My Photo Story

I suspect you are expecting me to say that I started photography at some crazy young age when someone gave me a camera and that I have been inspired ever since. Well it’s not true, sorry to disappoint!

However, there is a story to be told. We start that story, on holiday in Margate in about 1963, when I purchased my first Kodak camera. Very quickly followed by a flash gun, and with blue bulbs! In those days you had to literally screw the flash gun onto the side of the camera, and throw away the flash bulbs after taking each picture. It was a film camera that used 127 film. Colour was too expensive in those days, so it was B&W all the way. Take 12 pictures, make sure you finish the roll now. Then it was off to the Chemist, and wait for it to be processed, before seeing the end results. This would be mainly disappointing to say the least. Now at this stage I was also in the Boys Brigade, and as luck would have it one of the officers called Ted, was the Head of Photography at a local collage. This gave me the opportunity to complete my ‘Arts Badge’. So for my sins, we learnt how to make a ‘pin hole’ camera, use it to take some pictures, develop the film ourselves, by using a developing tank, create a contact sheet, and then be let loose with an enlarger to create full size prints.

Which was all rather good fun.

I took this kit with me to South Africa, when I went on a business trip in 1985, and had a lot of fun using it.

So by this time, you have probably surmised I was now hooked on Video. My sister at this time was now entering into some local horse shows. So more opportunities’ to shoot Video along with the occasional Christmases. In 1987 I got married, and then in 1988 made redundant. Eight months later the company that I used to work for collapsed, and with the loss of 1400 job. By this time however, I did not care, as I was running my own company as a consultant, after quadrupling my salary.

In 1989 I upgraded my camcorder to a SONY Hi 8 model CCD V6000E. I also took a much needed, but late honeymoon to the USA, for six weeks. Starting in San Diego, then Palm Springs, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon Yosemite, San Francisco, Hollywood, and finally back to Los Angeles via the Pacific Coast Highway. All in all covering 2,500 miles of California’s and shooting 13 hours of video. Which some day, I want to edit, and animate with a map showing where we went. A retirement project, I think!

There the story stalls. With a lot of water under the bridge. We now pick up the story in modern times. 2008 to be precise, one marriage later, one new partner, one new house, and one new life.

Now this is where the photography story really starts. So, we wanted to buy a house (must be detached) after suffering too many bad neighbours in the past. Only this time my new partner finds a run down Executor sale bungalow. Now if I said it needed everything doing to It I would not be exaggerating. The only thing that it didn’t need was a new roof! Not the sort of quick start with a new partner I was expecting. Anyway, most probably if it wasn’t for the new bungalow, it would be unlikely that I would be writing this photography story in the first place.

The bungalow needed an extension, rewiring, re-plumbing, new kitchen, new bathroom, shower room with second WC. Not to mention 65 metres of new flooring, plastering, and decorating with the additions of 66 down lighters. Oh and did I mention the removal of 48 tons of earth and concrete so that the new drive way and side ways could be blocked paved. No I don’t think I mentioned that.

Anyway, it was because I wanted to document the renovations that I got started in photography. Initially I tried using one of the first digital cameras that I purchased for my partner, used so successfully in what was to be a last holiday in 2004 to Cornwall.

However, holidays don’t last forever, and sadly that was normally the only time I used a camera. So at this point, photography and me parted company.

Now we pick this story back up in about 1984. Yes I know it’s a big jump. I borrowed a JVC camcorder from a friend of mine and took it to work to snatch some footage from the computer rooms. I worked within the oil industry at the time, and the computers which were all main frame were huge.

The camcorder was a two piece unit. Camera connected to a VHS C, tape drive, and ran for about thirty minutes. Well unfortunately I was hooked. Later that year, my Dad and I purchased one of the new single piece JVC units. Same spec but lighter and smaller. See below.

