Photography and me

By Dominic Stefanatos

My first camera

From a very early age, I have loved taking photos. My aunty Margaret (Roadknight) gave me my first camera when I was about nine or ten years old. From that time on I was hooked. I don’t remember what brand of a camera it was, some cheap kid proof one I guess, but it didn’t matter, I was able to capture a moment in time and preserve it forever, and I loved it!

I still have an album full of my first grainy pics. Looking at them now you realize how bad the quality was back then. But again, it didn’t matter too much, although I do remember thinking (even back then) that I wish they were clearer. Remember though, we’re going back a while now when camera and film quality wasn’t very good, not at the bottom end of the scale anyway.

As far back as I can remember I always had a camera, nothing flash though, just little Instamatics and the like. They were cheap and very portable. The most expensive part of owning these cameras (or just about any camera at the time) was buying and developing the film. But having your film developed was the most exciting part of all. Waiting with anticipation to see how they turned out. Back then it was a long wait too, days in most instances and often with pretty poor results.

Film processing

I remember as a kid, taking my films to the local chemist to be developed (yes the chemist), back before the days of the 1hour processing labs -wow, what a revolutionary idea they were at the time. You didn’t have to wait for days anymore, only a few hours if they were really busy.

Proof sheets and prints

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenty’s and living in Hong Kong that I could finally afford an SLR camera. Still a film camera we’re talking about here, but I was so excited. I could actually change the lenses on my camera, and they were proper zoom lenses as well! Hong Kong was a great place to own a good camera too, there were fantastic photos to be taken around every corner. That’s when I started using really good film too and having them processed in proper professional labs, with things like “proof sheets”.

I wasn’t a pro photographer, of course, I was working in Hong Kong as a chef. But most of my spare time was spent with my camera in hand. I did think about becoming a professional photographer a couple of times, but circumstances never seemed to allow for it. I also studied photography for six months at one stage, but couldn’t finish the course due to my work commitments. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

I did, however, work semi-professionally from time to time, shooting a number of weddings and even a Christening once. Most of that was still in the days of film. Once everything became digital though I got a bit lost with all the technical stuff, and still have trouble getting around “photoshop” and the like.

My first SLR

The Minolta Maxxum 7000 film camera

My first SLR camera was a Minolta 7000, and I used Minolta’s right up till Minolta stopped making SLR’s. This was not that long after the digital revolution had begun, but for some reason, Minolta decided at the time, that they weren’t going to produce digital SLR’s. They did, however, merge with Konica in 2003 to form Konica Minolta and then later, in 2006, merged with Sony, producing a number of digital cameras in that time.

I didn’t like digital cameras when they first came out, so I stuck to my film photography for as long as I could. It wasn’t until it became quite expensive and more difficult to find good processing labs, that I finally decided I should consider going digital. The picture quality and technology by this time had improved considerably, so I finally took the plunge (after much research) and purchased my first D-SLR camera, that was in 2009.

My first D-SLR The D300

I decided to go with Nikon in the end and now have two Nikon cameras. The first was the Nikon D300, and the second was the Nikon D7200, which was basically the replacement to the D300 with a few added features like HD video recording – cool! Both are great cameras, with great picture quality. The D7200 has a 24-megapixel sensor and can shoot a rapid 6 frames per second (fps). They are built well with ergonomic and intuitive control dials. For more detailed information on the D7200 click the link above. I also purchased the optional Nikon battery grips for both cameras for versatility as well as a variety of different camera lenses for various shooting conditions.

My Nikkor, Tamron, Sigma and old Minolta lenses

At last count, I had over 10,000 images stored on my computer (now downloaded to an external hard drive) and probably many hundreds of photos stored in boxes packed away in cupboards somewhere. My biggest dilemma of course is – what do we do with all these photos?? And I really don’t have an answer to that question either. Perhaps I will create a website that will allow others to use them for free, at least that way they’ll get used for something. I’ve also got many boxes of old film negatives that I’m pretty sure will never get used again either, but I can’t bring myself to throw any of them out either.

Luckily a few of my favourite pics from over the years made it into frames and get hung on the walls from time to time, but there again, most of those are prints from film, funny about that. We really don’t print nearly as many photos these days as we used to. As for the rest, I guess I’ll just have to find a way to share them.

South Thailand
Avalon Air Show Victoria

I love taking photos of just about anything. Every different event or scenario always has its own set of challenges, and I love working out how I’m going to get around those challenges to get the shot that I want. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it just doesn’t. Weather and certain circumstance can be very cruel sometimes, especially if you’ve only got one shot at it. I actually printed a wonderful photo book from the shots I got from the Avalon Air Show in Victoria, what a wonderful event, held at the Avalon airport near Geelong every second year.

Sigma 150-500

I also love car racing, particularly the Supercars series held every year throughout Australia. They are particularly difficult to shoot though because of all the fencing and the fact that you tend to be a fair distance away from the track. I find Sandown a little better though because there are a few spots where you are on an incline and have a free line of sight over the fencing. It’s still quite a challenge though as the cars move very quickly …practice your panning techniques before you go!

Wish I was on his side of the fence!
Pit lane tention

There is such a buzz in pit lane during a race. The whole atmosphere around the track is infectious and with the roar of all those engines, you can’t help but have a great day out. If you’ve never been, give it a go one time.

Whatever your next adventure is – don’t forget the camera! Happy snapping.

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