I have always been interested in photography as a hobby from as far back as I can remember. Yes that is my first camera, vintage Mickey. I was 5 or 6 when I was given this. I remember trying trying to take pictures of my grandfathers sister “Aunt Margaret” in Marquette, Michigan. I still remember her not being able to stand still as she was laughing at my little camera. I still have all the photographs I took with that awesome first camera.
During high school, I got my first 35mm camera, a Fuji. I had a standard lens, a wide angle and a 80-200mm zoom. I dabbled with that for years. Back then enlargements were not reasonably priced.
I left Texas and moved to Nashville and started shooting black and white. The next step was to get darkroom equipment. Developing the film was fairly easy. I could do it in the bathroom. The hardest part was getting the film on a plastic reel in pitch black. I literally would practice this in front of the TV with a ruined roll of film. In complete darkness, I had to remove the film from the casing, trim the edges and feed it onto the reel, get it into the developing tank and get the lid on. The rest was done on my bathroom sink with a timer and chemicals with the lights on. I had a large closet and was able to conver one corner into a darkroom. Enlarging allows the use of a safelite, but is still quite dark. I would spend hours enlarging photos and learning more and more. Friends would come over and had to dodge drying prints in the bathroom.
I had the opportunity to go to Australia for 4 years and the darkroom equipment was put in storage. I took heaps of picture there, but resorted back to color and professional processing.
I ended up in Georgia and was able to build a full darkroom and used it for years, until…well kids….and other obligations and photography fell to a lower priority.
Last year business was good and the digital camera I was using for work was slowly passing away. I splurged and got a Cannon SX50. I really wanted a digital SLR, but that would have needed at least a $1500 investment and I was not sure if this was something I would do again. I am very pleased with the results I am getting.
So now, I am full blown into the digital age, trading my darkroom for Corel PaintShop Pro and a local printer. It is amazing the new things I can do in seconds digitally that would have taken me hours, even days before in the darkroom. I am also able to do things that are impossible in the darkroom such as tilt shifting. The cost of enlargements is ridiculously cheap. I can get 8X10’s on various papers for $1.99 each. I think I may need to build more walls soon to hang pictures.
The camera shop where I got my first 35mm SLR offered a free photography class. The main point from the instructor was to take a lot of pictures and never show anyone the bad ones………….