I've always had a fascination with pictures - both still and motion. Even from an early age I loved films that made bold impressions on the eye. My favourite films as a 6 year old were westerns, not for the cowboys, indians and guns but for the settings such as Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and The Rockies. I even liked the old black and white films - but didn't understand why. Colour TV had just come in and it had to be better than that old black and white stuff didn't it ?
Nobody in the family took many pictures as I was growing up. There was a plastic monstrosity - which took a 126 cassette - that appeared from nowhere at Christmas and Summer Holidays and just as quickly hid itself again before I could get my hands on it. There was also a mouldering Kodak Box Brownie in a cupboard with its faux leatherette quietly peeling away that I wasn't allowed to touch either. I itched to use it.
As soon as I got my first salary cheque I bought a camera in 1978. It was an early 60s Olympus Pen EE half frame camera. I bought it second hand off a favourite uncle and thought it was the absolute Dogs Wotsits because it could take 72+ frames from a standard 36 exposure roll. It took mostly general landscapes and pictures of friends in various states of inebriation.
Three or so years later I was earning better and the Olympus was moved along [Oh how I wish I'd kept it - but I think I sold it to someone for the same price I bought it but for the life of me I can’t remember who] in favour of a Pentax ME Super and a couple of Vivitar lenses of the 28-70 and 70-210 flavour. This was in Germany and I took some memorable pictures with that camera but I still wasn't taking pictures seriously i.e. landscapes and ummmm 'friends'.
Next was a Canon EOS10 [1991-ish] which is where I started to think creatively and I joined my first Photographic Society - Andover Split Image in Hampshire. I dabbled in slides but much preferred handling and looking at prints. Monochrome crept into the forefront of my thoughts but, not having a darkroom, couldn't really do anything about it. I still have the EOS10 and regularly make a firm resolve to have it serviced and fill it full of Ilford film. Ho Hum, maybe next month.
This was followed by some fallow years where I had nothing but compact film cameras until I was given a Canon S40 digital compact camera in 2002 which took lovely clean 4MP images. As a compact it did little to inspire me but it did sow the seed for a returning interest. I was a little busy building a 2nd career, after leaving my first behind me, to have any real time to immerse myself in photography again, but I did feel the same way about it as I did about the Box Brownie. The itch had started again.
Then came the breakthrough of the Canon 300D which broke the price/performance barrier in around 2003 and allowed my computer skills to make up for my lack of a darkroom. As you can see from the galleries, land and seascapes form the main body of my work but I consciously try and be as diverse as possible [with the exception of studio portraits]. A Canon 30D followed in 2006 followed by a Ricoh GRD2 which caters for one of my more recent interests, Street Photography. A second hand 5D was added to the stable in 2009 when everyone was selling them to fund a shiny 5D Mk2, making the step up to owning a full frame digital camera relatively painless.
At Christmas 2010 my wonderfully understanding wife added a Panasonic GF-1 to my [growing] collection of digital cameras. This is sufficiently small enough to carry with me wherever I go and yet still capture images far superior to those of a compact camera.
Throughout this long [and not very interesting] tale you might have noticed that the satisfaction of capturing an outstanding monochrome image is my greatest photographic pleasure since a powerful black and white image is as gripping as any colour image can be.
Capturing such images requires patience and an investment in time that can sometimes be difficult to afford. Placing them on a website for the pleasure of others seems to make it all the more worthwhile.