If you can’t be photogenic, then…

at least take a few photos. As Homer Simpson’s dad said “You’re as ugly as a mule and no one likes you, if a stranger offers you a ride i say take it!”

OK, maybe not that dire. But I have been a shutterbug since I was old enough to know which end of a camera to point at stuff. My dad and grandfather were both hobbyist photographers, and had a nice darkroom set up in their basement. My dad did some press photography and afaik that is how he met my mom. One weird thing about the darkroom is that my grandmother constantly used it for vegetable storage! A darkroom session might leave you smelling like a greek salad, but at least it was cheaper than sending the film to a lab. My preferred mode of operation was bulk 35mm B&W film, usually european filmstock ends from a joint in California. I shot almost everything with a malfunctioning Yashica Lynx or other inexpensive rangefinder. That camera had about 4 working shutter speeds and no meter. I got to be familiar with the concept of film “latitude” in a hurry. Only at the later stages (maybe 1984-1989) did I have a SLR. I had an OM-G, which was cheaper than an OM-1 but still had a lot of great shots in it. The meter worked, and so did the shutter and diaphram. That was a major breakthrough. Then I got an OM-1. My pictures didn’t get better, but I liked the way that camera handled and felt. I also have a Olympus SP2 rangefinder that is just amazing. Lots of cool features like AP autoexposure and spot metering. If you find a deal on one, get it. Like a Leica on the cheap.

The end of the line was when I lost access to a darkroom. I was the resident darkroom rat at Central Connecticut State University from 1984 through 1987. We had a nice darkroom in the Bio department, but it was a mess. So in exchange for keeping it clean and orderly I got a key and unlimited access. That was very sweet. After that I started using Ilford XP1 and the XP2. These are B&W films that you process in a regular C41 machine (one hour photo lab, for example). That was really nice. But I really thought digital was the way to go. Point and shoot cameras are nice, but having no exposure control, and having to look at a flat LCD or through a tiny peephole viewfinder, was no fun. I love to do macro (closeup) work and none of these cameras did it well, or at all. I have a Nikon Coolpix 2500 and a Sony T1. Both are LCD-only cameras and can take really nice shots. The T1 is a shirt-pocket 5MP camera that also takes MPG movies. I wouldn’t want to be without that for on the go shots. But I occasionally check the prices on digital SLRs and I found that the price on the Nikon D50 was crashing. Under $700 for the kit with a sweet 18-55mm zoom. The thing is instant-on, fast handling, no lag between shots, and the pics are very very nice. The fact that my pal Craig Caldwell has one and raves about it didn’t help my ability to resist.

So here I am, finally, with a decent digital camera that uses real lenses and has a real viewfinder, and feels like a “real” camera. I’d be the first to say that you can take great pics with a $100 point and shoot digital cam with a small sensor. But old habits die hard and sometimes not at all.

Check out some of the first pics I took with the Nikon D50.

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