My First Digital Photographs

Here's a blast from the past: I was going through my photography archives recently and came across something that really caught my attention. I hadn't looked in that particular folder on my hard drive in quite a while but when I did it immediately brought back a lot of memories. What that folder held was the absolute very 1st digital photographs I had ever taken. Within a few seconds I was able to recall all the research I did before purchasing the camera that took the picture. I also remember the excitement I felt when the camera arrived...

Welcome To The Future

It was a fairly warm Spring day in the suburbs of Chicago, April 19, 2001 when UPS dropped off the box. Inside that box was an Olympus D-460 1.3megapixel digital camera. I had ordered it from Ubid, an early (but still kicking) competitor to eBay. They specialized in manufacturer closeouts so I had to watch the site for a while before the camera became available. I paid a grand total of $271.88 for the camera. I also spent $64.99 at Newegg for a (tiny by today's standards) 32mb smartmedia card and reader. For comparison, I can get a 32GB (1000x more capacity) for less than 1/4 the price today!!

As soon as I signed for the box I quickly opened it up, grabbed a couple of AA batteries, put the memory card in the camera and opened the lens cover. "Whew, it works.." I said to myself. I then pointed the camera at the first living thing I could find in the house and took this picture:

My 1st Digital Photograph

The (un)lucky first victim of my new digital camera was Oscar, one of our two cats. He was right at 2 years old in this picture. He moved a little right as I was taking the photo so it's a little blurry. As you can see, he didn't appreciate the flash :-) Oscar the cat is still with us (at nearly 17 years old!) so I guess I should give him some extra kitty treats today to thank them for helping me to remember how I got started in the world of digital photography way back then.

Next Victim Please

The second victim was Felix:

Felix Half Asleep On the Couch

Felix was a little more cooperative for his digital debut. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Felix in August of 2015 :-( so all the images we have of him are now that much more important.

I was in the commercial/industrial real estate business at that point in my life so the camera's main use was going to be taking pictures of the buildings I was listing or marketing. Well, it did get used for that but it also became the latest in a long line of "geek toys" (as my wife Pam likes to call all the technology stuff I've purchased over the years). I was having a ton of fun shooting pictures, transferring them to the computer and then instantly seeing the image. Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the photos, especially on full automatic mode. The camera had a 3x optical zoom and a decent flash. It worked great for taking pictures of the buildings for my work as well as snapshots around the house or while out with friends.

So, it was these digital photographs that started me back down the photography path. It took me almost 10 years after this picture was taken to really appreciate and "re-remember" the enjoyment that I got out of using a camera. Since then I have completely re-embraced photography and use both digital and film cameras to capture and share the world around us.

What About You?

What was the first digital photograph you took and what camera did you use to take it with? Tell us all about it in the comments and include a link to the photo if you want. I'm looking forward to seeing some of them!

BTW, if you're interested, Amazon is still showing a few of the Olympus D-460's for sale. They're obviously way out of date compared to today's cameras but I may just pick one up to relive a little bit of my digital photography past!

Olympus D-460 1.3MP Digital Camera w/ 3x Optical Zoom.

What's The Best Camera-The One You Have With You-Podcast Episode 6

The Best Camera-A Definition

Any time photographers get together there is almost always a discussion/debate on  "what's the best camera". People will go back and forth, for days on end, discussing all the technical details that supposedly make one camera or lens better than another.

While this is great fun, I'm going to suggest that picking the best camera is very easy and involves no debate. The best camera is always:


It that easy, no arguments. I say this for the simple reason that no matter the resolution or features of the latest and greatest camera, if you don't have a camera with you and a great image opportunity presents itself, the camera is useless to you unless you have it with you.

Over the last couple of years, starting in 2012 with my Project 365, I got in the habit of having a camera (usually the Canon Powershot S95 or Canon PowerShot S100) with me almost all of the time. In addition to helping me complete the project 365 the "always available" camera helped me think more photographically and allowed me to capture some images that I might not have if I was obsessing about always having "The Best Camera".

