Writing Challenge Day 4: Your Father

I’m late again. My apologies. I had a bit of difficulty with today’s post – not because it was difficult to find something to write about my father, but because I found too many things, and had to struggle to narrow it down.

Like yesterday, I’m sticking with adoptive parents here – a post about my biological father would be very, very short indeed.

As I struggled to coalesce my myriad thoughts into coherence, my eyes fell upon my bookshelf. There lies a Canon A-1. Of the cameras on that shelf, the A-1 remains my favorite.

It’s a film-back SLR produced toward the end of the 70s, which officially makes it older than I am. It was one of the last cameras to use a cloth shutter, and the first to use a microprocessor to calculate exposure. It, and the lenses and autowinder I have for it, has taken a BEATING over the years. And it still works great (no, I’m not going to make some metaphor for life here…).

This camera was a gift from my Dad. He went to school to be a photojournalist, before becoming enamoured with the newly emergent field of emergency medicine, which later became his life’s work.

Early on in my teenage years, Dad took us aside and handed each of us a camera, a Canon A-1 and an AT-1. He also gave each of us multiple lenses, explained how to use the light meter, how to focus it, and let us loose.

Back then, film was a lot cheaper. And we definitely took advantage of it. I remember once my parents enrolled us in a “photo-safari” at a local zoo – more specifically, the Wild Animal Park, which is a part of the “World Famous San Diego Zoo”. We spent the day driving around enclosures (yes, the enclosures are THAT big), getting up close and personal with giraffes, rhinos (OK, not TOO close to those…) and myriad other animals. And we filled multiple rolls of film.

I think my sister eventually abandoned photography, and I did too, for a time. Then in my twenties I “re-discovered” it, and have loved it since (although I’m not great at it).

My Dad once asked me how I’d take a specific photo he wanted to take for a magazine cover, and I didn’t really know how to respond, mostly because I still relied on the automatic exposure settings. Today, I know: Dad, I’d meter off the family, speed up the shutter by four or five stops, and take the shot, bracketing a stop on each side.

Unfortunately, due to the prohibitive cost of film, I don’t often use the A-1 anymore (digital shots are free), but I still treasure it. I don’t own many things I would be incredibly upset to lose, but that camera is definitely on the short list.

As I said, it was a gift from my father, and someday, I hope to give it to Matthew. And I have no doubt the beast of a camera will still be working just fine.

Find our other participants here –

Niki: Sometimes I Write

Becky: Free2B2Much

Tracy: CountryRoadChronicles

Photo-A-Day 46 out of 47 — “TV” (Don)


Today, I present you a snapshot of one of the characters from the TV show Sophie and I’ve been working on lately.

This is Sir Percedal of Sadlygrove (Sir Tristepin in French). He’s a Iop (yop), which means he acts first and thinks later, if at all.

They’ve been dubbing the series in  English after a Kickstarter campaign that raised 600% of its goal, and so Sophie and I have been communicating with the dubbing studio to make sure the voice acting is what we’re looking for and that the dialects are on the mark.

We’ve also been thrust into a bit of directing (“OK, you’re an alien, and you REALLY want to phone home! Go!”).

It’s been really fun and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Photo-A-Day 39 out of 47 – “A Memory” (Don)


This is a Canon A-1. The code stamped inside says it was made in 1980, I think. The Canon A-1 was the first camera to use a microprocessor to calculate exposures, one of the last to use a cloth shutter, and one of the last to use the Canon FD-mount lenses. It belonged to my father. Read on for the memories aspect.

My Dad wanted to be a photojournalist — he went to school for it. But somewhere along the way, he got “sidetracked” by a new idea that was spreading: emergency medicine. For the young ‘uns like me, you might not be aware that ambulances, paramedics, EMTs, etc, have only been around for the last 40 years or so. And my Dad was part of their beginnings.

Since then, he’s risen through the ranks, started a professional journal or two which have since become national giants and for which he still writes, put out some books, contributed to still others, given countless talks and presentations, and is widely known and respected throughout the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) community. Many times I’ve been asked by EMTs and Paramedics, “Hey, you’re Thom Dick’s kid, huh?”.

But while he has kept on top of the journalism aspect (I may be biased, but he’s an awesome writer) but what of the photography aspect?

Well, when we had just become teenagers, my dad took us aside. He handed my sister a Canon A-1, and me a Canon AT-1, along with the lenses to go with them. He showed me where the light meter was (a floating needle on the AT-1), and told me ” you want that to be in the middle”.

Now I’m an adult in love with art (photography included), and while I’m not sure what happened to the AT-1 (it may be in a box in my parent’s basement), the A-1 given to my sister has made its way into my hands.

There’s a couple lenses that still work, a telephoto that’s jammed, and a 50mm f1.8 prime that needs to be repaired. The mirror’s a bit dinged up, the double exposure lever slips now and then, and it eats up the old batteries quickly (rechargeable? What’s that?), but I love it. It’s full of sentiments for me, not to mention this thing is a durable workhorse of a camera, and the pictures it takes look (not too surprisingly) look a bit like they were taken 30 years ago.

The only thing keeping me from using it much is that shooting film has become OBSCENELY expensive.

I plan to give this camera to my son some day, though by then we might have to mortgage the house to afford to shoot a roll of film.

Photo-A-Day 33 out of 47 — “Motion” (Don)


At the start, I set myself the additional challenge of doing all these with a cellphone camera, and until today, they all have been.

But I’m finding that, because I’m limiting myself to the cellphone camera, I’m losing interest and pictures have become a chore.

That’s not what this is supposed to be about. So I’m going to ignore my “rule” and allow myself to use my ‘big-boy’ camera.

There’s not a lot to this shot – just out at night playing with a 1.8 lens and long exposures.

Photo-A-Day 35 out of 47 — “Something Green” (Don)


We have two pets. This is the one that doesn’t make me rage and shout.

Vincent S. Turtle, a yellow-eared slider (t. scripta scripta)

She (yes, she) almost had a new friend from work: a female map turtle (graptemys geographica) from work that needed a new home. But someone claimed it before I made up my mind.

[It being early in the morning, I may or may not have gotten the species names completely correct.]