In the days I made photos using film SLRs, I wasn’t a very good photographer. Moving to digital has been a godsend as the immediate feedback from an exposure quickly taught me do’s and don’ts. I was able to learn the craftsmanship I needed to support my vision.
A turning point in my journey came in March 2007 when I took a photograph in Washington Park. I looked at that photo and decided that maybe I was at the point where I could actually do something with photography. It was time to get serious. The first thing I did was make A Poster. Things snowballed from there, and I invested in new equipment.
I’m (mostly) proud of what I can do now – but I’m not satisfied. I am in awe of numerous photographers – ones like Jeff Ascough, Gueorgui Pinkhassov – and Oregon photographers Duncan Davidson and Marc Adamus – or the nameless (to me) photographers who contribute to Lensblr. All are leagues above me. So I have a long way to go.
I’ve taken a few classes at the Newspace Center for Photography (which I highly recommend), and I was surprised by one of my instructors who thought it only natural that one of our goals was to have our photos exhibited in a gallery. And while many did aspire to that, I hadn’t given the matter any thought at all. Even now I have to question why I would want to do that. Ego? Money? Fame? (Well... a very small amount of local fame, I guess. Baby steps.) Perhaps respect from my peers?
I haven’t yet found any reason strong enough. But to have such a goal might push me to work harder – so perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing. I do check out the local exhibitions and do a mental comparison. My photography is better than some, not as good as most. “Better” being subjective, of course. For now, I simply want to improve. Someday I may submit a photo for exhibition just to go through the experience. I’m in no rush.
For two decades I relied on two 35mm film cameras from Minolta – the Minolta XG-7 and the Minolta Maxxum 700si. Both were great cameras – with capabilities far beyond their owner. In the early days of digital SLR photography, I bought a Konica-Minolta Maxxum 7D – an awesome camera. I still love this camera, and it remains active to this day, in my daughter’s employ.
I saw that Minolta’s days were numbered, and even a year after the sale of its SLR technologies and rights to Sony, I knew I had to move to a more mainstream camera platform. Canon or Nikon? When I tried out a Canon EOS 30D and a Nikon D200 side-by-side, I immediately went for the Nikon, whose ergonomics were much better than that of the Canon – although not as good as my Minolta, which was superior to both. In 2007 the D200 was a good introduction to the Nikon system, and the next year I graduated to the new D300, which turned out to be one of the best DX cameras Nikon ever made – an instant classic. The D300 served as my primary camera for over 7 years.
In 2015 a benefactor provided the funds that enabled me to upgrade to a Nikon D810 – which is an incredible camera. However, I’m having to adjust my perspective and technical knowledge from DX to FX. It’s going to take some time. I also have new lenses to learn.
For indoor event photography, I have a three-lens set: a Sigma 20mm f1.4 DG HSM Art lens, an AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G zoom, and my favorite lens, the AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D telephoto. Nearly all of my best photos were made with the 85mm f/1.4 lens on the D300, and I’m still learning how to best use the lens on FX. For specialty photography, I have an AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G VR lens. And I have two walkabout lenses – an AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G and an AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G.
For software I started with both initial versions of Apple’s Aperture and Adobe’s Lightroom programs. At first Aperture was better, but Lightroom improved rapidly, and Aperture failed to keep up. I made the decision to go solely with Lightroom. As of April 2016 I am running Lightroom 6.3. At this time I have no other photo processing plug-ins or applications (other than the ubiquitous Adobe Photoshop, which I rarely use on photos).