Born in 1964 I have lived in Southampton all my life. My first foray into photography was around the age of ten, when I was given a camera for Christmas, a Prinz (Dixons' own-brand) point and shoot compact. Dad then dug his old darkroom gear down from the loft and taught me about developing and printing.
Eventually I wanted something a bit better than the Prinz and bought my frst SLR, a Praktica Nova 1B, which served me well for a few years until I took it on a Duke of Edinburgh's Award expedition to Dartmoor. Unfortunately, the plastic bags I was using to keep stuff dry proved to be waterproof in only one direction - they let water in and not out. The camera succumbed to rust and was replaced with a newer Praktica. I later switched to Olympus, in the shape of an OM-10 and a range of lenses and spent many years happily using this, still processing my own film until I no longer had the time or facilities to continue doing so and the camera sat in a drawer for some years.
Around 1996 I discovered that computers had advanced such that digital processing was both feasable and practical. However, when I dug the camera gear out I found that the apetures were sticky or completely stuck on both my decent lenses and that the repair cost was greater than that of a new camera kit - so I switched again, this time to a Canon EOS300 with a few lenses, bought a film scanner and the bug bit again.
In 2000 I came home from a trip abroad with a large number of films to process and scan, for the third year running. About halfway through the marathon session (about three weeks using ALL my spare time) I thought that there had to be a better way. I'd heard that Canon had recently introduced something called a digital SLR so I looked it up, saw the price and closed the website very quickly. Over the next week or so I did some mental arithmetic and decided that although it was a high upfront cost it should pay for itself in about 2½ years, only taking the cost of film and chemicals into account. The bank manager was suitably obliging so I became the proud owner of an EOS D30.
Over the next 8 years the D30 was added to by a 10D, 5D and, last of all a 30D. My landscape work is all taken using the 5D, whilst the 30D is for wildlife. The 10D will be converted for infra-red work in due course. My lens lineup has also changed over the years, I currently use Canon 50mm/f1.8, 24-105/f4 L USM, 70-300/f4.5-5.6 DO and 100-400/f4-5.6 L USM as well as a Sigma 12-24/f4.5-5.6, and I'm currently evaluating the optimum settings for a Nikon 14-24/f2.8 mounted on my 5D, via an adapter of course.
Whilst I had visited the Lake District once (on a D of E Gold Award expedition) and Snowdonia for a fortnight every year in the early eighties, I didn't really start visiting the wonderful landscapes of Northern Britain until around 2003, after a friend and fellow photographer moved to Preston and offered the use of his spare room as a base. Since then, I've managed to get into a routine of three trips a year, roughly Easter, June and late-October, for a fortnight at a time. This has enabled me to get to many of the best areas in Northern England and, latterly, branching out into Western Scotland. My latest range extension took me to the Isles of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, with a return trip planned for June 2009.