A member of the hoi polloi who takes pictures nobody sees with cheap old cameras.

I actually started doing so with some level of serious intent circa 1969, so although just a lowly amateur, I’m not exactly a newbie. By the mid-70’s, I had taught myself to develop film, and I was burning and dodging black and white prints during late night sessions in my studio apartment on weekends. Unfortunately, most of that early work was lost a long time ago, except for a few fading prints without the negatives and some vintage Polaroids. I still have my darkroom equipment stored under a bed, along with hundreds of vintage negatives I’ve been procrastinating about scanning for years, but I’ve been using mostly consumer-grade digital equipment since 2010.

In the real world of making a living, I was an officer in the regular navy for a while after graduating from the civilian university division of the Canadian Forces Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) in 1974. After that, I was a public servant for 11 years, eventually heading a Secretary of State division embedded at National Defence. A decade later, I left the public service for the private sector and for some inexplicable reason, I also rejoined the military as an army reservist. During that time, while freelancing as a civilian defence contractor in naval technical documentation, I fully retrained as an army logistics (transport) officer up to and including command and staff college. Just wanted to do something different I guess.

Unfortunately, I had been diagnosed with a mild chronic kidney disease not long after I left the navy, and by the time I had qualified for senior command in the army reserves, I couldn’t go on overseas missions because of a medical category. Nevertheless, I did serve significant time on call-outs with division and brigade headquarters staff, as well as participating in numerous field exercises with both regular and reserve formations, training junior officers, and serving in aid-to-the-civil-power operations. I was fully qualified to command a battalion when chronic renal failure finally forced me to leave after 11 years of combined regular and reserve service. Instead, I ended up spending four years on hemodialysis, until I received a kidney from the waiting list. I never really considered myself a veteran as such, but I certainly did the training and served the time, not to mention the additional dozen years as a civilian at National Defence Headquarters, during which time I worked on NATO-related projects and was a senior member of Canadian delegations to conferences at NATO HQ in Brussels, the old War Office in London, and the Ecole Militaire in Paris. Nowadays, I’m just an old bum with a camera.

In terms of photography, it’s mostly just local stuff from wherever I can walk, cycle or bus in Ottawa, Canada. I take pictures in a way that I think will translate well to an unmanipulated JPEG, but I do process the raw files more or less the same as I would have developed film and made a straight print in the old days. Anything I can do before the light gets past the lens is fair game, but I have no use for so-called “edits”. I just don’t see the point of that. I guess I’m not a real photographer.

Pierre Lachaine

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