Now that we’re officially on track to be the USSA, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from writing about politics. I’ve said a lot, and if you want to know how it all works, you can read my old posts. Just mark my words – we’re in for hard times for the next 4 years.
What that means is I need new topics for my posts. Something interesting and new. Or at least interesting that I haven’t talked about lately. There’s religion, but that inevitably offends people. There’s relationships, but let’s face it – without the horrors of dating to write about anymore, that topic isn’t very interesting. I could write about local stuff, but again, Kansas City is about as exciting as watching paint dry. I could write about personal stuff, but you people will probably try and use it against me, and that’s just no fun for me.
Since writing this blog is 100% about fun for me, I need to write about something I really enjoy.
For today, that means I’m going to talk about photography. Not just photography – photography molecules.
I first became fascinated by photography when I was a young child. The creepy heroin addicted hooker who lived with us gave me my first camera. It was a 110 format… one of those flat cameras that took incredibly bad photos. I’m not sure why I was so fascinated, but the idea that I could capture a moment like that was really cool.
My grandfather didn’t really fancy himself a photographer, but he was the ultimate toy collector, and so he had the most expensive Nikon SLR that money could buy. Needless to say, my jealousy was very transparent, even at the ripe old age of 12.
In high school, I joined yearbook so I could be a staff photographer. There, I learned more about composition as well as darkroom. Never one to go to school unnecessarily, I decided I needed a darkroom at home, so I built one. Black and white was insufficient, so I bought equipment to do color, too.
When I started at the community college, my first course on my first day of college was introduction to photography. That’s also where I met my very first college crush. Minute one of college. Yes, I’m that easy. Needless to say, I spent every possible moment that first year in the darkroom with her. And no, she never did agree to date me. *Sniff*
I took every class I could get. I learned color photography, commercial studio skills, and fine art composition. I even took one of the very earliest courses ever offered in digital photography… it didn’t actually include digital cameras, there was no such thing. We used film scanners and really crappy Apple computers with Photoshop 2.0. Those were the days. You would apply a filter in photoshop on your 1 megapixel file, then you could take a weekend vacation while you waited for the filter to finish.
I went to a trade show and bought a large studio light/powerpack set back in 1996. Then, after becoming disgusted with shooting school portraits, I foolishly sold them in 2003.
I was a clinger to film and traditional darkroom. I resisted the digital craze. I thought it was a fad that would pass and the market for film would always be there. Boy was I wrong. Nowadays you have to go to specialty stores to buy professional film, and there isn’t a professional film lab to be found in Kansas City. You have to send stuff to one of the few national labs still out there.
So in 2006, I finally parted with my trusty Nikon F5 and bought my first digital SLR, a Nikon D80. It’s actually a fairly entry-level camera as Nikon SLRs go. By which I mean, it cost $1,000 and their high-end camera costs $6,000. Last year I lucked into a Nikon D200 which is similiar to the D80 but has a magnesium alloy body that’s pretty indestructible. Good, because I tend to do silly things like drop my camera when I’m shooting weddings.
I also lucked into a set of studio strobes last year. I found them on Craigslist. I thought it was a misprint. It had a complete set of Photogenic lights for $100, and it claimed they were new and unused. It turned out, some old dude had bought the set, then for a year they sat in his garage and he never used them, and his wife issued an ultimatum – use them or get rid of them by the end of the week. I happened to see the ad within minutes of posting and got the deal.
I have a large format Canon printer that can produce prints that will last up to 60 years. However, when I need it to be truly high end, I still have to send out my digital files to one of the pro labs, who in turn print the file onto traditional print media. Incidentally, there are two labs that I use. Millers is a lab in Manhattan, Kansas who does really incredible prints on Kodak Endura Metallic, which is the only color paper I print my stuff on. When I need black and white or silver gelatin prints, I have Dalmatian Labs do those. Actually, Dalmatian Lab is the only place in the country that does silver gelatin prints from a digital file. I highly recommend them.
In my next few posts, I’m going to review cameras and equipment and tell you what you need!