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In The Beginning

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Dad's Kodak Retina II

Kodak Instimatic 124

    I was five years old and supposed to be in bed sleeping. I heard clicking and ticking noises out in the living room, and they were keeping me awake. When I went out to investigate I found my dad doing something in an almost dark room with a bunch of stuff I had never seen before. I could barely see what he was doing in the dim red light he had shining on the ceiling. I watched Dad for a while and couldn’t figure out what he was doing. At some point I must have made a noise, and my dad turned around to find me watching. My first inclination was to turn and run back into my room, but my dad asked me to come over to him. With a pounding heart I walked over and stood next to him, thinking I was in big trouble. Instead of being scolded for being out of bed, Dad asked if I knew what he was doing. After looking around at everything he was using, I guessed he was making pictures.

    Dad let me stay up with him for a while, and he explained what he was doing and how it worked. Fascination only begins to describe what I was feeling. Dad shined a light with what looked like a backward picture on paper. When the light turned off, he put that paper in special stinky water, and a not-backward picture of my mom sort of faded onto the paper. My dad could do magic! After that, he put the forward picture into stinkier [sic] water. He said the smelly part made the fading-in part stop. Next, he put the forward picture into a not as stinky water; he left it in that water longer than the other two and told me it made the black stuff last forever. Then, he gave the picture a bath and I remember laughing at him. When the picture was done with its bath, he held it up and let most of the water drip back into the little bathtub. He stood up with the picture in a grabber thing and asked me to follow him. We went in the bathroom, and he closed the door and turned the lights on. The bright light hurt my eyes at first, but after a short time I could see there was a string over the bathtub with a bunch of pictures on clothespins. He added the one he just made and told me to hop up on the edge of the tub. While he held me to keep me from falling, I could see more pictures of Mom, my brother & sister, a couple of things that were boring, and a picture me. After turning the lights off we went back out, and I watched my dad make more magic…. The next thing I remembered was waking up in the morning in my bed with wonderful memories of magic-- and so it began….

     My poor dad. From that point on, I bugged him and bugged him to get me my own camera. He would let me take pictures here and there with his camera, but only under close supervision. My brother and sister had cameras (and the meanies wouldn’t let me try them), why couldn’t I have one? Money had no meaning to me at that age, and I wanted it now. Finally, Christmas of 1968, Santa brought me a camera. It was a brand-new Kodak Instamatic 124. It was cool because while Dad’s camera required carefully loading film by hand, mine just took a pre-loaded film pack.  After winding the film until it clicked I was ready to take pictures. I got two of those cartridges of film and it even had little flash cubes. I burned through the first cartridge in no time at all. Mom and Dad both told me I’d have to earn money to buy film, and developing wasn’t free, either. That slowed me down a bit, but I was still very happy with my gift. My first disappointment came when Mom had the first two film packs processed. Dad sat down with me and explained why they were blurry and strange. The next set of prints were better; Dad went through them and told me I needed to look at the whole picture before I pushed the button and explained why and when the flash was necessary. This continued for a while, but eventually I was doing it on my own which included collecting Coke bottles to exchange for cash to buy film. The cost part of taking pictures slowed me down a lot, but never stopped me.

     Twelve years later and after getting my first real job, I saved my money with a goal. Pentax had released the K1000 35 mm SLR two years prior, and I wanted one the moment I saw it. It took me six months to save the $300 to purchase it, but I had it. The kit came with the body, a 55 mm f/2.0 lens, and a screw-on cover that allowed use of the camera when the bottom half was on. I was a little let down when I realized I needed to buy a flash unit for it. This was also the point in time I realized I was spending money each time I released the shutter. I did eventually purchase a Vivitar strobe for it, and soon after I added a Seikanon f/3.8-5.6 28-200 mm lens. I used that setup for years and took a few decent pictures with it, most of which were black & white. That camera is very durable and survived many years. I later gave it to my daughter to get her started in a high school photography class.

Canon EOS 10S

Hasselblad 500CM

Canon EOS Rebel XT

Canon EOS 80D

     I've owned many cameras over the years. After the Instamatic 124, I more or less followed the camera technology curve. Some lasted, some didn’t, and some I didn’t like at all. All the cameras shown in the margin are still in my possession.

 

