My photography life is sort of a trilogy.

1970s -- I started dabbling in photography when I was 13 or so. A friend had an Argus C-3 and developed film in his basement darkroom. I thought that was cool. I borrowed my Dad's Kodak Retina 35mm rangefinder and started shooting lots of Plus-X and Tri-X. As a teen, photography kept me out of trouble...mostly.

 The Nikon N90s with vertical grip.

The Nikon N90s with vertical grip.

1990s -- After high school, I hardly took a picture at all for the next couple of decades. Even after I got married and had kids, those little drugstore disposable cameras seem to be what I used the most, especially on family vacations to Disneyland. One day, I happened to be sitting in a doctor's office and picked up a copy of Popular Photography. Flipping through the pages, looking at the camera ads, I got wispy-eyed and realized how long it had been since I had taken a serious photograph and how much I missed that. I had a few bucks at this point and decided I needed a hobby. When I was a teenager, I dreamed of someday owning a Nikon F2. By the mid-90s, Nikon's newest offering was the N90s, an electronic, matrix-metering, auto-focus, motor-driven marvel. I saved for few months, pulled some money out of the bank, headed down to Lewis Camera Exchange in Scottsdale, AZ and bought myself the N90s with the add on vertical grip and a 50mm f/1.8 AF-D lens. As I recall, all in for this kit was about $1400. More money than I had ever spent on any hobby, ever. The N90s was a truly fabulous camera and it got me back into photography in a big way. I even built my dream darkroom in my suburban Phoenix home. But, as someone once said to me, life is a silly old bird and as the flat gray paint was barely dry on the walls of my new darkroom, my marriage began falling apart. The N90s, the cool and very large Omega Pro-Lab enlarger, print washer, tanks, trays and all my photography stuff was sold for pennies on the dollar to help pay for divorce lawyers.

2016 -- It took a decade for me to clean up and pay for my divorce. Ten years of mostly just survival. After relocating to California in 2010, the photography bug bit again. A Nikon FE2 I picked up on eBay started me on the third part of my photography journey. I'm enjoying this one the most. Digital photography has made once expensive and unaffordable cameras affordable.

This week, I dropped off a few rolls of Portra 400 for processing at my local camera shop. When I am there, I always check their used camera case. Sitting there on the top shelf, I saw an old friend -- a decent looking Nikon N90s with 50mm AF-D lens and vertical grip. Sale tag: $39.95. My what a difference 20 years make.