The problem with hobbies is that most people take them far too seriously. They believe if they plunk down two hundred dollars on a new Taylor Made SuperSteel Wood, their drive will automatically straighten out. Or if they buy the latest Nikon body with a thousand dollar lens, their photos will look better.
Without a doubt, the hobbies I enjoy can get expensive. Thankfully my financial limitations keep me from becoming possessed by my my own pleasures. Someday when I'm listed in the Forbes' Top 100, I might be tempted to splurge in some "really cool stuff." However, I'm fairly sure I won't be following Jackie around the block at 10 miles an hour sitting atop a two thousand dollar Masi 3V Road Bike anytime soon.
My father took a lot of slides when I was younger and I was always fascinated looking through them all. Hopefully, after he transfers them from the long-defunct Airequipt slide cartridges onto a hard drive, we can all enjoy them again.
I love to take pictures and enjoy looking over and editing them. Although only one shot out of 50 may be wall-worthy, I still stick them all into photo albums and store the negatives and CDs in a file cabinet.
There is always a camera in my pocket. I prefer taking people pictures. Thirty people can stand in front of the Empire State Building and get basically the same photo. The building hasn't changed in 50 years. The Babylon train station, pictured here, hasn't changed much either, but the fog this particular morning made for a great shot. (Taken with an Olympus Stylus Epic) People change from one moment to the next. The work of Ansel Adams gets the most attention, but I'm drawn more to Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. Getting the right expression can take a lot of time and miles of film.
My 35mm SLR system is Pentax. Len Totoro at L & L Camera in Huntington, NY recommended it. I also carry around a point and shoot camera, so when I ask other people to take the picture - there aren't too many surprises. I still prefer film to digital, but I have a Coolpix point and shoot because the digital images are easier to store and cheaper to develop. Film still produces a better image and digital is changing so rapidly that most cameras purchased today become relics in just two to three years. Now if I can only find someone who still processes black & white.
Recently, Tanya bought me a Nikon Coolpix 4200 to experiment with digital. It's not bad for the price, but it has definite limitations. The camera features dozens of picture-taking modes, but only two or three of them produce a satisfactory image. I use it when I need a quick image for a web site, thus removing the "middle man" - namely my scanner. I have an eye on the Konica-Minolta digital SLR with anti-shake in the body. More than likely, I'll take the full plunge when I go into the local CVS and they no longer sell film.
My biggest regret is I didn't carry around a camera when I was younger. There are people I knew that I'd love to have a visual memory. Someday, many years from now when I'm not able to get around, I'll be able to look at all those photos.
Therefore, my only photographic advice
is to take lots of pictures. If you're serious about photography, seek
a professional to discuss your work, but in the long run there are
only two opinions that matter. The person paying for the photos and/or
yourself. If it's a hobby, it should be fun. A great site on photography
Around 1985, someone gave me a set of golf clubs (ladies clubs in a sky blue bag) and I'd go off and shoot buckets of balls for fun. Once my drive straightened out, I went off to play golf. While playing on the hackers greens in Hartford, these old guys asked me if I intended to take lessons someday. Even though I was shooting the ball straight, my swing didn't have the smooth grace of a Tom Watson. I decided to stick with a short course in Naugatuck, Connecticut that was usually slow enough that I could walk on my own. That's always the best way to play golf and I found that the lack of playing partners always improved my score. In 1990 my car (and those clubs) were stolen.
In 1997, after being "shown the door" in Birmingham Alabama, I had plenty of time on my hands. I would take my trusty Ralley "starter set" and head off to the driving range. Every day I would send two large buckets of striped balls into the field. After one solid month, I could pick a tree a few hundred feet in any direction and place the ball within a certain circumference. When I returned to Long Island, I would play every change I got. Eventually two things happened. First, I got to the point were I felt I should be playing better and every slice would frustrate my play. In essence, I was becoming a true golfer like everyone else. Secondly, I got married and had kids. Bikes and wading pools have displaced my golf clubs in the garage. Now I'll go out maybe once a year with my brother-in-law.
Actually, my favorite physical hobby is walking. At my peak, I can walk up to four miles without much effort. It's not only great physical exercise, but it gives you ample time to refresh yourself mentally. And you don't need any membership or special equipment, just a good pair of walking sneakers and a nice neighborhood. But I won't dare list it here. About twenty years ago, I remember laughing at my mother when she put down "walking" as a hobby on her college application. My brother and I had a field day with that. I asked her if it was a hobby going from the garage to the house. She wasn't amused.
I enjoy all music. Pop/Rock, Hip-Hop, Opera, and Big Bands are all represented in my CD and record collection. Each genre has it high points and low. The first record I ever owned was "Yes, We Have No Bananas." I don't believe I've ever come across that song since I was five. I could exhibit my narcissism by mentioning my enjoyment of Stravinsky's ballet "Petrushka" performed by the Leonard Bernstein orchestra, but I can just as easily sing along to "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" by the Fifth Estate. Or "Dang Me" by Roger Miller. Or Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice."
I was always proud CD and record collection. I've only read about Joel Whitburn's temperature controlled library. But I've been witness to a couple of libraries that humbled my meager assortment. One is Bob Craig's jazz collection. In his den, walls are covered with LPs - floor to ceiling. When I complimented his vast library, he mentioned that there were twice as many LP's upstairs. Another friend from Philadelphia, who was reviewing music for FMQB at the time, had a three-room apartment with every wall covered with racks of CDs. Frankly, I just feel lucky to own all the Rhino seventies' collections.
I still own three turntables. A good one (removed from the studios of a former employer who will remain nameless), one of those huge pieces of furniture that includes a radio and 8-track player, plus a Crosley retro entertainment center (CR78). You can find the remnants of many record collections still in good shape in bargain stores and the Salvation Army. When I use that "big furniture" turntable in my office, I like to stack Percy Faith on top of Ralph Carmichael and the like.
A little more about music and a few
things in my collection is here.
The only surprise here is that this isn't listed first! Click here to go my radio-geek page.