This is a difficult task. I’ve set myself the challenge of choosing 10 images from my collection, which mark out personal milestones in my career as a hobbyist photographer. Many which I would like to have included didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. The shortlist started with 27 images. Let’s begin…
This image was taken on a Canon EOS 300D. Though Irrelevant to image making, this is a milestone as the camera was my first ‘proper’ DSLR. I was relatively late to the ‘digital’ party. Early digital cameras couldn’t compete with film, especially the larger formats so I stuck with film longer than most. A colour image, converted here into mono to give the scene the impact it deserved. One of a few images from that trip that had something extra, but this one stood out.
This one is here to prove a point. The point being that a compact camera (I used Canon Powershot G9 and still have it) can be used to make landscape images. Given the composition and the light, any camera that you happen to have will make an image, and if it has manual controls, so much the better. It doesn’t have to be full frame and doesn’t have to have the best lens in the world, especially if you only ever share your work online.
This image is one of my favourites. It was one of the first where I had begun to realise that you needed to go out and look for the light to make images that had that ‘artisan’ feel to them. A lot of my work is opportunistic and not always done in the golden hour, and I’m fine with that. This one was composed and taken intentionally in post sunset conditions. The result was exactly what I had envisaged.
Most photographers want to add that waterfall shot to their portfolio. This is that image in my collection and was was done using the usual techniques – a slow shutter speed aided by a neutral density filter. The light on this particular day though gave this scene another dimension, with strong sunlight breaking through the trees in the background to give an etherial feel.
On any given day, a picture of boats here is nothing special, but this shot manages to look like an oil painting. A beautiful sunset and still waters deliver the goods. It is very soothing image to look at. It’s far better as a print but you’ll just have to take my word for that. I never considered myself particularly adept at colour photography, especially when I was shooting film. This was one of the images that made me rethink that.
North Wales is my ‘Lake District’. I just prefer it and enjoy making images here. That’s probably because it is the closest mountain park to my home. This image doesn’t have mountains, but there certainly are a lot of them immediately behind this viewpoint. My first go at a long exposure coastal scene. In fact, my only attempt. I really need to do something about that.
The canals in Birmingham are extremely interesting and can be very photogenic. How can one not want to photograph a scene like this. It marks a change as things had got to a point where my large DSLR camera was proving unwieldy, with any other option being preferable as a walk around camera. I’d recently bought a Canon EOS M3 (talked about elsewhere on my blog here) and this was one of its first outings. It was a revelation to have something as capable in the image quality department as my 7D mk2, that weighed virtually nothing. It was used sucessfully on a few hiking trips too – the full system weighed little more than the 7D body alone. I’d have ditched the 7D in favour of a compact normally, or even just my phone. The M3 gave me options.
Another ‘told you so’ shot, with the EOS M3, and one of my first successful night sky shots. The M3 is generally considered to be a pile of junk, mainly by people who take ratings from sites like DXOmark as the be all and end all. The M3 apparently doesn’t have great low light performance making it a poor choice for doing astro work. It seemed to do just fine when I used it to make the image above.
I was fond of the M3. It was a little slow on the autofocus side though. I don’t have it now. I traded the 7D mk2 and the M3 and went Fuji.
This image is important to me because it represents my rediscovery of film photography after a break of several years, and therefore a rediscovery of the fundamentals of photography as a discipline. Finally, once again, the image is a physical object and has to be carefully crafted using time-honoured techniques. I shoot some film these days. Not a huge amount, but I love it. It’s important to keep a connection with the roots of this medium. The image above was done using a Mamiya RZ67 Pro ii and Kodak Ektar 100 film, and it took quite a lot of effort to hike with it to that location!
The final image and the most recent in this collection is another photograph taken on film, but something quite alien to me, and another landmark. I learned the craft with 35mm and Medium Format film cameras, before moving to digital as a late adopter, but never got the chance to try large format. This is that moment, and a beginning of a totally new adventure. The chance to experience the process of making images in the way two of my favourite photographers, Ansel Adams and O Winston Link did. Of course, I develop the film myself. You just have to to get the total experience, and again, this keeps that history alive and relevant.
Here are the images that didn’t make the top 10. Some are film, some digital, not that the format used is really that important.