A few short weeks after Michael and I were married, we rented a little Ryder truck, packed up our modest collection of stuff, and left San Francisco for Santa Fe. It was a great move for us after having lived our young lives on the west coast. Although I grew up in California, both of my parents were born and raised in Santa Fe so I'd been there many times throughout the years to visit family. But living there was totally different from visiting, and as a resident I was struck by the differences. For one, the parking. Compared to the Bay Area, Santa Fe is a veritable mecca of free parking. I appreciated the parking situation, in part, because I was a serial parking offender in The Golden State. I'd had to bail out my offending vehicle several times at no small expense. So there was that.
The other wondrous thing was the availability of housing. Landlords seemed to assume that you had a dog so pets were no problem. We lived in a 100 year old adobe with a very large property. We were in nirvana. There were galleries everywhere, and a knock out photography book store called Photo-Eye. I took my first year of photography at the community college which was still reeling from the good fortune of having received a very generous monetary gift to its art department. The year that I attended, the photography department was very well and newly equipped.
I loved spending time in the darkroom. Often times I'd be there alone or with just one other person. Working on images in a darkroom can be a very meditative experience. It's quiet, the lighting is dim, people are focused on what they're doing. That community college was the hardest thing to leave behind when we decided to move away. In fact, before we moved, we purchased an enlarger and various darkroom equipment thinking that eventually we'd have our own home set-up. That has yet to happen.
What has happened is that digital photography has come to pass. That's not to say that film photography is gone forever (or at all) but we are in the new era of digital photography. Digital photography is not entirely new and, if you're old enough, you've lived through the shift from film capture to digital capture. As I write this, it occurs to me that the younger of us only know digital photography. That's weird. I mean really, that's kind of weird.
I feel as if I've been watching photography from the sidelines. I've been watching everyone indulge while I stubbornly held onto the fantasy of having a little darkroom of my own one day. I had to cut that baby loose, I'm telling you. That whole notion was holding me back. I didn't have to let it go entirely but I had to find a way back to what I once loved so much. And in July, I did.
I combed through articles on DSLR cameras, read reviews, read lots of pros and lots of cons about different cameras. In the end, I knew that I wanted a full frame digital. In my mind it would be the vehicle that would get me closest to the 35mm format that I cut my teeth on. I bought myself a Canon 6D and a few lenses. There was a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning, especially in post production editing. But I find that I have a hunger for photography that I'm not sure that I had before. I feel frustrated by not being completely and unabashedly "fluent" with the new camera but I've only had it for a few short months.
Holding the new camera in my hands was scary at first, exciting. It had weight to it. It was my new compadre, a machine, a vehicle of expression. It was so many things. It was/is freedom, my eyes, my view. It speaks for me. I love it. I have no regrets about not getting it sooner. It came to me at the exact right time in my life.
I named the camera El Presidente because it's formidable and the lenses for race horses because I prefer them "fast" (in photography speak, a fast lens refers to the maximum aperture, the larger the aperture the faster the lens). My favorite horse from childhood was Secretariat so that is the name for my most often used lens - the 50mm. The stable includes Whirlaway (my wide-angle), Mucho Macho (my zoom for night sky and moon shots) and Ruffian (the elegant and dependable 85mm).
I haven't given up my dream of going back to film. I play with the idea of getting a medium format camera in a few years. I need to put in some hours with the Canon first, hone my skills a little. But it will happen, it has to. I have a name picked out already: Man-O-War.
I hope you will bear with me as I post an ever increasing amount of photos here.