As I grew into my 20's, I fell in love with the taking of pictures. After moving to Oregon, I was under too much stress, so I spent a year living with my mother in Sultan, Washington. While I was there, I bought myself a "real" camera: a SLR with auto focus! I felt so incredibly grown up and was very impressed with the pictures it took. It's a far cry from the little Kodak Insta-matics I had grown up with (remember the flash bulbs that you had to buy? Remember the ones that came eight to a cartridge, and when the first four were used up you had to flip it over?). I took a photography class that was offered in Monroe one night a week by the adult education center. It was probably the best investment I ever made. After that I bought as many books on photography as I could afford. I still have most of them. A few years later, after my uncle saw my love of photography, he sold me his old Canon AE-1. At that time the camera was probably 20 years old, but I jumped at the chance to own it because it had several lenses with it. Being able to changes the lenses made me feel like a "real" photographer.
As the kids grew older, I started practicing portrait photography on them. I love taking portraits. The kids were very photogenic, and fortunately for me, they never got tired of me wanting to take their picture! I never had any special equipment. I just made do with what I had. I hung white bedsheets on the wall, or sometimes I purchased fabrics from the store that I thought would make pretty backgrounds. I used my living room lamps (without shades) for accent lighting, and my sister's living room had the perfect south-facing window to give me tons of natural light - which is still my favorite lighting to use. I experimented with black and white film. This was before digital photography was main-stream, and I must have invested thousands of dollars in rolls of film and developing costs. The hard part about photography with 35mm film is that you really don't know how the pictures have come out until they are developed. Your subject could have blinked in every single picture, and you just wasted all that time and money for nothing. The days of waiting for the film to be developed was agony for me! For a while, there were these really cool machines that some photography shops had where you could feed your developed negatives into the machine and then crop, enlarge, and play with color saturation and hue, then print your own pictures in whatever size you desired. I even looked into how much it would cost to purchase one!
Here are a few of my portraits from that time period. These are scans of inkjet printed copies, so the quality isn't that great, but you get the idea.
This is an old friend Ginna with my cat Chloe:
And this is Alisha; it was a black and white photo, and I messed with color saturation and hue to get his blueish/purplish cast to it:
I love Reanna in black and white; her eyes are gorgeous. It's hard to believe that she is only about 12 years old here:
On a side note, I just learned how to put a copyright watermark on my photos! I never posted any of my work before, just because I was a little paranoid. Now that I know how to do it, I will post more in the future.
A few years later, I was in the midst of full blown depression and I lost my love of photography. After moving to Montana, I tried to switch to landscape photography but discovered I really wasn't very good at it. My beloved old Canon AE-1 had been stolen while I was still living in Portland and I could not find another one. My insurance company had replaced it with a modern AE-1 Rebel, but it just wasn't the same. I still had all the lenses for the old camera, but you can't use them with an auto-focus, modern SLR. Then, one day out of the blue, I went into a pawn shop while living in Missoula. Now, you need to understand that I had never been into a pawn shop in my life, and there were no less than about 25 pawn shops in this small city. So, I cannot explain why in the world I picked this one to go into on that day. I was looking at the cameras in the case, when low and behold, there sat an old Canon AE-1. It looked exactly like mine, but I knew there was no way it could be... I had the owner take it out of the case for me. I gingerly turned it over to see the bottom, and there it was - the very distinct crack in the case that happened when my mother dropped it in a parking lot on a beach trip. This was MY camera!! The one that had been stolen at least five years earlier! I nearly burst into tears. I told the owner the story and told him I could not afford the $300 tag; he took $100 off and I bought it with my rent money. I was overjoyed!
My sister is the one that drug me, kicking and screaming, into the digital photography age. I had poo-pooed the whole digital thing as a fad that would never really catch on. I knew in my heart that nothing could compare with 35mm film. Let's just say that it's a good thing I am not a stock broker! I said the same thing about fax machines when those came out! She had bought a digital SLR camera and starting taking pictures of her grand kids. I grudgingly had to admit the pictures were first rate, and then being able to see them immediately and also emailing them around was a definite plus. I was finally sold when I had been out for a visit and used her camera myself. I. Loved. It. The following year, my wonderful sissy bought me the same camera and had it shipped to me at work as a surprise!
Lately I have been rekindling my love for photography. I have been reading a few blogs that have been inspiring; and since I will be moving back to where my family is very soon, I hope to start taking portraits again.
In the meantime, I keep taking pictures of what is available. You never know what you might see, so yesterday I went for a drive. I suffer from weather-induced headaches, and the last few weeks have been no exception. Yesterday was so pretty that I could not stand to be in the house, so I went for a drive - with my camera.
A thunderhead building to the south of Billings. Picture taken at Sword Park, just off the main road to the airport.
A wispy cloud formation to the southeast.
Big Sky country. This picture is taken at the far west end of Wicks Avenue, where the houses end and the prairie takes over.
An old church that was moved to this spot a few years ago in several pieces. They are still working on getting it all put together and restored. When it was first moved here, there were no houses around. That has changed now.
Another view of the church, converted to black and white.
On the way back down Wicks toward my house is a very large, modern church. This prong-horn antelope was with a group of three of his friends across the street from it.