Who Did You Think You Were ?



I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country - the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle.


My dad got me started doing some black and white darkroom work when we lived in Wheaton, Illinois, probably around 1962. He taught me how to develop film and use a contact printer. There was always something magical about exposing a piece of photographic paper, then putting it in the developer solution and watching the black and white image "appear". After moving to Washington state, dad built a photography cupboard with storage below for papers, chemicals and other supplies. We got an enlarger, tanks, trays, timer and lots more equipment. This set-up was installed in the bathroom, next to the sink and counter top.


My first "real" camera was a 35mm rangefinder type camera that I got when I was in high school. The subjects of my pictures were the people and things near me. I shot a lot of black and white film back in those days because I could develop the film, myself, and then enlarge and print the pictures I was interested in. 1965 - SRH at 16I also shot color slides, which were fun to project. That 35mm rangefinder camera stayed with me after high school and followed me into the Army and on to Vietnam.


One of my goals for my tour of duty in Vietnam was to trade the rangefinder camera for a 35mm single lens reflex camera. Within the first few months of my tour, I saved enough money to order a 35mm SLR - a Topcon. I ordered a 50mm, f1.2 prime lens, a 135mm telephoto lens, a 2x converter that doubled the length of those lenses, and assorted other gear to go with the camera.


The Ferry Kalakala - August, 1965

Vietnam was an interesting place to take pictures. Once again, my photographic subjects were the people and things near me. In July of 1970, a photo lab was built at the base camp for the 25th Infantry Division. This darkroom and photo lab was made for the troops to use when they weren't busy doing "other things", like fighting a war. I took several hundred black and white photos, and maybe as many color slides. As a trumpet player in an Army division band in South Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, I got to travel a lot. I took pictures at change of command ceremonies at different base camps; pictures at small fire support bases out in the jungle between Saigon and Cambodia; pictures of all kinds of aircraft, helicopters, armored personnel carriers, artillery pieces; pictures of the people in small villages and big cities; pictures of my fellow band members, our company area, our perimeter guard tower and bunker; pictures of the Vietnamese civilians who worked for us, and lots of pictures of Vietnamese kids.


There is one thing I did not get a picture of during more than a year in Vietnam. It was something I saw daily. Whenever I would see them, I would tell myself, there will always be another time to get a picture. But I never got one. Water Buffalo!

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