20 August 2021


My father, a police detective and photographer bought me a camera when I was fifteen and taught me how to use it, as well as how to develop the film and print the pictures. Black and white, of course. We had to send color film to labs back then.

He bought me a Yashica twin-lens reflex camera which took 120 mm negatives (four times the size of the standard 35mm negatives). It opened a new world to me and I've been taking pictures ever since.

Yashica was the inexpensive version of the wonderful Rolleiflex German camera

Snapshot turned into still life photos and candids pictures of family and friends moved to portraits. My MOS in the army was Photographer: Still (opposed to Photographer: Film. There were no video cameras in 1971). I gave up the little Yashica for another twin-lens camera, one with interchangeable lenses and the ability to use 120 mm film with 24 exposures (rather than 12 as in the Yashica). I moved to the Mamiya C330.

Japanese Mamiya cameras were well-made, durable with excellent lenses

In the army I perfected my lab work, developing and printing and thought I would be a professional photographer when I got out only there were no jobs, so I went back into law enforcement and later discovered my calling to be a writer.

But photography was always there. Eventually, I moved to the Mamiya RB 6x7 single-lens camera. A real gem, only large and bulky. Along the way I bought a Nikon 35mm, which was more portable and produced sharp images.

RB 6x7, similar to the greatest camera in the world, the Hasselblad

Taken with Yashica

Taken with Mamiya C330

Taken with RB 6x7

Taking photos in St. Louis Cemetery #1 with RB 6x7 in 1975

Digital photography is much easier but I miss the craft of focusing the camera and setting the f-stop and speed and the smell of the developer and glacial acidic acid and fixer. I miss washing the negative and hanging them up, making sure no dust got to them while they dried. I miss printing the pictures, seeing the images come to life in the developing tray in the dim, yellow light of the darkroom.

I still have my C330 but rarely use it. I don't like having others develop the film and print the photos. Digital photography is much easier and I'm a writer now.



  1. Those are handsome photos of the ships at anchor.

  2. Nice photos of life and objects now frozen in time.

  3. Great photos. The only problem with digital photos is, in the future (if we're not all in caves battling mutant insects), how will they be retrieved? The great thing about those old photos is that I can hold them in my hand, study them, and show them to people. And they're durable.

  4. I was delighted when we bought our first digital camera shortly after we got married, because we were spending a fortune on developing rolls of film. But now I am intrigued with the idea of returning to print film using a vintage camera. Believe it or not, the one I was thinking of getting was the Mamiya C330. But I am nervous about the learning curve.

  5. Terrific photos. I admire folks with this next-level eye for photography.

  6. I had a Mamiya SLR, which I used to document historical ships on the East Coast. My only complaint was finding compatible lenses. I think it was damaged in the hurricanes. I kept a Canon SLR in the hope someone might invent a digital back, but if one exists, I haven't encountered it.

    You may shoot me, but I never learned to develop and yet… when I bought a house in Minnesota, it came with a darkroom. At least it's a good place to hide bodies.

  7. Thanks for the walk through photo history. I learned photography when I was in journalism school. My old Yashica twin-lens reflex camera sits above my photography computer, along with a few other cameras I no longer use. I used to to roll my own 35 mm film (thank god for digital) and process film in a closet. Photography is not only a life-long hobby of mine (I sold a few photos along the way), it's great for documenting places and events I may use in future stories.


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