Thirty Days of Photographs: My Hobby

I was always interested in photography and got my first serious camera when I was about 18 years old—a 35mm, single-lens reflex Chinon with a compact body and three lenses that was a combination birthday/Christmas gift from my parents. I took to the craft immediately, enrolling in classes for it in college and winning a few awards in juried competitions, although I’m not sure why since I don’t really have the patience, sense of timing or the gifted eye that’s required to do it exceptionally well.

Still, as a hobby, and for a little while as a profession, it stuck.

In my early career as a journalist, I took pictures almost as often as I wrote, and it was useful skill to have when I was competing for jobs. My first job at a newspaper, just one year out of college, wasn’t as a reporter, but as the darkroom technician. I spent my nights in a tiny black room winding other reporters’ film onto developing spools, creating proof sheets and then huddling over trays of caustic chemicals the next morning hurriedly printing the editors’ picks in order to meet the press deadline.

I loved the work, and continued doing it even after I became reporter. In fact, I lugged my Chinon around with me for several decades, taking pictures of everything from auto accidents and sports stars to corporate executives and B-list Hollywood celebrities.

Digital photography made film-based photography seem outdated five to six years ago, and I eventually bought a starter digital camera, and then the Nikon D-60 that I use now. It’s a great camera, but it still feels awkward in my hands compared to the old Chinon. I’m getting better with it, though, learning its quirks and good qualities.

I kept the Chinon anyway, mostly because I couldn’t bear to throw my old friend away. Then a few months ago, gripped by the thought of de-cluttering my basement, I donated it to Goodwill. I hope some kid bought it and learned how to use it, but I suspect it’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust, like me and my silly memories.

As for photography…well, I believe that everybody ought to do it regularly because the act of making pictures can help you see the world instead of just looking at it.

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27 thoughts on “Thirty Days of Photographs: My Hobby

    • The camera makes a huge difference, it really does. It’s the lens, mainly. Good optics make for crisp pictures.

  1. I love your photographs; your subject are very simple but thought provoking. Having had to don eyeglasses in the recent past (okay, maybe not so recent), I find it difficult to take good photos even with the ‘auto-everything’ feature.

    I’m guessing the smudge on the lens was purposeful(?) ;-)

    • I’m glad they make you think. The smudge isn’t a smudge, though. It was glare from the sky. I tried and tried to angle the lens in a way that would make it go away, but I failed. Coincidentally, I’d also hoped to have the image in the center of the lens be in focus. But I couldn’t make that happen, either. Bummer.

  2. I’ve recently developed a need to take good pictures, I used to take them just for the sake of having them, now I try to look at the artful edge that I can bring. It’s much more fun that way.

      • Whatever stop batting your eyes at me when you say that. I need to take good pictures, I’ll take the exact same picture 5 times at different settings until it’s right, then gimp it if it’s still not right. You do it!

  3. That’s a very interesting picture Michael. I really admire someone who can take great pictures and who has mastered focus and f-stop and so on. They say a picture says a thousand words. But in your case you usually take a thousand words to explain a picture. That’s okay. I enjoy your writing too.

  4. Why is your hand so red? You played a little bit too much with the saturation, didn’t you? Or you could be leper, of course. Anything is possible.

    I’m not sure sharing a photography meme with a professional photographer was the brightest idea I ever had, but man, you do know how to take a great photo.

    • C’mon Z! Your photographs have been stunning! I realize Michael brings out the inferiority complex in many of us (it is many, right? it’s not just me, right?), but you have definitely been holding your own!

      • Yes Nicky,
        It is many, or at least 2 well 3 counting Ziva. We are all inferior to Michael and his multitude of talents. I while a way the days thinking to myself I wish I could be as good at everything as Michael Whiteman Jones. I even scribbled it on my pee-chee.

            • The pee-chee was a nice touch, Madge, but it was a dead giveaway that you were lying. I think if you’d said that you’d secretly scribbled it into your daily diary, I would’ve bought it.

    • Got me, Ziva! Yes, I tried to bump the color a bit. I didn’t think I’d overdone it until I saw the post live. Way too much color. Also, I’m a leper. Thanks for letting everybody know.

      By the way, your shots are just as “professional” as mine, probably more so. You’re the one who should consider a career in photography.

  5. You know Mike, there are a number of sites like iStock and Stock Xchange where amateur or budding photographers post their photos and other people can use them for free or for a reasonable fee. You might consider checking them out. Stock Xchange is mainly free images, and the quality of the photos can be hit or miss, but it’s a great way to build credibility and a following. iStock is higher quality and I think your pictures would do well.

    • I’ve thought about it, Nicky, and thanks for the vote of confidence. Maybe I should try it. I’m terrible at marketing myself. No confidence, too lazy, and I sleep about 22 out of ever 24 hours.

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