Doing Things the Hard Way

I will state up front that I'm posting this at least in part to encourage myself to get back to trying to improve my photography skills.


My father has been a serious amateur photographer since his youth, which puts it back about 65 years...He had always hoped that I would someday be interested, and did everything he could to make things easy for me.  Sadly it just never stuck.  In the summer of 2002 I was home on a visit and talking about a coworker who liked to repair cameras.  Dad asked if I thought he could do anything with "this", a ca. 1950 Rolleiflex medium format twin lens reflex camera, all mechanical, all manual.  I was intrigued by this machine, which I barely remembered from my childhood, and he said that if I liked that, he had something else to show me.  He went to his closet and pulled out an enormous case holding his new-in-1948 4x5" Speed Graphic press camera outfit.   If the Rollei was interesting, the Graphic was love at first sight.  I had to learn how to use it...and I did.  I scrounged up the companion book for it, Graphic Graflex Photography (1949 edition) from a used bookstore, took a darkroom class (one of the last) at the local community college, and practiced with it enough that I could actually shoot with some fluidity.  In the course of doing that, I also shot a lot of 35mm B&W, and then bought a more flexible 4x5 wooden field camera (with two lenses).  I set up a darkroom, scrounged up the necessary equipment, and learned to print, at least enough for my tastes.


Today, I'm a little behind; I haven't printed in a year and I'd need to renew all of my chemicals to do a session, which is a bit of an inhibition.  However, I hope to find the resolve to do that soon; I have a few dollars of windfall money that would cover the chemistry.  I'm taking 2mp pictures with my cell phone, which at least has the advantage of being always with me, in order to keep the principles of composition and so forth in my mind.


So, in my usual backward way, the key to being interested was to learn to do things the hard way, rather than to try to make them easier. (-:


Sliderule Sliderule
51-55, M
2 Responses Feb 20, 2009

I'd agree about at least a lot of people being motivated by a challenge...<br />
<br />
At this point I wouldn't mind going the DSLR route, but it still requires too much ancillary equipment to purchase all in one go. The computer is the key, so it's at the top of my list (I don't own the one I'm using to to type this), and then the camera, probably Pentax to allow me to use my little collection of manual focus lenses rather than having to rebuy them.<br />
<br />
I don't know about the discipline of film. You could train yourself to work that way with the digital too...something along the lines of setting a daily (or weekly, or whatever fits) challenge to take n careful shots. For that matter, once you've set up your lights and tripod or traveled to your challenge location, you might as well bracket the shot and try a few different compositions. (And I've fiddled around with some things like still lifes with my phonecam that I would never have wasted film on...)

I remember vaguely some sort of psychology study on people being more interested in things that don't come easily... Or maybe thats just how I function too ;-P Though I am in the DSLR camp, rather than traditional B+W. I like that once you have the equipment, you can process as many pictures as you want for free. It has gotten me too far into the habit of the scatter shot approach to photography though, so maybe I need to spend some time with film!