Being a Grandparent gives you a lot of options. The involvement level you embody with your Grandchildren can range from a distant old curmudgeon to “one of the kids”. You aren’t required to do anything, it’s all voluntary.
In this photograph Grandpa Smith demonstrates the willingness of a guy trying to be “one of the kids”.
He is leading an expedition to a hot springs on the banks of the rowdy Salmon River in central Idaho. In the photograph he is visibly nervous. The reason for this is not only because he just hiked up a menacing granite rock face with children but because the dark stripe on the rock is caked with the most slippery algea known to man. It’s scientific name is “super duper slippus”. They found out about the algea after they were already up there. It was too late to go back. One misstep and it would be the roughest waterslide in the US.
They all made it to the hot springs OK and only a couple of them cried for fear on their descent.
Why didn’t I go up there? Who else would take the photograph? You’re welcome.
Photo tips, technical information and philosophical droppings
The Rolleiflex was set to Sunny 16. 1/125 at f16. Portra 160nc film
As a younger photographer I dreamt of the all the cool photo gear that was out there for me to try. I’d study the work of other photographers and ask one question: I wonder which camera/lens/film/developer/paper/frame he used to do this photograph? I was fixated upon the “how”. It was so much fun. Camera gear is attractive. Ever heard of the term “camera porn”? Camera porn is photography of sexy camera gear.
I am still attracted to the 50mm f1.0, the Canon eos 1ds mk IV, the Leica M9 and so forth. I am attracted but I also chuckle inside because I have owned every camera that I could possibly want at one time or another and have found one truth with them: They are a fools paradise. They offer fringe benefits. Most exotic gear is useful only on exotic occaisions.
When I graduated from Brooks I purchased the coolest camera known to man, the Nikon f5. It was advertised as “the camera from the future”. It posessed lightning fast autofocus, 7 frames per second, solid construction, shutter speeds up to 1/8000 and customizable features. Opening the glossy, black boxes labeled NIKON was transcendant. I nearly cried.
I practically slept with that camera, I enthusastically photographed with it. I was in love. After the first month, our honeymoon, I discovered problems in our relationship. It was heavy, like a clay brick. The autofocus was loud and it focused on the central point in the viewfinder, that was annoying. I caught myself looking at my trusty Pentax Spotmatic from time to time. The spotmatic had three lenses a 50mm a 24mm and a 135mm. It was lightweight, small and the lenses rendered a softness that was very easy on the eye.
I stopped using the Nikon and went back to the Pentax. I eventually sold the system on Ebay to an excited Texan. Ebay is amazing, no?
It was like this for years. Buy a new camera, sell it, try this, try that. Every serious photographer needs to wade through the river of equipment to find their own way. Every photographer has a vision and matching the right camera to their vision takes time and effort.
I’ve not purchased any camera equipment since 2007. It feels great to be comfortable with that part of my career. It’s much cheaper too.
-Jon Ball is a portrait photographer living in Boise, Idaho. His portraits can be found at www.studiojonball.com. Thank you for reading photo tips.