I retired from my work as a software developer after spending nearly 30 years in electronics and IT. I have always enjoyed messing with computers and began an interest in photography when I was at school. So upon retirement a hobby/semi pro photography pastime was an obvious choice for me. I began with a two year, part time City and Guilds college course and joined the excellent local Cheltenham Camera club. My involvement in photographic projects has until recently been steady with annual away trips carefully planned in advance. However recent health issues has slowed me down a bit but I hope to speed up again eventually.
Me - Tony Parsons
I live in Cheltenham in England which is at the heart of the Cotswold area. I try to make the best of the local features and visitor spots here. There are a good number of National Trust houses and gardens as well as Arboreta and Steam railways, nature parks and pretty villages to choose from. The photo of me was taken a while back now by Graham Mealand and shows me playing about on the Malvern hills with my sturdy old Mamiya 220 film wide format camera. I started taking pictures of all sorts when I joined the Cheltenham Camera Club. After a few years I had made some progress and having won the intermediate aggregate competition for prints two years on the trot I had a stab at gaining my CPAGB. I managed that OK. By now I had decided that my best work was probably in the church architecture field. My work was winning awards and I enjoyed doing it. I used my Tilt & Shift lens and applied HDR techniques to get the best results. Below are a few photographs and anecdotes about my early adventures in photography and developed my taste for particular genres.
One of my most successful images, a view from the bridge in Liverpool Cathedral. The image was built from 9 images made up of three sets of three. Each set was taken using the T&S 24mm Canon lens using the shift to take three images (centre, left and right shift) each of an upper , middle and lower slice of the vertical plane. Each of the 9 images were in turn HDR images made up of 5 shots each. So altogether 45 images were combined using HDR and Photoshop stitching techniques. On the right is an image of the Chancel in Cheltenham's All saints' church, another successful and popular image. As a general rule I tend to spend 2-3 days photographing a cathedral. The helpful people at Liverpool let me have access very early in the morning to ensure that few people were moving about in the building. There are a lot of similar images in my church galleries and I plan to continue to travel to other locations and attempt to get collections that I am content with.
This photograph was the first really successful landscape I had taken. I was on my way into the Wye valley one autumn morning just looking for a good shot. It was misty and cold and I rounded a corner to be presented with this view of Tintern village. The home of the ruins of Tintern abbey. The sun had started to cut through the mist and the cottage wood fires were sending glorious plumes of smoke. I saw the shot right away and ignoring the reaction of the few following cars I just parked and collected my gear and started work to capture the scene. The resulting did well in club competitions and PAGB and also very nearly won me a first prize in a Wye valley tourist board photographic competition. All a very good boost for self confidence and a great learning exercise on how to get up early and go out looking for shots.
When the opportunity arises I photograph wild birds and birds in flight. There are several centres supporting owls and raptors near me including the International Centre for Birds of Prey. ICBP. The WWT wetlands centre at Slimbridge is a 20 minute drive from here. I can't pretend that I find this anything other than difficult. Lots of practice needed and a fast focussing and sharp lens
I have a homemade macro system made using an old scanner and a raspberry pi computer. The subject is mounted on the travelling scanner platform and the camera is set solid on a tripod. The system works well, the software allows the subject to be viewed through a computer screen and the focus limits setup. The steps are then calculated based on the magnification and aperture settings for the MPE 65mm macro lens. Once this preparation is complete the sequence of photographs is taken by the system and stored on the computer ready for focus stacking. The main limitation of this activity is finding suitable subjects on good condition.
Black and white work is also something I enjoy doing and I am fortunate to have the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire railways near me as well as the Black Country museum an hours drive away. There is plenty of scope for taking photographs that lend themselves to a good conversion to monochrome.
This Credit from the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain applies to club photography and a member is eligible to take the test after a 2 year membership and acceptance of images submitted to an annual exhibition. The images in the submission for the award are marked by a panel of 6 judges and each picture can be awarded a total of 30 points. To achieve the award the photographer must accrue 200 of a maximum 300 for the 10 prints. I managed 223 points. Below are the 10 images comprising my entry.