happy accidents

I got my first camera when I was a kid.  It may not have actually been mine, I may have appropriated it from my mom, but I felt like it was mine.  It was a 110 Vivitar, a rectangular black plastic box with a winder that you pushed towards the center of the camera and a fixed focus lens.  It also could mount a flash cube on the top.  I took pictures of the things around me: my dog, my sister, the back yard, squirrels.  When we went on vacation I took pictures of the things around me: the car, the trailer, my sister,  trees, squirrels.   I don't have any of those pictures now, but I remember them, and you know what they look like.  Square with rounded corners, textured, blurry, faded to auburn and tawny.  You know what I mean.  The '70's.   My parents were indulgent enough to buy me film just often enough to keep me interested.  I can still remember that foil wrapper that the film came in and the wonderful chemical smell of a brand new cartridge, followed a few weeks later by an envelope full of prints and a little tiny envelope with the negatives in it.

When I got a bit older my dad would let me use his camera, a Pentax Spotmatic with what I know now is a fantastic 50mm 1.4 lens.   I bought some film and took pictures of the things around me; the beach, the cat, my sister's car.  I do have some of these photos, and I can't for the life of me understand why I took them.  How many photos of the ocean do I really need?

When I graduated from college my parents gave me a wonderful graduation present, a Pentax K1000.  I specifically asked for a fully manual camera and that is exactly what that is.  I got married shortly thereafter and I took pictures of the things around me.  Soon enough there were kids, and I took pictures of them.  Those pictures I still have, and of course, I know why I took them, but again, they were just photos of what I pointed the camera at.

This photo, however, represents a change.  In late 2005 I was planning a long and arduous trip to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  I decided I needed to buy a camera to take up the mountain.  I researched and planned and shopped and budgeted (ok, I really didn't budget... thanks VISA!)  and ended up buying a brand spanking new Pentax *istDS 6 megapixel digital camera with a kit 18-55mm zoom lens.  Whereas before each photo represented a significant investment in time and money to develop and print, digital was effectively free.  The day I got the camera, driving home from work, I took this photo.  While it is a pretty nice photo, if I do say so myself, what is important is that I also took 12 other photos of the same subject with slightly different composition and framing.  In other words, I paid attention.  More importantly, when I got home and uploaded them on the computer, I edited.  I thought about the photo, the framing, the feeling, and chose the best one to keep.  In other words, after thirty five or so years of taking pictures, I actually started to learn about photography.

I am still taking pictures of the ocean, and still learning.