More Info…the S.A. Story

Now contained within this Web Site are extra pieces of information not strictly necessary to the technical understanding of photography. The information is more anecdotal so if you see the link below its your choice to ‘click’ or not ‘to click’.

More Info…the Bungalow story

So at this point I must break off and tell you a funny story.

You see even on this holiday I did not take any pictures. So I tried using this camera. The light levels were too low, as there were no lights fitted yet, and that meant a long shutter speed and blurred shots. The lens was also not wide angel enough, so I was doomed, as Frazer would say from ‘Dad Army’.

and here it is, the 2M pixel Olympus Camedia C-700, with a 10x Zoom, wow!

Now at this point I know two professional Photographers  both used Canon, and had one friend who use Nikon. I had a play with the Nikon, and it just did not feel right for me, the buttons just did not seem to fall into the right place. So I purchased my first DSLR a Canon 40D, with two kit lenses a 17-85mm, and an 70-300mm. The camera by the way was 10M pixels. One of the best for the day.

This is my original Canon 40D in 360 Product format, click to spin!


So I now have my new camera, now what? Well at this point I signed up for two local photographic courses at night school, as I had no real knowledge of how to make best use of my new ‘toy’. The course was a beginners course and covered all of the basic camera functions. However, it did allow us to try our luck at using the camera in some unique situations. Like on a dog training course that was running at the same time, a chance to do some icing sugar macros, studio lighting shots, and finally some sun set shots by a lake in a local park. All in all I would thoroughly recommend these type of courses, they are not expensive and you just might enjoy it. Click below for some of my sample shots. See if you can spot my instructor Geoff, he is the one not holding a guitar.

This was shot in my studio using three Hensel strobes, and a Lastolite as a background. The camera was placed on a white acrylic sheet, which was in turn placed on an electronic turntable which fired the shutter as it rotated. This produced 72 still frames. They were processed in Lightroom and then displayed on this web page using a program called magic 360.

Now the more eagle eyed amongst you, may have noticed the last picture in the above selection looked a little strange? That is because it’s a 360 panorama in a rectilinear picture! So this is where the photo story takes another turn. During one of our holidays, my partner and I went to Cornwall, and visited Padstow in 2002. Moving on to 2009, I acquired my 40D and have completed both of my short photographic courses. I was looking round the web, and found this site: ‘Lookaround Cornwall’ (click on the link, and view full screen to see for yourself). Incidentally, they had a 360 Panorama, shot in Padstow Harbour. Strangely enough, the exact place we had been standing, when we were there. I thought wow, how did they do that? It captured the scene perfectly. You must remember that this was at a time that 360 Panoramas were not commonplace. I thought, I have got to find out how that is done.

I found a web site, joined a forum, and just read, and read, and read. This led me to purchase a panoramic head, and a 8mm Sigma Fisheye lens. Therefore, by the time I had finished my second photo course, I was shooting my own Panoramas. In order to shoot these, you also need the software, PTGui for the stitching, and then finally Pano2VR for the Html5 and the Flash fallback. If you want to see one of my early 360’s, that I shot when we photographed the sunsets at the end of my second photo course, just click below.

It was just after this time, that I had an opportunity to go to London with Joan, my Mum’s friend.  Joan has a number of cameras and enjoys taking pictures. It is always worth finding someone that also likes photography for a day out, because as many of you might have found out, a partner who doesn't share the hobby makes a bad partner to take on a day’s shoot. We had a really good day; visiting St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge, returning through one of the docks and back to Greenwich. Remember that I was still using my Canon 40D, kit lens and my 8mm Sigma Fisheye? However, I wanted to get some of those unusually angled shots. Why is it that people always go over the top of the Millennium Bridge to take pictures? What about underneath it? I also like using HDR I really can’t understand why no-one thinks about setting the camera motor drive on high speed, and using the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracket), then running hand held. The only thing I have done to these shots before adding them to the web site, is reprocess them using SNS-HDR Pro. They are all mostly three shot handheld. Take a look.