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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Photog Show and Tell Post

Update: This post is the inspiration for my new link party: Photog Show and Tell.

I bought myself a new camera for my birthday. {yay me!!!}

As some of you may know, I have been dying for a new camera. I have actually been eyeing DSLRs for ages now, well before starting the blog. I let costs impede me.

I have since made several arguments to myself on the reasons why I need a new camera: 1) to take better pictures for the blog, 2) to take better shots of jewelry to help sell them, 3) to start practicing now for taking shots of future children, 4) sometimes buying yourself something nice is worth it (hey! we only live once, right?)... With more reasons why to egg me on, I finally did it!

I thought I would start by reviewing some of my personal history with photography and show off some of my old work.

Black and White Darkroom Photography

I took photography classes in middle school, high school and then again in college. I used my older brothers Nikon SLR for my middle school class. The middle school class went over all the basics of operating a fully manual camera and darkroom photography.

Nikkormat Camera
Nikkormat (aka Nikomat in Japan) - my first real
camera besides a cheap point and shoot film
camera I had in middle school.
(image courtesy of wikipedia commons)
For my 15th birthday, my brother bought me a Nikkormat SLR (a pre-Nikon camera, but same company). I remember that when he handed it to me it was wrapped up in a paper grocery sack and he paused as he handed it over with both of our hands on the bag.

My brother told me, "if you open this, you have to promise me that you will use it." Everyone joked that it was a big bag of weed or something. (I don't smoke, so that would have been funny to them.) Lucky for me, it was my Nikkormat SLR camera. Very similar to the one picture on the right.

The high school class was an elective that just gave me access to the dark room. I went in during my own time and developed film and pictures. I recall I didn't take as much advantage of it as I should have. I was too busy being a teenager.

After high school, but before deciding to go to college (I took a 4 year break between), I spent a few months in Boston hanging out with my brother (the same one as above). He had his darkroom set up in his small bathroom.

I am talking super small! It was a studio apartment in an old brick apartment in Allston (a neighborhood of Boston). There was no counter top, so he had jerry-rigged a platform over the sink for the enlarger and set up trays in the bathtub.

I spent my time in Boston wandering around, getting lost and taking pictures. It was a good time for me, as I had recently quit a job I hated and was needing the time to reflect on what the future should entail. I had been severely depressed, but was finally getting myself into a healthy state of mind.

I think I had been talking to my brother about the desire to get away and start up somewhere else. The idea of moving somewhere was foreign to me, as I had lived in the house I was born in all my life up to this point. Talking to my brother, he suggested I come out and visit him, so I quit my job and flew out there with no return date planned.

It wasn't until I hit 22 (a few years later) that I finally decided I wanted to go back to school. I think what finally convinced me was the epiphany that if I had just stayed the course and went straight to college right out of high school, I would have been graduating from college that year. I had an OK job, but it wasn't anything that would get me anywhere and my salary was fixed just a little above minimum wage. I wanted to make more money doing something that I truly enjoyed.

In college, I studied Civil Engineering, so I snapped up the opportunity to take an Architectural Photography class as an elective. My best pictures were kept by my teacher for an exhibition and I forgot to pick them up afterwards. I do have a print of both pictures before I touched them up in the darkroom.

After this class, I swore I would set up a darkroom in my new apartment. Guess what... I never did.

I actually have access to two enlargers in storage at my parents house. One is my brother's and one came from my dad that he had salvaged from a job. I keep telling myself I would set up a darkroom but there are always excuses.

Off topic: I think I am the queen of excuses! How many times have I said, "I want to start doing yoga again"? My dad even asked me this weekend, "so when are you going to get back into yoga?" Ugh!!! Are you inflicted with the excuse bug?

My Black and White Darkroom Portfolio:

Here is my collection of black and white prints from over the years. The slide show starts with a picture of my younger brother sitting in the grey hound bus terminal in Boston, MA. We, my younger brother, older brother and myself, were all waiting around for my sister-in-law to bus in from Maine. The slide show starts off with pictures taken in Boston. Then I have some pictures taken on a sailing trip when I was in high school, but I didn't develop the pictures until I was in Boston. Lastly are some prints from the Architectural Photography class.

Click to enlarge or head over to my Google+ album

Looking at these again, I start to notice all the mistakes. Too little or too much contrast. Spots that needed some burning (extra exposure) or dodging (less exposure).

The two pictures that my teacher kept are Empty Retail Space and House. The print that my teacher kept of Empty Retail space had some burning in the back wall to help bring out the details that are washed out. One of my favorite pictures was the stairs, which got cut off when I scanned it in. My teacher didn't like it as he thought it was too moody or contrasty. I'll try to rescan it in so that I can share it with you. (Update 3/1/2013: I uploaded the non cut off picture.)

It's fun taking a look at these again! Maybe I will eventually go back into the darkroom. Perhaps I just need to get inspired!

Up Next

My original goal was to post a Photog Show and Tell post once per month, but I got a little too long winded typing up the back story. I will post what I have once it is ready to go. I will then plan on posting at least once per month to go over some of my favorite shots and what I have learned.

My next post will review the kit I bought and post a few photos I have taken with it.

What is something you have been drooling over for years but never got the courage to make the purchase/commitment? Are you also an excuse queen?

