My Journey into Photography
I first became interested in photography when I learned the art of developing and printing in the school darkroom. But it was not until the digital age that my photography really began to take off.
When film reigned supreme, creating the finished print was a skilled and time-consuming process, and only really accessible to those with the proper facilities at hand. Unfortunately, for me, the film processing skills learned at school were unable to be pursued afterwards due to lack of opportunity for a darkroom. But then the digital revolution came along, effectively transforming photography from a specialist pursuit to an everyday activity enjoyed by millions. Anyone with a camera and a computer could now express their imagination through the captured image, frequently to a high standard of invention and creativity. I too was swayed by its convenience over exacting chemistry. Although I enjoyed my initial grounding in film photography, I can’t say I miss it. My preference is now definitely for digital.
My photographic journey started 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 it wasn’t long before I discovered its limitations. 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 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 images. The Helios 58 mm lens was a Russian copy of the Zeiss Jena Biotar. I took it everywhere, especially on school trips to the Peak and Lake District national parks. I even used it to photograph the Apollo moon landings from the TV, since we had no video recorder at the time. However, its main weakness was the cloth shutter, which eventually collapsed beyond repair.
My next SLR was a Praktica LTL, which represented a step-up in quality over the Zenit. It was less “uncool” than the Zenit yet still cheap enough to buy on a student budget. Like the Zenit, it had a good lens. Unfortunately, it disappeared one day 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 P30 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 DSLR. The Pentax K200D helped me gain the LRPS distinction, and I still use it on occasions; but my first choice cameras are now the much more capable Pentax K1 and the smaller Pentax KP.
Courses, Awards and Distinctions
- 2015: RPS/OU TG089 Digital Photography course
- 2016: Coursera “Seeing with Pictures” course
- 2016: LRPS distinction (first attempt)
- 2020: RPS/OU TZFM200 course (distinction)
- 2021: ARPS in the Documentary genre (first attempt)
- Edinburgh Photographic Society
- Royal Photographic Society