zero-to-hero-tom-lee Tom Lee : Journey to photography

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Tom Lee

 17th Apr 2017

Zero to Hero: Tom Lee East Sussex England

I've been interested in photography for as long as I can remember, but for a lot of the time I was really interested in the photographs and memories they create, rather than the technical process.

My father was a keen transparency man and used to shoot with a Yashica camera and Kodakchrome slides. We used to get rather frustrated (or at least my mother did) with him taking light readings from a manual light meter and "fussing around" before he took a shot, A child of the 1950's, I first got interested in photography when Dad bought me an Ilford Sportsman (Mike may remember them) camera and a roll of 24 shot slide film. I really liked the rangefinder properties as it made focusing so much easier for me as you just had to get the two halves of the image to align and hey presto you were in focus. No auto focusing then. Dad taught me how to use a light meter and about shutter speed reciprocity (i.e. your shutter speed should be at least the same as your lens focal length) and this was easy as the camera had a fixed 35mm lens. I still have some of those early slides but most are blurry or overexposed as I learnt basic photography. The trouble was in those days you had to send the film off to be developed into slides, wait for them to come back from Kodak a week or two later and this was before you learnt what you had done wrong. I did get one nice image from that first roll though and that is attached. It shows an evening scene of the Stroudwater Navigation canal at Ebley in Gloucestershire on a visit to my Grandmother. (The trip was by steam train and we had to ask the conductor to make sure the engine stopped at Ebley Crossing Halt; a request stop!).

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I didn't really pursue my interest as the slides were a bit too expensive to process with my pocket money and paper round money; I preferred to spend it on following my local football league team. I did however usually have a Kodak Instamatic 110 camera somewhere about but the pictures from that were pretty awful as the lens was so poor.

After getting married at the tender age of 21 in 1976 (we're still together) I always had an instamatic type camera to record the kids growing up but I don't call that photography. My first foray into the world of digital photography (something I said I'd never do as the quality wasn't good enough) was with an Olympus Camedia C3100Z which gave me some manual controls but was still really a point and shoot. This triggered me to start shooting more as there were no processing costs and you could see your mistakes instantly and re shoot if necessary. I still shot sparingly as film photography taught me to consider each shot, rather than the spray and pray approach sometimes tempted by digital. Various other point and shoots followed as technology progressed and eventually I took the plunge with an Olympus E410 twin lens kit DSLR. 

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I gradually re learned my old photography techniques and took some pleasing pictures. Suddenly I found with digital that I was seeing pictures everywhere (Thinking like a photographer Mike?) and began to take my camera pretty much every time we went out. My wife then turned into my mother in the way that she got a bit frustrated with my "fussing about" rather than just taking a picture, I found that I would use a point and shoot for the kids then take the DSLR out on my own when I wanted to "take pictures" for the sake of it.

Various DSLRs later and after suffering from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) I now use a Nikon D810 for my trips out and a Panasonic LX100 for my point and shoot. My preferred lens is a Tamron 150-600mm.

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I am now retired and am lucky enough to have some great locations near me. The Ashdown Forest (Winnie the Pooh country) is ten minutes from my door and there is a fabulous nature reserve there which I visit regularly, sometimes twice a week. The South Coast at Seaford Head is only 45 minutes away and I regularly go to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve too. Gradually I have found that my photography is split between landscape and nature photography, I have also learned the importance of how light is crucial to the ambience of a photograph. I have dabbled in portraits (which I rather like) and have done some shoots for the schools to which my grandkids go. This latter exercise resulted in the school blowing up my photos to poster size and they are now all round the walls of the infant and junior schools; great for the ego! I also enjoy photographing meteor showers (sometimes staying up all night) but I've learned that I don't enjoy street photography.

Tom-Lee-4

I am now retired and am lucky enough to have some great locations near me. The Ashdown Forest (Winnie the Pooh country) is ten minutes from my door and there is a fabulous nature reserve there which I visit regularly, sometimes twice a week. The South Coast at Seaford Head is only 45 minutes away and I regularly go to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve too. Gradually I have found that my photography is split between landscape and nature photography, I have also learned the importance of how light is crucial to the ambience of a photograph. I have dabbled in portraits (which I rather like) and have done some shoots for the schools to which my grandkids go. This latter exercise resulted in the school blowing up my photos to poster size and they are now all round the walls of the infant and junior schools; great for the ego! I also enjoy photographing meteor showers (sometimes staying up all night) but I've learned that I don't enjoy street photography.

Tom-Lee-5

I am now retired and am lucky enough to have some great locations near me. The Ashdown Forest (Winnie the Pooh country) is ten minutes from my door and there is a fabulous nature reserve there which I visit regularly, sometimes twice a week. The South Coast at Seaford Head is only 45 minutes away and I regularly go to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve too. Gradually I have found that my photography is split between landscape and nature photography, I have also learned the importance of how light is crucial to the ambience of a photograph. I have dabbled in portraits (which I rather like) and have done some shoots for the schools to which my grandkids go. This latter exercise resulted in the school blowing up my photos to poster size and they are now all round the walls of the infant and junior schools; great for the ego! I also enjoy photographing meteor showers (sometimes staying up all night) but I've learned that I don't enjoy street photography.

Tom