Monday, December 17, 2007

On Photography, Part 1

When I was about 12 years old my father helped me start developing and printing some of my own photographs. I had been watching and helping him with black & white printing since an early age but only started taking my own photographs in junior high and high school. I started photographing with my father's cameras, his old Leica rangefinders and later his Pentax single lens reflex camera. Sometime in high school my brother gave me a used Kodak Retina fixed lens camera and I began photographing without supervision. I always enjoyed seeing the image come up in the developer when printing.

In those early days, I photographed things I was interested in, like motocross racing and cave exploring. In college, as an undergraduate, I photographed lots of things, friends, the college campus, road trips, etc. Most of these photos I consider snapshots. In graduate school I finally had enough money to buy my first single lens reflex 35mm camera, a Nikon FM with a 50mm lens. I took a few photographs of lightning at night with that camera mounted on a tripod and was pleased with the results. I later sold the Nikon to a friend because of financial problems. During this time I mostly shot color slide film and color print film and very little black and white.

It wasn't until I had joined the workforce for a few years and had begun going on hiking expeditions and doing some rock climbing that I realized that the photos I was taking with my little camera weren't doing justice to the grand vistas I was seeing in places like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Around 1987 or so, I saw the images of one of my co-workers hanging in the lobby of the building we worked in. These were large, framed, hand printed, black and white photographs that really captured the feeling of the mountains where they were taken. That was when I decided that I needed to learn to do this sort of photography so my travel pictures would really communicate the emotions I was experiencing when standing in some of the grand places I was visiting. Thus began my journey and education as a photographer and I still derive great pleasure from photographic trips as well as processing the results and making web pages and prints.

In part 2, I'll discuss what I've been doing photographically for the last 20 years.

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