon rep and shipped a replacement a few weeks later, I still was shooting and removing the noise with DNG converter and Photoshop. The 2nd 5D Mark II was fine...wonder how many others were like this? I started a whirlwind on dpreview with others thinking that they had bad sensors too!
Anyway the new 5D2 is just awesome, incrediable, fantastic! Plus it takes 1080P HD Video, I use an external stereo microphone to make my very own 'Sunrise Earth' style movies!
Until next time friends...buy any camera and shoot!
"Photography is an adventure remembered"