My History with Cameras
From my earliest years, watching my parents take photographs on our travels throughout Canada and the U.S., I had always longed to do the same. After pestering my parents about wanting a camera of my own, they finally gave in. During a trip to Yellowstone National Park, when I was maybe 4 years old, I received a plastic squirt-gun in the shape of a rangefinder camera. I was thrilled and ran around "photographing" everything in sight.
I received my first real camera when I was 13 - a small Kodak 110 format camera. It was given to me by some family friends during a trip to Frankfurt, Germany, and I went crazy photographing buildings and cathedrals in and around Frankfurt. A short while later, during that same trip, an uncle took pity on me and gave me a real 35mm camera - a Vivitar rangefinder. I used this camera for many years and took some surprisingly good photos with it on my summer vacations with my parents.
On another trip to Germany when I was 19, I actually purchased my first SLR - a Minolta X-700 with a simple 50mm normal lens. Unfortunately, almost immediately after returning from that trip to Germany, my car was broken into and the camera was stolen. I decided to replace the stolen camera with a Nikon FE-2 at that point. Over the next few years, I switched systems numerous times while trying to find that elusive "perfect" camera. After the Nikon FE-2 came an Olympus OM-4, then a Canon T90, a Canon EOS Elan and finally, after years of buying more and more sophisticated cameras, I simplified and settled on a rugged Nikon F3 system. The Nikon would prove to be my last 35mm camera.
While owning the Nikon F3 system, I decided that I was not satisfied with the resolving power of 35mm film for landscape photography and started using an Arca Swiss 4x5 studio camera that I packed around on my travels. I quickly decided that this studio rail camera was way too much of a pain to set up when traveling so I traded it for a Linhof Technika folding 4x5 field camera.
A few years later I was given the opportunity to use a brand new Pentax 67II medium format camera. After shooting with it for a week, I was astonished at how close it was to my 4x5 in terms of resolving power. Not to mention how much easier and quicker it was to use! I was very impressed with the quality (and affordability) of this system so, after some debate, I decided to once again trade in my gear. This time both my 4x5 system and 35mm Nikon system went, in favor of the new Pentax 67II.
In September of 2004, I made my transition to 100% digital shooting, fully 1-2 years earlier than I had anticipated. A Canon EOS-20D digital SLR system became my primary means of capturing colour images. No more film, processing costs or scanning! Shooting with digital SLR systems has been a liberating experience, allowing me to once again forgo the use of a tripod for many shots, resulting in more spontaneous compositions and enabling me to obtain sharp photos in situations where a tripod would be awkward or impossible to set up.
Minnekhada Park - Digital infrared photo taken with a Nikon CoolPix 5400 and a B+W 093 IR filter
Over the last few years, I had experimented with numerous digital cameras, primarily for digital infrared photography. My first digital camera was a Nikon CoolPix 800, then came an Olympus C-4040 and finally the Nikon CoolPix 5400, all of which I used exclusively for digital IR work. Then, in March of 2004, I purchased a Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 million pixel "prosumer" digital camera, not for IR work, but for normal colour photography. I was amazed at the quality of the images that this digital camera produced and on prints smaller than 16x20 inches, it could rival photos taken with 6-8 megapixel digital SLRs and on moderate sized prints, it even rivaled high-end scans from my medium format Pentax for sharpness and overall image quality! In addition, when shooting RAW files, the Pro1 seemed to slightly exceed transparency film for overall exposure latitude.
With the constant march of progress and the never-ending quest for better quality on my colour images, I am now shooting with a 15.1 megapixel Canon EOS-50D, having gone the route of the PowerShot Pro1 -> EOS-20D -> 30D -> 40D ->50D. When I bought my 30D, I kept the 20D and had it converted to an infrared-only camera, replacing my P&S camera for IR work.
In recent years, all my printing has been digital. I would scan my 35mm, medium format or 4x5 transparencies and then output them on a variety of different printers. I started with an Epson Stylus Color inkjet printer, then moved to a Kodak Colorease dye-sublimation printer and then various newer models of Epson and Canon inkjet photo printers. Presently I am using an Epson Photo R2400 printer as my primary means of output. For larger prints, I have access to a 24" wide Canon iPF6100. Working with colour images from a high quality digital SLR has been a revelation... no more scanning and spending hours retouching dust or desperately trying to pull out some extra shadow detail from a transparency scan!
For more details on what I use to shoot with at the moment, see my Gear page.
What Do I Really Do?
I am presently employed by Beau Photo Supplies Inc., in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and manage their digital imaging department. As a matter of fact, I have been there now for well over 10 years - how time flies when you're having fun!
For me, photography is only a passionate hobby but I pride myself in striving for technical excellence in the images that I produce. I have no formal training in photography but have certainly accumulated many years of photographic experience - 26 and counting since receiving that 110 camera! According to some interesting tests done way back in my high-school days, I apparently have a very evenly balanced brain... which is perhaps why I find photography so enjoyable. Photography probably stimulates my entire brain - both left and right hemispheres, the technical side as well as the artistic side.
Waiting for "the light" in Utah at Dead Horse Point State Park. Heights? What... me worry?
In recent years, my obsession in photography has been for desert landscapes and I travel to the southwestern United States as often as I am able. In fact, I have traveled to the desert southwest at least once a year for the past 16 years now! I can't seem to get enough of the fascinating geology and sublime beauty of the scenery, especially in central Oregon, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. And my trusty Isuzu Trooper takes me pretty much anywhere I want to go...
When luck and patience is on your side, waiting for the light can be worth it!
Prior to my job at Beau Photo, I worked as a "material handler" in an industrial pump fabrication company (what can I say... the pay and benefits were good!), a freelance digital photo retoucher and Macintosh consultant as well as being self-employed as a software engineer. To top it all off, I even majored in physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia and took additional classes in geology, geophysics and computer science. I also collect old Hewlett-Packard programmable scientific calculators. But all that is a whole other story...
I live in Vancouver, B.C. and despite my obsession with deserts, I still enjoy taking photos in and around the Lower Mainland. In fact on the whole, B.C. and Alberta are pretty darn photogenic in their own right! Maybe one day when I'm tired of the Southwest deserts, I'll really give Canada the attention it deserves...