Quote of the day: "Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition." --Isaac Asimov
Photography is one of my favorite hobbies. I've been doing it pretty steadily since I bought my first camera--a Minolta X-370--to photograph Halley's Comet in 1986. Later I bought a Minolta X-700 for astrophotography because I could install a special back which would imprint the date and time on the film. I did some astrophotography with telescopes and special film which was treated to reduce the reciprocity effect (normally, the longer film is exposed the less sensitive it becomes to further exposure). I took some 30+ minute exposures of nebulae which reveal colors the eye cannot see.
One of my favorite photographic experiences was a trip to Colorado and California in 1991. I visited Yosemite National Park in California with a friend and found it to be the most beautiful place I had ever seen. I always admired the work of Ansel Adams, but actually being in the location where he did so much of his extrordinary work was very inspirational. I managed to take several decent shots using black and white film which I later printed by using a friend's enlarger. Although I didn't do any other serious landscape photography for another 15 years, the seed of a desire to experience and attempt to capture on film the breathtaking beauty of wild places was planted in my heart.
After my trip out west I used my cameras to cover sporting events for the LVC college newspaper, La Vie Collegienne, and two Dartmouth College newspapers: The Dartmouth and The Sports Weekly. I photographed many different sports but my favorite was women's basketball. Eventually I became a devoted fan of the Dartmouth women's basketball team and developed a web page which documented their achievements. However, at some point I had to devote all my time and energy to my Ph.D. research and I stopped taking photographs for a while.
After my Ph.D. was completed I began to become interested in photography again mainly due to the influence of my girlfriend at the time, who was an amateur photographer herself. One day we went to see an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and I was able to view some of Adams' prints that I had only seen in books, and many that I had never seen before. The experience was profound and caused that seed that had been planted years ago at Yosemite to begin to grow.
After finishing my postdoc I decided to take some time off and relax, and naturally I began to spend more and more time taking photographs. After buying a serious digital camera my interest really took off and soon I was hooked. Later in the year I took another trip out west, visiting Colorado, Utah, California, Wyoming, and South Dakota. That trip caused me to realize that photography was what I enjoyed doing most in life, and that life is too short to do something other than where my passion lies. Now I am hoping to be a professional photographer one day, and for the moment I am enjoying the process of honing my technical skills and "finding my photographic voice." Maybe it will work out, and maybe it won't, but I feel compelled to give it a try...
I don't know how many rolls of film I put through my Minolta film cameras, but by the time I stopped shooting college sports they were on their last legs. When I became interested in photography again I bought a "point & shoot" digital camera (Olympus SP-350) and a Contax G1 film camera. The Contax is a beautiful camera and the lenses are some of the best ever made, however I quickly discovered that I preferred the workflow of a digital camera. Now I shoot two digital cameras: a Sony DSC-R1 and a Sigma SD14. The R1 is one of the last "bridge cameras," a non-interchangeable lens camera which functions very much like a digital or film SLR camera. In fact, the R1 is probably the best bridge camera ever made and still can produce fantastic images if sufficient light exists.
While the R1 is a nice all-around camera, the lack of interchangeable lenses means that it cannot do certain things such as macro or long-distance wildlife photography (both require specialized lenses). Although I don't do much wildlife photography I do enjoy macro photography so I decided to buy a digital SLR. I chose the Sigma SD14 because I was intrigued by its unique digital sensor, and the Sigma macro lenses are very high quality (I have the 50mm and 150mm macro lenses). I may eventually move to another system--most likely a Nikon--but for now I can take the photographs that interest me the most.
In December, 2010 I purchased a Panasonic DMC-G1 camera. I was anticipating a move to a Nikon camera, but I was not impressed by the Nikon models introduced at Photokina (a photography trade show). I intended to keep waiting for something I really liked, but one of the control wheels on the Sony R1 was starting to fail and it became very annoying to use the camera. The G1 was on sale and it has an articulated LCD, something I really liked on the R1. Since the price was right I decided to buy a G1 for the moment and wait for a more professional camera. However, one very nice feature of the G1 (and all micro 4/3 mount cameras) is the ability to buy adapters for film-era lenses. Since I have a number of Minolta MD mount lenses from the old days, I thought it would be fun to see how they performed on a digital camera.