Every Picture Tells a Story

The world of digital photography is so easy and convenient. Point your camera and shoot. Upload to social media or your cloud storage and there it is. If your picture isn’t quite right you can lighten or darken it, straighten it, crop it, even delete it if you want and start again.

Things weren’t so easy in the film age. I used to be a pretty enthusiastic amateur photographer and I used to like taking pictures of, well anything really. I’ve tried my hand at portraits, still life and pretty much everything.

When I was a schoolboy my parents got me an Instamatic 126 camera for Christmas. Bit of a mistake on their part as they had to shell out for film and developing too, which must have been painful for them when they saw my first efforts at photography, and probably more so when the fruits of my ‘experimental’ pictures came back from the chemist.

In the 1980’s I had an Olympus OM10 then moved up to an OM2SP. The SP stood for spot programming where instead of accepting the average reading the camera’s light meter gave you, you could choose a particular spot in the image and take your light settings from that. Very useful in a picture with light and dark elements for instance.

I also used to have quite a few long lenses which I used at race circuits, particularly Oulton Park where I spent many a weekend watching and photographing racing cars. I must have looked really professional clicking on my wide-angle lens in the paddock and then switching to my 200mm long lens back on the circuit.

The big difference with photography today is that back then in the film era, you took your shot and then sent the film for developing and and printing and sometimes the results were good, but then sometimes they weren’t. To the developer though there was no difference between a bad shot and a brilliant one, they both cost the same!

Today you can shoot as many pictures as your memory card will hold, free of charge, no developing charges and as for printing, why bother? Just upload to your favourite social media page. If you take a bad picture you can edit it with imaging software. If the picture is too bad, delete it and shoot more. In fact the best way to take a great picture today is to take multiple exposures just like a professional, shoot a shed load of pictures and just delete the bad ones!

Four of my Favourite Pictures.

It’s hard to choose favourite pictures because I have so many of them, anyway, here are four chosen pretty much at random.

Bob the Dog.

I took this picture years ago with our old dog Bob with my Kodak Instamatic. We had such a lot of fun with that dog as children, me and my brother. He went everywhere with us. We took him on coach trips where he was always sick and my brother, my dad and I would deny ownership of him, all looking fixedly through the windows whilst my Mum apologised to everyone and cleaned up the mess.

Ayrton Senna Hockenheim 1988

Here’s a picture taken with my Olympus at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in 1988. Senna was one of the great drivers of the day. Today he is revered as a legend of the sport but I think it’s fair to say that back in the day he really wasn’t that popular. I remember him being soundly booed at Silverstone in 1989 or 1990 but his talent was unquestionable.

The Greek island of Kalymnos

This is one of my favourite pictures and I did have it blown up and framed once but I must have lost it during various house moves. It was taken on holiday on the Greek Island of Kalymnos. I remember flying to some other island and having to take a ferry over to Kalymnos. The ferry though had to wait 2 hours for a delayed flight from London (those bloody southerners) and when we reached the island it was dark. Our apartment was up the side of a steep hill, right at the top and the rep told me lights would come on by a sensor when we got to the steps. After jumping up and down wildly for 10 minutes the lights did come on and I asked the rep to wait till we got to the top and found the keys. He assured me the keys were there but then drove off. Just at that moment the lights went out and stranded us in a deep velvety blackness. More jumping about and waving and the lights came on so we climbed the steps and finally bumbled into our apartment. Inside I opened the door to the patio and in the darkness of the all-enveloping night, I could sense something over the way. It was not until we awoke in the morning that we were finally able to take in the magnificent view.

Blackpool, Lancashire

This last picture was taken in Blackpool during a drive through of the Blackpool Illuminations. It’s a lovely colourful snap which captures the atmosphere of the lights. I took the picture with my GoPro camera but I have a confession to make. I was trying making a video of the lights and when I set up the camera I didn’t have my reading glasses with me and couldn’t quite make out the tiny menu and accidentally set the camera up to take stills instead of video. The resulting pictures were actually a surprise!


