Brian’s Photographic Journey — Part 5: 2011
... continued from Part 4: 20062010 ...
In February 2011 I sold my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 and associate equipment. Then I started putting together a system of high-quality lenses and other photographic equipment centered around a Sony Alpha α55 translucent mirror digital SLR camera. This is the first SLR I have owned since I sold my Pentax in 1985. But I skipped the low-end lens that Sony offers with the body — I opted instead for a very sweet Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 zoom lens to use as my "everyday" lens, as show in the image to the right. By the way, that's not a photo off the Internet, but an actual picture of my camera which I took. I also acquired some additional equipment to put together a complete camera system.
Now that I had been getting more deliberate about my photographic equipment, I also became more intentional about my picture taking. Rather than just taking photos only when we happen to go somewhere picturesque, I began taking numerous trips, near and not so near, for the express purpose of taking pictures. Oregon is a very beautiful state, with a rugged coast, the majestic Cascade mountains, and the arid eastern deserts — an incredible abundance and variety of photo-worthy subjects. Of course, Oregon's typical nine-month rainy seasons kind of puts a damper on things, but that simply makes the dry season all the more photographically intensive!
My photographic renaissance this year also found me participating in some local camera clubs. I've found two: the Corvallis Photography Meetup Club (mostly to arrange group photo outings), and the more formal Valley Viewfinders Camera Club right here in Albany. Outings and assignments relating to these clubs resulted in a few new photo albums, including Shannon Modeling 2011, Albany Library 2011, and Night & Low Light 2011. *AWARD WINNERS* gathers into one album all of the photos which have won awards at the monthly competitions of the Albany Valley Viewfinders Camera Club. It's been stimulating to be around other photographers and get new ideas.
In October 2011, Sony released the "big brother" of my α55: the Sony Alpha α77. It features a range of more professional features — click on the link (or the camera) to go to a review, where you can see a chart of the main differences between the α55 and the α77.
The α77 also features a full-sized body, rather than the somewhat smaller, compact-DSLR size of the α55. Even though it is somewhat heavier, I prefer this larger size, as I always felt like the α55 was a bit too small to grasp comfortably, even for my small hands. The α77 uses the same lenses as the α55, so there was no need for new lenses. Starting in mid-November 2011, the α77 became my primary camera, with the α55 becoming my back-up camera.
On a final note — without really consciously setting out to do so, I've now arrived at the point where I'm putting together a little camera collection. At the end of 2011 some pieces fell into place, and now I've got five cameras that I have some sort of sentimental attachment to.
On the left is a 1939 Kodak Special Six-16, very much like a camera that my grandfather used around that time. Next is a newly-acquired Pentax Spotmatic F, which, as mentioned in Part Two, is the first SLR I owned, when I was 14 years old.

Next to that is the very same black Olympus XA that I took on my trip to the U.K. and Belgium in 1986, as mentioned in Part Three. In front is a newly-acquired silver Minolta 16 II spy camera, like the one my uncle gave me while I was in junior high school, as mentioned in Part One.
Last, but not least, all the way on the right, is my grandfather's old camera, a Miranda D from 1960, with an optional Tamron telephoto lens. You can see a picture of him holding this camera (with the same lens!) on the Web site I created to honor his memory and photographic skill:

Well, after all these years my photographic journey has come full circle: I pretty much started off with an SLR camera, and now 35 years later I'm finally back to an SLR — a modern digital one this time. I have high expectations that next year will be a great year for photography!
The journey continues in Part 6: 2012 ...