It's my dad's fault for me being a photographer. He's an architect, and for many years I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He took me along to side jobs, measuring houses for additions and then I would put the measurements into AutoCAD (my dad is probably the only practicing architect who doesn't use some sort of CAD program). I then started turning those 2D plans into 3D, but I had a problem at the time. Finding good textures was challenging, particularly if you were unwilling to spend money for them. I decided I would just create my own, and bought my first digital camera, a 1 megapixel HP C200.
The camera was perfect for what I need for the time, and I made a ton of textures for my 3D artwork. However, in taking all these photographs, I was also taking photos of other things too, and was quite enjoying it. It worked well for awhile, until I was on a hike near Massanutten, where I became extremely frustrated in trying to capture local wildlife (it was all too far away) that I decided I needed something more capable. I bought the camera that gave me the greatest reach that I could afford (used), an Olympus 2100uz.
The Olympus had me shooting photographs like crazy but it did not last long. Photographing moving animals was incredibly difficult, and I found myself not using the long zoom (380mm) very much. So my next camera was the complete opposite, the Nikon Coolpix 5000 with a wide angle adapter, giving me as wide as 17mm. This is where my love of photography truly began. I rarely went anywhere without this camera and was now planning trips to take photographs. The one thing I truly miss from this camera was how close it would focus with that wide angle, I love the creativity that provided that I have not been able to find since.
I had just graduated college and started my first job when the Canon 10D came out. I postponed moving out of my parents' house for two months so I could buy one and a 75-300 lens (which of course had me flip flopping again to the telephoto side of things again).
Combining photography and software
My major in college was computer science, which also had an usual path of finding me. My parents were the first in the neighborhood with a computer. I remember playing a game of football on it, where all you got to do was call the play, then you watched as X's and O's on the screen executed the play. It could not be more rudimentary. But my parents saw value in us learning to use it and made a brilliant decision: whenever I was grounded (which apparently was quite often), I could not watch TV, play Nintendo, or with friends, but I could use the computer. So use the computer I did.
For awhile it was just playing games, and creating maps for Doom, until I got to high school and received a TI-85 graphing calculator for math class. These calculators allowed for basic programming, and there were even games available. The annoying part was before every test, the teacher would go around and clear the memory on the calculator - which meant we would all hunt for someone who did not take a test that day to get our games back (life without Centipede and Drug Wars was unacceptable). So I wrote a program that emulated the process for clearing the calculators memory. It worked beautifully and a spark was lit in writing software.
A few years later, I had an idea of writing a mobile application that would let me check the weather for specific conditions so that I wouldn't miss when the conditions were ideal for sunrise/sunset (particularly since it was so awful getting up early for sunrise only for it to be a dud).
Ever wished you knew when the best conditions to take photographs were? I created GetOutCast so that I would only get up for sunrise if there was a good chance for a great photograph, or plan which day was best to do architectural or aerial shoots in seconds.