In February 2019, when my first camera arrived, the Maxxum 7000i, my only goal was to capture better images of my small flower garden. That was it. I never expected to show anyone else my pictures (except my wife, who now receives prints on demand). I certainly did not see myself writing a blog, taking a darkroom class, or becoming interested in Minolta history. It’s fascinating how one thing led to another.
By January 2020, I was planning darkroom time and reading photography books with the hope of improving my technical proficiency. My interest in Minolta had matured into a serious collecting bug, and I bought even more cameras out of curiosity and a desire to relive a bit of history. Then, COVID-19 hit.
Like most, I curbed my activities, wore a mask, and kept my distance. The sudden loss of darkroom access led to me doing black and white development at home and buying a scanner. When it became apparent in May that COVID would hang around, I started color development at home. Along the way, my interest in still life photography began to grow. So, deciding a larger format might be nice, I found a deal for a Yashica Mat 124 with Wide and Telephoto auxiliary lenses and a set of close-up lenses.
In late summer, while trying to decide what to do with some drawing books I had never used, I discovered I could draw. Of course, this led to a whole new path to explore. And to end the year, my family had a harrowing experience with COVID. It turned out fine, but I hope never to have a similar experience.
Over the last few weeks, I have had a chance to consider this new year. I’ve come to realize that, despite my owning way too many Minolta SLRs, I’m not really a camera guy. By that I mean, I have no desire to try exotic cameras or different types unless they fulfill a specific purpose. By Year Four, I hope to have my collection down to maybe 10-12 cameras—my favorites, along with backup copies. Having shot nearly every Minolta SLR, I already know what my favorites are. After my voyage through Minolta history, I will sell the rest.
My appreciation for manual cameras and lenses has grown. Initially, I ignored both, but the Minolta XD-11 and Rokkor lenses proved how foolish that was. The 50mm Rokkors (1.4 and 1.7) are fantastic, as are several mid-range zooms. All will make it into future posts. I have given little additional thought to setting up a darkroom, but if COVID continues past fall, those plans will likely kick in again.
Connecting with bloggers in photography and gardening has been wonderful. I find that I prefer blogs, whether photography or gardening, that tell stories or make me think. I’ll make my way through Jim Grey’s blog list, and maybe I’ll find a few more to my liking. I rarely read gear reviews anymore—I’m much more excited by new images than new gear.
Still life photography and drawing have caught on in a big way. The studio space, which was just a room with lighting, tables, and drawing/painting supplies, is being redesigned and refined. I expect to spend a lot of time here. You’ll hear more about the studio in a few weeks. While I look forward to studio work, I am also itching to spend some time outside. There are many quaint towns around Atlanta, and I hope to shoot a few of their downtowns and tell a little about them. Meanwhile, I’m making great progress on the drawing front. Painting will have to wait for now, but since drawing is essential for painting, I’m still making progress.
Last year, I bought a few books on floral photography, but none had images I really liked. My wife changed that with two wonderful books I had never seen before. This year, my flower images will hopefully move up a notch— I have all the lighting, reflectors, stands, meters, and now books, needed to experiment with all summer!
Gardening was the thing that started all of this, and already I’m thinking about spring, which here is late February. Last spring, I bought a lot of woodland phlox that never made it into the ground. It has sat on the deck for 10 months, and the squirrels have had their way with it. I gave up on it, but it’s hanging in there! Once it starts to bud, it will be the first thing I’ll plant. I’m a tomato lover, one of those people who will eat tomatoes with salt, apple-like, as a snack. But store-bought tomatoes don’t cut it. I’m going to try growing my own tomatoes next summer—we’ll see what the squirrels have to say. And maybe a few cucumbers, they will go well with my homemade ranch dressing.
Well, I am looking forward to my third year— I hope you will join me.
Jerome, So glad to see you’re back. I’m glad your family had a good outcome with the encounter with covid. My wife serves as a hospital chaplain and these past months have had many sad outcomes for so many families. You and I have a heart for art and photography but her heart is to help people through difficult life moments. Like us she gives it all she has even without financial compensation. I am so proud of her.
The XD-11 with Rokkor lenses was what Bank shot with. As I recall his kit was 2 XD-11 bodies, a 17?,28-80?, 50 and 200 with an occasional long telephoto for a specific shot. Was the minolta wide angle a 17 and was the zoom a 28-80? I don’t recall that but I bet you know. He shot a lot with the 28-80 zoom and the 17. As his print finisher I saw those Kodachromes he shot enlarged to 40×60 and a few of Spanish Missions printed even larger. Those prints were beautiful and impressive so that’s what you’ve got to work with.
Now, about those tomatoes you’re hoping to grow. My wife’s Namaw grew the most incredible tomatoes in the flower beds that were around the outside of her house. That was almost 30 years ago now but I can still remember how flavorful and juicy they were. I’ve not had a tomato as good since her passing back in the 1990’s. My brother-in law loved to make a tomato sandwich with salt and pepper.
I wish you the best in your drawing and painting adventure also. I’ve been at it since 1965 and I can tell you there is always a new technique to try or subject to study. I took my darkroom/ film developing class in the summer of 1981. The roll of film I shot and developed for the class is still a favorite of mine. I used my new found ability to shoot high school football games along with a good friend. I worked at an aerial photography studio that had a darkroom with the most amazing Durst enlarger that had a glass film carrier big enough to put all 36 negs into and then print a contact sheet on 16×20 paper! Those enlarged contact sheets are my most prized.
You’re on a great lifelong adventure Jerome. When you get to be my age all those photographic memories will be a wonderful link to the life you’ve lived and are living. Yes, some will be sad memories but the good memories far outweigh the bad. Wishing you the best in 2021 and thanking you now for all the hard work and effort you will give to this endeavor.
Bill, as always, thanks for your informative and supportive comment! I look forward to each one.
I know your wife is affected by the misery she sees. I hope this will end soon.
The lens was a 28-85mm. It is one of the very best lenses I have encountered. They are hard to find—one will show up every few months. Both of mine were attached to cameras. I got one with camera for 14.00!
Tomatoes have been a live-long love. I grew up in a rural area and everyone grew tomatoes. I munched my share every year!
Painting and drawing have been a huge surprise and a wonderful distraction. They are helping to keep me optimistic during this pandemic.
Give my regards to your wife, and have a blessed and peaceful 2021!
I love phlox!
Phlox blooms are delightful! I have creeping phlox and garden phlox, and this spring I hope to have a large patch of woodland phlox.
Initially, I forgot the link to your list of blogs, but fixed it last night.