Photography finds a home with me
Photography has been a passion since I can remember, at home cameras were a common thing in everyday life, and I credit my mother with that. Mom was a Graphic Artist for a Direct Mail filament house Charleston West Virginia and because of her Job she came in contact with many different types of photography equipment daily and she exposed me to those pieces of equipment regularly. Mom and I lived in St. Albans West Virginia with her Parents, my Grand Parents. My Grand Father machined the guns for Battle Ships and Destroyers for the Navy at the South Charleston Ordinance Center. We had a very supportive extended family made up of my mothers brothers and sister. I could wright for days of their accomplishments as her brothers were lifers in the Navy and Air force attaining the Master Chief & General level of rank, my aunt a pioneer, was one of the first women in the Navy, My mother a single mom in the 1950’s, was the kind of person that would introduce you to something and let you make your own impressions of the subject, a rare quality indeed.
The next door neighbors were Sprague Bollinger and wife, Sprague was a photographer for “The Bollinger Photo Service” his family had been in the Commercial Photography business long before the turn of the 20th century. Sprague Bollinger was a model railroad enthusiast with that I mean he had duplicated the West Virginia Kanawha Valley rail system in his two car garage, it was impressive, as a child growing up next to that in the fifty’s and early 60’s it was a panacea of really cool stuff, I would spend hours over at their house immersed in the Photo equipment and images, some of the images he produced were murals on display at the State Capitol, Local Airport and Large retail establishments, he also did aerial photography and the work is quite impressive.
My first camera my mother gifted to me was an Argus 75, 1950’s era Twin Lens Reflex, a top viewfinder roll film camera. Film and developing were reasonable because of where she worked, I took a lot of frames of sometimes the most irrelevant things (I wish those had been saved, but no). Next up was the
Polaroid era, I had many versions of Polaroid camera starting with the Model 150 (I still have), the family had an earlier model an Model 80 I believe, a Model 320 Reporter was my mainstay for quite a while in the early 70’s, I ended up with one of the most visually attractive cameras ever made the Polaroid SX 70, brown leather and stainless steel quite the combination.
Back to film, If your home was in Charleston West Virginia you were drawn to “Merrill Photo” on Hail Street downtown , mom and Mr. Merrill were business friends and I spent quite a bit of time in and around the store admiring the equipment and not being the one to fall into the mainstream and matriculating to the unique, Mr. Merrill introduced me to a Contax body and Carl Zeiss glass (lenses), even further out their he also introduced me to Tamron Adaptall lenses allowing me to share lens combinations with others making the same investment.
This was a game changer, my first 35mm camera the Contax 137ma an auto winder with aperture priority. This camera has been around the world, and I have kept the camera and lenses in operating condition to this day. My photography acquaintances all used Nikon, Cannon Minolta etc. equipment.
Digital arrives for the masses, I have to admit moving late in the game from film to the “Digital” transition cost some time, funds and my career at a Cruise Line fed into that decision, with that said I tried some low to mid-level digital cameras but none produced the images the 35mm still produced. A Olympus C-2500L in 1999 showed me someone had made enough progress to invest in the format, Until Olympus made the “E” series of 4/3rds equipment in 2003, nothing made me really happy quality wise, this format produced and still does today JPEG’s that rival my piers with bigger brand names and equally exorbitant price tags. I’ve owned most every model Olympus has produced since 2003, being that digital cameras are viewed more like a computer commodity I buy and sell the body’s but have retained a few mint copies’ of the E520, E3 and E5, but the lenses the glass is superb, to this day those lenses and with an adapter produce gorgeous images on the micro 4/3rds format. I’m not trying to sound like a commercial but as I get older and shakier the in body stabilization compensates for a lot of issues.
The Digital mix, O the duality of it all! Because of the demands of certain entity’s I’ve had to adapt to the larger “full frame” format of Nikon “D’ series of bodies and “F” series lenses for billboard size or super pixel peeping usage. Maintaining both Olympus and Nikon offerings is a financial struggle, however there is no going back to film like the renaissance in the “record’ industry.