Linking to:  Talkin' About Thursday | Freedom Fridays | What to do Weekends | Pin Me | A Pinteresting Party | Sweet Saturday | Make the Scene Monday | Creatively Tuesday | Fun in Functional | Live Laugh {Linky} | Sharing with Domestic Superhero


  1. FYI~ My next installment of A Little About Diana is up and your question is answered!

  2. Awesome! I just bought mine a few months ago and it is definitely overwhelming trying to learn to use it. Indoor lighting has been especially frustrating for me, because I hate using the flash, but can't seem to get enough natural light. Anyways, good luck with your camera, I would love to see how you do, hopefully I can learn along with you!

  3. What a feast for the eyes this post was! I love that you figured out how to embed a slideshow in your post. You are finding the ins and outs of faster than I can say "Bob's your uncle!" (Ha ha. I always hear that phrase in the voice of Dick Van Dyke.) Anyway, I LOVED learning about your love affair with photography and how eager you are to get back into it with your new DSLR. I can only imagine what's to come! And look forward to it with great anticipation.

  4. I went and checked it out! Thanks for letting me know! :D

  5. Yay!!! Flashes definitely have to be used sparingly. Have you thought about a light box? I am planning on building one soon. Here in Seattle, natural lighting is a little hard to come by. Especially in the Winter. Check out some of the tips (including how to build your own light box) I have been collecting on Pinterest:

  6. Thank you!!! I am really excited about it. I have been reading like a mad woman trying to learn all that I can. I should be making an attempt to build my own light box, hopefully soon. HUGS!!! CONGRATS on your new domain! And Twitter! And Facebook! Now I have so many more ways to stalk you. Heehee!

  7. Thanks for your endless support of me! Man, I feel like I hit the jackpot when I "met" you in this great big web of the internet. If we don't meet before we die, that'll be a crime. Anyway, on less morbid subjects, yes, excited to be connected via FB, Twittter, all of the above. Stalk away! I'll stalk you back! Ha ha.

  8. Very cool post indeed. It's fun to watch our growth whether we be photographers, artist, singer or writer.. have fun with that new camera and we expect to see lots of your work too..we are all nosy like that :-)
    I follow a young woman on 365 who takes all of her pictures with a home made pinhole camera.. talk about dedication and creativity.. I'll stick to dslr..for now :-)

  9. Wonderful images. I really look forward to seeing your new ones with your new camera.

  10. Hi, girl, I think you might have a small ebook processing around in you somewhere. You only need 25 pages. You can publish it on Amazon. Most of the ebooks sell for $.99 and the writer gets around $.30 but then you could offer it for free if people sign up with email at ngnrdgrl blog. Just a thought. Hope it helped. They say it helps to have an ebook.... boost subscriptions. I'm working on one now. Your friend, Linda

  11. Awwww! That would be such a shame! T_T And super morbid there. Hehe. So we are mutual stalkers? Deal!

  12. Agreed. I love watching my blogger friends grow. That is really cool about the pinhole camera. In high school we transformed my math teachers class room into a giant pinhole camera! It was fun watching the outside upside down on the opposite wall. A good hands on lesson in how optics work.

  13. Thank you! I'm really excited!

  14. Oh, I hadn't thought about this. Interesting idea! Can't wait to see yours!

  15. I am not good with photography. I think your photos are fantastic!!

  16. Thank you! It was really fun to bring out these old prints and think about them again and reminisce about old times.

  17. This is so great! I would love for you to come by and link this or another project/recipe at my brand new link party!! Hope to see you!

  18. Thank you Allyson! Congrats on the new linky! I've linked up!

  19. Yes! That is definitely on my list of things to make. Thanks for the link! However, I was thinking more of taking pictures of my toddler. He does the cutest things and the photos turn out looking like a point and shoot anyway!

  20. Hi! So as I was reading this post a few weeks ago, it got me thinking. I have had my dslr for a few months now, but I really need to push myself to start using it in manual mode. I have thought about doing a photography link party maybe once a month where everyone can link up photography posts and blog about what they have learned and how they feel their pictures turned out. Would you be interested in co-hosting?

  21. So I was reading your post a couple weeks a go and it got me thinking. I thought it might be a cool idea to have a monthly link party where everyone can link up their photography posts and tell what they learned and how they think their photos turned out. We could kinda all learn from each other. Would you be interested in co-hosting?

  22. [...] my post called Photog Show and Tell #1 from a couple of weeks ago? Well, Bethany from Whistle and Ivy read my mind! We are teaming up [...]

  23. I can relate to SO much of this post, Bethany! What a coincidence that we've both had history in Seattle and Boston! Looks like we've been swapping coasts on opposite time schedules.

    I find myself being an "excuse queen," too. (One of the excuses is to start exercising more, including yoga.) A part of my "self-improvement project" for this year is to follow through and learn better discipline regarding schedules. I figure I'm going to need it if I want to quit my job and start writing full-time.

    I've never had the opportunity to use or learn about dark rooms before, but I have been interested in photography for quite awhile. I'll definitely participate in this! Although, I may have to use an old photo to start with, since it's short notice.

  24. It is too bad we aren't on the same coast. I could totally see the two of us wondering around taking pictures together. Plus we could help each other with the exercising part. I'd love a yoga buddy! I still haven't gone back to yoga. Sigh... I just get so caught up in doing stuff that I let myself forget about the exercising.

    Working with an old photo is fine! I really enjoyed your two posts that you did for the daily post. Our link party will be going for three weeks, so if you do end up taking some current pictures, feel free to link up when you do.

    I am so excited about the party! So glad you have decided to participate!

  25. […] picture of these bleeding hearts. I actually have a black and white photo of bleeding hearts in my darkroom photography collection that I took in Boston from 10 years ago. I like taking pictures of flowers; take my Summer […]