Who am I?
I am a retired computer engineer with an interest in the arts.
Originally I studied for a BSc degree in Mathematics at Imperial College. Then through the Open University I studied for an arts degree. This BA degree included courses in music, theatre and the history of art. Later I used the OU again to study for an MSc Degree in Computing. Finally, I joined the academic staff of the OU as an Associate Lecturer to teach the Technology of Music and, for a while, Photography. Outside the academic sphere I was both a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Information Technology Professional.
I entered the computer industry before the PC had been invented - I am, therefore, a dinosaur. Much of my early career was concerned with Data Communications both in the UK and in New York. However, I eventually became more interested in the people using the computers. One thing led to another and at the end of my professional career I took the lead on all human related aspects of the design of a new class of warship for the Royal Navy: the Type 45 Destroyer.
For Equipment Freaks
My first photos were taken in the Lake District on a "Purma Special". This strange British camera from the 1940s and 1950s was, so far as I am aware, the only camera ever made with a gravity driven shutter. Hold the camera one way up, you get one shutter speed. Hold it the other way up and you get another shutter speed. Eventually I moved to more snapshots, and even colour. At this time I used a "Petri 7s" rangefinder: an excellent camera with a very positive double image rangefinder. Eventually it came to the end of its days when someone dropped it.
By this time it was becoming apparent that there was, perhaps, more to photographs than was apparent in my snaps. I decided to take action. I joined Reading Camera Club and bought an SLR. I chose the "Canon FTb" (old version!) on the grounds that my Father had a "Canon FT" and I could borrow his lenses. I soon had more lenses than he did.
I eventually accumulated a "Canon F1n", another Ftb, several lenses and an amazing variety of random bits of plastic and metal, none of which really paid for themselves.
Some Camera Clubs have the reputation that equipment is more important than photographs. Reading Camera Club was not like that. That is not to say that there was not a lot of equipment around. Far from it! The close-up specialists had bags of bellows, extension tubes and ringflashes of all sizes. The emphasis, however, was on pictures. It was about this time that I became acquainted with that sub-species of the great ape called the "Camera Club Judge". The more I began to be aware of pictures, the more it became apparent to me that Judges live in a world apart. A world into which the real world cannot enter. We live in an image laden world where picture call out to us from newspapers, colour supplements, roadside hoardings and television. Judges seem not to see these images. They have a convention of judging which appears to bear little relationship to anyone else in the world who makes images!
Ok, now I have that off my chest.
Photography and Art
As time passed, not only did I accumulate bits and pieces of equipment to fill all the boxes and drawers I could find, but I became more and more interested in images in general. I began to see the camera as another form of paintbrush. Photographs are not special. They are just the form of image which you get using a particular tool. The corollary of this is that while there are aspects of technique which are unique to photography (a brush does not have a shutter speed), the basic principles of composition remain the same whatever the medium. So, if you want to understand lighting, you could do worse than to study Rembrandt; for portraits, try Gainsborough.
Eventually I started studying some aspects of Art History with the Open University. A study that confirmed my belief that while photography may have some unique aspects, such as the way we believe a photograph to be true, it is not completely separate. It is part of a larger landscape.
My own photography turned more and more to abstract images either captured from nature, or contrived on the table top.
Today, the "Canon F1n" is in a cupboard. I couldn't bear to get rid of it - had so much fun using it. I kept a couple of lenses, but practically everything else I gave to the Disabled Photographers' Society.
The great change in recent years has been the development of digital techniques. For a several years I scanned negatives and transparencies and used various versions of Photoshop to work on them. I told myself that I would finally go digital when the price came down and the resolution went up. I set set my entry level at £1000 for 10 megapixels. Well, my bluff was called and I bacame the proud owner of a Canon 40D with a 17-85mm zoom.
As time went on, the weight of the equipment bacame to much. So, taking advantage of the improvements in sensors, I downsized to an Olympus Micro Four-Thirds system. I have an Olympus body and a few of zooms covering the 35mm equivalent of 24mm to 300mm.
Having been a resident of Cyberworld for many years, I finally decided that I should have a web site. Everyone else has one and I didn't want to be left out. Then, of course, I am interested in Photography and rather liked the idea of sharing some images.
For a little quiet amusement, I have added some extracts from a Photographic Newsletter from several years ago when I was a member of Reading Camera Club.
A note to the geeks out there. Graphics for this site were produced using Photoshop. The HTML was hand coded using. That was a pain until I discovered Cascading Style Sheets.