The Art of Taking Breaks: Part 5, Digital Problems, Analog, and Doing What You Love

You’ll recall in an earlier post I wrote that when I purchased the Sony DSC-F707, and that it came furnished with a Sony Memory Stick with 128 megabytes of storage. Cards at that point in time hadn’t progressed too far into high capacity. In contrast, recently I purchased a compact flash card of 64 gigabytes – that’s 500 times more storage than the Sony card. Some CF cards today reach 256 gigabytes, 2,000 times larger.

I shot quite a bit with the camera around town and quickly filled up the card. I chose the photos I liked and deleted the rest using the camera, repeating the process again of filling up and deleting, filling up, deleting…. Eventually I couldn’t shoot anymore because I didn’t want to delete any more photos. The truth was I didn’t have computer. Commence break number 2.

More than a year would pass before I picked up the Sony again. Fortunately when I did, a few of the guys on the ship were pretty advanced when it came to computers (in 2002). One owned a card reader and burned a disc of the images I had captured. I no longer have that disc. Lesson learned; I bought a computer and a card reader following one of our subsequent patrols.

I didn’t seriously pursue photography until about 2006. I had a decent paying job as a bus mechanic so I bought a silver Canon Rebel XT and the Canon 28-135mm zoom lens. It also came with the kit 18-55mm lens, which was a total piece of junk. Terrible chromatic aberration and contrast reproduction… or maybe it was that I was shooting jpegs at that point in time. It’s too late to know now.

I made some good photos with that camera. It was 8 megapixels and had enough features so that I could be creative with it if I had known what I was doing. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I began taking classes at Cypress College. Still not knowing what I was doing, I enrolled in an intermediate photography class with Mark Chamberlain of BC Space, an art gallery in Laguna Beach.

Chamberlain’s first assignment was to shoot a roll of slide film. “What’s that?” I asked. Exactly. I had no idea what I was doing. I went and bought a Canon Elan 7e to complete the assignment, and ended up receiving an A in the class. That class reinvigorated my interest in photography and led to me enrolling in 3 photo classes the following semester.

I started becoming more interested in film photography than digital at this point and purchased a camera on Ebay that would provide me with some of the finest photos I had made yet – including some that hopefully will be family heirlooms.

2009 and 2010 were huge years in photography for me. I was shooting 35mm, medium format, and large format film almost exclusively in all my personal work. While some assignments required digital due to the nature of the project or class, I shot mostly film and created more portfolio pieces than I had in any pervious years. I was awarded 3 scholarships during my time at Cypress, including the first annual David Drake Memorial Scholarship. I was also contracted by the theater department to shoot advertisements for their upcoming productions. It was a blast.

I continued taking classes in the photo department until late 2010 when I decided to transfer to a UC or State University. I began investigating schools I could transfer to in order to pursue a BFA and potentially MFA, and even travelled to Rhode Island for an orientation with the Rhode Island School of Design. In the end I decided to stay in California, but realized that the three years of classes I had taken wouldn’t allow me transfer anywhere. I felt cheated.

The counselor informed me that I would need to complete more than 40 additional units to be able to transfer. How disappointing. I was so close to completing my Associate of the Arts degree, but wouldn’t be able to use it to transfer anywhere. So I changed majors. Commence break number 3.

Over the course of the following 2 semesters and summer, I attended 5 different community colleges in Orange County, and completed all of the required courses to transfer. I applied to UC Irvine for Philosophy and was accepted. Beginning in the fall of 2012, I attended UC Irvine full time. My shooting became very limited during this time. It truly wasn’t the focus if my energy.

My wife had given birth to our twin girls just after the conclusion of my first quarter at UC Irvine. It was blissful, but traumatic, and lives in eternity here. We nearly lost the eldest, Riley, twice in her first 18 hours of life. Fortunately, she is 100% healthy and full of life today. This was the last blog I posted on the blog that I had kept for more than 2 years.

I photographed three weddings while my wife was pregnant, but haven’t shot anything like that since.

My film cameras have nearly disappeared. I once had a Calumet 4×5, a Mamiya M645, and a Keiv Salyut C 6×6. I kept the Canon Elan 7e and also have a Holga 35mm that rarely are used.

I also made a transition from Canon to Sony. I started with the Rebel XT, then purchased a 40D, T2i, and finally a 7D. After sometime I became disenchanted with Canon. They hadn’t released any game changing camera bodies in sometime, so I decided to take a chance with Sony and purchased an A7r. The decision was not easy, but a great creative stimulator anyhow. I once made panorama images for a show at Cypress that measured more than 6 feet wide. I had to manually increase the size of those images for optimal printing. The A7r is 36 megapixels. I have the photo below printed on canvas 4.5 feet tall by 7 feet wide in my living room. It was printed at full resolution.

Beautiful Landscape Photography

Following working with the A7r for about 5 months and purchasing the MetaBones FE-EF adapter ((so I could use Canon lenses), I came to realize that, aside from Sony’s limited line of lenses, it seriously lacks the ability to autofocus. Furthermore, because Sony had done little to woo Canon and Nikon users other than offering a body that was lighter and had some features that Canon or Nikon weren’t offering, no groups had formed that would create third party software (Magic Lantern, for example) to enhance the performance of the camera. This was a serious concern, and led me to purchase a 5D Mark III.

My equipment list as of now:

Sony A7r

Canon 5D Mark III, Magic Lantern

Sony/Zeiss 55mm f1.8

Canon EF 35mm f1.4L

Canon TS-E 90mm f2.8

Canon EF 135mm f2L

DJI Ronin-M

I’m officially calling an end to this last break. I’ve accomplished a lot (including graduating from UC Irvine with a BA in Philosophy and a Minor in Political Science), but I seriously miss shooting.

Seriously, I just want to shoot.



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