I “rediscover” photography as a serious hobby.

I’ve been interested in photography since my college days — perhaps because I dated an aspiring photographer back then — and have always had some kind of decent single lens reflex (SLR) camera. Early on, it was an Olympus OM-10 followed by an Olympus OM-2. Then Mike traded those in with some cash to get me a Nikon 6006. I signed up for an Arizona Highways photo excursion to Havasu Falls in 2004 and bought another 6006 and two lenses on eBay so I could have the flexibility of working with two kinds of film at the same time.

Yes, I did say film. Our house has boxes of prints and negatives and slides hiding in various closets and cabinets. It’s rather depressing when I think of all the money I spent on the hobby yet have no photos hanging on my walls to show for it.

Canon Powershot SD500 7.1MP Digital Elph Camera with 3x Optical ZoomBack in the late 1990s, I started buying digital cameras. I won’t bore you with a laundry list. Let’s just say that I stepped up with technology and, for the past six or so years, have always had a digital point-and-shoot in my purse. The current purse model is a 7.1 megapixel Canon PowerShot 500, which is now two years old.

Nikon D80 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor LensBut the quality of these point-and-shoot cameras was never as good as I wanted. And when we decided to take a well-deserved vacation in Alaska this past summer, I wanted a decent camera to record the images digitally. So I splurged and bought a Nikon D80, which would work with the three Nikon auto focus lenses I already had in my collection.

Only an SLR can give you the tools you need to get serious about photography. The camera, as you can imagine, gives me control over shutter speed, aperture, white balance, focus — everything! If I screw up a photo, I can’t blame it on the camera. It’s definitely my fault.

So the challenge is to learn to use this great tool to take great photos.

Practice Makes Perfect

The photos from our Alaska trip were only as good as the scenery. Fortunately, the scenery was very good. But my ability to capture good images was somewhat limited. I definitely need practice.

So I’ve been bringing my camera along on various trips and, when I have time, I’ve been snapping photos, experimenting with settings and light and the other things that make photography a challenge.

Hopi HouseWhen I get back to my office, I import all the images into iPhoto. I review each one and ruthlessly delete the ones that just don’t measure up because of problems with focus, exposure, or composition. Then I review the ones that remain and try to learn from them. Sometimes I fiddle with them in Photoshop, but I admit I don’t know enough about Photoshop to get the most of it. (Need to learn that, too.) And if there’s an image I like a lot, I put it on RedBubble so I can get cards or prints made. I’ve had two framed prints made in the past few months; it’s nice to see my own photos on the wall in my house.

The Right Lenses

I’ve also been investing in lenses. I now have five Nikon lenses in my collection:

  • Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens. This is the lens that came with my first Nikon 6006 camera. In other words, it’s a film camera lens. My understanding is that it’s equivalent to a 75mm lens on my digital SLR.
  • Nikon AF Nikkor 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 zoom lens. This is the lens I use most often. Very flexible focal length. I bought it for the Nikon 6006, so I assume the digital SLR focal length is closer to 42-128mm.
  • Nikon AF Nikkor 70-210mm f4-f5.6 zoom lens. I bought this for the Nikon 6006 as my “long lens.” It’s even longer on the digital: 105-315mm, if I’m calculating that right.
  • Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-f5.6 G ED zoom lens. This is the lens I bought on eBay a few weeks ago. I’m amazed by its light, rather junky feel. Interestingly, this is the only lens I have that’s made in Thailand; all of the others are made in Japan. This may become my multi-purpose lens; right now its too soon to tell.
  • Fisheye Lens ExampleNikon DX AF Fisheye Nikkor 10.5mm f2.8 G ED lens. I’ve always wanted a fisheye lens and now I have one. It arrived yesterday afternoon. I wasted no time fitting it to my camera. The early images are nothing more than samples — click, click, click with a digital camera for immediate gratification. (This image of a vase of flowers on my kitchen table is a good example; it also shows the limitations of the built-in flash with the lens.) I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this lens. Can’t wait to take it flying and out on the trail.

The only other lens I’d like to add to my collection is a very long lens — 300+ mm zoom. But I really don’t need one and can’t afford to buy a good quality one. So I’ll wait and see how I do with these.

Staying Interested

I’ll share some of my better photos and the stories behind them here, as I’ve been doing for some time now. I’m really not a very good photographer, but as I’ve said elsewhere, if you take enough photos, something has to be decent. And I know I’m not a bad photographer.

I’m just hoping I don’t get bored with photography (again) and put all this equipment aside to get obsolete.

Anyone want to buy a Nikon 6006 SLR?

2 thoughts on “Smile!

  1. you’re a very bad influence…I’ve resisted and resisted swapping my SLR for a digital version and now there’s all this practical information about exactly the same camera and the advantages of giving up on film. Am I right in understanding that non digital SLR lenses are compatible with digital SLRs? If they are then I’ll have to count myself converted. Thanks for writing a very useful piece.

  2. Glad you liked the post.

    For compatibility, it depends on the camera and the lens. My Nikon film camera lenses were compatible with a handful of Nikon digital cameras. Do your homework before diving in.

    As for swapping — unless you have a high-priced film camera (think Pentax 67 or Hasselblad), you’re likely to be paying out a lot more than you can get for a trade-in on your camera. That’s why I haven’t sold the two Nikon 6006s I have. I’d get so little for them that I may as well keep them.

What do you think?