May 09, 2017 7


I'm a native San  Francisian, was just an average student in high school. I never had any intrest in photography,  So when I finished high school, I worked for a few months.  I tried to join the Airforce, it was filled, so the same day I joined the Navy. I thought I was going to San Diego, but it as also filled, and I was dressed for this warmer cliement, and of course they sent me to Great Lakes Ill !! They also were nearly filled, so when I arrived they were out of clothing. I got one Pea Coat, ( a heavy wool black coat, yes warm) but I had no hat, no warm pants, gloves, or shirt. 

Great Lakes was very cold, as it was January, 1951. I got so sick I could do nothing,  they gave us tests to see where we might be assigned, I did real bad, and I was assigned to an Air Craft Carrier, as a seaman, (the highest rating out of boot camp) and got my duty station, I was a gunnery mate. What my duties were were to practice loading, and firing my weapon, ( it was double barreled canon) so we fired on a target being towed by one of our airplanes. Not a fun job, I got lucky, I put in for a transfer and got the commisary, cooking and baking. That was great, I really took to cooking, and also baking. So that was my job for my 4 years in  the Navy. We starrted out in European waters, did not go to anywhere great, I did my 19th birthday in Cuba Naval Base. Then when we left we headed for Cape Horn, boats usually go through these channels, but our ship was to large, so we went around "Cape Horn" that was rough, but not as bad as I thought. It was foggy and when it lifted, we were in the harbor of Rio de Janero !! That was as sight I have never forgot !! 

The 1st thing I did at our ship store, was buy a small camera. I knew I was going to see Countries that I, or none of my family has ever seen !! That was my start into photogrtaphy, not exciting, but fun. We left Rio, and sailed on to Chile, then Peru, not long stays, but very nice, and again great photo ops !! Then our next stop was San Diego Ca. Stayed there for some ship repairs. San Diego is great, and Mexican food is very big there !! My love for Mexican food started when I was very young. My mother a small red head, with family from Wales, she worked at a Mexican Restaurant, as a waitress, and assitant cooks helper. I was three, an started out with rice and beans, when other kids were eating mashed carrots and peas. I graduated to more serious Mexican food, and it became my favorite all my years, (and I'm quite old now)!! We left San Diego sailed back to San Francisco, my service was ending, I left the Navy, then using my GI Bill, went to Santa Monica JC, in two years I got my AA in Photography, that was my start as a photograher, but thats not the the real begining. After I got my photo degree, I worked in a News Paper for a year, interesting, did sports, and beauty contest, and some small news stories. Then I worked in a couple Photo Labs, this is when Color Photography was starting, B&W was still the most used photography. I was learning color before more experienced photographers were going in that direction.

In 1964 I joined the San Franciso Police Dept. When I finished the Police Academy, with my photo back ground I was assigned to CSI. My duties were photographing Major Crime scenes, evidence, and photo lab work. As I was the only one with color in my back ground, I was able, (in a small  way) to start color processing. Our Lab was in the New Hall Of Justice, on Bryant St. When they built the lab, they were trying to get ahead of normal labs, so they built (what they call a "DIP and Dunk lab")It was a small dark room, with a long sink and several big battery cases, ( empty) they were ment to hold color developing chemicals. Well no one ever tried it, until I came. As color was not used in real police work yet. When I had time, I did some experiments. I bought some color chemistry, color film, did some photography just around San Francisco. Developed the film, in our "dip andDunk"Tanks We had no enlarger, or print making equipment. I was allowed to find some used and mosdest priced trays and a enlarger that could hold filters that were cyan, yellow, & magenta , this was all needed to print color negitives. For print processing I found a small, but interesting equipment, it was a coragated drum it was atached to a motor, then under this drum was a movable tray attached, so when the drum turned, and chemistry was addded to tray, the  print was placed on the moving drum and a cloth net was attched to hangers and when the print was placed on the drum, with chemistry added to the tray the net held the print and the hangers was attached to the drum. then when the proper time for processing, the 1st chemistry was dumped out of the movable tray, and the next chemistry added, same with that, then after the final chemistry was finished and dumped a water hose was used to rince the paper, cleaning all chemistry, the it was hanged on a streched wire, and allowed to dry. Very old and timely way to make prints, but that was the begining !! Later money came, and a new completely automated equipment was installed, it was a unit that processed film, with racks and pullies that film was attached to and went through the chemnistry and washing cycle and drying time. we also had a print procesor, it was 20" wide with all automated processing for prints simular to the film machine. In the same dark room was a modern enlarger with triple lens, on a turnable device, that small, medium, and large prints could be made, there was a special head on this enlarger that had a filter casing that had all the color filters on a cylinder that could be turned to any filter setting the print needed !!

Well after 25 years on the Police Dept. I retired, took some courses on real outdoor photography. that is where I really got to where I am now, with my photographs hanging several local galleries. 

For the past 5 years I've been using my Sony a 77 and a Tamron, 16x300 mm lens, most all my hanging Art is from that Camera. 

May 17 we are going to France, my wife is taking an Art class and I'll be doing photography. One side trip is Dinan, in Brittany, I'm told it is a very great area for photography. Another side trip is Paris !! 

Robert Sleadd