Paul J. Sumberg Sr. – Biography

I started “fooling” with photography in the late 1960’s.  Yeah, I was there then and I even remember some of it! My first SLR was a Pentax.  No meters, bells or whistles.  It turns out that back then I had a pretty good eye for light and could pretty much go toe to toe with a light meter.

I’ve always had this impatient side (especially when it came to photography) so shortly after buying my first SLR, I stumbled on an old black and white enlarger in a friend’s attic.  I think I bought it for 35 bucks and had to fabricate a stand for it.  Hey, I was off and running.  I could go out and shoot stuff, go home and process the film and print what I wanted in the same day.  Awesome!

My next 35mm camera was a Mamiya Secor 500 DTL and then a 1000 DTL.  What do you know?  I was out of the dark ages.  The DTL stood for Dual Through the Lens metering.  It had both spot and averaging meters and you could choose which you wanted to use.  How marvelous.  I no longer had to think!  Oh oh.  It wasn’t long before I didn’t bother to even think about what my exposures should be.  Well, once in awhile when I really wanted a specific effect I would give it some thought.

Somewhere in that period of time, I also toyed with two and a quarter format.  It looks strange spelled out, doesn’t it.  I used twin lens cameras and enjoyed the higher resolution negatives that resulted.  However, I really liked shooting with an SLR and could not justify the expense of a 2 1/4 SLR.

Next up was a Nikon F.  Wheeee.  I was walkin in tall cotton.  I believe I bought it used from a pawn shop around 1973.  I also acquired a newer B&W enlarger around that time.

My first brand new SLR was a Nikon F2.  It was a great camera though I don’t think it was a rugged as the F.  I swear I could use the old F as a hammer and still shoot pictures. 

In the early 80’s, I bought one of Nikon’s first auto-exposure SLR’s, the N55.  Boy I couldn’t wait to get it home and start playing with it.  Imagine that, auto exposure.  I was so excited that I didn’t realize that it had no depth of field preview button until I’d had it for a month or two.  OUCH.  That tore it right then and there.  I could no longer consider it a serious camera even though it certainly had the price tag of one.

Through this period of time, I got married, had a family and did a lot of different things for a living.  My wife (Debra) also enjoyed photography. She shared my desire (or impatient need) to process and print photographs immediately as well.  Over the years, I think we built 4 different dark rooms.  We processed film, printed pictures and loaded film magazines for security companies and we did our own work.

I guess the combination of spending too much time processing other peoples stuff along with buying an expensive Nikon that had no use to me as an artistic tool gently moved me away from photography.

Fast forward to the early 90’s.  Digital photography had arrived.  I picked up a small Epson pocket sized camera and had an absolute ball with it.  I was doing a lot of motorcycle riding back then with a group of friends (yeah, you know who you are).  I could put this camera in my pocket and take snapshots of all of us as we rode and played.  Oh yeah, the Internet had pretty much been established by then as well so I could distribute the pictures at will.  You know something, being impatient to see and print my photographs was no longer a concern thanks to the digital world.  I loved it!

Allow  me to digress for just a moment.  In the late 70’s, I discovered computers and I liked them.  I set out then and there to learn all I could and set a goal to become some sort of computer professional.  Ha! It worked, I did.  Somewhere along the way, I learned how to program and create web sites. 

I tell you this because I found it pretty easy to put those early digital photographs on the Internet so friends could see them.  Oh did I have a lot of fun with them.  Oh, just in case you are wondering, I worked as a Systems Engineer right up through 2004, burned out and said adios to the computer industry.  Ahhhhh-dios. 

Somewhere near the end of the 90’s, I decided I wanted a more capable digital camera.  Yay, the photo bug was biting me again.  I was pretty disappointed to learn that Nikon was way behind the curve in digital cameras at that time.  I picked a top of the line Olympus, you know, one of those digital cameras that looked like a conventional SLR even though none existed at that time.   It had everything I could ask for including a screen to view shots before and after pressing the shutter release.  Talk about bells and whistles, this Olympus C3030z had them all.  I have taken a lot of photographs with it and rarely have I been disappointed.

Late in 2008, I took a month or so off and went up to my home in the N. GA. Mountains.  While there, I realized that I missed photography.  I mean really missed it.  So, I decided that it’s time.  Time to get my photographic freak on if you will.  I made a decision to drag myself into the 21st century of photography.

Let’s move on to March, 2009.  I bought a Nikon D90.  Oh, did it have bells and whistles.  I think it has around 500 features and I wonder if I’ll ever learn how they all work.  But, I am having lots of fun trying. NOTE – I upgraded to D7000 in 2011.

Over the 2012 holidays I visited friends in Florida.  Yeah, I did the Snowbird thing.  Matt and Becky (AKA Rebecca Sexton Larson) Larson got me into their darkroom and we fooled around with salt printing.  It reminded me of the fun I used to have processing my own film and prints.  So, after the holidays I rounded up the necessary items to make salt prints. 

Well, I think that’s it for now after all, I was there in the ’60s and remembering some of this stuff has really been a challenge. 

Peace Out, Y’all.

Footnote-1:  Debra and I split a few years back.  We’re still friends and will always be there for each other.  She has discovered orchids and stained glass art work and has done some pretty amazing stuff.  We occasionally talk about getting her a website to display her work and I bet that one of these days she’ll join us here in the 21st century.

Footnote-2:  In 2004, we had some really serious hurricanes here in Florida.  I lived in a stilt home on the Alafia River and experienced 2 floods that season.  I had nearly all my photographs and negatives stored in one of the ground level buildings.  I lost not only all my photographs but many books as well.  The books I am slowly replacing.  I started out fresh, building a new portfolio of photographs.  It is all digital so I store it virtually anywhere.  Pardon my pun.  Virtual storage is great.

Footnote-3:  July 2011 – After a year and a half of planning and work, I have moved full time to my home in the North Georgia Mountains.  Life is good!

Footnote-4: July 2013 – Life is good!

Footnote-5: June 2017 – In the summer of 2014 I bought a Winnebago Rialta motorhome so that HeyLeigh and I could travel and photograph whatever caught my eye.  We were off to a good start when on May 28, 2015 a girl ran a stop sign and totaled it outside of Mesa Verde.  Fortunately no one was injured.  I returned home and began shopping for the next RV.  I found it in Grand Isle on Lake Champlain, VT. in August.  Since then we have done several extended trips around the country.

Footnote-6: July 2017 – HeyLeigh had a good run. She lived 15 years and had a good life right up to the end.  She was an amazing dog.  I drove to Springfield Missouri and bought a new puppy.  So far, she is doing well.  She wants to please me and I think that once she outgrows the puppy stage she’ll be a great co-pilot.

Take care and drop me a line if you want.

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