My History with Photography

I’m in no way a National-Geographic-quality photographer (though I am trying to learn some secrets to taking better photos), but I do enjoy taking photographs. 

When I was little, my folks had a black-and-white Polaroid Swinger.  Cameras were pretty expensive back then, and I was really young, so the camera was my parents’ property and I wasn’t allowed to use it at all.

When I was maybe 11 or so (I’m sure I’ll pick out the exact date as I find more of my family’s old photographs), my dad got a Polaroid SX-70 camera.  For those who are unfamiliar with Polaroids of the 1970s, this was the first camera where the film auto-ejected and the picture would develop as you watched it.  When my dad got this camera, I finally got one of my own — the old Swinger.  So I think that every black-and-white photo in the albums after this point is likely to be mine.

My mom sent me to Girl Scouts for years.  The first few years were pretty good, despite the sexism in a lot of the materials (A “housekeeping” badge?  Really?).  Later I got into a group that were mostly strangers and all of my friends dropped out.  This was the beginning of the end of Girl Scouts for me.   In that era, we had a project on photography and the theory was that we were going to get a chance to develop our photographs in a real darkroom, so I had to buy black-and-white 35mm film and borrow someone’s Kodak camera.  I ended up needing to take my photos in to be professionally developed.  I cannot remember if we ran out of time or if I was sick the day that we developed them, or we had some kind of family event planned and I missed it.

In what I am pretty sure was now 1981, my mom got a Kodak (I keep wanting to type “Kodiak” for some reason) disk camera, which she allowed me to use.  On our 1988 vacation, I think I took as many pictures with it as she did.

I got married in 1991.  My (now-ex) husband and I each got a cheap 35mm camera.  We used those things for years. I think I have three of them around here because one time (I think it was our trip to Wisconsin) one of us left ours at home and we had to buy another one. 

In the late 1990s, my ex-husband started buying digital cameras.  I was allowed to use them, but they were primarily his.  At this point, I mostly used those cheap disposable cameras.  We upgraded digital cameras twice before we split up in 2008. 

Once I was on my own, I went out and bought my own digital camera (then a year later I ended up getting a job at that same Walmart).  I needed to keep it inexpensive, and ended up with a Nikon Coolpix.  I still have it and use it a few times a year.  I use my Galaxy S5 phone as a camera more often, simply because I have it with me.  During our 2014 trip to Italy, I took probably close to 2,000 pictures, around 700 of which were with my Nikon.

By the way, I get a real kick out of the Google “Auto Awesome” feature.  It has taken some of my best photos and made them better.  It has also taken some of my more . . . interesting photos and made them, well, more interesting.  In 2014, I took a picture of a pigeon in Newark Liberty International Airport and for some reason, that is the picture that Google decided to “Auto Awesome.”  I can’t explain that one.

(originally posted May 14, 2015; edited July 9, 2015.)

My Posting Schedule: A Plan

At my old LiveJournal, I tried to get into the habit of posting every other day, and I was pretty successful.  I finally got the hang of scheduling posts ahead of time (and as I write this, I still have three or four unposted posts queued up).  I have around 50 old posts that I want to move here, most of which are about National Geographic issues.  However, since I started working on that blog, I have added three other topics, My Travel Memories, Northern Illinois Destinations, and South Texas Destinations.

The pattern that I developed over time has been:

National Geographic
My Travel Memories
National Geographic
Northern Illinois Destinations
National Geographic
My Travel Memories
National Geographic
South Texas Destinations

That’s a lot of “National Geographic”s, I know, but I, will, by the time the dust settles, have about 167 years of magazines to get through and only around 40 years or so to do it in.  At the rate I am going, I’ll be lucky to get through 120 years of magazines in that time.

I will keep that pattern here, with one exception.

That exception is that I will add extra topics to the rotation for that year’s big summer trip.  For example, the week after I am posting this, I will be going on vacation to New York City with a side-trip to Philadelphia. When I return, I will temporarily add “New York City Destinations” and “Philadelphia Destinations” to the rotation until I run out of those topics.

I also occasionally make an extra post on a separate topic.  I like to do that on one of my days off, but if it occurs to me to do so on the day when my post runs, then so be it.

Since I already have so many National Geographic posts, I will combine them into entire issues for the time being.  So my first repost of a LiveJournal post will be the entirety of the January 2015 National Geographic issue, which I think I will put together and queue up right away.

Introductory Post. What Am I Doing Here?

Back in 2010, I started a book review blog on LiveJournal.  I ended up moving to a “content farm” platform to post the book reviews, and left that old LiveJournal to sit until late 2014.

I guess I’ll have to go back even farther than I’d planned in this explanation. In 2010, my dad bought me that DVD set that had the entire run of National Geographic issues from 1888 to 2008 on it.  I always tried to find the discipline to sit down and read them and also get caught up on the issues that have come out since then, but never quite could get around to it.

So, in January of 2015, I decided to use a sort of carrot-on-a-stick approach (since I’ll probably never finish this project) to motivate me.  I decided to start reading National Geographic issues and posting about them on that old blog.  Eventually that project turned into a travel blog, with National Geographic articles, reminiscences about my own travel (so far I’m still writing about travel from when I was ten and earlier, so the memories tend to be kind of vague at this point), and posts about travel destinations in both of the regions that I have called home — Northern Illinois and South Texas.   That travel blog has inspired me to start this blog, which will be a travel blog (and also include National Geographic writeups) from the very start.

In the interest of getting everything onto one blog, I will eventually start moving those earlier posts over here.  I haven’t decided if I will do it all at once, or if I will do it one post at a time.  I also haven’t decided if I will repost them with their original posting dates or with the date and time that I reposted them here.  It is likely at this point that I will repost then one at a time dated as of the dates that I post them here and say “originally written on . . .” at the top.

Also, my spell-checker doesn’t think that “repost” is a word.

In pursuit of this project (particularly to try to recapture as many of those early travel memories as possible), I asked my dad to see how many of our old vacation photo albums he could find and started scanning them in.  This has evolved into a major photo scanning project.  I ended up buying a new scanner because I was concerned that I might damage or burn out the scanner I bought for my son last Christmas.   As I write this, I have scanned in over 1,600 images and I’m probably about 1/3 of the way done with all of the photos that we have been able to find so far.  I know there are others to be found, two sets of pictures in particular.  My mom made photo albums of two of our earliest trips to Florida that  have yet to be found.  Also, my now-ex-husband and I took two honeymoons (a long weekend right after the wedding and a (if I recall correctly) 9-day trip to Florida once we had some vacation time saved up).  I have not yet been able to find the pictures we took on either of those trips.  Hopefully, as I get more confident (and find more photo albums), I will start to put my and my family’s pictures of destinations in my posts.