Floating in Space is a novel set in Manchester 1977. Click the links at the top of the page to buy or for more information.

 

 

Adventures with a Camera

Instamatic

My old Kodak Instamatic

I have always been a photographer. My first camera was either a birthday or Christmas present and it was a Kodak Instamatic 126. I still have the camera somewhere. From my point of view that was a wonderful present; from my parents perspective, perhaps not, because back then in the late sixties cameras needed film and film had to be developed and printed which was fairly costly, especially if you had a child that liked taking pictures and also, whose first attempts were not so good. These days if you take some dud pictures with a digital camera- delete them! It’s no big deal. Back then it was expensive!

I remember getting a major verbal lashing from my Mum when we had gone to Boots to collect my photographs. I was using colour film and Mum had to shell out for my pictures of my action man in various poses in the back garden! (Action man? Hey, I was 12!)

Bob the Dog.

Bob the Dog.

Here’s one of my favourite pictures, it’s our old dog Bob. You can read more about Bob in this previous post but he was a lovely dog, part Manchester terrier and part something else. My brother and I, well the whole family really, had a lot of fun with him and one day I caught him sitting in the sun in the back garden, slipped a pair of sunglasses on him and there he is, saved for as long as that black and white snap will last.

imageZenith TTL

I was in my twenties before I got my next camera. I bought it from a work colleague who was upgrading and the camera came with a huge 200mm lens, some filters and other bits and pieces. As you can see by this next picture I became really hooked on photography and starting buying camera magazines and books and really learning how to use a camera. I enjoyed taking special effects shots such as double exposures and hand firing the flash in darkened rooms with the camera shutter open. Also I used to take a lot of still life shots such as this one of my camera kit and books.

Olympus OM10Olympus OM10

As I gained more confidence I naturally wanted to upgrade. The camera I chose was an Olympus OM10. As time went on I gradually accrued quite a collection of lenses and filters. In the 1980s I was really keen on motor sport and I spent a lot of Sunday afternoons at Oulton Park racing circuit in Cheshire. Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix is not so photographer friendly with high fences and the spectators kept back from the track in the interests of safety. Hockenheim, the venue for this weekends German Grand Prix was a circuit I visited in 1988 and I took some great pictures there.

Prost

Alain Prost, McLaren Honda 1988

I had a motorwind and a zoom lens and I took some great shots of cars out on the circuit as well as some with my wide-angle lens in the paddock. (Not the paddock at Hockenheim I might add, even in 1988 it was far too expensive for me but Oulton Park’s paddock used to be pretty easily accessible, and fairly cheap.) Later, I bought an Olympus OM2SP, a little more sophisticated than the OM10 but still pretty easy to use.

Nikon DSLRDigital

I started the digital era with a canon powershot camera and then a Fuji that I picked up second-hand. My first and so far only digital DSLR is a Nikon D100. It’s still a fairly old-fashioned camera; it has the old style flashcard. I bought it on e-bay and I’m really happy with it. I do so love the digital camera age. With digital you can shoot like a professional, bracket your shots and take those extra frames to make sure you have captured your shot perfectly. No need to hold back or worry about running out of film, no need to worry about developing and printing costs. Cover yourself by taking shot after shot and just delete the unwanted ones. Even if they are not quite right, once the image is on your laptop or pc you can re-size, brighten, sharpen, add or take away colour. I’m so glad I have kept all my older, slightly poorer shots because now I can scan them and sort them out with my ten-year old version of photoshop or even with free editing sites like picmonkey. You can even take some of your pictures and convert them to a gif at sites like http://gifmaker.me/

As a blogger, photographs brighten up my blog posts and pull the reader in. On Twitter and Facebook, posts with images pull in 94% more views than posts without a relevant image. That’s a pretty staggering statistic so get out your camera today, even if it’s just your smartphone camera, and get snapping!


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