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Photography Index Hub

Updated on December 28, 2012
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Liz's dad was a professional level hobby photographer, and she grew up learning at his side, in his home-built darkroom.

I've written several photography tutorials, and this index Hub gives a brief synopsis of each article, with links to the relevant topics.


My Beginnings In Photography

The year I turned eight, my father, a serious hobby photographer, gave me a Kodak Brownie™ Box Camera. I was thrilled! Now I could take my own pictures right along side my father.

Dad was not just a photographer--he also developed his own film and printed his own pictures, and he was prolific. I still have a huge blanket box full of the old family photos of our various family outings and trips as well as some experimental things he tried.

Ansel Adams said, "The Photo Is Made In the Darkroom"

I used to spend many pleasant hours in the darkroom with dear ol' Dad, as he patiently made numerous test strips to get the exposure just right for the final print.

Following is the process at its most basic, at the home-hobbyist level--far different from the ginormous machines seen in the one-hour processing facilities we have today.

It would be pitch black dark when he was taking the film from the camera and winding it onto the spool that went into the development tank. It all had to be done by feel, The least bit of stray light could still add its image to the undeveloped film, ruining the photos. Once the film was safely sealed into the tank with the developer solution, it was safe to turn on the lights in the room as the reel was gently agitated back and forth with the handle.

When developing time was up, the handle would be removed, and the solution could be poured out through the top of the container. Then, water would be added to rinse the remaining developer, and then the fixer solution would be added; this serves to harden the emulsion on the film so that it will stand up to handling without spoiling the image. Then the fixer is dumped out after the specified time, and again a water rinse.

Once these steps are completed, it is safe to open the film tank and allow the film to be exposed to normal room light, at which point it is hung to dry. The developing process has changed the film so that it can no longer be imprinted with an image from any kind of light.

Not only did dad have a darkroom--he built it himself, including all the equipment. He made his enlarger from assorted scrap metal and--believe it or not--spare aircraft parts he bought from the employee store at the airline at which he worked. Dad was a mechanic by trade, so manufacturing things was as much hobby as vocation for him. He loved his work.

Why Dad Did Not Develop Color Film

* At the time, color film chemicals were good for only a single use, and had to be discarded, while chemicals for black and white could be re-used several times by the addition of "replenishers."

Learning the Artistic End of the Process

My first efforts at using my new camera were not, shall we say, great examples of artistry. I even remember my very first roll of color film. Dad's darkroom handled only black and white; color film we had to take to the pro labs, because at that time, it was too expensive for home hobbyists.*

I eagerly shot the roll of what I thought would be great pictures to remember the things I was seeing. Oops. I did not yet understand composition. My lovely photo of sheep in a meadow was, alas, from too far away, and I got a photo of a few blobs of white against a green background.

It was partly my own lack of experience in understanding composition, and partly the limitations of the camera itself. The little box camera had no adjustments, and no way to 'zoom in' to make a distant subject appear closer.

It was all part of the learning curve. Other lessons of photographic composition included being aware of what is behind your intended subject, and whether it is a distracting image.

Photos of Kids and Pets

Taking photos of children takes a lot of patience, and an appropriate setting, that is, if you are after a formal portrait look. However, if it is candid action shots you are after, then it is better that the kids not even be aware of the camera's presence.

All the same, you want to be on the lookout for the composition, so you don't end up with a tree appearing to stick out of the child's head.

Progress Is Made: A "Commissioned" Portrait

By the time I was a teenager, I had learned quite a bit more about composition, and posing of subjects. When neighbor asked me to take some photos of her daughterin her first communion dress, the end result was that she liked my pictures better than those that had been taken by the professional at the church. I was at once stunned, pleased and flattered.

The Art of Taking Portraits

Taking actual portraits, as opposed to snapshots and candid photos is a whole other ball game. In this setting, the person knows very well they are being photographed, and usually why. It may be a formal portrait for business or school; it may be an informal portrait for a holiday greeting card or newsletter, for example.

Portraits require many of the same considerations listed in the selections above, but with a few extra things tossed in, as this article explains.

Good Lighting Is Crucial

In the portrait shot I mentioned above, natural, soft lighting through large windows and sheer curtains made for the pleasing appearance of that particular portrait. Natural light is not always available, of course, and the linked articles will discuss some other options, and traps to avoid.

Photography Is Fun!

Once you mastered these basics--not hard at all--it just takes longer to explain than to actually try, you'll have entered the world of a very popular hobby.

Have fun with it! Play with it! Try it out!


Submit a Comment
  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Kathi,

    Glad I was able to trigger a pleasant memory for you. Photography is so much fun, and yes, my dad was a great man. Thanks so much for sharing about your dad's hobby as well. Cheers!

  • Fossillady profile image


    6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

    Hey DZY, your childhood memories of your father taking photos is a reminder of my own. Only, he started later in life when I was a young adult. Nevertheless, he really got into it. I think it's so neat that your dad took you under his wing like that. Enjoyed the stroll down memory lane! Kathi

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Brett.Tesol,

    I'm glad you liked this Hub, and I appreciate your comment. I did borrow the 'index hub' concept from another hubber, but her topics are very different. ;-)

    Thanks very much for the votes and shares!

