This is my eleventh book and one that it is near and dear to my heart. I was first introduced into photography when I was a mere child. A friend of the family, Bob Knapp, who appeared to be joined at the hip to my brother Robert, always seemed to have a camera hanging from his neck became the de facto photographer and took all the photos at our get-togethers. I remember all the cool equipment he had. But what I found the most interesting was all the flash bulbs he had to switch out. I even remember my fingers getting burned when I picked up of the bulbs too soon after they were fired. Boy, have we come a long ways. My father was a school teacher, so he seldom had discretionary income. Certainly none for an expensive camera.
The next time I was exposed to a serious photographer was in the 9th grade at Gulf Jr. High School in New Port Richey, FL. He obviously was a professional because he had a Nikon F3 HP camera with a motor drive. What a beast the camera was. The lens though was just a standard 50mm. He also had a photo vest just bulging with filters and film and other “doo-dads”. I was virtually drooling over this guy’s camera.
So even though I poured through all the Sears specialty catalogs, I had to wait until I got a job before I was able to get my own camera. My father did help out some when he found an unclaimed Tamron lens at his school. I was overjoyed when he brought it home. This company had a very unique feature. It had interchangeable lens mounts called “adaptall 2 mounts”. I always had a liking for Nikon, but the local camera store only had the Minolta MD mounts. So Minolta it was. I was OK with that choice because my brother-in-law Steve had a Minolta camera. The lens my father gave me was a Tamron 75-150mm zoom lens. I quickly purchased a Tamron 28-75 mm lens to complete my initial outfit. It was a great lens. I dearly loved it. Of course, I promptly dropped it and had to get it repaired. I eventually sold it to my brother-in-law and he promptly dropped it as well. I think it was cursed. I just recently found a barely used model on Ebay for $25.00. So, I picked it up. I still had a Minolta X-700 camera body with motor drive, so my thirst for nostalgia was quenched.
There is no denying that photography has changed over the years. One of my early cameras, a Minolta XD-11 was a mechanical camera and could actually operate without a battery in a strictly non-metered manner. Photography, like the field of computers used to be strictly the purview of the professional and hardy amateur.
Computers became much simpler with Windows and plug and play. Digital made photography much more accessible to the lay person. Soon everyone could take amazing photos. However, nothing changed photography more than the smart phone. The sheer volume of photos being taken increased immensely, as well as did the quality of those photos. The reason I mentioned computers in the previous paragraph is that computers have played a very large role in improving the accessibility of photography.
In the old days, you had to wait for the film to get developed, then you had to cull through all the crappy photos. Eventually the economy processed photos faded, so even though you dutifully recorded your important life events, their longevity was not guaranteed. There exposure was also limited. I have dozens of albums of all the photos I have taken. To be honest with you maybe a half dozen people have actually looked at any of them. Let’s face it who wants to look at your family photos? Now with digital cameras, computers and the internet all that has changed. Photos no longer fade. You now get to see your photos as you take them, so you can shoot them again to make sure they come out OK. You no longer have to pay for photos that you’ll throw away. The internet also ensures that countless people will see your photos.
I have been posting my best photos on two websites for years. I will discuss them and other sites in Chapter 35.
I remember what the camera store owner told me. He said buy the biggest camera bag you can afford, because you will fill it up. He forgot to mention about carrying the damn thing. Even though I did what he said, I soon ran out of room. That is when I came across the Tamrac company and their flagship bag, the 614. So, I promptly robbed a bank and bought the bag. It was huge. It cost me more than my first camera did. The problem was when I finally filled it up, I needed a damn pack mule to carry it. It weighed way over 40 pounds. I soon became interested in weddings, so I bought two used Bronica medium format cameras. Of course, I needed a new camera bag for them. Well, Tamrac had one of those as well. It was called the 617 Super Pro and it was even bigger than the 614. Well, guess what…medium format cameras are even heavier than 35mm film cameras. I think I needed about four hernia operations after carrying those two bags around.
I eventually bought two trunks which I converted to handle my wedding camera gear. They were set up to handle the cameras all rigged with strobes and flash handles. So this made my life much easier. I also had a heavy duty folding dolly to tote them around, so I was all set. I also continued to buy every camera bag that came out in search of that perfect bag. Well, guess what, it doesn’t exist. There is always something missing. When I found the perfect backpack, the company flaked out and I was never able to buy anything from them. I think they eventually went out of business. I even contacted one company with some advice on how to improve their rolling bags. They said thanks, but they never acted on it. So I have rigged my own outfits, and I am happy. I have more camera bags than cameras, and that is saying a lot.
In most of my books I use generic photos. In this book, I am going to take photos of my gear. Trust me I have a lot. I bought my first SLR when I was 21. I am now 59. So that is a long time to be taking photos. I have even had two fully outfitted darkrooms.
This book is not meant to be a definitive source of information on every topic that is covered in it. You could write entire books on over half the chapters that I have included. I know because I have shelves full of those books. Since I have never taken a photography class, those books served as my tutors. I am totally self-taught.
I have pretty much dabbled in every area of photography that you can imagine, so I am bringing a lot of experience and personally acquired knowledge to this book. I will fill it with many anecdotal stories where they are appropriate. I hope you find this book helpful. Even experienced photographers should find it interesting. I am sure that they will nod there heads in agreement with a lot of things that I say. I usually manage to do everything the hard way first, but eventually I do find an easier way to do it. If nothing else, the book will be heavy and large so you can use it either to hit your spouse over the head when you get mad at them or you can use it to attack anybody trying to break into your house.
I want to make the caveat that this book is mainly about still photography and not video photgraphy, so if you are looking for a book on video photography you need to continue searching for that referece book. However, since most if not all digital cameras have the ability to shoot video, I will devote Chapter 29 to the subject.