This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Photography Bug

Photography is my hobby and I really do enjoy “capturing images”, especially when traveling.  I do take a lot of what I call “travel photos”, which are mostly candid shots of something or some place that we visited and that I can show to people and say, “this is were we were and what we saw.”  They are basically the same photos that anyone else on the same trip and seeing the same sights would probably take.  There is nothing especially noteworthy about these photos; they are simply a pictorial record of the trip.  They are certainly nothing unique.  However, I am always looking for something that is different.  Something that maybe only I see as a possible subject.  As I drive along I see many possibilities but it is just not possible to stop and check out every possibility to see if it would make a great photograph.  I like to say, “I have taken many award winning photos…” and then after a slight pause complete the sentence with “in my mind.”  If I stopped for every one of them I would never reach my destination.

I have always had an interest in photography, but only since I took early retirement from Abbott Laboratories and moved to Texas 14 years ago have I attempted to pursue the interest.  My parents gave me my first camera when I was ten years old and on my way to summer camp.  The year was 1954 and the camera was a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye box camera.  The film size was 620 and the finished photos were only 2 ¼” x 2 ¼”.  The body was molded Bakelite with a very simple fixed lens.  I’m not sure what the price of the camera was in 1954, but when it was first marketed in 1949 it sold for $5.50, so I doubt that it would have been a great deal more 5 years later.  I still have a few of the old photos that I took at camp but they are quite “dim”.

The first camera that I purchased myself was a Yashica TL-Super, a 35mm SLR (single lens reflex).  I was in Vietnam and several of my friends had purchased Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLRs from the camp’s PX.  I decided to purchase one also but when I got to the PX they were sold out of the Pentax cameras so I “settled” for a Yashica TL Super 35mm SLR.  I took mostly color slides in Vietnam and still have hundreds of them stored away.  The few remaining prints are black & white and are still very sharp and clear.  After I returned home from Vietnam I rarely used the camera and eventually sold it to a friend. 

I went through several forgettable point-and-shoot cameras over the years before purchasing my first digital camera in the early 2000’s (around 2002 perhaps).  It was an Olympus Camedia (2.0 megapixel I believe) point-and-shoot.  I believe it cost almost $200 at the time.  Then in 2005 I jumped in with both feet and got a Nikon D70S.  A 6.1 megapixel digital SLR.  It came as a kit with 3 lenses and I was hooked.  The D70S (no longer manufactured) was billed as a “prosumer” model.  Not quite a professional camera but a little more than a consumer model.  It cost me around $900, which meant I was serious.  This camera served me well for about 7 years, until I attended a weekend Nikon School in Houston in 2012.  The instructors were discussing and demonstrating all of the neat things that could be done with a Nikon.  Unfortunately, my Nikon, the D70S, did not have very many of the new features being touted.  At the end of the school I told one of the instructors that I had the D70S and that it did not have many of the features that they had demonstrated.  He told me the D70S had been discontinued and if I wanted the new features I would need to purchase a new camera.  For what other reason would Nikon sponsor these weekend classes if not to sell new cameras?  Anyway, I went home and ordered the Nikon D7000 16.2 megapixel digital SLR.  I could use the same lenses I had for the D70S so I only purchased the D7000 body for about $900.  I still have the D70S, there’s nothing wrong with it and it makes a good second camera.  However, I soon learned that the “kit” lenses that had come with the D70S just did not do the D7000’s 16.2 megapixels justice.  Since then I have purchased 3 new lenses of better quality.  Now, all I have to do is sharpen my skills and I’ll be a happy camper.

On our recent 3-month odyssey to the Canadian Maritime Provinces and back, I took over 20,000 shots.  That doesn’t mean there were 20,000 DIFFERENT subjects.  I take multiple shots of a subject, using different settings and shooting from different angles and distances.  My problem is then determining which images to keep and which to delete, which means that I end up keeping too many and as a result it takes a tremendous amount of time to wade through them all to select the ones to make prints of or to include in a photo book. 

When struggling through thousands of photos after returning home from a trip, I look at many and say to myself, “Why did I take pictures of that?”  Those are usually the shots that one would use to show people where you have been and what you saw.  Just travel snap shots that might be put in a book to document the trip.  They don’t have to be technically perfect or artistic.  I do take a lot of that kind of photo and make photo books of our travels to show where we have been.  But these are not the kind of photos that would be entered into a photo contest. 

What I enjoy the most is finding exceptions.  Photos that I personally think are quite good (at least I like them!).  Perhaps it is the colors, textures, or patterns.  Maybe it is an unusual or odd item.  I can’t really explain it except to say that some photos draw me into them while others do nothing for me.  That doesn’t mean that the photos I am drawn to are great photos.   It only means that I really like them and since I don’t try to sell my work, I am satisfied.

I have posted many photos that were taken during our travels on this blog.  However, most of them are “travel photos”, again nothing great or artistic.  Now, over the next few months I will be sorting through thousands of photos in an attempt to select the more promising ones.  Ones that, with a little tweaking, perhaps, will make them stand out a little more.  The ones that I especially like will be uploaded to gallery pages on my Smugmug site.  I will let you know when that is done.  Hopefully, you will like them.

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