I’ve been into photography nearly all my life. It’s one of my main hobbies and the one I love the most. I wrote a my lulu.com book about my Top 40 flickr photos. Here is a modified version of the introduction to that book, explaining my background in photography.
Photography clicked with me from the first moment I was able to take pictures. I don’t remember the first time I handled a camera, but it was apparent to my mother that I loved photography and around the age of eight she presented me with my first camera, a Mickey Mouse-branded Kodak 110 camera. I loved it and spent my allowance buying and developing film. However, I immediately felt the limitations of my camera, a theme which would continue into the present. The instamatic lacked built-in flash, relegating me to taking pictures outside.
I then had a few 35mm cameras, including one that was too complex for me at the time – requiring manual winding of the film and allowing for manual focus. Eventually I was given a 35mm Minolta camera that served me well for quite some time.
When I got to High School, I finally had a budget which allowed me to fill up over eight photo albums with pictures of m y life . I h ad upgraded to the APS photo system as soon as I convinced my parents it wasn’t the film equivalent of Betamax. I had a Kodak camera which I took everywhere I went and loved the ability to choose between 3×5, 4×6, and panoramic trim shots. Unfortunately, my camera was stolen at a Halloween Party and so I was with out one for a while until I received as a Christmas present another APS camera, this time from an obscure Japanese manufacturer. This camera fell and broke while I was visiting Cornell for hosting weekend. So great was my passion to shoot, however, that in the interim I simply bought Kodak disposable cameras. My summer semester at Cornell I went through a few of them.
Then, for Christmas of 2001, my parents bought me my first digital camera, a Kodak DX3600. It w as only 2.2 Megapixels , but it printed out great shots up to 8×10. Once they saw the results printed at a photolab, it finally convinced my parents to join the digital revolution. The ability to shoot with out having to buy and process my film liberated me! Without film and development costs I began shooting like never before and I have n’t looked
back! I also began to experiment with Photoshop at this time, and how it could help me create new pictures.
As I began to read photography magazines , I began to once again see the limitations of my camera. My first upgrade purchases were wide angle and telephoto lenses for the Kodak which had threads that could attach lenses with an adapter ring. I shot some wonderful pictures of New York with those lenses, including my shots from the Empire State building. A year after that experience, I was reading in magazines about being able to obtain certain shots with this shutter speed or that aperture setting. Other shots required manual focus because the subject would throw off camera autofocus settings. It was time for me to graduate from the point and shoot world I had lived in since I was eight years old.
In 2004 I purchased the Fujifilm Finepix S7000. It had an SLR-style body and all of the options of an SLR except the ability to swap lenses. Also, the view finder display consisted of a mini-LCD screen instead of using a mirror to reflect the image into my eye. I fell in love instantly. (As much as one can be in love with an inanimate object) I took it with me that very day on my first excursion to the Brooklyn Bridge. I was very happy with the camera and thought I would never need to upgrade again.
In the fall of 2004 I was reading some Linux news stories when I came across a story about a neat little com pany using Linux technology to run an innovative website. Flickr was a photo hosting website, but it was different from all of the previously known photo websites. Users could assign tags to their pictures, allowing others to find them via the new semantic web techniques. Pictures could be grouped into the photographer’s own sets as well as joining public groups that shared a common theme. It became an addiction for me.
Every day I w ould upload pictures, join groups , and see if others had left me comments. It was this last part which I found most exciting. Other users could comment on my photos and make suggestions or give praise. The suggestions have, on more than one occassion, inspired me to create a new version of the photograph or photo-art. I also enjoyed, and still enjoy to this day, seeing how m photos rank according to views, favorites, and comments. I find it most interesting when a photo I think is of moderate interest ends up with more views or favorite designations than one I really like.
Again, I felt my equipment was not up to par with what I needed! I had outgrown m y Fuji. So I hunted around as I did when I had first selected the Fuji. The SLR which consistently ranked at the top of everyone’s list was the Canon Digital Rebel XT. I had the chance to play with one at my wedding when a friend of my wife let me use hers. (Thanks Aileen!) After months of waiting for the price to come down, I finally owned my first SLR in March 2006.
I purchased the Rebel XT with the 18-55mm lens kit,the vertical grip, and the Speedlite 580EX, the best hot shoe flash gun they had. Now I feel liberated from limitations and have already taken advantage of the MUCH reduced shutter lag (almos t nil) and other SLR features. I find the SLR infinitely easier to manually focus than th e Fuji and there’s nothing more satisfying to a photographer than hearing the sound of a photograph being taken with an SLR.
Along the way I also replaced the Kodak with a Fujifilm Fine pix A345 for snaps hots. After taking my S7000 with me to Disney World, I realized that it might LOOK cool to have a huge camera while the other tourists have point and shoots, but in reality, the larger camera is too cumbersome for anyone who wants to ride any but the most tame rides.
Then, in 2007 when I was going to do a wedding shoot, I needed another camera. So I bought a Rebel XTi. I’ve also bought a bunch of other lenses.
You can follow all of my photography blog posts to see what I’m up to photography-wise. Feel free to check out my photos on flickr or look at my flickr DNA. I’m a pretty hardcore Canon user, but I still have a Fujifilm camera left over from when I was a Fuji fanboy.