Why Photography?

      For years I was interested in photography, but I never got around to doing anything about that interest.  Like buying a camera.  Finally, in the summer of 2001, I gave in and purchased a used Canon AE-1 camera and a couple of different lenses.

      At first, I had a good time just experimenting with the different lenses and taking all sorts of photos.  I kept a log as I was taking photos that listed the camera settings I had used for each shot.  I tried to use this as a tool when examining my photos later to see what worked and what didn't.  I think I learned a little from it, but eventually I got tired of keeping the log and I quit doing it.

      I  keep telling myself that I'm going to take a photography class, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.  I am reminded of it every time I get a flyer from a community college that lists its continuing education classes.  I always check the listings for photography classes first.  So far, though, I haven't been able to work it into my schedule.  In the meantime, I continue to peruse books about photography and discuss the subject with other photographers that I've met.  My brother, Chris, happens to be one of those other photographers and he has helped me quite a bit.

      I  still have the Canon AE-1 that I bought in 2001.  But I also bought a used Canon A-1 in the summer of 2003 and have used that quite a bit as well.  I wanted to learn on an SLR camera (as opposed to a digital camera) so that I had at least a basic idea of what is really going on when a photo is taken.  I wanted to learn the fundamentals.  I think that's important when trying to learn any new skill.  For example, I believe that everyone should learn how to tell time on an analog watch before ever using a digital, should develop a strong grasp of multiplication and division before being granted access to a calculator and should learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission before using an automatic.  It is easier to move to an easier tool once the skill has been mastered.  Hey, call me old-fashioned...

      Around Christmas of 2003, I started using slide film.  I immediately saw an improvement in my photos.  The colors are much brighter and more vivid.  I finally have started to see the photos that I thought I was making in the camera in the first place.  The only drawback is that now I feel as though I want to go back and re-take all my previous shots with slide film.

      In July 2004, I bought a Nikon CoolPix 5400 digital camera.  That has certainly made adding to this website a lot easier and faster.  I still use my SLR as well and someday I would also like to start developing and printing my own film.  In the meantime, I just continue to take photos and try to improve my "eye".  I feel as though my photos are getting better, but maybe I'm deluding myself.  I know that I definitely feel more comfortable using the camera.  Sometimes, however, the photos still fail to look as impressive to me on paper (or slide) as they did through my viewfinder.  Of course, if I'm using the Nikon digital, I can check them right away, delete the poor shots and retake them.  But even then, I cannot absolutely check the photos until I get them onto a computer and see them in a bigger format.

      In the Fall of 2003, I began subdividing the Photography section of my website into different "galleries".  Many of these galleries were merely collections of photos from a particular place or area that I had been to.  I liked the idea of using these galleries to document a vacation or excursion.  Not all of the photos are shown because I think that they are necessarily great photos; many of them are just shown to relate what I saw during my travels.  Those galleries have since moved into a separate section of my website called "Travel".  Hopefully, though, a few of my shots are still intriguing, or pleasing, enough to the eye to stand alone as more than just mere postcards of my travels.  The photos that I consider my "best" will be shown in the "Favorite Photos" gallery as well as in their original gallery (in the "Travel" section).  I truly hope that you enjoy some of what you see here.

      As always, I welcome constructive criticism so please feel free to e-mail me if you have a chance.  Thanks for visiting!

      Below are a couple of interesting passages about photography from the novel The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller.  One of the two main characters in the novel is a photographer working for National Geographic Magazine.  In this section he discusses one of his realizations about photography:

"Eventually he began to see that light was what he photographed, not objects.  The objects merely were the vehicles for reflecting the light.  If the light was good, you could always find something to photograph."

      Here's another interesting section involving a conversation between the two main characters:

"Your work sounds interesting," Francesca said.  She felt a need to keep neutral conversation going.

"It is.  I like it a lot.  I like the road and I like making pictures."

She noticed he'd said "making" pictures.  "You make pictures, not take them?"

"Yes.  At least that's how I think of it.  That's the difference between Sunday snapshooters and someone who does it for a living.  When I'm finished with that bridge we saw today, it won't look quite like you expect.  I'll have made it into something of my own, by lens choice, or camera angle, or general composition, and most likely by some combination of all of those.
"I don't just take things as given; I try to make them into something that reflects my personal consciousness, my spirit.  I try to find the poetry in the image."

      I  suppose that I am somewhere in between a "Sunday snapshooter" and a professional photographer.  And I will probably never be a professional photographer.  (Although the idea of traveling around the country in my truck and taking photos for a living certainly does appeal to me at times.)  Nonetheless, I will continue to try and improve my skill and to try and find the "poetry in the image".

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