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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 17 years since I became really interested in photography. I attribute that to getting a digital camera. Before that, I experimented with 35mm film cameras but never really got into them. I was super into computers growing up so the idea of taking photos and then having them instantly accessible on the computer was far more exciting than having to deal with film and negatives.

I vividly recall a TV commercial for an early consumer digital camera. Researchers were looking for a rare animal in the rainforest but weren’t able to find it. After they left, they were reviewing the digital photos and were able to zoom in and BAM – there it was. Since the resolution was so low, I don’t think it was a very realistic depiction but hey, that’s advertising for you.

I don’t remember what brand that camera was, but I can proudly say that I’ve been using Nikon from the start. My first digital camera was the Nikon Coolpix 990 (3.2 glorious megapixels). It had a swiveling lens! You could put the camera on the ground and angle the lens up and get some really cool shots without laying down. I think you can still snag one on eBay for around $50 if you’re interested in purchasing a camera released in January 2000.

Nikon Coolpix 990
Nikon Coolpix 990

The first time I was able to put the camera to good use was on a on a high school jazz band trip to Europe in 2003. I was designated the “official photographer” since I had the awesome new camera. I didn’t use the 990 to seek out rare species of animals in the rainforest, but I did try my best to capture all the awesomeness of the trip. Castles! Cathedrals! Lakes!

Here are some shots from that trip in order of least-awful to most-awful. They’re (shockingly) not as bad as I thought they’d be.

Some great light in an Italian cathedral.
Some great light in an Italian cathedral.
This was in the same church as above. I surreptitiously used the swivel lens to get this shot. It's a bit blurry (handheld in super low light) but what a great expression.
This was in the same church as above. I surreptitiously used the swivel lens to get this shot. It’s a bit blurry (handheld in super low light) but what a great expression.
A priest at the Vatican. This shot always makes me think of The Exorcist.
A priest at the Vatican. This shot always makes me think of The Exorcist.
I took this at a highway rest stop in Italy. Probably one of my favorites from the trip.
I took this at a highway rest stop in Italy. Probably one of my favorites from the trip.
Silhouetted Roman ruins.
Silhouetted Roman ruins.
A calm, blue lake in Austria.
A calm, blue lake in Austria.
I'm pretty sure it's impossible to get a bad shot of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to get a bad shot of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Here are two portraits which I sneakily shot. The framing could be better, but hey, it’s an adorable dog and a super interesting looking dude with an arm cast and a beer.

Euro Doge!
Euro Doge!
And here’s what I probably thought was a SUPER ARTSY macro shot

I like to think my skills have improved considerably since 2003. If not, then at least now I have a way better camera.

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