My name is Jim Casteel I am a Colorado native. This may come as a surprise to some but like many Colorado natives I didn’t participate in all the great outdoor activities that attracts so many people to this great state. It is not that I didn’t enjoy the outdoors, I was always outside and messing around in the local hills camping, fishing and hunting. I just never took advantage of what Colorado has to offer. That has definitely changed in the last few years; I now find my peace in nature. It allows me to get centered after the stress of my work. I also enjoy the challenge of getting to my destination; there is something about hiking 6 miles up hill to an isolated lake to have it socked in with clouds and rain for 3 days straight.
I attempted a start in photography when I was right out of high school with my parents Minolta 35mm manual focus camera. I really enjoyed shooting it but couldn’t justify the film and development costs to further my hobby. When my son was about to be born my wife and I decided it was time to get a digital camera. I knew that a simple point and shoot wouldn’t do, unfortunately my budget (wife) said that the digital SLR I wanted would also not do. We ended up settling and got an advanced point and shoot. For nearly five years that camera got a lot of use. It sparked a desire for me to do something more with my photography. Unfortunately, after its years of service our trusty friend started acting like that cousin you let sit at his own table at the family reunion. It had a hard time focusing and never worked reliably. All of a sudden being in the market again for a camera I found an exceptional deal on a used digital SLR. Once my better half was convinced with how awesome the camera would be I was off to the races.
This led to lots and lots of clicks of a shutter, after some only marginally satisfying results, a lot of reading gear blogs I should have never read I started my season of gear lust. On many of the Nikon forums it is properly know as Nikon Acquisition Syndrome (aka, NAS). It hit me hard, it was an incurable disease. Not having wads of cash laying around to spend on camera gear I found a way to support my growing habit. With a good amount of digging I found that I could purchase items locally and sell them for a profit on eBay and some of the more reputable forums. After copious amounts of buying and selling I started collecting more and more gear; I kept telling myself “If I only had this camera or this lens”.
As you may have noticed thus far my photographic career was more about what I had versus how I was using it. It took me three years of enraged gear lust to figure out that my pictures were awful because of the operator not because of the camera. This fact was reiterated after becoming heavily involved in a regional nature photography forum. Several of the people there were using “antique” digital SLR’s. I couldn’t figure out how their images were so superior to my own. If it wasn’t the camera then it had to be the software, if it was not that then it was something else. Eventually after spending some time with these great photographers I learned one very simple lesson. The camera is but a tool; just like a hammer if you don’t know how to use it you will not successfully hit the nail on the head. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot in the process of getting to where I am now but it was a hard road to travel and a lot of useless knowledge gained.
While I am sure there is no cure for NAS once you get it, i seem to have gone into a nice remission. I have been married to the same camera body now for 2 years. For someone who has owned close to 20 camera bodies in the last 5 years I call that progress. I now find myself doing a lot more planning and location searching more than gear hunting. I read books on composition rather than gear blogs and craigslist posts. One of the smarter things I did was to rid myself of the do it yourself mentality, instead I have learned to ask for help. In the process of all of this I have gained friends who are in my opinion some of the best photographers in the world. The change may seem subtle to some but I can definitely see it in the photographs I produce today.
I hope you enjoy what you see. If you don’t, that is all right too. I am having fun and quit taking it all so seriously a while back!
© James Casteel Photography