Photography technology gives new vision to local hobbyist

Mr. Chandler is a weekend photographer from the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Janet Taylor-Birkey

While Rick Chandler spends his work day at the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron office, much of his free time is spent playing in a bluegrass band, doing leather work and taking shots at just about anything that will stand still.
While he shoots with a gun on hunting ventures, his weapon of choice for preserving nature is a camera.
The serious hobbyist photographer in Mr. Chandler developed about 13 years ago, but not because he bought a camera for himself.
“My wife had a fancy camera. I bought her one and she never used it,” said Mr. Chandler. So he decided to use it himself. After taking a class to learn film developing, he said he “kind of got the knack of it.”
A long-time film shooter, Mr. Chandler has recently found a new area to explore in the digital side of photography. Awaiting the birth of his and his wife Judy’s first grandchild gave Mr. Chandler the impetus to purchase, and learn to use, his first digital camera.
“I’m just learning digital … getting the equipment and learning how to use the software,” said Mr. Chandler.
“I like slide film [to make projector slides] better than anything,” he said. Mr. Chandler’s partiality toward slide film comes from the fact that it is easily backed up in case of loss, and can be saved in several formats, he said. But the days of film are going the way of most slide projectors.
“It’s going to be cost prohibitive pretty soon [to develop film], because there are no labs to develop film,” said Mr. Chandler. He said most labs are going digital and estimates there are about 30 percent fewer labs developing film than there were eight years ago.
But whether he’s working with a roll of film in his camera or a small digital card, Mr. Chandler’s favorite subjects are, “Animals, nature, anything outside,” he said.
To develop his natural talent and interest in photography, Mr. Chandler has been the student of famous nature photographer John Shaw, and joined internationally known photographers at a workshop, in addition to taking advanced photography classes at Clovis Community College.
When asked if beginners should take photography workshops, “You bet. That’s where you learn all the little things. It’s different from learning out of a book,” was Mr. Chandler’s answer. “What’s in the book may not actually work out in the field.”
He knows from personal experience what works in the field. Taking 650 photos while on a 2003 mission trip to Africa gave him plenty of practice to tell photo journalistic stories of African tribesmen and their families.
Mr. Chandler recalls many more opportunities of walking close to animals in the African bush and hanging out of the vehicle to take pictures of animals such as warthogs, gazelles and hyenas.
Out of the hundreds of photos Mr. Chandler has taken, he says it’s difficult for him to pick a favorite. His current favorite is of a building in Luckenbach, Texas, but his choice photo preference changes as new photos are shot.
“It’s whatever the day is,” he said, looking forward to his new favorite — his grandchild.