Flashback Friday: Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today I had just arrived in Japan on a work trip, eagerly carrying my first-ever digital camera, a bulky, 1.9-megapixel, Nikon Coolpix 950, with a 3x zoom lens,

Cherry Blossoms, Iso Park, Kagoshima

which I had bought between Christmas 1999 and the New Year. On pretty much all my travels in the previous decade and a half, I had carried a 30-lb. backpack containing 3

Noodle Soup

Pentax SLR bodies (a PZ-1 loaded with Fujichrome slide film, a second PZ-1 with Kodak T-Max for serious monochrome work, and the third with Kodak Tri-X pushed to ISO 800;

Kagoshima Volcano

three bulk-film canisters, each containing 12 rolls of film; 3 lenses (a Pentax 28-105, a Pentax 100-300, and a Tokina 20-35, ); a tripod; an external flash; an assortment of

Fish Market, Hong Kong

filters, extension tubes, and close-up lenses; and a few other bits of paraphernalia—you get the idea. I spent around 10 days in Japan and continued on for 3 or 4 days in Hong Kong,

Gamers, Hong Kong

and I clearly remember this beginning of my love affair with digital photography. I had a full black-and-white darkroom, but I have to admit that I never developed another

Flower Lady, Hong Kong

conventional print. I have many in my archives, of course, and still very much enjoy revisiting them. But for the purposes of this post, I’m bringing you a few of my favorite images from 20 years ago. Ah, the memories!

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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19 Responses to Flashback Friday: Twenty Years Ago Today

  1. Vicki says:

    Great photos.

    You must have had more camera gear than clothing LOL :D

    Love the expressions you caught on the ‘gamers’

    • krikitarts says:

      You’re nearly right, as it was a relatively short trip and I had to pack less clothing than usual. Funny about the photo of the gamers: Without knowing a single word of Mandarin or whatever dialect they were speaking, I asked in pantomime if they would mind if I made a photo of them, and they made it very clear that they would indeed mind, so I backed off. But then I decided to take advantage of one of the best features of the camera: It was articulated, so that one could look down into the viewfinder in the left half and rotate the right half (containing the lens), at the subject–and so I was quite literally able to shoot from the hip. And I’ve used this technique many times since!

  2. I was expecting a Beatles song to break out.

    ‘There are a few reasons why I happily switched to digital. As your images show, it’s more about the photographer than the camera. Even the small sensors back then could capture some good files in the right hands. The list you mention is also a good reason why I happily adopted the use of zoom lenses. I still carry a lot of bulk but can pare it down to just a few essentials now.

    I like the shot of the flower lady and, it seems, her feeding of her grandson.

    • krikitarts says:

      When I’m afield now with my DSLR, my 18-140 is my workhorse, but on an outing with good hopes of photographic adventure, I’ll choose to take along one or more of the following, depending on expectations: 10-20, 100-300, and 85mm macro. For light travel I’ll always have my waterproof Olympus Tough G-4 with its 5x zoom and macro to within less than an inch. Yup, the flower lady and the gamers have long been among my all-time favorites. Thanks, Steve!

      • When I travel I still have my full complement, but locally i can better plan so carry far less. The full kit, if I can remember them all, is a 50mm Zeiss, 16-35 Canon, 24-70 Canon, 70-200 Canon,180 macro Canon, currently the 25mm Laowa macro closeup but will exchange for the 15mm wide angle macro in the summer and a 150-400 Tokina plus lots of filters etc along with the old 5D Mark II and Gitzo long-legged tripod.. I am amazed I can still carry all that stuff but it’s become a bit more difficult climbing out of Quabbin the last few years.

      • krikitarts says:

        Ah, yes, the tripod–such an essential partner in the serious process. I finally bought the one I’d been dreaming about ever since I saw a picture of one–a Benbo 35 Trekker, which has a free-moving additional arm at the apex of the triangle of the main legs. I now have one here in NZ and another that lives in Minnesota. Yes, it’s heavy and a bit awkward, but it gets my camera(s) exactly where I want it to be, in nearly all situations.

      • The same is true of my tripod but a different brand. Wished for it for years and then a local store had a trade in sale that made it affordable. I find myself in situations where I need the extra height, on a river bank or rock pile, so being able to stand high helps. It’s tall enough so I could crouch under if need be.

  3. Mike Powell says:

    Wonderful images, Gary, and a good reminder that gear is such a small factor in getting good images. I am actually still in love with the film process. About two years ago I developed my first roll of black and white film in decades and still have about a dozen rolls of fill in my refrigerator that I bought at that time. I kind of used a hybrid process in the sense that I developed the film and then scanned the negatives. I still got a thrill out of opening the developing tank after pouring and agitating the developer, stop bath, and fixer and seeing that there were images on the film. (I used an old Nikon SLR that had no meter–I ended up using my DSLR as a meter). At that time I also acquired a Mamiya Twin Lens Reflex camera that I am hoping to try out soon. I also have a real desire to try out a 4×5 camera with sheet film. In the case of film, I think for me it is more about enjoying the tactile, physical connection with photography and the mindfulness required when I have to focus manually, select the aperture and shutter speed, and advance the film.

    • krikitarts says:

      It’s good to hear something of your history too, Mike–they’re such an important part of where we’ve been and how we’ve, ah, developed. Oh, and I forgot to mention–in my later pre-retirement years, I also carried two Yashica-Mat 124G twin lens reflex cameras, one with slide film and one with T-Max, of course. And you’re so right about the magic of the entire film-handling and -developing process, and more magic with the drama–and the wonderful aromas–of the darkroom!

  4. Peter Klopp says:

    I am amazed at the high quality of photos you were able to capture with your digital camera twenty years ago. I like them all, but the cherry blossoms appeal to me the most in our dreary winter weather.

  5. bluebrightly says:

    What a story – that’s such a huge leap, from all that equipment, not to mention the work afterward, to the single camera (I assume). Were you involved in photography professionally? These photos are really really good for first-ever digital images, especially since you were traveling. Love the noodles!

    • krikitarts says:

      Nope, never embraced the professional side of things, but I have sold a number of prints and once took Best in Show in the Washington Post photo contest sometime around 1995. And yes, I now use only one DSLR, a Nikon D-7500 (and the little Olympus Tough G4). I’ve always liked the noodle shot too–thanks a lot for that, Lynn!

  6. Adrian Lewis says:

    Wonderful memories, Gary, from all those years back – tho maybe Japan wouldn’t be the place to be in these present virus days. An excellent set of pictures. But I can’t imagine carrying all that film gear around, it must have been exhausting. Interested to hear you have a TG-4. Adrian

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, the little TG-4 is great and goes with me nearly everywhere, works beautifully underwater too. They’re now up to the TG-6 and I bought one for Squiddy. She loves it as well–can’t recommend them highly enough!

  7. A good black and white print made chemically from a film negative has a certain quality I’ve never gotten the digital way. Other than that, however, I much prefer the tremendous flexibility and greater ease that digital photography has provided. In addition, photographic software keeps improving.

    • krikitarts says:

      I’m in full agreement with all your points. There really is a magic about watching your fine print appear after all the loving preparation–burning and dodging by hand and all the rest!

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