The Digital Sorceress


I first started 'getting into' photography back in high school. A friend had this old Argus C3 (a.k.a. "The Brick"), and we went off to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to take some photos. On the C3, the shutter reset and the film advance were two separate functions, thus it's incredibly easy to accidentally double-expose. We had a few double exposures that day, and the effect was rather striking (to me anyway).

I caught the bug potography (see, I didn't use the "shutterbug" pun) that day, and it wasn't long before I got my hands on a borrowed Pentax Spotmatic, which became my constant companion for the next six months.

After a large amount of pestering, my mom and grandma bought me my very own Nikon FM 2. My photographic interest was somewhat constrained by my personal finances, so I shot mostly black and white film which I developed in my cheezy basement darkroom. I still have gobs of negatives that I shot during that time. I made a few prints which I still have floating around in my basement, but a recent attempt at scanning some of the old negatives showed just about every one to be grainy and in many cases, scratched. I actually wonder if the scratching was caused by the pf1800 film scanner I picked up a few years ago.

At any rate, in 1991, I got a job as a television news photographer for a local NBC affilliate, and my FM2 was soon mated to an MMD-12 Motor Drive.

I can't remember exactly when, but sometime in in 1990 or 1991, I bought a used Nikon FA and an MD-15 Motor drive.

With the two camera bodies, I adopted the strategy of keeping the FM2 loaded with B&W film, and the FA with color negative or slide film.

I remember the order of cameras, but my memory for lenses was a little fuzzy. The FM2 came with a F1.8 50mm Nikkor standard lens. I picked up an off-brand (can't remember) 28mm lens (I think it was F3.5 or so), an off-brand 35mm-135mm zoom lens, and a Sigma F5.6 APO 400mm over a period of maybe a year. Not really the best lenses, but I was struggling to make ends meet.

I sold a few photos to the Longmeadow News, and did quite a few weddings (I charged very low rates for folks who couldn't afford high fees of more established wedding photogs, and basically just turned over the negatives and all copyrights to my clients). I'd hardly call it being a professional photographer, but the money helped me pay for film and developing.

When I was hired to work the photo lab for Ritz Camera in the Holyoke Mall, the employee discount let me take a lot more pictures, but after being promoted to Technical Service Manager for Eastern NY / Western MA, somewhere along the line, the joy of photography kind of left me. I ended up selling all my cameras and lenses to a couple friends around 1996 or so.

I never completely stopped taking pictures, I picked up a little Olympus point and shoot digital camera, and would bring that with me to parties and events, but that too eventually fell off. Somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted to be involved in what was going on instead of just hiding behind a camera. Also, those point and shoot digitals were just too slow (both between recording images, and recharging the flash) to really let me grab "the moment" that I just wasn't inspired.

Well, I completely stopped taking photos for a few years until a recent visit by a friend. She had a Nikon D300 and a Nikon D200. She handed me the D200 and we went off to shoot some pictures one weekend. WOW, what an experience. I LOVED that the fast, modern DSLR, and I really felt the interest rekindling.

After reading a lot of reviews and advice (thank you Ken Rockwell) I purchased a Nikon D40 kit with Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX, and Nikon 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX lenses. I also picked up a Sigma 10-20mm super wide zoom lens.

I very quickly got back into my photography, and started finding that the D40 was a little too limiting. It's a great "light and inexpensive enough to just bring it with me everywhere" camera, but at the time my canada 2008 trip caused me to take the plunge and get a Nikon D300. I had been holding out, thinking I might get a Nikon D3 due to its full frame sensor, but I basically decided that I'm not willing to drop $5000.00 on a camera body when I'm never planning on making any money from my photography.

I wrote that a little more than a year ago. Since then, I got tired of carrying around two camera bodies, so I sold my D40 to a co-worker. He's taken some wonderful photos with it, and I've got a feeling it won't be long before he takes the plunge on a D300 or D700.

Actually, a D700 is my next camera as well. The plan is to get the Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8G ED AF-S N, and either the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S N or the 17-35 mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S