Here are 4 representative shots from my project 365. None of them will win any awards but they are unique slices of life that I wouldn't have captured if I left my camera at home.

A Little Off Course

This 1st image is from very early in my project 365, day 6 or so, and shows a bewildered driver (on the left) watching the Police as they come up with a plan to extricate his car from the woods. I captured this while walking to the store during lunch:

A Little Off Course- The best camera is the one you have with you


Street Sign Wisdom

Here's an image that says a lot about the Metric System in the US. Once again this was taken while I was out on a walk at work. I had my S95 in my pocket, ready to use at a moments notice, when I saw this interesting/ironic sign combination:

Street Sign Wisdom


Sunset Reflections

I got this image of the setting sun reflecting off of some office buildings in Atlanta as I was headed to a business dinner. Once again, nothing award winning but I like the colors and composition of it. Also, at the time I originally posted it, several people said it reminded them of a scene from The Walking Dead and asked if I saw any Zombies. I always love it when an image spurs a variety of different thoughts and recollections. That just shows how powerful an even basic image can be.

Sunset reflections

Mid Life Crisis

As many of you know, I love cars of all types and I try to get as many quality photos of them as I can. Well, one day as I was stopping by my local Costco to do some shopping I saw this beautiful, pristine Ferrari in the parking lot. Luckily I had my "best camera" with me at the time (the S95) and was able to get the car photographed before the owner showed up with multiple packs of toilet paper that they just purchased in Costco :-)

Midlife Crisis

Now that I've defined the term "best camera" and shown you some fun images I captured by having a camera with me I hope I've inspired you to start carrying a camera (any camera) with you on a daily basis. Remember, the best camera isn't the newest or most expensive one, it's the one you have with you when you want/need to capture an image.

Until next time....Happy Shooting!


From Creative Commons To All Rights Reserved And Why I'm Switching

As photographers what rights  should we be attaching to the photographs we share on the web (or anywhere else, for that matter)? Is "Creative Commons" fine or is "All Rights Reserved" the better choice? After a recent potential copyright infringement issue with one of my images I have done some research and made a decision that I didn't think I would make. Read on for the rest of the story:

Unauthorized Use Of An Image

Last week I posted about an image of mine that appeared to be used for commercial purposes without my permission. After blogging about it here and tossing the question out to the Google+ community it became fairly apparent that it was, in fact, an unauthorized use of my image. My guess is that the use wasn't intentional. I chalk it up to someone under a tight deadline who saw the image with the "Creative Commons" designation and decided it fit what they were looking for. Still, the experience got me to thinking about the process I use and the rights I grant when I publish my images. I've spent some time over the long Thanksgiving weekend researching the issues surrounding the use of Creative Commons licensing versus using the "Copyright ©-All Rights Reserved" for my photographs and have come to the conclusion that, moving forward, I will attach "All Rights Reserved" to all of my images. Here's how I came to that decision:

My Personal Copyright History

Since I got back into photography a few years ago I have been of the mind that I wanted to share my images with as many people as possible while still retaining ownership of my work. I did some research on the subject and came to the conclusion that I would use Creative Commons licensing. Creative Commons was developed in 2001 as a way to give content creators a way to share their work with certain, but not all, rights attached. There are currently 6 licenses (from least to most restrictive):

1. Attribution (by) 2. Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) 3. Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd) 4. Attribution Non-commercial (by-nc) 5. Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) 6. Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd)

Information about each of the licenses can be found here. Up until now I have chosen to license my images with #6 (Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs) which is the most restrictive of the licenses. It seemed like a good compromise between withholding all rights and giving free reign to my images.

Potential Creative Commons Pitfalls

Creative Commons seemed like a great way to go. I could let others use/share my images but protect myself from unauthorized commercial use. At first glance, it seemed like a good solution. That is, until I dug a little deeper into the Creative Commons licenses last week and saw this section of text:

License grant. Subject to the terms and conditions of this Public License, the Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-sublicensable, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to exercise the Licensed Rights in the Licensed Material...

