Well, I thought this might happen. Castle Photo, one of Lansing's only real local photo shops, is closing. Apparently the owner didn't want to pay next month's rent, though that's just a rumor. It's probably partly true, but they probably also weren't making all that much money. Castle Photo was great to have around because they stocked lots of different films, from slide to traditional black and white, in many formats.
Castle Photo also carried darkroom supplies, and I don't think any other place in town does, though I may be wrong on that. They had a large selection of lighting equipment, bags, tripods, and odds and ends.
What did them in as a business was their refusal to fully embrace the digital camera age. They were a Canon-only digital shop, and that doubtless turned many away. Folks like me loved the film selection and cheap accessories, but unfortunately folks like me are few, and certainly not enough to sustain a business.
I'll miss Castle Photo. If you want to get some good deals, or find out what you've missed, head down there before the end of the month.
So I got an email recently about Michigan State University's photo club being active again, check it out here. I'm a bit excited because I've not found a decent local club with young people in it - the only other club requires dues (yuck!) to be a member.
Right now it sounds like they're in the planning to be active stage, but the more participation they get the better. It sounds like a come-one come-all type club, enrollment is open to students, alums, and probably just regular ol' locals like yours truly. I'll check it out in more detail when they get a bit more organized, so stay tuned.
I've been on vacation in Las Vegas the past week or so, taking lots of pictures and losing some money. Traveling is a lot of fun for me, and I always like to take pictures while I'm about, but I find it difficult at times. I have a hard time choosing what kinds of cameras to take with me, what film, where to take pictures, and what kind of photos to take. Some of what I have learned:
1) Pack light. This may not be hard for most photographers, but if you're like me you have about 40 cameras to choose from when you take a photo. I brought four on this trip, and really that was two too many. I ended up taking my Pentax dSLR, Rolleicord, Polaroid SLR680 and Olympus XA. Next time I think just the XA and Pentax would do just fine. I brought the tripod too, which wasn't a bad idea, but I didn't use it as much as I could have. I'd suggest an SLR that has lots of control along with a small pocketable P&S would be a great combo.
2) Scope out some places before taking the trip. The internet is your best place to find the best photo spots in an unfamiliar place. Look and see what locals and other travelers take in the same area. You don't have to take the same photos, but it can give you an idea of what has been done before, and where the interesting places are.
3) Digital is best for "vacation snapshots." As much as I love medium format and Polaroid, I just don't seem to have the time to fiddle with them while I'm on a trip. With a compact digital, you can take perfectly wonderful snapshots 99% of the time and be pleased with the results. Plus, you'll have the camera when the perfect picture comes along.
4) Think outside the vacation mode. When I take photos while traveling I find it very easy to fall into the "Oh, that's pretty *snap*" mode of photography. Because everything you see is new, you tend to forget to do a lot of the things that make photography interesting. Try some people shots. Try some detail shots. Not every travel photo has to be a landscape or a friend posed in front of a local landmark.