In the Beginning…

January 12, 2010

Taughannock Falls in winter

(C) Copyright 2010 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I have always been interested in photography.

As a child, I would pull my parents’ copies of Life and National Geographic from the magazine rack and become engrossed the pictures.  On occasion, I would even read the articles.

As I grew older and began to hike, backpack, and climb throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, I wanted reminders of the experiences and so photography became a necessity.  I did some research and purchased a state-of-the-art 35 mm film camera with the requisite 50 mm lens (this was 30 years ago.)   Shortly thereafter, I added 28 mm and 135 mm lenses and a small flash.  I was ready for the next adventure.

The only problem was that the ability to buy equipment does not come with the knowledge to use it-I was baffled by all the numbers engraved on the camera and the lenses.  I wasn’t too sure about the ones on the film boxes either.  Don’t even ask about the flash.

I did read the owner’s manual.  However, that was not terribly helpful and my photos continued to not look anything like what I had experienced.  Fortunately, the Canon AE-1 did have an “automatic” setting which I did learn to use.  In general, image quality increased except for one very important detail:  most of my trips took place in winter with lots of snow and ice.  The photo of Taughannock Falls included here made on a recent trip through Ulysses, New York is an example of the type of image that was my passion at that time.  Relying on the camera’s auto setting under such conditions was a mistake that took me quite a long time to understand.  Even with the exposure latitude of print film, my photos did not have the vibrance of the scenery I was trying to capture.

I believe I mentioned this was 30 years ago-no histograms, no LCD screens, no Photoshop.  Needless to say, this was quite frustrating (and, of course, the camera was the problem) so I eventually traded the aforementioned gear for a point-and-shoot-do-everything style of camera that had recently been introduced.   This is now known as Program Mode and allowed for little flexibility.  I continued to take photos of my trips and continued to be disappointed most of the time. 

Still, those published images spoke to me as I wanted very much to be a successful photographer with “successful” being defined as creating the desired image at the time of capture in-camera.  It is useful to note that “getting it right” in-camera was critical as I also wanted to use slide film.  After all, that is what the “pros” used. 

Fortunately, I took advantage of the opportunity to work with a mentor which is by far the single, most important step in my photographic development.  Without having done that, I certainly would NOT be writing this blog (wouldn’t have much to say let alone display.)  More on that in future posts.

Take care.

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