What does that mean? Well, it basically means that once an image is used by someone under any of the Creative Commons licenses (by following the terms of the license) the creator can't change the terms of that use at all. That means that I can't really control how my images are used, especially if my objectives/opportunities/desires, etc. change as it relates to my images. Here's a realistic example of how this could play out:

Let's say that in 2014 someone uses one of my images in a way that is 100% compliant with the Creative Commons license that I assigned to the image-in a non-commercial blog post for example. Three years later, I decide that I don't want that image shared anymore. Well, under the terms of the Creative Commons license, I couldn't do anything. Even though I was the creator of the image I had no real control over the image. The more I thought about that the more I became less confident in continuing to use Creative Commons.

Sharing Doesn't Mean Free To Use

Another potential pitfall of Creative Commons is the fact that many people (wrongly) equate the term with "free to use". I think this is what happened in my particular case and I think it stems from how/when Creative Commons came about. Specifically it is the sharing aspect that is promoted across all the licenses that trips people up and helps them assume/justify that they can use or distribute the image however they wish. This is a 100% wrong assumption but I can see how people can make the assumption based on the language in the licenses (if they even bother to read the license).

Based on those two things, as well as some thoughts about where my photography is heading and what the future may hold, I decided to make the switch to All Rights Reserved.

Why All Rights Reserved Makes Sense

After weighing the pros and cons of continuing to use Creative Commons I decided that using the "All Rights Reserved" with my images gives me, as the creator, a much higher level of control over those images. I can assign temporary or permanent terms, define the scope of use, and decide how to charge (or not) for any image in any situation. I can be as open or restrictive as I want with the use  of my images. Does this mean that I will never allow any use of my images? No, absolutely not. I plan on making the use of my images relatively easy as long as people communicate with me about how they plan on using the image and give me credit for the image. That way I can better control things rather than depending on the slightly nebulous language contained in the Creative Commons licenses.

Potential Downsides Of All Rights Reserved

Using "All Rights Reserved" with my images is not a magic bullet by any means. There is still no guarantee that my images won't be used without my permission. If someone wants to "steal" an image of mine they still can. I do think that the language "All Rights Reserved" is a little more clear than "Creative Commons" though. The other issue is that my images might not get as much exposure as they would with a Creative Commons license, especially in blog posts, etc. I considered that but came to the conclusion that by me posting images to Google+ and Flickr (who do not force you to relinquish your rights to the images), the built-in sharing that occurs from those sites will give me enough exposure.

Where I Go From Here

Now that I've made the decision to use All Rights Reserved with my images where do I go from here? Well, first off, I'm not foolish enough to believe that just because I stamp "All Rights Reserved" on my images that there won't be any future unauthorized use of them, especially since I'm posting images on the web. But at least if someone does misuse my image I have some level of recourse. In addition to switching to All Rights Reserved I plan on adding a couple of steps to my workflow:

  • I will start registering my images with the copyright office, something I haven't done to this point. I'm researching the process and will probably do a post/video detailing how to do it so stay tuned...
  • I will also review the size of the images that I upload to make sure that they are big enough to get a decent view of on a screen but not good enough to generate any kind of quality print.
  • I will be more aware of the policies of the sites I use to share my images. The sharing sites provide a way to get my images out to a fairly wide audience but there are differences in each site's terms. Based on my research so far it seems as though Flickr and Google+ do not reduce my rights or take ownership of images I post, while Facebook "might" (more research required here).

I will also NOT be doing one key thing:

  • I do not plan on putting any type of watermarks on my images. I think they detract from the image and for them to be effective they need to cover the entire image, which kind of defeats the whole point of posting an image in the first place. To watermark or not is a big debate in the online photographer community and many photographers use tastefully placed watermarks but I've decided to post my images watermark free.


I know that the direction I am headed goes against the grain to some extent but I think that my reasons are sound. I believe that many photographers are adopting the Creative Commons licensing structure without knowing all of the potential pros and cons. I know I didn't really do as much due diligence as I should have before adopting the Creative Commons model originally. Everyone is different and depending on what you are trying to achieve both Creative Commons or "All Rights Reserved" are valid options. Stay tuned for a followup and update to this. I will let you know how things are going and share with you any resources I discover that might help you make an informed decision about whether or not to use Creative Commons licensing or "All Rights Reserved" with your photographs.


