The Making and Life of a Blogger: The Story Continues: Chapter Eighteen–My Photo Sites

This is the first chapter of Part Three–Me and the Internet. The chapters in this part will follow a different format than has been used in the first two parts of this book. This change is related to the type of information that I will be discussing. There will be more photos and screen captures than I have used previously, as well as a lot of copy and pasting of various articles from my blog.

However, before I start on my internet journey, I thought it might be fun to discuss how I first became involved with computers. I did not become interested in computers until I entered graduate school in 1985. I was working fulltime, so I was only able to take one graduate class at a time. After becoming disenchanted with the medical arena, I decided that I would try my hand at my first true love, and that was history. Before my university would accept me in the masters program, I was required to take a couple of undergraduate classes. Both of which I aced, so I became enrolled in the graduate program. My specialty was American history from the 1890’s to the 1930’s. Each class involved reading and discussing a book each week and writing a paper for your grade. Well, my professor wanted a rough draft and a final copy. At that time, I only had an electric typewriter. Yes I know, I used it through all my five years of undergraduate work. But now the lack of a word processor became a real issue. The two copy requirement meant that I had to type the whole paper twice. Considering that my paper was twenty pages , this was an issue. With a typewriter, there is no backspace or delete key nor spell check, you either retyped the page if the mistake was too grievous or you used whiteout liquid or sheets. Life really sucked for that first semester. My professor must have felt sorry for me and he gave me an “A”. So, now I had two choices either buy a dedicated word processor which looked like a glorified typewriter with a delete key, or a computer. Well, the decision was simple… computer it was. So, off to Sears I went. Let me tell you I had no clue what the hell I was doing or looking at. My first computer had no hard drive. You had to constantly switch your operating disk which was on a 5 1/4 floppy disk for instructions with your program that you were using. Well, I got confused when the computer informed me that I need to load a disk in and format it. I said OK. I only had two disk, one was the word processor program and the other one was the operating disk. Well, I had no idea what formatting was so, I figured it had to be referring to the operating disk because every command required that disk. So, yep, I loaded that disk in and hit enter. Well, shit that certainly could have went better. You guessed it, I had a $1,200 paperweight, that is also when I became familiar with what formatting meant. Formatting is a bad thing.

So now, I am worse off than I was before, I not only don’t have a computer but I am out a lot of money. So I put my best poker face on and brought the computer back to the store and asked the salesman if he was trying to rip me off? I told him that my operating disk was blank and I wanted a refund. Well, he believed me and I got a full refund. Thank the hell God! Maybe I should have taken up playing poker instead? I was now back to square one, so I went to the only computer store there was in town and that was an Apple store. When I saw the prices they wanted for a Macintosh computer, I said “No, thank you.” It looked like a toy for one and it cost over $2,000 dollars. If I was going to spend that kind of money, I at least, wanted it to look like a computer should…that is something that would take two men to carry. So I now focused on my mission, learn everything there was to learn about computers in one week. No problem, I’ve got this. So I went out and bought the biggest and baddest computer magazine I could find and that was the Magazine “Computer Shopper”. Let me tell you the current version is just a mere shadow of the original version. It was oversized and it was thick. It was chock full of all kinds of cool stuff. Of course, I had no idea what I was looking at. But after cramming about 2,000 hours worth of reading into one week, I had a plan and I was ready. I thought I knew it all. So I pulled out my trusty yellow pages and found a computer shop in Tampa that built custom made computers. My new computer had a whopping 12-inch 256 color CGA monitor. My desk top computer had two 360 KB 5 1/4 floppy disk drives, no more switching disks for me. What was really cool was that I now had a 32 MB hard drive. Best of all, my computer was a smoker! It was a turbo XT which clocked out at 8 MHz.

I was ready for college now. I ripped through those papers like nobody’s business. But alas my computer only lasted the two years I was in Graduate school. I ended up moving several times after I quit school and had no real reason to turn the computer on. I just set it up and let it sit there basking in all its glory with its 180 cps dot matrix printer. When I finally settled down and got married and my new wife needed a word processor, I had this. I trundled my behemoth out, and ever so lovingly set it all up and turned on the switch and I waited and I waited and nothing happened. Well, guess what it turns out that I had not learned everything there was to learn about computers all those years ago. There was a little step that my computer builders neglected to tell me about. They sold me a manual parking hard drive. Which means that before you move your computer you have to enter a command so that the calipers that read the disks on your hard drive are put in a safe position. It is kind of like an old record player. The stylus had to be in its holder before you put a new record on, otherwise it would scratch your records and eventually damage your needle. Well, every time I moved my computer, those damn calipers were just happily bouncing up and down on my disks.

