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A Start: My Start.

I am an amateur photographer. When writing this, I am 46 years old and I still love taking pictures.

At 14 years old, my parents bought me a Zenith TTL with a 50mm lens and a 135mm telephoto all packaged in an aluminium case. It vibrated so much when the shutter fired that any weakness in the optics (or composition) were completely irrelevant. But for me, in many ways it was like a starting pistol.

My starting pistol. Zenit TTL 

My starting pistol. Zenit TTL 

I couldn't afford many films and processing.  I had to limit the pictures I wanted to make, and I was frustrated with the difference between the shots I took and what I'd imagined. I wanted (and needed) to learn much. i remember two things really clearly.  the first was being frustrated with my pictures, the second was undiluted admiration for the pro's who produced wonderful images and even got paid, could afford as much film as they wanted and even 'assistants' for heavens sake!

In school, my art teacher helped me to clear the junk out of the school darkroom, and showed me how to set it up.  I developed countless 35mm films: loading onto that jaded yellowing spiral in the dark became a second nature. I printed my pictures on an ancient enlarger that smoked a bit when it got hot. I learned... not to touch the enlarger and a bit of patience.  

I was hooked. The smells, the light, the dark, frustration and occasionally elation: endless possibilities. God what a magnificent way to spend time.

'work experience' time came: week with Albert Towlson. Mr Towlson was local professional photographer in the small town where I grew up.   He made a living print making, taking passport pictures 'while you wait' and photographing weddings. Taking pictures of houses for estate agents filled the rest of the week.  He worked with two Ashai Pentax K1000's one with Colour Slide Film the other with Ilford HP5. He was like a tired sherrif in a sleezy two bit town: shooting for all he was worth in a losing battle.

It was a seminal week. A week of taking pictures of deeply uninspiring houses for estate agents. Of printing prints,  sending vaguely important stuff in large envelopes to the Nottingham Evening Post, grim church halls and even grimmer weddings.  It made my mind up.  I refer the reader to the first sentence. 

john Warman is an excellent photographer.  He and his family took me to some lovely places and inspired me to look at the world differently.  He had a little Minnox and used slide file,  When John looked at things he saw details and opportunity.  A wizard in his darkroom, he was able to produce wonderful stories with his pictures,  and he shared his pictures: he was my first inspiration.

Minnox GT - John Warman

Minnox GT - John Warman

It's Thanks to Mr Fletcher (Art Teacher), to Albert sadly dead before I could thank him as an adult, to Mum and Dad,  and to John Warman  for that early support and encouragement:  Photography is not a profession for me and possibly because of that, photography has remained a passion.

So.  I've been around photography all of my adult life.  I've spent more money than I should have. I've spent time that should have been focussed on work, and I've enjoyed every minute.  All of the preceding ramble leads me to say that we are living in the most democratic time ever to be 'chasing the light'.  This blog is all about positive feelings , ideas and kit, software, hardware,  emotion as well as hi-fi imaging.  When I review something here, I hope I retain the joy I knew in that darkroom in school, and the enthusiasm of my early mentors. I wan this site to be inspiring and fun.  There is so much negative if you'll excuse the pun:  This site is about fun and sharing and part of my  journey. I hope it will be part of yours,

Chris Bampton1 Comment