Burnham Graphic Arts | More About Jim

More About Jim

October 16, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

As I transition photographs over to this new storefront, I am also moving the blog entries from my jamesburnham.com site.  Here is the first one.  I don't post much on LelandReport.com, I tend to lurk and read the comments.  Therefore, not much is known about me.

I remember times when I was a kid growing up in Riverside, IL.  I was the first one to get a pair of glasses in my 4th grade class.  I was told they made me look smart (Btw, thanks for that, Mary).  Before that time I wanted to be a stunt man…or an air force pilot.  One or the other, but not both, that would be silly.  To build my skills, I practiced doing stunt falls and I built an inordinate amount of model jets (not at the same time).  But getting glasses reduced me to potential navigator on a fighter jet, and with no opportunity to prove my prowess at stunt falls, I worked on the smart angle instead.  After all, I tested near the top of my class up to that point, the glasses could only help.  Right?  The reaction of my class to me getting glasses?  The teacher asked my friend Sarah what she thought and she replied very succinctly, “He looks weird”.  But they did have horn rims, so she just told the truth.  I think I caught the tail end of the last remaining supply of 1950′s stock.

But the fact is, I leveled out as an average student.  I turned out to be more creative than smart.  I taught myself to play guitar and sing.  I wrote a few songs in High School which I performed at shows.  During a bout of strep throat and on a heavy dose of codeine in my Sophomore year at the University of Dayton, I threatened to my Mom that I would quit school and pursue music.  But soberness and practicality prompted me to pursue a career in computers, as they were becoming a big thing in the 80′s.  My first real job out of school was supporting hardware at a large corporate law firm in downtown Chicago (where I developed a thick skin walking past the Sears Tower from Union Station for a whole Winter.)  From there I supported midrange and mainframe hardware at Waste Managment, then bought hardware for employees at Ameritech, then helped test web software at IBM which eventually became the base for all the bank software taken for granted today.

That got me interested in programming software, so I put my creative and smart sides together and taught myself HTML, PHP, and ASP.  Since then, I’ve been involved in several different organizations as a designer and programmer, including my own company on the side which I took over from my father.  It’s through that company we provide lelandreport.com, a popular web photo blog about Leelanau county, MI, which my Dad is the main contributor and muse.

Which brings me to the photography angle.  I remember riding on the back on my Dad’s Honda 175 motorcycle scanning the HondaLeelanau countryside for photos.  My Dad had several different cameras over the years, mainly the Nikon FM3, FTN and 6006 series.  He had one high end medium format twin lens reflex Rolleiflex that he used often (I remember him saying he later regretting selling it).  He also printed most of his film himself in his darkroom in Riverside.  My brother and I would hang out in that room while he printed and when he shut off all the lights, enjoyed the glowing tape that marked the different mechanical devices.  Not thinking the pitch blackness was confining enough, I would crawl into the cabinet on his drafting table and shut the door, thinking I could make it even darker.  This is one reason why I’ve never been afraid of the dark.  I still  have that old homemade drafting table, inherited as part of my parent’s move to Leland, MI many years ago.  My kids have also climbed into it at some point.


Brookfield Zoo Lynx. Nikon FM3


It wasn’t until my Dad gave me one of his old Nikon FTN cameras with a couple rolls of hand-rolled T-Max BW film.  I took it to the zoo and had a few good (motivational) results.  We printed them in large format on a stat camera.  I eventually bought my own Nikon N80 film camera and used that for many years until I bought my first digital camera, a 3 Megapixel Kodak DC290.  I don’t know where Kodak went wrong.  At that time, it was an decent camera, only 2.2MP, but still a good training camera.  I kept using the N80 through 2002, even though I traded up the DC290 to the Nikon Coolpix 995 when my son was born and into 2003 when my daughter was born.  But the number of photos taken with the 995 started to eclipse the number taken with film.  The tradeoff being the convenience to Megapixel.  Each roll of slide and print film processed at a local camera store was a longer and longer wait, even though it always took the same amount of time.  Digital was instant gratification.  Digital saved all my exposure settings.  Out went the written transcript of shutter speeds and F-Stops.  Out went the trips to Fox Valley Camera.  I doubt they miss me.  When I got my first digital DSLR around Christmas 2005, I never looked back again.  The Nikon D70s put the nail in that coffin.

tremontturkeyfest2005_0036I remember the last slide I shot.  It was 2005 of a 1956 Minneapolis Moline tractor in the Turkey Festival parade here in Tremont, IL.  I don’t even remember any significance to the fact it was the last shot on the last roll.  It just seemed a shame not to use it.  The only way I know it was the last is because it is the last page in the last slide folder I have on my bookshelf.   I actually still have a couple rolls of unopened Kodak 100 speed color print film laying on that old drafting table I used to play in when I was a kid.  I don’t know why I let it sit there.  Maybe it’s there out of respect.  I just can’t bear to throw it away.  But then again, I don’t know if anyone is left to develop it if I did shoot it.



My son models my new (at the time) D70s



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