|... continued from Part 2: 1976–1985 ...|
In order to travel light, yet still take quality photos, I invested the proceeds from my camera sale into a new camera, not too much bigger than the "spy" camera I had started with, but of a much higher quality. The Olympus XA was one of the smallest 35mm rangefinder cameras ever made. I took hundreds of slide photos while on my six-month trip to Europe. But once I returned, my passion for photography started to fizzle. Maybe it was because a pocket camera just couldn't compete with a full SLR camera system. Or maybe there just wasn't much going on in my life worth photograhping in those days. It was probably a combination of both.
Four years later, when I moved to Switzerland in 1990 to marry my Swiss sweetheart Catherine, I started taking photos again in order to capture the incredible beauty of the Swiss landscape. But after a few years the photographic passion dwindled again.
It wasn't until about nine years later, once we had moved back to my home town, that my interest in photography started to revive. It was at the beginning of 1999 that I made the leap into the future and got my first digital camera, a Kodak DC260. By today's standards this camera was quite large and clunky, and its pitiful 1.5 megapixel image size would be considered a joke compared to modern 10 or 20 megapixel images. But back then it was quite cutting edge and high-tech, and it did take very nice pictures — nice enough that over the eight years we used it before it died, we took over 7,400 pictures with it!
Once I experienced the liberation of digital photography, I knew that I could never go back to film! No film to buy, no developing costs, instant images instead of waiting to get the film developed, being able to take as many photos as I wanted and it wouldn't cost me anything but dirt-cheap hard disk space — wow! I was sold!
I can only imagine what my amateur-photographer grandfather would think about the miracle of the modern digital darkroom. What a person can do with pictures in a program like Photoshop does border on the miraculous! I don't know why my grandfather decided to sell all of his darkroom equipment in the mid-1950s, but I can easily imagine that after a decade or two of developing and printing his own photos, with the time, effort and cost involved, he probably just got fed up with it all. From that point on he took mostly slides, and sent them off to be developed. Photography sure has come a long ways from the days of soaking your hands in dangerous chemicals for hours on end just to see what your most recent batch of photos looks like!
Catherine and I shared the Kodak as a family camera, but when it finally gave up the ghost in 2006, after eight years of faithful service, and I was contemplating which camera to replace it with, I realized that she and I had quite different photographic needs. In order to accommodate Catherine's desire for an easy point-and-shoot camera, we got her a Canon PowerShot SD550, which has been an excellent camera giving many years of faithful service. The photos in the Washington DC 2008 photo album were taken with this camera.
But I had loftier photographic dreams, which were destined to be fulfulled in a totally different manner!
Continue on to Part 4: 2006–2010 to find out how!