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Philip Greenspun

A member of the photo.net community since August 19, 1995. (Give this person a gift subscription)

Photographer Biography

Philip Greenspun: Photographer at photo.net My interest in photography has waned and waxed over the years depending on the available audience. I started at age 10, in Bethesda, Maryland, with my mother's Brownie, guessing distance and setting exposure based on the printed instructions that came with Kodak film. My parents had received a Leica M3 as a wedding gift and I used that to take pictures for family slide shows, which was a challenge given that the selenium-cell meter on top of the Leica was very inaccurate. On our two-week annual vacation to a rented house three blocks from the beach in Harwichport, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I used Uncle Ken's Nikon F and high quality lenses to take pictures of the beach and some leggy Canadian girls. As an MIT undergraduate, surrounded by remarkably unphotogenic classmates, I didn't haul out my Minolta SRT-102 too often, but I did take a photo class in which we learned to use the 4x5 view camera and darkroom.

In the late 1980s, I went through a period of using medium format and 4x5 cameras to capture landscapes. The big expansion in my photographic activity came with the arrival of the mass market Web in 1993. I had put up some snapshots with a book of letters to friends and family, Travels with Samantha, and it attracted a lot of readers to my site (photo.net!). Armed with the ability to scan slides and negatives to Kodak PhotoCD at the MIT Media Lab, I produced a lot more exhibits and tutorials.

Starting in 2000, I began to notice how few different things I was doing. Back in elementary school, I had written poetry, sketched art, created sculpture, played the piano, written prose, done science experiments, etc. As a 37-year-old, I was doing only those things that I could do at a professional level of skill: writing computer software, taking photographs, writing English prose. I resolved to spend at least a few years doing only things at which I was incompetent.

The most time-consuming and challenging of my new activities was learning to fly, which I started doing in late 2001. In 2005 I became a flight instructor and enjoy teaching people in helicopters and airplanes. In 2008 I started flying regional jets for Delta Airlines, which was a great learning experience until the economy collapsed.

I have a lot of film camera gathering dust (email me if you want one, though I would be pained to part with the Fuji 617). I take family and travel pictures with a Sony A6300 these days. Canon broke my heart with the comparatively poor dynamic range of the later 5D models compared to the Sony sensors, but maybe the 5D Mark IV will be the solution? I haul out the 5D Mark III and the big lenses when the project is the Blue Angels or a bird.

Personal stuff: I live the suburban (Boston) life with kids and golden retriever, and mostly come back to my old Cambridge haunts to teach a class at MIT or meet with friends.

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