First CameraWelcome to Clustered Photons, set up to showcase a selection of my favourite personal photographs.

I can remember having my first camera when I was around 6 or 7 years old. It would have been something pretty cheap and simple, that’s for sure, and I probably only ever shot one or perhaps two rolls of film on it, because I can’t imagine that my parents would have paid for more than that at the time. None of the photos have survived to the present day, but I recall wearing it around my neck practically all the way through a family holiday at Butlins in Bognor Regis. Some of the images from that holiday remain in my memory, even though the photos themselves are long lost. My great shame at the time was realising after taking a family photo that I’d left the lens cap on, though no-one else appeared to have noticed and probably no-one else really cared or remembered by the time the pictures were developed.

Around the time that I was fifteen I had another camera. The details are long forgotten, but no doubt it would have been another cheap and cheerful plastic product, as was common in the mid-seventies. I still have some of the photos from that camera, mostly family shots, though again relatively few have survived.

My next camera, and the first one that hinted at a genuine interest in photography beyond simply taking the odd photo, was a Praktica MTL3 that I bought around 1982. This was a budget camera, but it was a manual mode SLR and it meant for the first time that I had to think about such things as aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. To begin with I took photos of practically anything that moved, and many things that didn’t. Because I was in the RAF I took a lot of aircraft photos simply because I could. A colleague of mine in the RAF was able to develop enlargements from negatives, so I selected some of my favourites and had them enlarged.

Praktika MTL3I started with rolls of 35mm negative film, but after a while, and probably from reading photography magazines, I moved to using slides. I thought this was particularly great because I also bought a projector to show them on. What could be better than seeing your favourite photos taking up a whole wall. I tried Kodachrome and Ektachrome, though Kodachrome mostly, and used to wait patiently for the slides to come through the post in order to see whether any of them were actually any good. Some were, some weren’t, of course, but it was a real thrill if something turned out particularly well, such a great sunset shot.

I took the MTL3 down to the Falkland Islands with me (about a year after the war) and took a whole load of aircraft shots, often perched close to the runway as aircraft were coming in to land, and also photos around the area of the capital, Stanley. I recall having two lenses, a standard 50mm lens and an 80-200mm telephoto. I loved that telephoto lens; it seemed at times to make the impossible possible. Quality was pretty good, too, despite the budget camera, lens and tripod, and the MTL3 was a perfect camera for learning the basics.

It was only a matter of time before I took another step up and around the beginning of 1984 I bought myself a Canon A-1, a very capable piece of camera. I paid what seemed like a lot of money for it at the time, but it came with so many bells and whistles that I thought it was worth every penny. Soon after this I began to have access to a photo lab where I could enlarge my own photos, which was hugely satisfying. For me, the A-1 was as good as it could get.

Fast forward a few years and my time as a hobbyist photographer had pretty much ended. I had other priorities: family, work, Open University, and a camera once more became a device for capturing snapshots from holidays or family events. Other interests took up my time. Photography? I’d been there, done that, and had a bunch of favourite photos to show for it, some tucked away in albums and many more in slide form in a box in the loft.

Some years later I bought a compact digital camera, but this was still something for taking happy snaps, family photos and such like. Next, I had a mobile phone that had a better spec than the compact digital and used that for happy snaps. It wasn’t until about the beginning of 2013, when I bought myself another compact digital camera, a Canon PowerShot A2300, that I began to get creative again. The A2300, as simple as it is, comes with a zoom lens and a variety of creative modes (monochrome, vivid and so on). It’s easy to use and takes pretty good photos.

photoThe beauty of a digital camera, of course, is that it’s so easy to capture and store your photos and to edit and manipulate them, even if only to crop them. I found that I could get some quite decent shots from the A2300, zooming in close on various bugs in the garden, taking some nice shots on holiday in Cyprus and so on. Being completely automated, though, the limitations were keenly felt. So it is, then, that I recently returned to the more versatile SLR and bought myself a Canon EOS 1200D. This came as a kit with two lenses, an 18-55mm and a 75-300mm. I recognise that I’ve forgotten much of what I once knew, so now I’m rediscovering photography.

Most of the photos you’ll find on this blog will probably be from the 1200D, though you may still find some from the A2300 or earlier. They’ll likely span all kinds of subject matter, seemingly at random, but the two things they’ll all have in common are that [a] I took them and [b] I like them. They’re a selection of my personal favourites, clustered photons, captured by a hobbyist photographer.

If you enjoy them, if you have a personal favourite or two, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.