Ten years as a Nikonian
Wow… Ten years of membership in this awesome community. I have learned so much from the photographers who call Nikonians home. I can truly say that my involvement in our community has been the single best learning investment I have made since beginning my photographic journey.
Unlike many of the charter members, I did not grow up with a relative or friend to inspire me to become a photographer. In fact, I came to photography much later in life. I have had an artistic interest since high school and while serving in the U.S. Navy I worked in a graphics arts shop as an Illustrator/Draftsman. During those years, I had periodic contact with the Navy photographers, all of whom used Nikon gear. My first interest in photography was sparked when I spent time with an avid photographer during port visits in Italy & Spain. It was a few years later that I picked up my first SLR, a Pentax with a couple of kit lenses, while stationed in Sardinia. I spent a year or so experimenting on my own. I made some progress, but I found the time lag from shooting to seeing the photos made the learning difficult. Once I got hold of a digital point and shoot, I just stopped using the film SLR.
Getting started in serious photography.
By the time I retired from the Navy, I noticed that the price of a Digital SLR was starting to get to what I considered reasonable. I thought it would be fun to again have the control of an SLR and still have the instant feedback of digital. So, influenced by the Navy photographers and their use of the Nikon system, I went out and bought a D50 with a kit lens. Unfortunately, it had been quite a while since I used the Pentax so shooting the D50 was just like starting over. I had to relearn the relationship between shutter, aperture and ISO. So, I turned to the Internet where I discovered Nikonians, registered and stayed on since.
Relearning the basics and more
I spent quite a bit of time just reading and exploring the site, but I was somewhat reluctant to take on a paid membership. After a few weeks of reading every day, it became obvious that Nikonians was not like other internet discussion forums that I had participated in. The people here were friendly, there were no flame wars, and no one was ridiculed for asking “dumb” questions. A true community. The focus on Nikon gear makes it much easier to find information regarding the use of your gear. The terminology and the basic functions of the cameras, location of controls are pretty consistent in the Nikon world.
As time passed, I realized having the ability to post images directly in thread messages along with my questions, would help me find answers I was looking for. I also needed a basic gallery for sharing images with family and friends. So, I signed up for a Silver membership. Over the next couple of years, with the help of Nikonian members, my photography advanced quickly. I was soon able to help new members in the same way that Nikonians had helped me before. When it was time to renew my membership, I decided to upgrade to a Gold membership in order to support the mission of this wonderful resource.
Community and friends
Another thing that makes Nikonians special is the sense of community and real friendship. In the forums we meet people from all over the world with common interests. The friendly exchange of ideas and sharing photos quickly leads to on-line friendships. I have since had a chance to meet and become close friends with several local Nikonians. We usually meet on the Mississippi river each year during eagle season. We all encourage other Nikonians to come down to photograph the eagles together.
In addition to improving skills with local Nikonians friends, I attended a Nikonians Academy wildlife workshop at Grand Teton National Park. We had a great week, with a group of eight Nikonians, exploring and photographing the park and its wildlife. The Academy instructor, Jim Stamates, was a great group leader.
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