11. May 2012 · Comments Off on My First Photography Lesson · Categories: All

My First Photography Lesson
Since I was born in November, I spent most of 1963 as a twelve year old. The best place for twelve year olds after school was The Boys Club. A Sears parking lot now occupies the place were the Boys Club stood. It was single story fun house, and when you walked in you had to show your bakelite membership card at the front desk. Off to the left was the gymnasium, where I saw a man climb a rope to the ceiling of the gym, using only his hands, no assist from his feet, just hands; WOW, I thought only monkeys could do that.
 To the right of the entrance was the game room and library, yep, with books and desks to read them at, “No Talking Allowed.” I saw kids playing chess in there, nope, that’s not for me. Heading away from the library was the wood shop, it had all the tools to build projects with the help from an instructor. On Saturday mornings, (which was the best day of the week) you could build a balsa wood racing car in the wood shop. Then, by mid morning, they would have races. You could buy for a quarter, a small bottle of compressed gas, and put your race car on a string, and race against other balsa wood cars. These small cars would blast across the pavement at light speed.
When I was twelve, the Boys Club made me King of the world. It’s good to be King, at least once in your life.

 There was one other part of the Boys Club which had come to mean more to me than all the games, balsa wood race cars and gymnasiums. It was a small room in the back, near the wood shop which had a door with the name “DARKROOM” on it.

Boys Club Years

On Tuesday nights, a sales representative of the Dupont Photographic Division (now defunct) would teach us photography. He showed us how to load 4×5″ film holders, make prints from a gloriously beautiful black and white paper called, “Dupont Velour Black.” No photographic paper, in the nearly fifty years of my darkroom experience, has there been any paper with richer, more gradient mid tone values, than Velour Black. We were tested on our photographic knowledge, before we were allowed to use the darkroom and enter photographic contests.
 I still remember the face of my first photography instructor. He kinda looked like Cary Grant, but with lighter hair, and he was a smoker, and had a very serious demeanor when it came to teaching photography. I remember the last time I saw him, I told him I knew everything about photography, and he should let me use the darkroom anytime I wanted. He chuckled a bit at my absurd posturing, and told me, “he didn’t even know everything about photography,” I wonder if he knew, how important my only true professor of photography would be to a twelve year old.
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