Photography


Photographer recursive, taken by my wife on our honeymoon.

Both my Grandads were keen photographers with my Dad’s Father also being an artist who would often take photos for the purpose of capturing a subject for painting. I grew up seeing cameras with my Dad and Grandad bringing their cameras out for special occasions and to capture family moments.

In fifth year at school I took the oportunity to do a black & white photography course at Stow College. We were given instruction on using Olympus OM-10s and sent out to take photos. We learnt to develop and enlarge the photos we took.

I remember my first digital camera, a hand-me-down which took 640×480 resolution photos to a 2Mb SmartMedia card. I also remember taking loads of photos with my Sony Ericsson T610’s built-in camera. The quality of these cameras wasn’t great but that seldom mattered, they were capturing events and memories.

Skip ahead to Christmas 2004 when I asked for a new digital camera to take with me to Malta and I received a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P73. This camera served me well though Malta and beyond (see my Malta Photos).

When I really got into Scuba Diving I bought a camera from ebay. The camera had me perplexed for months, results were consistenly out of focus and the built-in flash would produce a lot of scatter. That was until I realised that the camera had a fixed focus and that all my attempts to improve my technique were in vain (well maybe not all in vain, the practice came in handy). With the visibility as it is in our local dive sites I couldn’t get enough water between the camera and the subject without resorting to buying (expensive) macro lenses for the camera. I clocked that one down to experience and went about doing some proper research on a decent underwater camera.

My research resulted in buying a Fujifilm F31fd with the Finepix Underwater Housing. The camera has a very high ISO rating, which should make it suitable for the low-light levels experienced underwater and received good reviews from fellow divers. I was not disappointed with the camera and still recommend it to divers who ask about starting in photography.

Fuji F31fd in underwater housing
Fuji F31fd in underwater housing

The camera and housing went with me to Scapa Flow in October 2008 where I used the camera to shoot video. I was pleased with the results and you can view the collated footage on allanderdivers.org.uk.

London illuminated
London illuminated, Fuji F31fd long exposure.

Skipping ahead to 2010 and a dive trip to Sipadan, Malaysia, I took the Fuji F31 with an INON 165 fisheye lens (borrowed from Iain) and an Epoque ES150 Alpha strobe (purpose-bought for the trip). I got some great photos with the fisheye that I wouldn’t have been able to capture in quite the same way otherwise but it took me a while to figure out the strobe. In hindsight I should have clocked up a few dives in Scotland with the strobe before taking it abroad. It was heart-breaking to give the lens back to Iain. Although it adds some weight above water and a required that I took a lot more care in and out of the water with the camera it did make a difference to the shots. Head on over to my Best of Sipadan photoset on flickr to see the results.

Fuji F31fd with INON 165 fisheye lens and Epoque ES150 strobe
Fuji F31fd with INON 165 fisheye lens and Epoque ES150 strobe

As a wedding present my wife and I purchased a Nikon D90 D-SLR, which we took with us on our honeymoon. I was easily shooting one hundred photos a day and out of the whole week I’m pleased with a handful, which is a good ratio for me.

With our D90 we bought two lenses, the Nikon AF-S 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 ED VR Lens and the Tamron 70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro Lens. The lenses give me the option of wide shots at 18mm or telephoto at 300mm with the additional benefit of macro in the 180-300mm on the Tamron, offering a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.

I’ve since added a 50mm, 24mm and a Lensbaby to the collection.

I’ve still got a lot to learn with this photography lark and for now I’m just messing around but perhaps I’ll take a course or join a club and take the hobby more seriously.

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