As someone who has always liked to take pictures (sometimes even some good ones by accident), it wasn't until the purchase of my first DSLR that I learned that I never knew anything about photography. As a 27 year old, I grew up as film died and digital photography took off, so perhaps it's fitting that the most influential item in my photography was purchased by a young, 23 year old me; the M42 screwmounted Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 attached to my digital Pentax K100D.
Simply put, without this item, I would be one of those people you see walking around with a DSLR in fully automatic mode hoping to get a decent picture to show off my "skills". Before I even bought this lens it was teaching me. I would look around at beautiful portraits and wonder, how on earth did they do that? I have a sweet camera too! That's when I started to actually learn the theory behind photography, and I had to have a fast lens.
Something that has made a big impact on my photography is an odd looking device I made myself. Let me explain why I made it. The Pentax K-x was the first DSLR that I bought. It's a great camera and I don't regret buying it. But unfortunately there was a limitation that prevented me from taking a certain kind of picture. I wanted to take star trail pictures that showed the apparent rotation of the stars. The best way to do this is to take many pictures one after the other and stack them together to show the trails. An intervalometer is used to make the camera take many pictures in a row. But unlike most newer cameras, the K-x lacks a built-in intervalometer. And if you were to buy an external one, there is nowhere to plug it in on the K-x. So I had to find some way to hold the shutter down.
I began my film photography adventure with a plastic Holga camera, but I was unsatisfied with the lack of control on exposure settings. Later I purchased a second-hand Pentax K1000 due to its cheap price. Soon I found myself experiencing a very steep learning curve in the mastering of exposure.
The beauty of the K1000 is it simplicity. So simple that you need only to care about the fundamental aspects of photography - shutter speed and aperture settings. The K1000 keeps you focused on the subject, not fiddling with various camera settings. Because there is no automatic exposure, a K1000 user is forced (or encouraged) to carefully examine the light condition, choose the right shutter speed and aperture value combination, and then click the release button.
|Aperture ring of my Pentax-M 50mm F2 on my Pentax K1000|
A normal girl would feel like this if she got diamonds!
That was my immediate thought, after unwrapping the present my husband had given me and finding my DA* 300mm F4 inside. My first DA* lens: Smooth, solid, compact and beautiful with its gleaming gold band.
My love of nature is at least as old as my photography. My Barbie-doll was a nature photographer: I set up complicated dioramas with her and my wild toy animals, built her a little camera from a match box, and photographed the whole thing with my Instamatic. When I advanced to the Olympus-stage, I got hold of a 300mm lens at one point, and tried to sneak in on real birds and wildlife.
(I think you may have to be Danish to fully appreciate this, but our local birds and wildlife are NOT photo friendly. A dense population of Danes for millennia, basically eating anything within shooting range, has led to ridiculous flight distances in the survivors. Whenever I go abroad, I am surprised how CLOSE you can get to animals…)
The "Good Old Days"
My first camera was a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm f/2 that I inherited from my uncle. I swear you could have run over that thing with a car and it would have kept on working. Each shot was carefully considered as there were only 12 or 24 available. It was, however, after shooting a roll that the real work began.
I have fond memories of working in the darkroom. Trying to get the film into one of those fussy canisters in pitch darkness. Making sure the chemicals were at the right temperature and used for the correct amount of time. And after all that work all I had to look at were negatives. Next it was on to the enlarger. Focusing the image. Deciding how to crop it. Choosing a contrast filter. Experimenting on scraps of photo paper to figure out the proper exposure time. Maybe some burning or dodging was in order, and then on to the trays of chemicals. I remember staring at the blank sheet of photo paper in the dull red glow of the darkroom as the picture slowly and magically appeared. Once the paper had been properly baptized the in all the shallow rectangular pools it was time to take it back out to the bright lights of the over-world to see the results. If there was something wrong then the process started all over again.
What a different world we live in today. I can take hundreds of pictures at a time. View them instantly. Send them around the globe in a moment. At times I do miss the darkroom experience. For a while after I got into digital photography the photo making process ended with the shutter click. However, as I have learned more about digital photography and post processing one of the most important tools in my workflow now is again the darkroom... well, it's actually called Lightroom.
My biggest step forward in photography has been the transition from picture-taker to photographer, and the biggest impact in this transition came from an Olympus C-2100UZ. It provided me with the opportunity and gratification I needed to realize that there could be more to my photography than the classic tourist photos of standard memorable subjects. It had such an impact that, in time, I gave it to my sister in the hope that she would be equally inspired.
The C-2100UZ (Ultra Zoom) was one of the first digital long-zoom Point-and-Shoot cameras. For me its main features are:
- an image-stabilized all-glass aspherical zoom (35mm equivalent 38-380mm)
- f/2.8-f/3.5 lens system
- a 2 megapixel, 1/2-inch CCD sensor
- 1/2-1/750 sec. shutter speed
- and 100, 200, 400 ISO.
I've always liked photography but never really got hooked until about 8 years ago. I decided to sell my compact camera and bought a Panasonic FZ-28 bridge camera. It opened my eyes to photography and got me hooked line and sinker.
Why did this camera make such abig impact? Simple- it's a jack-of-all-trades camera. It fits in a jacket pocket, has a viewfinder, a ridiculously long built in zoom, good macro/close-up capabilities, good video recording.
It has 18x optical zoom, optical image stabilizer, decent LCD, full manual controls, good battery life amongst other features. Simple to use and with a 100% view electronic viewfinder.
The one piece of photographic equipment that has had the greatest effect on me is a lens that never actually existed.
Let me explain.
A few years ago I was looking to buy my first digital SLR. I figured I should get some practice manually setting exposure before spending money on an expensive camera, so I asked my dad if he could dig up his old film SLR for me. He found his old Pentax-ME camera, with a 35mm f/3.5 lens attached to it. Then he told me that he had a really spectacular lens for it, a 50mm f/1.2 lens that he spent a small fortune on, I just needed to wait for him to find it.
At the time I had a Canon point and shoot camera that I was pretty happy with, so I was considering buying a Canon SLR. Plus a few of my friends had Canon SLRs and lenses, so I could swap lenses with them. But when my dad told me about that 50mm f/1.2, I began to research Pentax cameras. I found that the lens was worth a good bit of money, and that it would actually work with current Pentax digital SLRs. So because of that lens my first digital SLR ended up being a Pentax K100D.