What's this all about

I’m Mark, a hobby photographer.

I started to learn photography around five years ago and I’m still pretty casual about it. I take pictures of whatever interests me. That could be friends and family, street scenes, or just everyday events in my life.

More recently, as my skills have improved, I've started taking photos for my business as a technical writer. The photos are mostly of products and people using products. I have, however also taken some other types of photos, such as photos of a knee surgery performed by a robot on a cadaver. Oh, and I've photographed a couple of weddings for friends. It wasn't paid work, it was just something fun for me and luckily they turned out well.

Even though I love the outdoors, wide-angle landscapes are my least favourite type of photograph. I also generally dislike photos that have been manipulated so heavily in Photoshop that they have become more digital art than photography.

About this web site

I started this web site mainly to share my photos with family and friends, to give me an extra incentive to improve my photography, and for a creative outlet. Also, using my own web site avoids the potential problem of social networking sites laying claim to my photos.

My photography journey so far

I got my first camera when I was sixteen. It was an Olympus Trip 35mm bought with money earned at a Saturday job in the photography department of a large Boots store . I took everyday teenage photos and developed a few black and white rolls in the high school darkroom. My camera was stolen from a youth hostel in Snowdonia, Wales, while on a cycle touring trip, and it was years before I had another one. I eventually bought a Minolta manual SLR and used that occasionally for several years. I was never that happy with the results of my photos and found it hard to learn because film was expensive and it took time before the photos came back.

In 2004 I splashed out and bought a Canon 20D with an 50mm lens and an L series zoom lens, and started to enjoy taking photos. With immediate feedback and free photos from the digital platform, I found it easier to learn. Before long, however, my camera and lenses were stolen when my house was broken into. I decided not to replace them because I had started to feel that I was spending more time looking through a lens than enjoying the moment, plus it was too heavy for hiking, which was my main hobby. So, I bought a point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix that would fit in my pocket, and used it quite a bit for casual photos. I still had my Minolta SLR, but who used film?

Last year, I realized that I was missing opportunities to take quality pictures of my friends and family that I could keep around and enjoy forever. I’ve very much enjoyed looking at my family’s vintage photos and wanted to make sure that my family will have something to look back at. I’d also just got engaged in Paris to the beautiful Kaori, and I needed to capture these wonderful times. Digital SLR cameras had come of age, so in April, I bought a Canon Rebel body (600D in the UK) with the 50mm f1.4 lens and the L-series 135mm f2 length lens. The picture above is from my first set with this camera, taken while we were visiting San Francisco City Hall in preparation for our wedding. I couldn’t have been happier, with both my fiance and my camera! I think this was the day that I realized that I could take good photos and I became hooked.

By July decided to upgrade to a Canon 5D mark II to get the full-frame sensor. I would have loved the mark III, but the II older technology was cheaper. I also bought Adobe Lightroom and learned the basics of photo editing to enhance the RAW images. I took my first photo at our local sushi restaurant and was amazed at the added depth and color quality of the images.

In February 2014 I bought a never-been-used 40-year old twin lens reflex Yashica camera, which takes 6cm x 6cm film pictures. These were the standard camera used in the 70s for journalism and weddings, and they still take higher resolution photos than the best current digital cameras. A decent one can be had for only $200. The picture of Cerys below came off my first roll of film.

During our trip to Tokyo in March, I went to the Shinjuku district, one of the best places in the world to buy used cameras. I came out of Lemon Camera with a good condition 20-year old M6 Leica 35mm film camera with a Summicron 50mm lens. This version of the Leica is considered to be the best manual Leica ever made and the lens is considered to be the most optically perfect 50mm lens ever made. The photo below is from the first roll with this camera using Fujichrome 400. For many reasons, the Leica is a special camera – a favourite of war photographers and street photographers, but that’s another story.

I’m looking forward to learning more about these cameras and posting my pics.

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