I live in the Heart of England, and most of my photographs are taken in the West Midlands area. I bought my first SLR camera, a Pentax ME-Super, in 1982; after a few years I traded up to a Minolta, and used that until my first engagement with the digital photography revolution in 2006. Back in my Pentax days I had mainly worked in what would now be called Aperture Priority mode, but with a pretty good understanding of the exposure triangle – but over the years I’d become lazy and had relaxed into auto shooting, to the point at which I could barely remember the difference between an f-stop and an ISO number.
In 2014 I decided it was time to sort myself out, and I took Nick Kelsh’s on line course Going Manual to re-learn the basics of manual shooting. At the same time I challenged myself to do a 365 – taking at least one photo on manual settings every day for a year. I decided to post the 365 on line, and chose to sign up to the Blipfoto site, where I soon engaged with a community of enthusiastic photographers and bloggers. My own daily post, which had initially been just a photo with perhaps a line of explanation, rapidly evolved into a blogging habit – and by the time the 365 ended in May 2015 I was hooked. The blog posts on this site are essentially a mirror of my Blipfoto journal, though sometimes edited to make them more general.
My principal interests are landscape and flower photography and macro work; though I’m now expanding into street and wildlife and working at improving my skills in those areas. I’m a pretty poor portrait photographer, so this is a definite “development area” for the future. It was a big thrill for me, and an encouragement to keep trying to improve my macro images, when Nick Kelsh placed this shot of a hoverfly feeding on honeysuckle in his Top 50 Fan Photos of 2015.
In April 2016, as a “homework” task for Emma Davies’ year-long workshop A Year With My Camera, I entered four images into the International Garden Photographer of the Year Mono Project 10, and was delighted that this photo of the Orangery at Hanbury Hall was shortlisted and commended.
And in the summer of 2016 this image of Oedemera nobilis, the Thick-legged Flower Beetle, was shortlisted by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, and will appear as a runner-up photo in their 2017 calendar.
I’m currently using a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 7D Mark II. The 5D is great in terms of its focusing system and its low-light performance, and though it’s large and heavy to carry about for long periods it’s the camera I generally walk around with. It works well with the Canon 50mm and 85mm primes, but it’s most often coupled with a Canon L 24-70 f4, which is a fabulous walkabout lens, as well as being good for landscape and architecture. The 7DII is a recent upgrade from the 70D I’d used for the previous couple of years, and I’m hugely impressed with it for wildlife work – the focusing system is even better than the 5DIII’s and it also handles low light reasonably well (which is essential in the English Midlands). I use it with a Tamron 70-300; and for even better results with the Canon L 400mm f5.6 – an excellent lens and an great workout tool for the biceps. I’m currently working a lot with the Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 macro, which is also a terrific lens: I’ve used it to good effect for street shots, landscapes and even some portraits as well as macros, and have caught some nice images of birds with it – and it plays nicely on both camera bodies. I shoot raw, and mostly process my images in Lightroom, though I also use Photoshop and the Nik and Topaz Labs’ suites of plug-ins, plus on occasion McPhun Tonality for mono conversions.
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