Today, I’ve just entered the world of electronic journaling, aka “blogging”. For years I’ve journaled the old fashioned way with fountain pens and journals. Sometimes the entries have had long gaps, years in some cases, yet the journal thread, the essence of what I’m trying to say, continues as if there has been no time lapse. In some ways, these sporadic entries over the course of years are extremely revealing in what I’ve not said, not written down, not admitted to myself, and then I wonder why.
I keep different types of journals – the one with the long time lapses are written when I’m on travel; those with more frequent entries are written when I’m at home or on the train going to work. Each has it’s purpose; each allows a different thought process; each written at different times of my life. Much like my photography, while on travel, during daily activities, whether personal or professional. Each journal entry, each photograph has it’s story, a continuity, a purpose, a vision. Each has purpose in my life.
There is so much written about photography today that it’s difficult to comprehend how my contribution will be any different than the thousands of other articles, blogs, story lines already published. However, in life, as in writing, photography, craftsmanship, art, it is how you portray your work, how you perceive and capture the world in front of your lens, it is your style, your vision that sets you apart. In that aspect, it is why this blog is unique, it is about style, vision, that uniqueness that is only you, nobody else.
My photo forays began in my teens many years ago with my father’s Yashika 635 and his old flash. My father had passed away some years before and I hadn’t a clue on how to use the twin lens reflex camera. I didn’t know a thing about proper exposure, that magical relationship between f-stop and aperture absolutely necessary to achieve the “look” you’re going for, depth of field and all the other photo skills that I learned since then. Composition was an unknown quality and when I eagerly picked up the prints from the corner drug store, I was very unhappy that none of the prints reflected what I expected.
I didn’t give up and slowly began to see improvement in the photos I shot. I joined the Army, ended in Vietnam and soon bought my first camera of my own – a Nikon F. In many ways it was a different version of the Yashica and I quickly realized I wasn’t ready for it. I sold it and bought a Pentax Spotmatic with some lenses and used it for many years before selling it and picking up a Nikon F2S and lenses. The biggest reason I switched was because of the screw-in lens on the Pentax. I was always worried that I would cross thread the lens when I was screwing them in. I went with the Nikon as I had owned the Nikon F previously and was really impressed with the first class quality of the camera. When I look back, the reason the Nikon F wasn’t for me was simple – I still didn’t understand the basics of photography. The Pentax was (in my mind) simpler and with it, I was able to capture fairly good shots while in Vietnam. I shot mostly slides then and as soon as the roll was finished, it was sent off in the photo mailers you bought in the PX and about 10 days later they were in my hands. Those slides are still with me, still in their boxes with the APO address, and about a year ago, I began scanning them for post processing (inset).
My photo skills improved exponentially in the mid 1970’s while in Berlin on an Army assignment. The F2S metering system was simply superb and on weekends I went out on photo shoots and was pleased with the results. Up until now everything I shot was commercially processed and one day, I signed up for a beginning black and while film developing and printing class at the Army recreation center on Andrews Kaserne in the American Sector of West Berlin. This class was the turning point in my photography journey…here I finally grasped the interplay between metering, f-stops, aperture, depth of field, how to develop black and white film, and the most magical of all, watching that first print from film I’d developed, begin to appear in the chemical soup. slowly, surely with the faintest traces of an image. I was hooked from that point on!