  • Brett.Tesol profile image

    Brett C 

    6 years ago from Asia

    The index hub was a good idea. Helpful tip links!

    I think you might have many things to chat about with my friend Troup, I think his username is Troup1 on Flickr, but he hasn't got started here yet ... he is in Prachuab Kirikhan (Thailand). He grew up with photography in the US and is now retired .. so enjoys the hobby too.

    Shared, up, useful and tweeted.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi there, Nell!

    Thanks very much! I'm delighted that you liked this Hub and links. Yes, I think all beginning photogs have similar experiences with being too far from the subject matter and minus a telephoto lens... ;-)

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    6 years ago from England

    I love photography but sadly have never quite got the hang of it, so this is great lizzy! I had an original box camera too, and yes I know what you mean about animals and fields! lol!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, cclitgirl,

    Brava! That's the way to do it! Practice, practice! What fun to be able to make your photos into products to earn money. Hobbies-turned-vocation can be so much fun; you look forward to going to "work" everyday.

    LOL at the ruined rolls of film...been there a couple of times myself. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 

    6 years ago from Western NC

    I have become my own version of a photographer - studying, and inserting my images into hubs and even putting those to products on Zazzle. It's fun and I'm turning it from a hobby to a full-time career. :) Your hub is beautiful and that's so awesome your dad instilled a love of photography in you. I still remember when even just a few years ago, a roll of film in a camera couldn't be exposed to any light. I can't tell you how many rolls I ruined b/c I'd leave an unfinished roll in the camera and forget about it. Hehe.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Victoria Lynn,

    Thanks so much--I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. Play with and practice--that's all it's about--as with anything you try to learn, including writing, music, or acting. Have fun on your photo journey!

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 

    6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I still need to play with photography more to get better. I love your memories of your dad. Great hub!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi there, RTalloni,

    Thanks very much for your comment; I'm delighted you liked this intro to the tutorials. (I have to admit to 'borrowing' the idea from another hubber who made an 'index hub' on one of her niches with several articles. )

    I hope you enjoy the lighting article as well. Thanks again.

  • RTalloni profile image


    6 years ago from the short journey

    Nice to have these listed in one hub. Your series is interesting and helpful. I plan to return and read your lighting info more thoroughly.

    How fortunate that you were able to watch your dad work and learn from your him. Though technology has changed, a good photo is much more than equipment--light has not changed, nor has knowing what makes a good composition. Thanks for sharing about your photographic journey!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Seeker7,

    Dad was, indeed a very talented fellow. If he needed a particular tool to do something with, and did not have it, or could not find just what he wanted in the store, he'd design and make it himself!

    The old master photographers were very talented, and very patient. The original old cameras, the ones that required the photographer to stand hidden under a black cloth--all worked on the principle of time exposures--you had to stand there, bent over, holding the shutter open, and the subject had to remain motionless for sometimes more than a minute.

    Also, those cameras did have focusing mechanisms, and were not 'fixed focus' like my little "Brownie." More importantly, though, they were large-format cameras--the negatives would be as large as the final print--anywhere from 4" square all the way up to 8" by 10". In those days, they did contact printing--the negative plate, once developed and fixed, was placed in direct contact with the photographic paper before being exposed to a light source to transfer the image to the paper.

    By the time my dad came into the hobby, film sizes had shrunk (at least for the casual hobbyist), and the processed film was put into the carrier in the enlarger--no longer a contact printing process--the enlarger itself would be raised or lowered, and that is what controlled the size of the final print.

    I'm glad you liked the article so well, and I thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, and for the vote!

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    What a fascinating hub Lizzy! Your Dad must have been a very talented man indeed to have built his own dark room - wow!!

    It wasn't until you explained about how your first photograph of sheep didn't turn out with your first camera, that made me realise what huge steps have been achieved in photography. But more than that - and no disrespect to you at all Lizzy - but when you see some of these beautiful very old photographs, I reckon these photographers must have been very talented, knowlegeable and very patient as well!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this awesome hub! Voted up!!!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello there lrc7815,

    Thanks very much--I'm pleased you found the article enjoyable. All of those things can be learned--don't give up on yourself. Especially with today's viewscreen digital cameras--you do see what you are framing, pretty much just as it will appear--no more worries about cutting off people's heads! ;-)

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    A very interesting hub, especially since I cannot claim any photography skill whatsoever. I am envious of those with an "eye" for the perfect light, depth of field, etc. and wish I had more skill. I really enjoyed this.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi there, billybuc,

    Dang, but you're quick on the uptake! ;-)

    I'm glad you have fun with it--that's the whole point. Playing is where you experiment, and learn which "rules" can be broken for certain effects. And that's how you get good at it.

    I'm pleased you enjoyed the article, and thanks so much for commenting.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I do play with it, and I have fun with it; I'd love to say I'm good at it, but hey, two out of three ain't bad.

    Loved your recollections and helpful tips. Thank you!


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