  • Kodak Ektralite 10: For a short time, I had one of those pocket sized 110 film cameras. Sadly, it didn’t last long; a camera that fits in the pocket of an active boy has a very short lifespan. I’m guessing that was part of Kodak’s marketing plan.
  • Polaroid SX-70: My parents had one of these. After using it a few times, I decided I didn’t like it. The images had an odd look to them.
  • Polaroid OneStep: My brother had one of these cameras, he gave it to me at some point. I used it a little, but still wasn’t thrilled with the pictures. Film for it was quite expensive too.
  • Kodak Disc 4000: There was a short period of time I had a Kodak Disc camera but remember being disappointed with the grainy picture quality and didn’t use it much. Although, the little films discs you got back as negatives did fly well when flipped correctly.
  • Super 8: There was a rage towards movies that started in the mid-1960s that was big through the early 1970s. My dad had a camera and projector, and used it a lot to film sports that the family was involved in. I was never a fan of shooting movies, and I can’t explain why. I never felt the appeal that pictures had for me.
  • Video: In the mid 1970s black and white video became semi-affordable for consumers. I spent many hours capturing video of athletes as part of their training. The main thing I learned from the experience; I prefer still imagery over video! I’ve owned video camcorders, but more for capturing my three children as they grew up. Even then it was still not a preferred format. Both of my DSLR cameras can record HD video, and I use them to record virtual tours of real estate listings.
  • Pentax K1000: Covered this on the previous panel.
  • Canon EOS 10s: My wife and I were in business together, and she didn’t like the manual characteristics of the Pentax. As a ‘business expense’ we purchased the first of many Canon products I would own. It served us well for many years and recorded a lot of ‘business’ activities along with a few family moments as well.
  • Hasselblad 500C/M: One of the photographers who influenced me greatly was Dave Courtney. Not only is Dave an excellent photographer, he also had his own print lab. While most of the world slept at night, Dave worked many years printing school pictures for others as well as his own business photography. As digital photography started to take hold, the value of medium format cameras started dropping. I had wanted a Hasselblad since the first time I saw one. Dave knew this, and sold me a Hasselblad 500C/M body, along with a Zeiss Planar f/2.8 80 mm lens and a Zeiss Makro-Planar f/4 120 mm lens, and he did it far below market value. I am eternally grateful to Dave for that kindness and many others. Even through the bumps of life, I’ve been able to hang onto that camera, and still shoot black & white through it on occasion.
  • Kodak Easyshare DX4900: Along with business activities, I worked a short time for a vinyl siding company. It wasn’t required, but imagery helped a lot when having to explain unique issues to installers prior to them leaving the warehouse to do the install. Film took too long to process in this situation, so I was forced (arm twisted and all) to purchase a digital camera. This Easyshare model was a 4.0Mp, f/2.8-4.0, 35-70 mm + 3x Digital Zoom, ISO 100-400 camera. I did a great job based on the technology of the time, and I even captured a few artistic images while out and about. As cameras of that type go, it didn’t last long; something happened to the retracting lens and it was instantly a brick.
  • Canon EOS Rebel XT: My first DSLR! Working as a real estate appraiser, I needed a reliable camera of reasonable quality. My budget wasn’t huge, so I settled for the Rebel. It’s an 8.0Mp body and came with a f/1.5-5.6 18-55 mm lens. It was perfect for the job but was retired when it was dropped and the lens was internally broken. I could have replaced the lens, but a friend offered to sell me his used camera and two lenses for a great price.
  • Canon EOS 20D: A friend upgraded his camera and had a 20D he wanted to sell. He gave me a fair price for the 20D body and two lenses. It was also an 8Mp camera, and had specs similar to the Rebel XT. As I did with the Pentax K-1000, when I purchased the camera below, I gave the 20D to my daughter.
  • Canon EOS 80D: A big step up from the 20D which was 12-years old and quite tired. I found a kit with body and two lenses and purchased it on impulse. The body had great features ranging from a 24.2Mp image (a bit more than the 8Mp I had), a sensor capable of ISO 16000, 1080p video recording, built-in WiFi, and so many more features. It also came with two lenses, a EF-S 18-55mm IS STM and a EF-S 55-250mm IS STM. I was in a whole new world, and suddenly my passion for photography which had died down to an ember was fueled and burning white hot. I had a couple life changing experiences about a year later, and I packed up my life and went on a ‘Driveabout’ for two months. I’ll cover the details of Driveabout later, but in preparing for it, I purchased a lens I blame on Dave Courtney. He was the first photographer I ever saw use the Canon f/2.8, 70-200mm lens, and even let me shoot a few images through it. With my camera and my dog, I was off to a 10k mile adventure. About two weeks into the adventure, I purchased another lens and had it shipped to a friend’s home in Connecticut. I now owned two of Canon’s premiere lenses and was in heaven!
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: I was more than half way there, so why not go all the way. In purchasing this camera body, I now have what Eli uses (well, a small piece); I now had a complete professional setup to shoot with and backups. You can read about Eli in my Bio if you haven’t already; he has been the most influential photographer in my life. I’ve been a bit geek-ish so far and could talk specs about the new camera body. To put it simply, it’s the current standard for working professional photographers and does everything from extreme low light imagery at 30.4 Mp to 4k video.
  • Other Photography Items: Other equipment I have on hand is a full set of lights and backdrops for portrait photos (though I prefer to do imagery at locations that fit the client), a white-box for product photography, special effect filters, and a plethora of smaller items I’ve purchased over the years.
  • Dark Room: I guess I should also include that I have a complete black & white darkroom setup. I even custom built a negative tray to accommodate negatives from my Hasselblad medium format camera which are 2 ¼” square. I don’t set it up often but enjoy it when I do. The smell of the chemistry takes me back to trays of stinky stuff from so long ago.

 

Services Offered:

 

  • Portraits: My preference is using the outdoors and nature for portraiture, although I have an indoor studio and a portable setup as well. From simple passport images to group pictures - you decide what you want, and I'll work with you to make it happen.
  • Events: No matter the event, Wedding, Corporate Events, Anniversaries, Bar/Bat-Mitzvahs, Birthday Parties, or any event where you wish imagery of events captured, I can take care of your needs in a professional manner.
  • Real Estate Listings: Selling or renting a home, business, or listing an Airbnb? Along with  photographing your property with High-Resolution imagery suitable for media print, your images crops and sizes will be set to MLS standards, or to your unique specifications. Video tours coming soon!
  • Drone Photography: I am In the process of attaining Federal licensing for legal commercial use.
  • Product Photography: Are you building a catalog, magazine or website? Tell me what your concept is, and I will work with you to capture or create imagery to match your campaign or theme.
  • Staging Artwork Rental: If you have a home you are staging and are looking for a particular color or content theme, send me a message with the feel you are looking for; I will check my portfolio to see if I can accommodate your needs. If my schedule allows, I may be able to go out and capture images based on your desires.

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