So, I brought my computer into a repair shop to see if I could get a new drive. They took one look at my beast and they just laughed. They said it was a useless dinosaur and would not be able to power even the most basic software.

So off to Sam’s club we went where we bought a more modern computer with a modem and monitor that had thousands of colors instead of hundreds of colors. It got her through nursing school with no problem and we also were able to access the internet which is where I finally need to be so I can continue on with this story. Of course , my story was not that simple. I could write at least a couple more chapters on the subject. Needless to say, I eventually had thirteen computers networked together at one time. Why go small when you can go big.

What I am trying to do is to introduce my readers to the multi-faceted nature of my involvement on the internet. I have been going online from the days when bulletin boards and ftp sites were king and http had not even been invented yet. I started by using Prodigy, Compuserve and American Online or AOL and then Netscape and eventually Internet Explorer. Now, most people simply access the internet through software interfaces such as Google Chrome to go straight to their websites. Many also use sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok to name a few of the more popular social networking sites to interact with their online friends and family. I have carried it a step further by creating my own blog and podcast to interact with individuals on the net. Now I am carrying it even further and that is through books published on the internet. Where it will end, I don’t really know, maybe I will do video podcasts next, only time will tell. All I know is that I want to make a difference in the world and to leave some kind of positive mark. I want people to remember me as one of the good guys.

My photographic webpages on Flickr and Viewbug came about in 2011 as an answer to a real problem. I needed a way to show my photos. When I finally purchased my first professional digital camera, the number of photos I took became problematic and it was just too expensive to develop them all into prints. Also who had the time to put all these photos into albums. Besides, buying the albums became expensive and where to store them also became a problem. Once I had spent all that time and money on processing fees and albums, who was going to look at the albums? I have over 50 albums and they barely scratch the surface of the photos I have taken over the years. I discovered Flickr through a friend of mine. He asked me to photograph a collection of his jewelry that he wanted to sell. So, I took the photos and uploaded them onto the website, so he could review them. Unfortunately, they were not high enough in resolution for his use but he was still able to pick the ones he wanted and I then put them on a SD card and mailed it to him. It became a great way for my clients to proof and select the photos they wanted from the comfort of their own home. Thus began my photo pages 11 years ago. I have averaged uploading about a thousand photos a year on my Flickr site. I have my photos divided up into albums as well as placed in a general viewing location for all the said odd 11 thousand photos. There are filters for the photos so that children won’t see the nude photos I have taken. What is nice is that my family and friends and my followers can view my photos from anywhere. These sites also serve as a very safe backup for the best of my work. While I have my photos backed up on a total of four hard drives, they all share the same vulnerability and that is to fire. If my house burns down, all my photos will go up in flames no matter how many hard drives they are on, at least, with the websites the best of my work is protected from calamities like this. Now, I only print the very best of my photos to display them on my walls at home.

A few years later, Viewbug came about to act as a peer review site for photographers. It was a site where photographers of all levels could review and grade each other’s photos. I post only a percentage of the photos from Flickr onto Viewbug. Approximately, a third of the photos are chosen and uploaded from Flickr to Viewbug. I have well over a million and half views on my Flickr site and I have received thousands of honorable mentions for my photos on Viewbug. I have also had a few professional individuals use my photos for their projects and professional publications and in their advertising. I have been involved in photography seriously since the mid 1980’s, which means that I have been doing this for close to 40 years now. I was a wedding photographer in the 1990’s. I have also owned two darkrooms during this time. I no longer dabble in developing my own prints, I do, however, still own film cameras and occasionally shoot in film for the fun of it. I could probably buy a nice car for the amount of money that I have spent on my cameras and accessories. I currently own over 20 cameras and well over 50 lenses. I have a small home studio with numerous lights and backgrounds. I enjoy all forms of photography. I shoot nudes and boudoir in my studio as well as on location. I have a portable generator so I can actually take some of my portable lights on location for night shoots. I have costumes, outfits and all kinds of accessories for my models to wear including countless shoes and boots.

I have a strict code of ethics, I do not touch my nude models in any way. My wife is always on site when I shoot and she is the one that assists the female models in wardrobe issues. I also don’t shoot minors without their legal guardians being present in addition to my wife also being present for the entire shooting process. I also do not post any photos on my web pages that my models or their guardians do not deem appropriate. By following these rules, I have never had any complaints or any problems with my models or my clients.

This is the nerve center where all my creative juices are born.

My Studio

My dressing, makeup and storage room

The pictures posted above are just a smattering of the types and breadth of photos that I take.