My interest in photography started in my teens when, armed with a basic Praktica Super TL camera and Paterson 35 enlarger, I would periodically take over my parent’s kitchen all night to develop and print my black & white photos. The lingering smell of the processing chemicals the next day always annoyed my mother as she browsed through yet another batch of damp photos – mostly of our sleeping cat!
An awful lot has happened, both personally and photographically, in the several decades since then. After gaining a degree in chemistry and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry, my photography became a low priority while I focused on my career as a Director of research into new medicines. Following the birth of my son, I tried to get some half-decent photos at a succession of holiday resorts and theme parks across the world but, despite the thousands of photos taken in diverse locations, all my images from that period tended to be treasured family memories rather than anything really creative.
The real game-changer for me was being persuaded, in 2013, to join my local Camera Club. The more experienced members of the club were incredibly generous with their time in giving me advice and sharing their knowledge and expertise. Crucially, I had to sit in a quiet, dark room while my work was ruthlessly dissected and criticised by a visiting judge. This really taught me a lot and has made me much more critical of my work and my approach to taking, editing and presenting photos.
After a few years of brutal, but fair, comments on my photos by club judges, I gained the Credit of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain distinction (CPAGB) in 2015, the Distinction (DPAGB) in 2019 and have had 11 of my images selected in the national Landscape Photographer of the Year competition over 6 years. One image was a category runner-up and several were subsequently published in photographic magazines, national newspapers and exhibited around the UK.
I now have a Canon R6, a selection of lenses and several years experience of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I like to take a wide range of subjects but get greatest pleasure from taking landscapes and macro photographs. I particularly like bleak winter landscapes where you can see the full form and beauty of the trees and nature’s very soul and structure laid bare. I try hard to produce images in the ‘fine art’ genre by recognising the underlying abstract elements of a scene and by simplifying or eliminating extraneous components so that only the essential soul of the image is left.
I’m nowhere near as successful at this as I would like and usually need to take well over 500 photos to get one worthy of taking forward to a club competition. Additionally, the quality of work coming from camera clubs has improved significantly over the years and most of the better known, iconic landscape scenes and genres have already been interpreted very well by many excellent photographers.
This makes it even harder to have an original take on your work but, I guess, it wouldn’t be much fun if it was easy as taking photos of a sleeping cat!