Happy Shooting!

Unauthorized Use

As photographers in the digital age many of us are torn between getting our images noticed in an ever increasing pool of images, or protecting our images to prevent any potential unauthorized use. I've tended towards the former by publishing many of my images on sites such as Google + and Flickr while attaching a creative commons license that allows non-commercial use with attribution. Up until last week I hadn't come upon a situation that caused me any extra thought on the matter. Last Friday I was cruising through my Flickr stream and noticed that a random image from my 2012 project 365 had received an inordinate amount of views (about 400, which is more than 2x the total before that).  I dug a bit more into the stats and saw that all the views were coming from this page, which was a bit surprising. Looking at the article it seems that every image they use is from Flickr. If you scroll down to # 4 on the list you will see Sandy Springs Georgia, which happens to be the part of town that my office is located. The image of mine that they used is of the "King and Queen" buildings, which look like giant chess pieces. Here's the image:

World's Biggest Chess Pieces

The image is nothing special, just something I captured on my way home from work one Summer day in my quest to keep the project 365 going.

Here's where I have a question.  If you scroll down the page on Flickr with my image you will see that is licensed under Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial. My question is if the use of my image in a Kiplinger online article qualifies as "non-commercial"? My initial thought is that the use of my image is in violation of the copyright I attached to it because it is on a commercial site. If that's the case, do I have a rightful claim for unauthorized use?

It's an interesting situation, and the first time I've encountered it with my own images. My initial inclination is to do nothing. The image has no real redeeming value from an artistic standpoint and it's not like the Kiplinger article is going to be something that goes viral. But, If I were so inclined, could I contact Kiplinger and demand compensation?

What are your thoughts on this? Do I have a case or not? I'm interested in hearing your thoughs.

Initial Impressions And First Images From The Olympus OM-1

I got out with my "new to me" Olympus OM-1 this past Saturday and shot nearly a full roll of film (Kentmere 100) as a test of the camera. I was dying to try out the camera so I took a short walk over to a cemetery (bad joke, I know) near the house that has a lot of old grave-sites in it. This cemetery was where I took one of the earliest shots with my vintage Rolleicord, of a confederate soldier's grave. It wasn't the best light for making photographs but I wasn't really concerned about that as I was more interested in learning how to use the camera and making sure it worked. Here's an image of the developed negatives:

As I said above, the light was terrible and this was my 1st time using the Kentmere film, so I didn't quite know what to expect as far as developing went. I scanned in a few of the images to see what I got. Here's some images.

As we were walking to the cemetery I came across this sign:

Follow Instructions
Follow Instructions

I got this shot pretty much dialed in. The focus seems to be good, and you can see our reflection in the button!

A little while later we made it to the cemetery, where I shot the majority of the roll.

P.V. Singleton
P.V. Singleton

This is the grave of P.V. Singleton. I made a photograph of this same headstone last October when I got my Rolleicord: I think this image came out pretty well, especially considering the light. I need to get used to the focusing on the OM-1 but the result was pretty good.


Here's another headstone in the cemetery, appropriately named the "Singleton" cemetery. Nearly all the graves are of Singletons or what appears to be their extended family. I did a little better with the composition and sharpness in this one.

Some Quick Impressions

Now that I've used the Olympus OM-1 I feel very good about my decision to purchase the camera. The camera seems to operate exactly as it should. It is a well-built piece of equipment with a nice, solid feel to it. When you press the shutter there is a satisfying "click". All the switches and dials are tight and move with a purpose. The whole camera has a great "mechanical" feel to it that I don't think any DSLR can ever hope to replicate. That's one of the reasons I enjoy using these vintage cameras, because of their solid build and purposeful operation.

