Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Welcome to my Open College of the Arts "Art of Photography" Blog

As a kid I can always remember cameras in the hands of my parents and relatives, the legacy being boxes full of aging B&W and colour prints of my brother and I getting up to the usual kid stuff in the garden, on vacation, etc. As I grew older I was encouraged to start my own interest in photography, moving from small instamatics through to a rather basic but incredibly robust Russian SLR, with no exposure metering whatsoever. This was fun and I learned the basics of photography, with much encouragement from my Father and Grandfather, from whom lenses and film could be purloined at Birthdays or Christmas. Time passed, patience started to wain, other interests and academic pursuits took over. My kit gathered dust, and even though I had a shiny new SLR with built in metering it only got the occasional outing at special events. For most casual photography I was back to a more convenient automatic camera, with built in flash, just great for drunken shots in the pub, but not exactly art.

Then came along the digital revolution!

I am by nature drawn towards technology and gadgets, I work in the IT industry. The advent of the digital camera brought together my fascination in all things technology with a dormant interest in photography. My first digital camera was very basic supporting 640x480 pixels (0.3 megapixels!), but got me grounded in the essentials. After that I graduated through a variety of bridge cameras, with gradually increasing sophistication and control options.

The point at which I crossed the line from having a camera for casual use to starting to think of myself as being a photographer of sorts was learning to scuba dive. A couple of years after qualifying as an Advanced Open Water Diver, my wife and I invested in a simple Canon iXUS with a plastic housing. Despite the fact that this camera soon met with a watery grave 25m below the surface we were hooked and replaced it rapidly for the next scuba vacation. 5 years later I now spend 4 weeks a year diving, always with a camera, although this is now a modern Canon DSLR coupled with two external strobes. The picture below is me with my "baby" (as my wife calls it - she can talk her baby is an HD Video Camera with underwater housing and external lights).

Underwater photography combines the joy of diving among the ever changing colours of the coral reef with creating dramatic and often thought provoking images of the creatures that live there. The challenge for the developing underwater photographer is to step beyond the technology and desire to image every species know to science and move towards creating images that intrigue and challenge the viewer, i.e. Art. Recently I have tried to cross this divide with mixed results, unfortunately limited by the amount of time I can spend in the water (where I live the water is both cold and more or less opaque, so no opportunities there).

This led me to begin thinking in a more general sense about photography as art and how I can improve my own abilities, above rather than underwater. Subsequently I have enrolled in a photography course, run by the Open College of Arts, entitled "The Art of Photography". Together with several other courses this can lead to a BA in Photography, a road I plan to travel, but one step at a time.

This blog is part of my course and will evolve to contain my course work, together with an ongoing commentary on my reaction to images and photographers as I encounter them.

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