Saturday Evening Post: #21 A Piece of Paper, part two

*Don’t adjust your calendar, late night Saturday Evening, early Start Sunday, missed my deadline 🙂 *

I finished last weekend’s post needing to know.

The following day after school, I headed for the local library. Small country town, it wasn’t going to have a lot of books devoted to photography, the practice and theory.

Still, to my surprise now to recall, they did have several books in the children’s section.  In those far off days, my library card was marked “Children” and I couldn’t imagine going into the ‘Adult’ section.

I went straight to the card catalogue and looked through the cards to find “Photography”, and there it was 4 cards if I remember. Reciting the magic number in my head, I made a beeline to the shelves.
One of the books, the name I shamefully have forgotten was something like, “The Young Photographer“, and it was superbly written. It had answers to all the questions I had and lots of things to practice and in the end, I probably borrowed it dozens of times.
A second book was “All in One Camera Book” by E D Emmanuel for Focal Press, and it began a relationship with Focal books that has continued to this day. All in One I think was cleverly conceived and simply illustrated. It went through many revisions, but how it explained Aperture, Shutter and Light, and reciprocity was light-years ahead of the also-ran info I stumble across on the internet all the time.

So armed with these venerable tour guides my journey began.

After I’d borrowed the Emmanuel book for about the third time, a kindly librarian noted my interest and said, “Would you like to look in the Adult section and see if there is anything that might help.” Isn’t it funny how some simple things just happen.

So every so gingerly and reverently I crept into the adult section, by then I even knew the right catalogue number 771.

I skimmed through a large folio book. It was something like, “Great Photographers”, and had names I had never heard of, Weston, Adams, Karsh, Minor White, David Duncan Douglas, and W. Eugene Smith. (I’d never heard of Eugene as a name so that was fascinating to begin with— and I was seriously impressed by someone who would put their first name Initial.  I had a lot to learn as a country kid).

The book had several Smith pictures, one of which was Albert Schweitzer in clinic in Africa. Here is a link

And I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to take my camera to Africa and photograph Schweitzer. This time I knew, but I didn’t know what I needed to know.
So I borrowed the book and learned why the Masters work had such power to move our minds.

And I sat each night in the laundry making contract prints of the flowers in the garden, my family, and off course the legendary Blackie. Reading my precious Young Photographer, learning how to make great quality prints and dreaming.
A long way from Africa, but I could dream dreams.

Cumberland Homestead ruins Gum and Aloe Vera
28mm with a Polarising Screen.

9 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post: #21 A Piece of Paper, part two

  1. A fascinating read, David. It often amazed me as kid, just what books and resources the local library had. My most memorable experience was borrowing a book that showed me how to build the first radio I ever owned and from there to becoming a ham radio operator and eventually qualifying as an Electronics Engineer! As they say, from little things, big things grow.
    Dave N

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G,day, I suppose all those years ago, we just didn’t consult Google University, but actually had to search for data among all sorts of sources. Perhaps that was a good thing in its own. And “Career Choice” had a whole lot simpler meaning then too.
      And small country towns offered little opportunity for Electronics Engineers or Photo-journalism. So it was inevitable, as Cold Chisel’s “Flame Trees” says,
      And I’m wondering if he’ll go or if he’ll stay
      Do you remember, nothing stopped us on the field
      In our day.


    1. Hi Derek, the story gets a bit messy with, well, things like life, after that, but no doubt, I’ll try and do a followup.
      I’m trying to locate a couple of those early photo books just for the record. 🙂


  2. G’day David,
    Good story and it’s interesting to find out more about you and your beginnings. I also like the dramatic b/w landscape photo.
    I started early too: in primary school I stayed after classes in the magic dark room with a dark red light. I’m still pursuing my passion… after hours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam, our school never had such a programme of photography, bit to advanced for such a country school. Needless to say had it been an option I’d never have gone home!!!!
      Someone once said that my veins flowed with ID 11, an Ilford film developer. 🙂 Now it flows with Grey Box sap.

      Its fun, its a hobby its an opportunity for expression, and mostly its been a great journey with the people I’ve been fortunate to travel with.


  3. Yes back in those days we had books, and only books, if you did not have a mentor in the art. We taught ourselves many different skills from books, music, massage, natural medicine and so the list goes on. You have been blessed to have had an interest at such a young age which you have seen through to later life, this passion has been fine tuned to produce the excellent work that you share with us each week, for which we are truly grateful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks AB, Also got to thank WordPress for making it easy to do this, and have a ready audience.
      I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some great teachers, photographers, and mentors, along with a broad group of encouragers.
      My 18%er logo is all part of that, and I must tell that story at some stage too.
      There has been, like many, a few turns in the road of life that didn’t quite lead in the right direction, but they did provide interesting views of other lives along the way.

      And this blog too, has undergone a few major direction changes. Finding a voice for the words was just part of that.

      All good, enjoy sharing with you, and hearing and seeing your equally wonderful views of your world.
      Best wishes


  4. Coming in a bit late as I have been up in Sydney for a few days. I loved your story about finding your way in the library, and the kind and helpful librarian. A beautiful image too.


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