I've been lurking for about four months, treating myself to the archive of really useful information (ground glass vs. film holders and the use of depth gauges, coverage of Tessars vs. Plasmats, useful ancillary gear for my kit, etc).
I've posted asking about inkjet inks, replied to six or seven other posts, even contributed a landscape shot (what happened to the color when I went from tiff to jpeg I still don't understand).
After all this time, I only today noticed, under the "For Sale" section, the "Introductions" forum! The first thing I noticed was all the new people from the SoCal area.
So, here goes my story.
I've been shooting 35mm since sophomore summer school photography class, and one day (40 years later) my wife says to me "Make me a _big_ print of that seascape". Well, I hadn't realized the limitations of the format till then. I figured "Maybe this new digital stuff is the way to go". After investing in an 8MP DSLR and using it for a week or two I found that I actually preferred the 35mm film's look (I shot mostly slide film and occasionally black'n'white), and the digital seemed kinda washed out and not as sharp. So I decided to dip my toe into 4x5.
I picked up a Calumet C400 and a 135mm Optar, bought a used copy of Steve's book and discovered the joys of LF. I thought I'd gone to heaven when I put my first transparencies on the light table!
Since then it has taken over almost all my other after-work activities (Well, I _am_ married, after all, so I have certain responsibilities to my sweet wife)!
I got familiar with movements, and was amazed at this ability to tilt the plane of focus. I'd always figured that it was simply through brute force stopping the lens down to a pinpoint that gave those LF images the incredible DOF, having never heard of diffraction limits.
Well, I graduated to an Omega D45M, gave the C400 to a friend so she could 'see what this LF stuff is about', and have gotten a good kit of lenses. I chased magic bullets for a while (I bought a laser rangefinder under the belief that it, combined with a Rodenstock DOF calculator, would help with my focusing problems just to name one).
Lessons I wish I'd learned sooner:
1: I'd be better off with a wooden field camera - this monorail beast keeps me from getting very far from my car.
2: Get set up well before the sunset, but resist the temptation to shoot until the good light comes out to play.
3: Don't use very much rise/fall on the wide angles or you'll be wishing you'd blown the $300. for that center filter.
4: Quit spending money on equipment once the basic setup is together - spend the money on film.
5 (related to 4): Get out there, get set up, take my time, and take pictures.
I used to have several hobbies, but this one has usurped the others. I'd worry, but I'm having too much fun!