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For me, photography has been a lifelong passion, albeit one often limited by lack of financial access to technologies. My parents took the occasional photograph, especially when we traveled, and I was occasionally allowed to take a snapshot.

For my fourteenth Christmas Mom and Dad gave me a beginner’s photography kit. The camera leaked light, and badly, but I loved using it, often in creative ways. A few years later I came by a Kodak Instamatic. It was easy to use, but hardly a source of inspiration. It created snapshots, and snapshots only. Still, I treasure the pictures I took with it.

My world changed in 1976, when Charles Stonick rolled into town with his Canon AE-1 35mm single-lens reflex camera. It was like nothing I had ever seen, and produced wonderful photos. I had no idea where to buy one like it, so I convinced him to sell it to me. I used it happily until it broke. I spent a day chasing around Amsterdam, trying to find a shop that could fix it. None could, and neither could I get it fixed when I was back home in Tennessee. The AE-1 was, of course, repairable. I don’t miss those days before the internet.

I replaced the AE-1 with a Minolta Maxxum 35mm SLR, but although it had auto focus and any number of program modes, I missed my AE-1. I took few pictures during the 1990s. My life was busy. When it traveled it was generally to one gender convention or another, and I was so busy fomenting political mischief in the corridors I had no chance to explore the wonderful cities in which I found myself– New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Miami, Denver, Minneapolis, Asheville, Nashville, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Vancouver, to name a few. Still, the Maxxum had time for me when I had time for it. When the Maxxum was stolen in a burglary of my home, I bought my first digital camera– a Fuji. I thought it was interesting, but didn’t warm to it either– nor did I warm to a second digital camera.

In 2006 I created an account in the 3D virtual world Second Life. Because of the power of the SL camera I was soon once again getting creative with photography. It was virtual photography– that is, I was creating images of things that don’t exist in real space, but it was exciting and rewarding nonetheless. You can see several hundreds of my best virtual shots on my avatar’s FLICKR page…

Chey’s FLICKR Photostream

… and thousands of virtual photos on Chey’s Second Life Blog.

Chey’s Second Life Blog

In the fall of 2009 I treated myself. I purchased a used Canon Digital Rebel XT on eBay, and, also on eBay, bought a longer lens, a flash unit, a remote control, and assorted filters and memory cards. Thirty minutes after the camera arrived in the mail I was at the New Jersey Botanical Gardens, where I snapped the photos in the three blogposts below.

Fall Colors

More Pictures of Fall Foliage

And Yet More Photos of Fall Foliage

For all the frustrations of shooting with film– the cost of the film, the cost of processing, the long wait before I could see the images I had captured, and the deterioration of my images over time, I loved taking pictures on film– when I had a camera that spoke to me. Today photography is ever so much more convenient and much less expensive, especially since I once again have a camera I love.

My Rebel talks to me. It fells natural in my hand, the first camera to do so since my AE-1. And because there’s no hassle– no loading and reloading the camera, no messy home darkroom processing and no drive to the drugstore to drop off and pick up film, no expense for film and processing, no wait to see the captured images, I’ve been happy as a clam taking pictures for nearly four years now. I’ve taken thousands of photos,  many of which can be seen on my blog about Pine Lake. Be sure to click on the Flowers tab.

Pine lake: The Blog