Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Baytown Photographers Form a New Club

Monday night, October 5th, 2009, about thirty photographers gathered for the first meeting of the newly formed Baytown Photo Club to begin what is hoped by it’s organizer, Jane Lee, to be a long term sharing of photographic art and knowledge.

Jane Lee is a photo journalist and I’ve known of and read her well-written articles for quite some time, so when she asked me to join the club, I came along willingly.  I was pleased to see so many folks come out to learn and share, especially Nicki Evans, one of the areas well-published professional photographers.

I gave my brother TJ Bustem a call and he, being an avid photographer told me this was something he has wanted and needed to do for a long time, so he joined me.  We are both self-taught and the chance to learn from a pro is welcomed.

My fascination with photography began in 1968 when I met a fellow high school student who owned a premium range finder 35mm camera and educated me on the intricacies of shooting “photos”, as opposed to taking “pics”.

You see, photographers take photos, images or photographs and everyone else takes snapshots or pics.  Photographers do take snapshots, but when they are addressing their work, it is always images or photographs.

Anyway, it wasn’t until 1972 that I was able to afford (read serious sacrifice) my first real camera.  It was a revolutionary single lens reflex (SLR), aperture-preferred automatic 35mm – the Yashica Electro-AX.

What made this camera revolutionary was instead of all the dials being manually operated, this model would adjust the shutter speed while I, looking through the lens, adjusted the aperture (or depth of field).  It was fast – real fast with an almost unknown shutter speed of 1000th of a second, having a titanium shutter.  Many years later I bought a Nikon FE2, which came very close to approximating this early 70’s Electro-Ax, but with fewer features.

Now back in these days Kodachrome 25 (then ASA, but now ISO) slide film ruled the roost, but a person had to have excellent lighting to use it, so many of us used either Kodachrome or Ectachrome 64 and even the very fast Ectachrome 160.  Paul Simon sings about Kodachrome 25, even though he doesn’t say ASA-25, but 25 was king until June of this year when Kodak stopped its 70+ year run. Adios my old friend.

I went to the Air Force Base library with my new camera and read every page twice of the then cutting edge Time-Life photography series of something like 14 books.  I subscribed to a couple of photography magazines and with my usual abusive sense that I couldn’t learn fast enough, I inhaled the photographic art studies.

A few of the thousand photographs I took are shown here, while serving in Thailand:

Each time I let the shutter fall, it cost me about .25 and that was in 1972-74.  That was a tremendous amount of money and explains why composition, lighting and depth of field were so critical for film photographers, as opposed to digital.  To this day, I will stop, look and shoot once and walk on.

Time came and went, with various interruptions in my photo hobby, but over the last ten years, I’ve pursued it with a passion, especially when digital cameras became inexpensive enough to fire away with total abandon.  Now, it’s important to note that a good expensive camera does not a good photographer make. Trash in, trash out.  Do your homework folks.

However, the opposite is true.  Take a cheaper camera and a good photographer can make some very good quality photographs.  Some of the greatest photos of old were taken with simple (by today’s standards) range-finder cameras and old diehards wouldn’t use anything else, citing SLR camera buffs as amateurs.  This has shifted from range-finder to film SLR folks looking down their noses at DSLR people.

I’m a digital photographer who shoots primarily for the web, but I shoot in high-resolution and reduce the overall size to publish.  I use 3 cameras and they are all compact and I usually have one in my pocket at all times.  At the end of this article, I’ll list them.

Photographers love cameras and buy the best they can afford.  Some digital DSLR camera BODIES (read no lens) cost close to $3000.  Throw in a couple of lenses and you could buy a very good used car with that much money.  However, the modern point and shoot range finder cameras with 4 megapixel capability will serve almost everyone else’s needs and can be bought for a little over a hundred bucks.

Well, to bring this to a conclusion, the new club will meet the first Monday of each month at 110 W. Texas Avenue, at the Baytown Art League building at 6:30pm.  Bring a dollar for the kitty and join us.  Most of all bring a hunger to learn and if you have something to share, it will be welcome too.

Canon SD 950 IS, Canon 990 IS, Sanyo Xacti CG9

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