Getting to where I hated photography – Part 4 of my photography journey

It has been good to hear how many of you are enjoying this series. I’m not sure how many more posts there will be after this, maybe one or two which should bring us up to now.

I don’t remember exactly when I left the camera club, but it would have around 1998. I was on my own at that stage. I was lucky that my husband would go out with me often, and I had a friend who would too, but really I had two small children at home and I photographed them a lot. I think that’s fairly common when you get into photography and have children.

I also tried my first business adventure here as well, taking photos of other people’s children. I got a couple of jobs, but it never really took off. I think one of my biggest problems with any business venture is that I lack faith in my abilities. I can’t talk myself up like others do. I would get their photos back and they would say how are they, and I would say they are okay. I really have always been my own worse enemy.

I did go on adventures to take photos and even managed to get away for the odd weekend. My friend and I went to the Grampians one weekend and we drove around and around and I didn’t want to photograph anything. It is funny when I look back. I just wasn’t interested in photographing trees or that sort of thing. Now I would take photos and I think the main difference is that now it doesn’t cost me anything to just take photos.

When I was using film it would cost around $10 for a roll of 36 exposures. Then to get them developed and printed was another $18. We are talking over 30 years ago, and I remember that my photography habit would cost $50 a week, that was for 2 rolls of film all up. So I was careful with what I took photos of. If I wasn’t interested in something I didn’t photograph it. I wasn’t interested in all the trees, so I didn’t take photos.

On the last day we were there we went to McKenzie Falls. What an amazing waterfall. I’ve never been back, but I would like to go again one day. It goes down and down and down. Let me show you some of the photos.

I enjoyed it so much. It was good to get away just for photography.

One place I did enjoy going to was my mum’s place. I loved taking photos up in the Mallee and in many ways I still do. It has changed a lot since I started.

When my stepfather was still alive he would take me to some amazing places.  He would get me access to private properties because he would be able to work out who owned them and get permission. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, he died in 1999 so I haven’t had the same sort of access. Still, I got to see a lot of places.

I haven’t scanned a lot of the negatives, so I don’t have many to show you. Unfortunately, my scanner stopped working so unless I buy another one for doing negatives, this may be all we get to see.

Most of these are just straight from the negative and I haven’t done anything to them. The old abattoir is no longer there and the old building at the train station was pulled down a few years ago. I guess we are looking at history here.

My love of the city started around this time too.

It was an interesting time, but things were starting to change.

My love of the darkroom soon changed as well. I hated it.

I don’t know if what I hated was how long it could take to get a good image from a negative or the fact that my darkroom was purely a nighttime-only use and by the evenings I was really tired after looking after my girls all day.

I found it so frustrating. When you could look at an image and know that you could get a lot more from the negative but didn’t have the skills. Let’s face it I was no Ansel Adams. I read so much and talked to people, but it was definitely a time of learning on your own or learning by your mistakes. I just got sick of it.

I’m going to show you an image, take a look.

For me, this is a perfect example. I knew that there was a lot of detail in that sky, but every time I pushed the development of the sky, the building went dark. You can see above that the building has lost a lot of detail because I was trying to bring out the clouds.

I reckon I must have tried printing this close to 100 times. I tried dodging and burning. I tried using a cutout of the building to put over it to get the sky. I even took it to a woman I knew who was very good in the darkroom. Nothing I did helped. It was a waste of money and I gave up.

Then many years later I got the image and opened it up in Photoshop.

Within 15 minutes I had the image that I wanted.

It was the inability to get the images that I was trying to get that ultimately turned me off photography. This was really before digital took off. By the year 2000, 2001 I was hating it. I got so disappointed when I would get images back that something would be in them that was not meant to be. There was no Photoshop, not that I knew about, and I just got more and more despondent. Perhaps you could say that in the end I sort of gave up.

Not long after that, I decided it was time to find out if I was creative and learn more about drawing and such. My mother-in-law was doing printmaking and I loved it, so I decided to try that. I didn’t really have the skills to get into a Fine Arts degree, but I knew my photography might help me get into a Visual Arts course, so I went for it.

I did get into a course, unfortunately, I wasn’t really aware that it was majoring in photography and a minor in other forms of art. Still, it was a start. I had to get back to photography.

Because of the course, I was going out again and taking photos.

Nearly everything we did was in black and white because we were expected to develop and print our own images. It was back to the darkroom. I tried not to let it get to me, but I still hated the darkroom, so maybe the night thing wasn’t the problem. We had a great darkroom to work in, but I just didn’t like it.