The lenses I got with the camera appear to be in very good shape as well. One thing that is a little different on this camera is that the shutter speed "dial" is on the lens itself, rather than on the camera body. It will take me some more time to get used to that but I don't see it as a negative, just different.

All in all, after shooting about 30 images with the camera, I'm a happy camper :-) The Olympus OM-1 is a fine example of analog camera equipment and I am looking forward to using it. I may do a more in-depth review of the camera after I've had some more time with it. Until then, if you are looking to try your hand at analog photography and want a single lens reflex camera, the Olympus OM-1 should be on your list!

Photography Tip-Don't Wait To Take The Shot

Here's my photography tip of the day/week/month (heck, maybe of forever)-If you see something that you want to photograph, don't wait! Take the best shot you can as soon as you can, because it might not be there next time! I almost learned this lesson the hard way, but fortunately I didn't. Here's the back story:

There was a slowly crumbling house along one of the bike routes I ride. I had ridden by this house maybe 75 times over the previous 5 years and every-time I did I always wondered to myself "what's the story is behind this". Then, last Fall, after I got my vintage Rolleicord Va, I was inspired to drive out to the house on a Saturday morning just after sunrise to see what kind of photographs I could make. The day wasn't perfect. In fact, there was a slight mist in the air but I was compelled to go out there and photograph it.

I set up my Rolleicord, which was loaded with a roll of Delta 400, and made several photographs of the house.

Day 336-Needs Work

Good Intentions

Roof Detail

As you can see, the house was old and falling apart, which made it a great subject for the camera. I was very happy with the images I made that day, but I still wondered what stories this house had to tell....

Burnin' Down The House

Earlier this Summer I started thinking that it would be neat to visit the house again and see if I could document some additional decay. Well, imagine my surprise when I rode my bike by it one day in August and saw that it had decayed a little faster than I thought, it had burned to the ground!

I made it out to the house last week with my Rolleicord (loaded with Delta 400 again) and made a few images of the charred remains. Here's a pretty good representative shot of what was left:

At Least We Have The Memories In among the rubble and charred wood was a few of the metal shingles, which were a unique part of the house. I don't know what caused the house to burn, was it set intentionally to make it easier to clear out? Or perhaps it was arson? I'll probably never know. I'm just glad I was able to capture the house before all this happened. Now that it has burned I have a bit of a photographic story of the house that I never would've had if I had waited until "the perfect time" to make the initial photograph.

I hope my little experience with "almost waiting too long" has inspired you to have a sense of urgency about your photography. Sure, the perfect conditions might not exist on a particular day when you pass by something that you find interesting, but take a minute to stop and make that photograph because it might be your only chance!

Why HDR Might Be The Perfect Tool For Landscape Photographers

In my short time as a "serious" photographer I have come to embrace HDR (high dynamic range) photography and am quickly becoming convinced that HDR is the perfect tool for landscape photographers. Based on my experience so far, HDR seems to be the best way to as accurately as possible reproduce the wide range of lighting that seems to most often be present while shooting outdoor landscapes. Our eyes are much better than the camera's sensor at balancing out the dynamic range of a scene, so my goal with most landscapes is to use the camera to reproduce what my eye sees as realistically as possible. And, because of the wide dynamic range of many scenes, some type of exposure bracketing combined with HDR processing seems to be a great way to accomplish that goal. Let me use a set of images from our just completed trip to Colorado to demonstrate:

Here is the series of three bracketed shots I took at the West portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel, which goes under the mountains at the continental divide (at an altitude of over 11,000 feet) just West of Denver. It was a fairly sunny day and that combined with the snow and darkness of the tunnel entrance indicated to me that HDR might be a good option.

Here's the first image (zero exposure compensation). This is typical of what most people would get if they took their camera, focused on the tunnel, and pressed the shutter:

As you can see in the above image, it was a pretty bright day and there was a wide range of light, from pitch black in the tunnel to blazing bright white on the snow. The camera's metering system did an OK job at best with this and the image would qualify as a "snapshot" and not a photograph in my opinion. You can tell what the subject is and make out that there is snow in the background and some kind of dirt in the foregroud. But beyond that, the rest of the details are hard to make out. There are probably thousands of images like this on people's computers and in their vacation photo albums.

