60+ Years Behind the Lens

My interest in amateur photography actually sprouted up in 1946 at the age of 16 when I went to work part-time for the local drug store developing and printing black and white pictures. Color pictures in those days had ro be sent away to a special lab (usually Kodak), and the prints usually took days or weeks to come back, depending how far away the lab was.

Color was also pretty expensive back in the ’40s, so it was basically a hobby for well-to-do amateurs. The average family stuck with black and white snapshots, usually taken with some form of Kodak Brownie camera. There were lots of serious black and white photographic artists around in those days as well, including my role model – Ansel Adams. His black and white images of the Yosemite Valley were and still are inspirations to this fledgling photographer.

As the result of my early experiences with black and white, I stuck faithfully with the medium for over 30 years, and even had a darkroom in my home whenever I had room for one. A lot of these monochrome endeavors are on display in this blog.

Although I started experimenting with color photography in the mid ’60s, I never got serious about developing and printing my own color negatives and prints – just too messy and expensive in those days. These days, I can print out a 4 x 6 digital color image at home for about 15 cents. Ain’t technology great?

I’ve had a variety of cameras over the years, including Pentax and Chinon 35-mm, Yashica 4×4, RollieMagic, Crown Graphic and a couple of point-and-shoot boxes I would just as soon forget about. I still use my Chinon occasionally, but rely on my Olympus digital most of the time. I also still remember my first “serious” camera just like I still remember my first car, which was a 34 Chevrolet 4-door “Black Mariah” with suicide rear doors and a trunk on the rear.

Kodak 1916 Premo #1

Kodak 1916 Premo #1

That first camera was a 1916 Kodak Premo #1 with an f/8 Rapid Rectilinear lens. It had bellows and captured images on sheets of film in a “film pack.” I bought it for about $5 in a pawn shop and thought I had “stolen” it. Turns out the pawn shop got the best of that deal. I don’t have one picture I ever took with the Premo. Just wasn’t that great. My mother was taking better pictures with her box Brownie.

Over the years I have waxed hot and cold with my photography efforts. My most active periods coincided with newspaper careers in Colorado and Northern California when a camera was always within reach. I also took lots of pictures of my girls when they were little and used the camera extensively when on vacation. There were other times I didn’t touch a camera for months. Just my nature, I guess. Even now, unfortunately, my desire to snap the shutter waxes and wanes; but my overall zeal has not dissipated.

I have showcased some of my more memorable attempts at capturing lasting inages over the years on pages that link to this one. These images include as many black amd whites as color and represent at least 60+ years of my efforts in at least one case.

I will also be posting photo-journalistic articles documenting pleasant experiences and/or trips along the way. Please stay tuned and follow along.

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