☼ Rensselaer, New York ☼
As a young child I was fascinated by family photographs that were taken before I was born. Looking at the often grainy or blurry photographs in black and white - and lots of gray - fired my imagination and sparked a lifelong interest in photography.
When I was in high school, I commandeered my family’s mostly unused 1950s era Kodak Hawkeye Brownie box camera and began taking pictures. This activity was limited by the cost of buying film and having it processed into prints. By good fortune one of my high school friends lived in a big old house in which a former owner had built a light-tight darkroom - now empty of equipment but complete with a sink and plenty of counter space. A group of us formed an informal sort of co-operative club, and eventually we had the space, equipment, and supplies to develop black and white film and to make prints. That old Brownie made about 2 inch square film negatives and although the fixed focus lens was basic it took pretty nice pictures so I thought.
Not many pictures survive from that period, but I’ve included one taken of me showing the Brownie in my hand.
Later during my time at the high school I took a Photography elective course and got to borrow a pretty nice 35 mm camera, the brand and specifications of which I have long since forgotten. I remember being pretty impressed with the quality of the images I was able to get from it.
After graduating high school I had to get a job but I still didn't have extra money for film and processing costs let alone a newer and more capable camera. My interest in photography was rekindled when a couple of my work buddies got curious about photography and bought 35 mm cameras. One Kind friend gave me a fixed focus Argus 35 mm camera which allowed for some control over aperture settings. I don’t remember how long that camera lasted, but competing interests combined with lack of funds and maybe the Argus breaking led me to drift away from active photography for several years.
In the early 1980s, my father bought himself an inexpensive Fujica 35 mm camera. At first he was enthused and used it frequently, but eventually it ended up sitting on a shelf I began to “borrow” it and for a time I really grew to really enjoy learning the settings. I got some decent pictures during that era. In the mid eighties, I went to college and earned a degree in Graphic Design. During my studies, I again elected to take a photography course and re-learned camera and darkroom procedures. Alas, at some point the Fujica went belly up and I was without a “good” camera again.
I spent most of the 1990s behind a VHS camcorder instead of a 35 mm camera while my daughter was growing up; her mom took most of the still shots.
Around 2006, I purchased a digital Kodak EasyShare Z650 with a Schneider-Kreuznach lens complete with autofocus and a whopping 6.1 megapixels. I loved the freedom and quickness of digital compared to film. Not only did I fall in love all over again with photography, I decided I would never again be without a camera and I would make the time to continue to learn about taking good pictures. I got a lot of use from that camera and I captured some memorable images.
Eventually I felt that I had explored all that the Z650 had to offer and I wanted more. A couple of years ago, I purchased a Nikon D3500 digital camera with two Nikkor lenses, a standard 18-50 mm and a telephoto 70-300. This Nikon is going to keep me busy for a while.
And so will Adobe Photoshop. Now that I am retired, I have the time and the means to pursue my lifelong interest in photography and merge it with elements of other visual art. In the digital age, photography has morphed into digital image making. In addition, digital scanners are affordable for home use and act as cameras for paper. Even small 3D objects can be scanned with interesting results.
I enjoy using the camera to take pictures. I am frequently out shooting two or three times a week. But I want to move farther than simply taking photographs. Over the next few years I aim to specialize in digital art making, a modern version of the visual art known as mixed media. I want to take one or more specific digital photographs with my camera and add other elements in order to create a specific mixed media digital image.
That said, a few months ago at an antique store I bought a circa 1956 Brownie box camera - just like the one I had when I first started taking photographs almost fifty years ago! As I write this it is mid November, and soon the natural world will offer a palette of whites, grays and browns - perfect for buying a few rolls of Tri X 400 film and taking some black and white snapshots.
I would enjoy hearing from other photographers and visual artists. I encourage comments, questions and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for visiting!