My Journey into Photography
I first became interested in photography at school when I learned the art of developing and printing in the darkroom. But it was not until the advent of the digital age that my photography began to take off. All my awards and achievements have occurred since getting my first digital SLR.
Previously, the creation of award-winning images demanded a high degree of skill in the production of the finished print and long hours in the darkroom. However, the digital revolution changed all that. The shift from film to digital represented the democratization of photography from a specialist pursuit to an everyday activity enjoyed by millions. Anyone with a camera was now able to express their imagination through the captured image, frequently to a high standard of invention and creativity.
Although I enjoyed my first steps into film photography, I can’t say I miss it. My preference is definitely for digital.
Awards and Distinctions
In 2015, I completed the Open University’s TG089 Digital Photography course. The following year, I gained the LRPS distinction on the first attempt.
In 2020, I undertook the Open University TZFM200 course, for which I attained a distinction in the final assessment. In 2021, I was awarded an ARPS in the Documentary genre, also at the first attempt.
I have also completed the Coursera “Seeing with Pictures” course.
I am a member of the Edinburgh Photographic Society and the Royal Photographic Society.
My photographic journey started modestly enough with my parents’ old Kodak Brownie 44A, which was obsolete even before I got to use it. It had only a fixed-focus lens, two aperture settings and a single shutter speed. It had been fine for family snaps, but I soon discovered its limitations for anything more ambitious. Predictably, by the time I got to Grammar school, I wanted something more capable to take better photographs and keep up with my peers.
Enter the Zenit-E. The Zenit-E was a basic Soviet-era Single Lens Reflex and an inexpensive alternative to the more prestigious western brands. It was probably the most “uncool” SLR on the market, but it was also cheap enough to buy on a schoolboy budget.
For all its basic functionality, the Zenit-E was perfectly capable of producing decent quality images. Its Helios 58 mm lens was a Russian copy of the Zeiss Jena Biotar. I took the Zenit everywhere, especially on school trips to the Peak and Lake District national parks. It was even used to photograph the Apollo moon landings from the TV, since there were no affordable video recorders at the time. However, the Zenit’s main weakness was its cloth shutter, which eventually collapsed beyond repair.
My next camera was a Praktica LTL. The Praktica was an East German-made SLR that represented a step-up in functionality and build quality over the Zenit. It was less “uncool” than the Zenit yet still cheap enough to buy on a student budget. But, like the Zenit, it had a good lens. I was happy enough with the Praktica and used it frequently until it sadly disappeared following a break-in at our student digs.
By the time I was ready to replace the Praktica, I had finished studying and could afford something better. So it was that my next camera was a Pentax. The P30n came with me on many trips around Europe and further afield. Perhaps the most enduring memory is photographing the total solar eclipse that passed over France in 1999. It was also to be my final SLR of the film era.
After experimenting with a small digital compact camera, it wasn’t long before I acquired my first digital SLR, the Pentax K200D. It was also well-regarded in its day and helped me gain the LRPS distinction (see below). I still use it occasionally. But my first choice cameras are now the much more capable Pentax K1 and the smaller KP.