My father was a serious photographer. He had books on everything from scenery to group shots lining the shelves of his office, and he had a camera to match the age of those books: a Canon AE-1. This camera can take some of the most amazing pictures you will ever see in the hands of a decent photographer, and it does one thing when you take the pictures - it makes you know what you're doing. This is no point and click machine, my friends - this is a beast that you need to learn to love in order to understand.
When I attended the University of Illinois, I took a class designed for photography for beginners - persons with no prior photography experience. Knowing that I would love to be able to take pictures of the quality I had seen in my family for years, I jumped at the opportunity to learn to take photos the right way. I borrowed a camera from a family friend, along with a boatload of accessories: an AE-1 Program, which offers slightly improved usability, with more information about the exposure level which makes taking pictures with it slightly easier. In the class, I took a number of prints and learned all kinds of development tricks. I scanned my first contact sheet (although I never got around to scanning the rest).
After recent discussions with Allyson, I was reminded of my desire to develop my photography skills. Although this house doesn't offer a whole lot of opportunities for a developing room (where some of the most amazing after affects can be done), that doesn't stop me from getting a camera and attempting to pick my photography skills back up.
I spent a few days looking at eBay and got a general idea for prices. I then bid on a camera like the one I had used several years ago - and to my shock, won. I've now paid for the camera, and am merely waiting for the money to be delivered, and my camera shipped.
This will not be a replacement for my digital camera. My digital camera is something I've been using for a more than a year now, and I've loved every minute of it. I keep a fairly large collection of images in my gallery, and have gotten relatively good at taking everything from quick snapshots, like today's images of the Vice Presidential Motorcade to more artistic shots that I set up, such as Jess and the Chicago Theater the first day we met, I've grown to love the way it works, even with all its quirks.
The film camera is designed to supplement, not replace, my digital camera. Occasionally, I want something with a finer grain, something I can use to take an image to go on the wall rather than on the web. For that, I hope to resort to the film camera. In addition, I want to try my hand at things that are a bit more artistic, and the lack of control offered by my current digital camera, a Kodak Easyshare CX 4230. With the ability to control lighting and exposure, the Canon proves a relatively low-cost alternative to the higher cost digitals that would offer the features I want.
I hope that at some point in the future I can do my own developing, but for now, I think I'll be happy just taking pictures that I want and getting them developed by others. There is something relaxing about running a photo under developer with the soft red glow of the developing lamps. Something that can't really be explained. But something nonetheless magical.