Last night as I was walking the beagles – and contemplating potential photography subjects – it hit me.
I’m not really as new to all this photography business as I thought.
I joined the US Army in 1984. My MOS was 71Q – Journalist. After basic training I was sent to the Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort Benjamin-Harrison, Indiana (now defunct) for journalism school. In journalism school we were trained in covering all kinds of news events – from sports to natural disasters. We were also trained in photographing the events we covered, and developing our own photos.
When I graduated from DINFOS I was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky and assigned to the post newspaper there — Inside the Turret (a reference to tanks, as Ft. Knox was a tank-training base). I covered Community News.
We had professional grade 35mm film cameras, black and white of course. I don’t remember the brand. No surprise since I have an abysmal memory. (Although I can still name every horse and pony we had in our barn when I was growing up. Go figure.) Our little newspaper office, housed in the old fire station, even had its own dark room. I actually enjoyed developing my own film, although today if you put me in a dark room with a bunch of chemicals I would have NO idea what to do. Blame the faulty memory.
We had a lot of fun at The Turret. Our editor was a civilian named Larry Barnes and he had deep connections with the Louisville area so we did lots of fun outings. We even got Press passes during Derby week. Somehow I missed out getting to go to the Derby – even though I was the horse girl! – and had to be satisfied with covering the paddle boat race on the Ohio River. Not as exciting as the Derby, but it was pretty cool to get to ride in the Press boat!
I was only at Ft. Knox for a little more than a year. After marrying and deciding to start a family, Mark and I decided to cut my military career short, something I have always regretted. Probably the biggest regret of my life. Being a journalist was truly a dream-come-true for me, as I had wanted to be a writer since first grade. Later I would work again as a reporter for our local community newspaper The Bedford Press. Of all the jobs I’ve had over the course of my life, being a journalist is the one I loved the most and am most proud of — my job as wife and mother not withstanding, of course. I even won two awards for my journalism while at Ft. Knox.
So, it’s not true that I have no experience with photography. And many of my photos have been published — in two newspapers!! 🙂 I went searching for my file folders full of articles and my old photos. I kept many of the ones I took during my time at Ft. Knox. After 30 years, they are starting to deteriorate somewhat. On a couple of these you can see my crop marks and my percentages for enlarging or decreasing. We did all our own page layouts along with writing our stories and developing our own film. And this was in the days long before computers!
On the day the paper went to press we would have to drive down to Elizabethtown and do all the proof reading. The articles and photos would be printed out on a paper that had a waxy substance to it and then pasted onto the full-size news sheets. We had to go over every word and if we found typos, they were marked with a blue grease pencil, cut out with a pen knife and the corrected word pasted in. Ahhhh, the Good Old Days.
Remembering all these things made me have an Army dream last night. Mark and I both have this phenomena happen to us periodically. (Mark served in the Army for 4 years, that’s where we met. 🙂 ) Funny how something that was such a short period of my life has continued to affect me all these years later.
Thanks for taking a stroll with me down memory lane! Take a moment and tell me about your photographic past. How did you get interested in photography?
These are some really good photos!
As for how I got into photography, it was a family thing. My dad had his SLR, my mom had her Brownie, and when my brother and I were old enough, we each got Instamatics one year for Christmas.
I think that’s really cool that it was a family thing! That’s a wonderful way to pass down a passion about something!
I realized looking back on the photos I kept, for journalism it wasn’t so much about striking composition, more about capturing an image to illustrate the “news”. I covered things like the moms with twins group and the cheerleaders, blood drives and McGruff the Crime Dog.. 🙂 A lot of the copies I kept are not very good. The best ones would have been used in the paper and a lot of those I wasn’t able to keep.
I didn’t really get into photography until I was stationed in Turkey in 1959. Up until then as a kid, I had a Brownie Hawkeye and enjoyed taking snapshots. But in our first Christmas in Turkey, my wife bought me one of thse sub-miniature cameras that took those 16mm film cartridges. It was fully manual, of course. I had know knowledge of f-stops, shutter speeds or ASA numbers. I went to the base library and started trying to learn all the stuff. I got hooked more, and a couple of months later I bought at the Base Exchange, still in Turkey, a Kodak Retina 3s range finder 35mm camera. It had a 50mm lens, but I later added an 85mm, and a 135mm, a super zoom at the time. LOL
I found that I had a natural eye for composition. I started using Kodachrome slide film, (ASA 10 would you believe?) ASA 12 came along a few months later. Took lots of travel slides of Turkey. Along the way, the base photographer became friends with me, and started letting me use the base darkroom, and I, like you, learned how to develop B/W film. Also, like you, I have forgotten all that I ever learned about that.
I then enrolled a home study course with New York Institute of Photography. I had no desire to ever work for a magazine or newspaper. I just wanted to be a good photographer, and shoot what I want, whenever I want. That is exactly how it turned out. I still don’t want a job as a photographer. I am happy with what I do, and manage to make a few dollars along the way.
I absolutely LOVE your story, Bob!! I think you’ve had such an awesome life and great experiences and have truly lived life to the fullest!! Do you still have your “first” cameras? Do you ever pull out your old slides and look at them? Or did you have them converted to film once that technology became available? I remember my parents shooting vacation photos as slides back when I was young. I’ve wondered whatever happened to all those old slides they had. I’m sure one of my older sisters probably has them.
I think your photos are amazing and you and your blog have been great inspirations to me!
Thanks for the great reply.
No I don’t have any of my old cameras. If I could go back to those years I probably would have kept them if I knew then what I do now. Isn’t that always the case??
When we returned to the U.S. our belongings were sent to us by ship. It took three months, and a lot of the stuff was damaged, including my slides. They were covered with some nasty stuff, and I managed to salvage a few. I tossed the rest of them. With todays technology, I could have probably saved them, too.
One thing I forgot to mention, in our previous discussion about storage. Besides that ClickFree unit, I also have a Western Digital Passport. It is a portable little hard-drive and I bought. It holds 300 GB. As we speak I am saving my entire collection of photos to it, total of about 155 GB.
Probably could have been more, but I am constantly culling out old stuff, dupes, bad exposures, etc, that I will never want to mess with.
Anyway, I can take this little thing with me when we travel, and load photos to that. It is about the size of a regular passport, hence the name. Mine is about 8 years old.
A new WD Passport Essential holds 2 TB, yes, two terrabytes, and only cost 119.00 at Best Buy.
Anyway, I appreciate that you think I have been an inspiration. Makes me feel good.
Funny you should mention the WD Passport, I was just looking at them on amazon after our discussion about storage! I just searched “external hard drive” and that was the first listing!
Unfortunate about the slides and your items getting damaged in transport back in the day. THAT hasn’t changed! My niece who is in the Army went from Wright-Pat in Dayton to Bremerton out in Washington state and a lot of her stuff got damaged in transit, and that didn’t go across the ocean!
No photographic past here. Just thousands of family photos. I do want to comment on your past photography which was very good. You have a knack for capturing just the right scene at the right moment. I think that’s called a “Gift” and right well you should be using it. You have been blessed with it.
Thank you, Carol! Love you!! ❤
BTW, those are called “My Passports”.
What good photographs you took then. (And now too, of course.)
I started to take photos four years ago when I started to write my blog diary and found that a few pictures brightened up a dull story. Since then I have got hooked.
Your blog is certainly never a “dull story”! I always find it to be mightily entertaining. I’ve gotten to where I look forward to having my morning cup of coffee and starting my day out with you. 🙂 And your pictures are fabulous. Hard to believe you only started in photography four years ago. You have such an artistic eye and gift for landscapes.