View Full Version : Hey Everyone!!

1-Oct-2008, 23:04
Figured I would introduce myself since I just joined this site a few hours back.

I am a 36 year old Male who has been an active photographer since I was about 22 years old. I actually started out taking pictures of animals at zoo's as I am a huge animal lover. My first camera was a Canon EOS 630. I then upgraded to a couple of Canon EOS A2E's and used those cameras for the better part of 4-5 years.

Right around the time I purchased my 2nd A2E body I ended up taking a 12 week vacation. I was around 25 and me and a buddy of mine did the Grand Circle of National Parks which basically starts at Arches National Park in Moab Utah and works its way west through Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, The North Rim of the Grand Canyon and a whole lot more I haven't listed. I had just graduated college with my Environmental Engineering degree and wanted to do some traveling before going to work full time. Looking back I realize that I was really running away from getting a job as I really was not very excited about my field of study. I would have switched majors way back when I was a sophomore but ended up following through with it due to peer pressure from my girlfriend and my family.

I had talked to my girlfriend on a number of occasions about possibly switching majors and possibly going to art school for photography but those talks did not go my way at all and both my family and my girlfriend were 100% against such a move so I ended up sticking with Environmental Engineering. Anyways that vacation ended up being one of the best things I have ever done. I wont go into much detail, ill simply say that it was life changing. Over that 12 weeks I basically decided that I was going to break up with my girlfriend (We had been dating for over 5 years), and that I was going to go back to school for photography. By the time I got home it was already well into fall and the new school year had already begun. So I decided to take the rest of the year off and start school the following fall after all I had just graduated and the idea of jumping right back into another 4 year degree, even if it was photography, was not something I wanted to do. Taking the year off really allowed me to catch my breath and concentrate on photography like never before. During that time I traveled to Costa Rica, Rome, Florence, Switzerland, Egypt, New Orleans, and a few misc road trips across the US. That year off combined with the traveling allowed me to put together a really solid portfolio which helped me get a scholarship that I needed to get if I was to go to the school I was hoping to go to. It was a private college and I would have never been able to afford it without the scholarship.

So anyways, as planned I started school that following fall and it ended up being the best 4 years of my life. Again it was a private school so the classes were much much smaller than classes in public schools. The first year we had around 60 people in my class and by the time we graduated that number had fallen to 23. Because of the size everyone knew everyone and most people became very good friends. Again it was easily the best 4 years of my life, just an absolute blast 24 hours a day. We had 24 hour darkrooms, fantastic facilities, great teachers and I lived 1 block from the campus so I could literally walk to class. It was simply amazing and it was really depressing when we graduated. It was just a once in a lifetime experience and I honestly wouldn't even hesitate to do it all over again.

It was in my 2nd year that I was introduced to large format. We had an architectural photography class with a really amazing teacher and something just clicked. I just absolutely fell in love with both shooting with a view camera and shooting architecture. I immediately started looking into purchasing my own 4x5 as the school only had a few camera's and there was always a list of people waiting to check them out. Anyways Mamiya actually held a full 2 week long equipment presentation at our school during that semester. They had the entire Mamiya equipment line there and you were free to check out anything you wanted. Every body, every lens, every light meter, they had everything. They also hosted a 2 week long photo contest with 4 different categories. There was Fashion, Architecture, Still Life and Documentary. Everyone in the photo dept was eligible regardless of year and the winner of each category received a 3000 dollar credit towards Mamiya equipment. I was fortunate to win both the Architecture and Fashion categories which netted me 6 thousands dollars in credit and on top of it all you got everything at the student discount price so I was really able to get around 9 thousand in gear. I ended up getting a full Toyo 45GX system including an 8x10 rear standard and 8x10 bellows. I also got a Toyo A2 Field camera, a spot meter, a focusing loupe, a really nice portable light box that I still use to this day for showing my portfolio, and a bunch of misc items like lens boards and such. I made out like a bandit and on top of it all I ended up becoming good friends with one of the Toyo reps that was there during that 2 week event. Were still good friends to this day and he gets me killer deals on both new and used equipment.

Anyways to sum this whole thing up, once I ended up getting my toyo cameras I have really never looked back from large format. I shoot some medium format but I would estimate that over 90% of what I shoot is Large Format. I go storm chasing every year and you simply cannot use large format in that kind of weather and trust me I have tried. For those times I go medium format I really prefer to use the Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 rangefinders. They are brilliant cameras with SUPER sharp lenses. Shooting with those is really like the exact opposite of large format. I preset the focus and just shoot. There is no metering, no focusing, no dark cloth, its just point and shoot and I will admit there are times when that sort of shooting is nice. However with that being said I LOVE large format. IMO it captures the very essence of photography. It slows everything way down and forces you to really look at every possible aspect of the picture. It also makes you much stingier in regards to what you will shoot.

You see these digital photographers today just ripping off shots like no tomorrow. Its almost like they don't even think about whats going into the shot, they just take so many pictures that they are bound to get at least a couple good ones. I openly admit that I am not a big fan of digital. I hate that it has basically been cannibalizing the film side of the hobby and business and I honestly think that photographers that are brought up in this new system will not be nearly as competent as people brought up shooting film. I am however looking into buying my very first digital camera. I am looking to buy the new Toyo VX23D digital view camera and a digital back. Unfortunately we have reached a point where you at least have to make the option of shooting digital available to your clients.

So that really sums it up. I am a large format junkie and I just love every aspect of shooting LF with maybe one exception and that is the development of the film. I now use a Jobo for developing so it isnt so bad anymore but ill never forget those days of developing sheet film by hand. Not only was it bad for you hands it was a pain in the butt.


Vick Vickery
2-Oct-2008, 08:06
Welcome to group therepy! What part of the world are you in now??

Richard K.
2-Oct-2008, 08:24
Anyways that vacation ended up being one of the best things I have ever done. I wont go into much detail, ill simply say that it was life changing.

So was my first trip to the desert. Welcome! :)

John Kasaian
2-Oct-2008, 11:47
Welcome aboard!

Kirk Gittings
2-Oct-2008, 11:51
Welcome to the best source of LF information on the web.

Navy Moose
2-Oct-2008, 14:54
Welcome to group therepy! What part of the world are you in now??

Welcome to the asylum! Instead of blunt scissors and cutting origami, we use large format cameras :D