In the second semester of the course, we got to learn about Photoshop. OMG, it was MAGIC. I finally realised what I had been missing all these years.

Here are a couple of the first images I ever did in it.

We had to do one image 3 ways and this was two of them. A lifetime love affair started on that day.

We did some pretty cool things in that first year. Take a look.

Still, at the end of the year, I was in love with painting and printmaking, not photography. I think I drove my teachers crazy because it was obvious I didn’t want to be there. The course was a two-year course, but I was accepted to the VCA to do printmaking for a Fine Arts degree, so left Visual Arts and Photography behind me.

It would be another 7 or 8 years before I picked up photography again, however, that will have to wait until next week.

In case you missed the previous posts in this series you can catch up here.

Becoming a photographer – Part 1 of how I got started

My first SLR camera – Part 2 of how I got into photography

Trying to get more serious – Part 3 of how I got into photography

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  1. Finally got around to read it! Interesting story, as always! I started learning all those design applications (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc) in 2000s. From there, I got interested in photography, so it’s the other round of yours. 😅

  2. I remember film and the frustration of waiting to get film developed (some trips/events/pictures that couldn’t be duplicated) and going to pick up the pictures to find only one good image and several terrible ones (blurry, things cut off, fingers in front of the lens). Digital changed everything. I’ve never been a professional photographer and don’t know the half of what my digital camera (or even my iPhone) can do. I don’t miss film. I’m really enjoying your story, Leanne. Thank you.

    1. Digital really did change everything. I don’t know how they work, but I know how to use them, that is all that matters really. I don’t know how my car works, but I know how to drive it. So we are together there Donna. Thank you, I hope you enjoy the next ones.

  3. What an inspiring story. Through the years taking photographs for my 2 blogs, I have gotten better at it. Looking at older posts shows improvement. Yes, it is much more than just snapping a photo.

  4. I understand perfectly well you feelings. To cut costs I used to buy 5 metres of HP4 film and roll my own. I also used to develop my own E6 Colour Slide film and then print them using Cyberchrome. To develop the slide film you had to keep seven chemicsls at the same temperature each one for a fixed time. I had to do this manually with thermometer and hot / cold water taps. When I moved permanently to Peru I brought my Durst enlarger with me Unfortunately I had to buy industrial sized packs chemicals, as shops did not cater for the amateur dark-room fanatic. Wow, then digital photgraphy arrived and saved the day ……. and my sanity. Nice to follow your journey of clicking the camera.

    1. I used to roll my own too, it was so much cheaper. I never did any colour processing myself, I just didn’t have the set up for it. I think what you are describing is exactly why I didn’t do my won. Wow, that must have cost a lot, but you would have got a lot done I’m sure. I love digital, I can’t wait to talk about it all. Thank you Bronlima, it has been quite the journey.

  5. I can relate to so much of this. I got so sick of the darkroom and the cost of photography when my kids were small so I stopped. I did finally get to Monash to a do a visual arts degree but back then the darkroom was still the main focus of the photography department. I concentrated on painting and printmaking too. I did a brief elective that taught me about photoshop and suddenly found a way back into photography. It wasn’t until you get buy cheap digital cameras in the early 2000s that I really began to explore that.
    I love the photos you have posted here. I like the drama you bring to your photos of sheds and city streets . The waterfall images are terrific – makes me want to go and find waterfalls. 🙂

    1. Your story is very similar to mine Suzanne. Though I did my Visual arts at what was NMIT.I played around with point-and-shoot digital cameras a bit, but more on that next week. Thank you, Suzanne, it has been fun going back and seeing what else I did.

  6. Your post is a good reminder of the ways in which we have benefited from the move from film to digital. I know a lot of photographers still love film but digital made it much easier (and much more affordable) to experiment and take risks because the ability to delete meant there was no waste involved in giving new things a try.

    1. I was so happy when it went digital, I remember the arguments about how it wasn’t real photography and stuff like that which was ridiculous. Making it more affordable was one of the best things. So true, being able to experiment more was a wonderful benefit. Thank you Laura.

  7. I am enjoying seeing into your photography beginnings, Leanne! Very interesting. I have never taken a photo with a film camera!

    1. Thank you John, I can’t believe how much I’ve had to say. It is interesting film, no clue if images will work until you get them developed. Scary.

  8. Fascinating journey. And for those who thinks “it’s just about taking a picture” need to hear about the trials and tribulations of accomplished pros like you. I enjoyed this Leanne.

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