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.