Here's the second image (2 stops underexposure):

This image shows what happens when the camera underexposes by 2-stops. The tunnel just about loses all detail and becomes one big shadow but the road and snow take on a lot more detail. You can make out some of the dirt and grime on the snow, the shadows caused by the clouds on the snow, and the sand in the foreground actually looks like sand.

One last image, this time overexposed by two stops:

The third shot, over exposed by 2 stops, is needed in order to capture the details that are hiding in the dark parts of the scene. The foreground sand and background snow are blown out and almost pure white. But the details of the tunnel come into view. Compare this image to the first one (taken at "normal" settings) and you will see that the tunnel has stoplights in it (red on the left and green on the right). Also the windows above the tunnel tubes reveal more structure and the doors in the middle of the tunnel become apparent.

Now it's time to work some magic and combine the three images into one cohesive, detailed photograph using HDR software. I use Nik's Color Efex Pro 2 (which I can highly recommend) to generate the final image but you can use any number of HDR applications or plugins:

Big difference, huh? :-) Compare this final image to the first one at the top of this post (the snapshot) and you will see a HUGE difference. Getting to this final image took a little work and experimentation with the various settings in HDR Efex Pro (and I have more learning to do) but I think I got it pretty darn close to what my eyes saw that day when I parked the rental car at the top of the pass, got out and looked back at the tunnel we had just come through. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the brightness of the scene but once they did I was able to make out the details inside the tunnel, see the dirt on the snow behind/above the tunnel and make out the details of the tire tracks in the sand right in front of me.

If I had just taken out my DSLR and snapped a quick photo I would've never captured all of that. All it took was a little bit of foresight, three bracketed images, a tripod (get one now!), and a bit of time with some specialty software in order to create this final image.

I think the final result is well worth the effort and I will continue to use HDR, whenever I can, to create realistic photographs of landscapes (and just about anything else) that represent what I saw with my eyes at the moment I captured the image(s) with my camera.

If you are looking to create realistic Landscapes with your digital camera and aren't using the power of HDR, you might want to give it a go and see what happens. I think you'll be happy with the results!

Marks Photography Spot Is Now On YouTube

What's better than a photography blog? A photography blog with a YouTube channel! :-) I'm proud to announce that as of today, Mark's Photography Spot is on YouTube. I decided that I could make more of an impact on helping people enjoy and get better at photography by integrating video into the mix. I plan on using the channel to dig a little deeper into how to use cameras, software and other equipment in order to make better photographs. The videos will be an addition to the content of this blog and I think it will enhance the quality of the overall experience.

Here's the first video:

I'm Looking forward to the future and sharing more of my photography with all of you via YouTube.

Happy Shooting!

Meet New People And Make More Friends With A Vintage Film Camera

Are you tired of the bar scene? Do you want to meet new people but don't like to introduce yourself to total strangers? If that sounds like you then I might just have the perfect solution, a vintage film camera! I say this based entirely on my personal experience with my vintage Rolleicord camera over the last few weeks. I figured I would get some attention but I have been pretty much blown away by the amount of attention an old camera gets. Forget the latest and greatest digital super-camera, if you want attention, shoot film!

Here's a summary of some of the comments I have received after only two times venturing out into the public with my Rolleicord.

At Atlanta's Piedmont Park The Day After Thanksgiving

  • "Wow, that's a cool camera!"-From a small group of teenagers walking by.
  • "You sure don't see those very much anymore"-From a guy who looked to be in his mid 30's. We talked for a couple minutes about photography in general.
  • "Does that thing work?"-A guy in his 50's who was very interested in how the camera worked. I spent a few minutes showing him how to compose and take a shot.
  • "My Father had one of those"-The husband of a family enjoying the nice weather in the park. Once again, I spent a few minutes relating my story of how I decided to get the camera and how much fun it was to use.

