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I started doing photography in 2001 (approximately). I had moved in with my
mother, who had dementia, to take care of her. Feeling more and more
"housebound" I wanted a hobby that would get me outdoors and
moving around in nature. I
had always been at lousy photography, having used several film point & shoot
over the years. So I decided to try a class and see if I could get half-way
decent at it.
I bought a film, all-manual camera, (this was before DSLRs had really taken off), the Pentax K1000, and took a beginning photography class. While I found a lot of things frustrating, to my amazement I improved tremendously. Having interchangeable lenses and more control over exposure (f-stops, shutter speed, etc.) gave me a sense of how a good photograph could be produced. I was very proud of my first "successful" efforts, although I look at them now and think they were just passable. :-)
After that first class with Stephanie Williamson, I went on to take intermediate and advanced classes with Bill Helsel. He ends his advanced photography class with a little “show” (mainly seen by family and friends). Having taken the class twice, my focus has shifted more and more (also as I have gotten better), from just shooting what is out there to shooting what is in my head (adhering to a theme). Thanks, Bill.
I have also taken several Photoshop classes at a local city arts program, a studio portrait class with Jerry Ott, a landscape photography class with Christopher Foster, and attended two seminars: one given by John Shaw, and one by George Lepp. Each photographer/teacher has had something to offer and I've learned a lot from each. While none of them has been in the field with me helping me with my camera (I wish), or pointing out things to shoot, each has had some unique expertise, that shared, enlightened me.
Somewhere in my photographic journey, I evolved the idea of combining photography and art work and am still working toward that end. I started out life as an artist and once oil painted (but got sidetracked by computer science, i.e. programming). The idea of merging the two excites me.
However, the users of PDML (Pentax Discuss Mailing List), tend to prefer their photography "straight," so most of the photographs you will see here are fairly unmanipulated. About six months into my photographic exploration I discovered the PDML email list online, and sharing my photos with its supportive and highly experienced members has been invaluable. So you will see many references to PDML, PESOs (Picture Every So Often), and GESOs (Gallery Every So Often), on these pages.
Equipment-wise, I migrated from the Pentax K-1000 to the Pentax ZX-5n, then to the Canon Elan, Canon Digital Rebel, Pentax K-100D, Canon XT, and now the Canon XSi. Most of my equipment I have bought used, except for two cameras and two lenses. When something no longer feels comfortable, when it feels like it is starting to limit me, I sell it on ebay and use the proceeds to partially defray the cost of another camera and/or lens. Thankfully, PDML members still welcome me, although I am 99% a Canon person now (I still have a Pentax Optio).
When I have a camera in my hands I look at the world differently -- appreciating everything more. But my photographic journey is far from complete. I now find myself almost compelled to shoot what is in the world that matches what I see in my mind's eye, or what I see happening around me that my wayward mind puts into some kind of a narrative. We shall see if I am successful.
Note that there are very few comments in these web pages, except for the two shows. So, although not a professional or great photographer, to help newbies, I decided to add some tips. Those below are culled from the classes I've taken and my personal experience.
All my photographs are copyrighted and none may be used without my permission (in any form -- web page linked, downloaded, printed, etc.).
Seven steps to becoming a better photographer:
|Note: I am very flattered that when I sent Bill Helsel a link to this page, he came and looked at my seven steps and decided to use them in his photography class. Maybe he's not still using them, but he used them at least once. So there, Rockwell! Heh. My photography web page is quoted too! (This will be completely understandable to PDMLers.)|
59 Photographers, 16 Countries, 1 Book
Preview the inside of book and/or order online
"The Online Photographer's" comments about the book
Editor, Mark Robert's, web page about the book
Steve Cottrel, Cotty's, generous review of the book
(It's almost as good as he says it is.)