Friday, 14 January 2011

Why do I want to do the OCA degree.... ?

Reading through the course notes I read that an important part of the early process is to start your learning log with some thoughts and ideas of what you want to achieve from the course.

I suppose I has better start from the beginning... my first photograph I remember taking was on Southport beach some time around 1969. I was to take a family shot using the Box Brownie that used to be loaded under a towel in a shady spot. It was quite exciting for me, as it was a roll of COLOUR film we had loaded. For some reason I found the image of the family preparing to pose more satisfying to capture than the posed shot. Of course I was told off for "wasting a photograph" when it came back from the developing lab via an envelope dropped off at the local chemists, but that shot is burned in my mind... even the sun bleached red of our old Austin A40 showed up as vibrant and glowing...

Fast forward a few years and into the era of the Kodak Instamatic. I was allowed to take more family shots as I "had an eye" but was still yearning to not wait for the posed shot and wanting to enjoy the luxury of taking, what I was then calling with my early teen conceit, "real life shots". Then the epiphany thing happened, it was via a Zenit belonging to one of the friends of my scout leaders brother. He was an art student and was quite happy to take a bunch of 14 year-olds one Saturday afternoon to teach them how an SLR worked and how to develop film, then print a photograph. The motivation for most was that they would end up with the inevitable sew-on badge that some scouts collected obsessively, but I was quite choosy about them, only doing the ones that I found useful or interesting. I was really interested in this one; it involved a proper camera!

I held it and my eye went to the viewfinder and I was hooked. It was incredible, the world looked so different through a wide angle and even better through a telephoto lens. We each took three shots, using three prime lenses (28,50 and 200mm)and shared the development tasks and then blurrily printed them, wow! The badge was not even a consideration now. I had to do more of this. Being an inherently clumsy adolescent and having poor hand to eye co-ordination, but with an urge to "express" myself in some artistic way, I had finally realised it was to be photography.

Over the next 10 years or so I suffered the frustration of not being on the art stream, so had no access to the schools cameras and not coming from a wealthy family I had to satisfy my need to take pictures via a succession of "hand me down" Instamatics of varying pedigree to produce what are now very dog eared envelopes of fading but still nostalgically wonderful "Kodak moments".

I did get access to an SLR occasionally and with that a chance to experiment with different films, but that was limited as I was still trapped in the expense of using the labs.

Until in my early Twenties I was presented with a potentially dodgy deal. A friends brother had finished Art School and wanted shut of his old camera, it was mine for twenty quid. I bought it sight unseen one afternoon in a pub and with trepidation I went home and opened the plastic carrier bag it arrived in ... there it was in all it's chrome and wonderful black textured sticky back plastic glory ...a Canon AV1 and the f/1.4 50mm lens! Also a note from the brother asking me if I wanted to have a look at the other lenses he had, as he wanted rid of them as well! Result!

To be continued...

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