At The Caffeine And Octane Car Show This Past Sunday

  • "That's awesome, a vintage camera to photograph vintage cars"-One of the car owners
  • "That guy's shooting Old Skool!"-Some people wandering by me as I was looking at a car
  • "That camera's older than my Harley". -The owner of this 1949 Harley. BTW, my Rolleicord is only from 1958 so its much younger :-) :
  • "Can you still get film for that?"-An older guy was very interested in the availability of film and where I got it processed. I told him that there is still a fair amount of film available and that I just started developing my own film. He seemed impressed with my technical skills (if only he knew how few I really have) :-)
  • "I used to have one of those at home but that was thirty years ago"-From a guy who was watching me photograph a classic Firebird SD455. We talked for a good 5 minutes about cars, photography and life in general. At the end he asked me if he could take a photograph of me with the camera saying "nobody will believe me unless I show them a photo"

And Probably The Best Comment Yet

  • "That's a cool camera and all but let's see you make a phone call with it!"-Said by a couple of guys who had huge smiles on their faces. To which I replied, "That's what this is for" as I pulled out my cell phone. We talked for a while and they both recalled the pre-dgital days and how much fun they had with cameras. One of them was very interested in my Rolleicord and I gave him some ideas on where he could go to research the camera.

The bottom line is that if you want to get attention, get yourself a vintage film camera and walk around a public place taking photographs. I'll pretty much guarantee you that you will get some attention, whether you want it or not.

So many people are surprised that film still exists and many people who are under the age of 20-25 simply haven't seen a film camera, EVER, which is kind of surprising to me.

I'm having a lot of fun with the camera and I think it's great that people notice the camera. It gives me an opportunity to talk about a hobby that I love as well as maybe educate some people on the incredible history that photography has.

My First Day With The Rolleicord

Today was my 1st full day with my Rolleicord and I managed to get out over the lunch hour and burn through my first roll of film. I had a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus, Black and White Print Film in the camera and only about 30 minutes. Having never used this type of camera before I just wanted to actually run through the steps and see what I could come up with. I drove to a parking lot and walked around a bit trying to find something to shoot. I came across a fire hydrant that looked interesting so I spent about 6 exposures playing with the settings (and guessing as best as I could what the correct exposure value was). I also took some images of a nearby building. After I finished up the 12th frame I pulled out my Canon S95 and tried to replicate the view of the fire hydrant that I had with the Rolleicord. I ran it through Silver Efex Pro and used the Ilford HP5 film emulation to come up with this: I hope my image from the Rolleicord is close to the one above but we'll see... I know its not much but my objective was just to get used to using the Rolleicord, which I started to accomplish. I say "started" because it is going to take me a while to get used to the camera, for a main reasons:

  1. Everything is manual- There is pretty much zero automation on the camera. It doesn't even have a light meter. Mind you, I'm not complaining about that at all because that's what I wanted. But, it is going to take a while to get used to (and relatively proficient in) setting everything prior to capturing the image. Figuring out what exposure settings to use is going to be the hardest part. I really want to do as much as possible without the aid of a light meter, so that slows me down quite a bit. I even found myself forgetting to focus the camera a couple of times. I'm sure this is because 95% of the time my DSLR is set to auto focus.
  2. The image in the viewing screen is backwards-Because of the way the camera is designed, the image you see on the camera's fairly dim viewing screen is reversed. That means you have to move the camera in the "opposite" direction when trying to align the shot. My brain isn't used to working that way so I think it will take me some time to adjust. I also think its harder since you are looking down toward the ground instead of at the object you're photographing.

Other than those two things (which aren't complaints, just observations) I really enjoy the camera. I'm sure that with a few more rolls of film I'll start to become comfortable using it. The important thing is that the camera seems to work fine so any "less than optimal images" are going to be due to operator error :-)

I'm going to send this 1st roll off to the lab for processing so I should have some sample images w/in the next week to ten days. In the meantime I plan on shooting a couple more rolls of film this weekend if I have time.

I'll update you on my progress with this camera in the next week or two so stay tuned...

Happy Shooting!