Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Early Work, Eyes on the Sky

If I remember correctly, I received my first 35mm camera for my 17th birthday. It was a Pentax ME Super kit, including a 28mm wide angle, 50mm standard, and a 135mm telephoto lens. I put it to work in the fields and hills surrounding our new house. I didn't yet have a driver's license so I was hoofing it up the hill behind our little valley, to take in the views. By the time I got my driver's license I was more interested in going to car shows and finding old cars to shoot along the way...but that's a topic for a future post.

I had also received a copy of John Hedgecoe's "The Photographer's Handbook." At this point I was more interested in learning the exposures in the shots presented in the book, and not so much the techniques behind them. With practice I was able to call the exposures pretty close a lot of the time, using the light meter in the camera more as an idiot light. The ME Super had a LED display which would light up next to shutter speed numbers.

Well...during a family trip to New Hampshire I managed to lose track of the kit. We think is was after a visit to a lake and it was either left on top of the car, or just left behind. We were able to get something out of our insurance for the loss, and it was replaced by a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm lens, and I still have it today. I had also picked up a Makinon(?) 80-200mm zoom, which had iffy optics.

So here are some of the shots from in and around our little valley in the far reaches of Harford County, Maryland. The negatives are looking a little rough these days, from a combination of age and the act of sliding them in and out of the sleeves too many times. I am scanning them with a Plustek 7600ai film scanner. The scratch and dust corrections aren't catching everything but it's a tall order with the beater negatives. I've only made minor adjustments to make them a little more presentable.

I selected these images because they show I was trying to do something with composition, even if it was just to emulate what I had seen elsewhere. They were taken in 1981 and 1982.

 
This shot of the sun was taken on a frosty, foggy morning, from the back end of our yard.
 
 
Getting a little creative here, placing the setting sun on top of a utility pole in a neighbor's yard.
 

 
These two shots were taken at the same location, over the top of the hill, down the road a bit.


 
A colourful sunset, as seen from our backyard.
 

 
Two sunset views over the Harkins family dairy farm. In the first shot you can see one of the family driving a tractor back to the farm.
 

 
Two shots the moon as viewed from our road, with a little bit of composition going on.
 
 
Harvest moon through the corn on top of the hill.
 
 
A full moon.
 
I started into my 35mm period by following the examples of photographs I had seen in books and magazines. There was something different about the photos from this period of my life, compared to those of the following years. I think it had to do with the fact that I kept wandering the same area, trying to capture different things each time.

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