My father loved photography. Before he died, when his eyesight was going and he suffered from hand tremors (something I’ve inherited), he had bought himself a Yashica MAT-124G Twin Lens Reflex camera. I was doing financially well at the time and I wanted to surprise my parents with gifts I couldn’t afford before, so I gave my dad a Minolta Maxxum 7000. This was the first Single Lens Reflex camera to offer integrated autofocus. He was so happy that he gave me the Yashica TLR.
I still have that Yashica and want to take it out soon. My father died less than a year after I gave him the Minolta, but in my youth he gave me the bug to be a photographer. It didn’t become a career for he or I, but we both did weddings and he did do some police photography. As a child, I remember that he owned the Time-Life book series on photography and the Ansel Adams series of books. This was somewhere around 1970 and I read every page of those books. I didn’t understand the technical properties of lenses but f-stops, film speed and shutter speed, and all of the techniques that one could do with that knowledge made me want to experiment.
As a kid, I had a Kodak Instamatic at the time, but he trusted me with his Mamiya C-220 and C-330 cameras. I was out and about taking pictures of everything. There were some good pictures and many bad ones, but I was more interested in seeing what I could do with what I learned. The bug wore off for a while as music became more of a passion, but when I graduated high school in 1977, my graduation present was a Minolta SRT-201 SLR.
I took that camera with me into the Army and while I wasn’t satisfied with my photos, I kept going. Eventually the light meter died and I decided to try a different camera – The Yashica Electro 35. This aperture-priority camera took wonderful pictures. Still thinking that lenses didn’t matter, I sold it and bought a Konica compact point-and-shoot camera and couldn’t get a decent photo from it. I lost the camera bug again after that for a long time.
When I started traveling for work, I was making enough money to buy some decent camera gear. I dreamed of using Zeiss lenses since I read my father’s books. Buying two cameras (Contax and Yashica) I took great landscapes of places in countries where I worked. After the traveling stopped I decided to try weddings. Using the MAT-124 and the SLRs I took photos at four weddings. Learning that landscapes were more for me and due to the pressures of competing photographers, along with the sick feeling of not knowing really how the proofs came out beforehand, I put down a camera for ten years.
The digital age of photography made a difference. A photographer could see how the shot came out at the wedding. That helped in making photography comfortable again. Although I avoided weddings, it was getting married and prioritizing money that kept me from buying a new camera. The best thing about film photography was that no cameras came with zoom lenses. Technically, zoom lenses have lower contrast and resolution than a good fixed-focal lens. A good kit for a 35mm camera was having a normal lens (43mm to 55 mm), a portrait lens (80mm to 100mm) and a wide-angle lens (28mm to 35mm). A good zoom lens cost over one thousand dollars in 1990. Today, they’re standard with the kit lenses that are offered in package deals. Seeing this, I knew that going back to wedding photography was too expensive for me.
In 2005, my wife gave me a Nikon D50 for Christmas. I still love that camera but didn’t know it at the time. In 2011, I got a Canon 60D. I got the kit lenses with both cameras. Resolution is not a substitute for good pictures and I regret the change. A good Canon lens costs more than the camera.
I’ve taken many photos with both, but my new love for photography has come from smartphones. Today, I rarely touch my SLRs. I can whip out my iPhone and be satisfied with every shot. The images go to iCloud and they’re there when I need them on my computers. The accompanied image is one of my favorites – the first keeper from a smartphone, the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. Although the options afforded to a SLR aren’t available on phones, landscapes don’t need depth-of-field adjustments or variable shutter speeds. Even my people shots look good. My iPhone is perfect for great images. All of the images on this website (as of this post) have come from smartphones.
Photography isn’t a profession but my images will be displayed here. Florida is so picturesque but so is Fall up North. I will post some older photos soon. Learning photography through my father will always be cherished. The days of appreciating the mechanics of manual cameras are gone and since everyone always has a camera, how much can photography be appreciated anymore? The things that kept me from picking up a camera still exist. Many times I think about taking a camera, some lenses, a tripod and some filters, and spending the day going through the setup and getting the right image. And then I think about being ready on the spot, with no time to set up, just grabbing the image. I can do that with my iPhone. I never considered photography as art but if it ever was, it’s gone like my father. The good thing is, my memories still remain.