I developed my first roll of film somewhere around 1971. I seem to recall purchasing or procuring and Ansco development kit that had an adjustable tank for developing film and a small (about 2” square) contract printer thingie. I was a small metal box with a small amber light and a larger white bulb. The box had a clear glass panel on top with a door that would close to hold a sandwich of a negative and a small sheet of photo paper. You would put the negative on the glass, then place the photo paper, and finally close the little door to keep the film from moving. You would press a momentary switch on the side of the box that would turn on the light exposing the photo paper. You would then process your image in the usual developer, stop bath and rinse. In several minutes you would have an image. I used a Kodak Brownie something or other and exposed, developed and processed some pictures. The first one I remember was a picture of number one daughter in a stroller. It was pretty magic stuff.
This was a time when there wasn’t such a thing as a personal computer so other than ham radio there wasn’t a lot of things to keep a tech geek occupied. I fell in love with photography. As I do with just about anything, I immersed myself in all things photograph. I read every book that the library had on photography and photographers. I still have a complete set of the Time Life series on Photography. I learned about the technical side of making pictures. I somehow found the money for a Nikon Nikkormat camera and a couple of lenses. I cobbled together what I could for a dark room. Developing film in the bath room in the dark hoping that no one would turn on a tap some where and change the temperature of the water I was using to keep the chemicals at the right temperature.
It was a lot of work. It was more work because before each session I had to build a darkroom and then dismantle it into the bathroom, bedroom, or laundry room it was supposed to be. So for a long time I stopped doing photograpy. But I never stopped being interested in photography and the photographic process.
Around about 1999 I received a Kodak digital camera as a gift. I found a 256mb compact flash card so I’m pretty sure it was for that first digital camera. I could create 640×480 jpegs and process them with PC software into something that was a photograph. I was back. When Nikon came out with the D100 I was again (with many hints) gifted with a “real’ digital camera.
Since that time I’ve been back into photography with both feet. It is not what I do for a living but it what I do a living for.
I love looking at photographs. I love the feel of the photographic print. I love the look of an image presented well in a monograph, or as a print, or more likely as a book. I study the images, decide why I like them and why I don’t. And finally I am building a vocabulary that I hope I can use to discuss photographs in and intelligent way.
I’ve been spending a lot more of my photography time learning from video’s from well know, and some not as well know photographers. I’ve been learning their vocabulary. Now I can begin to take photos that I can judge for my self as good, still waiting, and can hold a conversation about photography good or bad.
I love that you can, through process, create an image of technical excellence and emotional value. I love that you can take that image and produce exact copies again and again. I love photography. Now all I have to do is learn photography.