I have had no photographic training and still have very little technical knowledge, but have a love of the wild places and hopefully an 'eye' for a good picture. Originally I took pictures to record my mountaineering, but as I gained interest in being more creative I found eye-catching light, shapes, textures and colours in so many different places. Even in a city there are beautiful quiet corners.
I have lived in Snowdonia for over 25 years, though I have had a love of the mountains here from childhood when my father introduced me to mountaineering. As a student I spent most winter weekends here looking for some icy corner to climb. But it was not until I looked more carefully at the area with my camera that I really started to appreciate the beauty here and just how fortunate I am to live in an area that has mountains, beaches, wooded river valleys, and so much more all within easy reach. At the core of my life is my Christian faith - I am excited by the creative work that has gone into what I see around me, and I have a desire to communicate God's handiwork to a wider audience.
Following many enjoyable years working in outdoor pursuits, Origins was established in 1993. What started as a range of just 18 different greetings cards has grown to what you see on this website, and I hope will go much further yet.
Ali and I were married in 1984 - she shares a love of the outdoors and is my greatest encourager and critic! We have 3 children who have been brought up to enjoy the mountains and show ability and determination in getting up them. All have been walking and climbing in Wales from the toddler age, and have gone on to spend time on glaciers and climbing Alpine peaks before their teenage years. Recently our eldest climbed all 15 of the 3000 foot peaks in Wales as a sponsored event on her 16th birthday – beats clubbing anyday! Some of our best family days have been spent in the mountains. Sometimes we will climb a mountain in the afternoon to arrive on the summit for sunset, where we eat our tea to a wonderful backdrop and I try and capture the vista before us – for me it is work and play all wrapped in one. We all love our descent in the dark by headlamp.
For those who are interested in kit, I am now rather out of date and still use an SLR film camera - a Canon EOS3 - and mainly 2 zoom lenses - a Canon 24-85mm and a Canon 70-300mm. I carry a hefty Uniloc tripod and a cable release. Many people assume that I use coloured filters, which I more or less never do. The only two filters I regularly use are a polariser and a graduated grey, both Cokin P filters. This whole kit could be bought new for about £1500. Film is very important, and I use Fuji Velvia slide film, which is quite slow at 50asa but has great colours and fine grain. There is something about the way that light shines through a good slide film, and the richness of colour, that digital photography still seems to struggle to match up to. I realize that I will have to ‘turn digital’ fairly soon, and I’m used to using a digital camera underwater, but I am waiting for a camera with a full frame sensor to drop to a price I am willing to consider. At current prices I would need to pay at least three times as much for a camera that would give similar quality results as my EOS3 and Velvia film.
I still find it hard to consider myself as a real professional photographer, without a great depth of knowledge. But, through years of trial and error, perhaps I can give a few simple hints :
- Do not try and copy other’s ideas - really look at what is around you and see what you can see.
- Do not be constrained by what is considered the 'normal' or 'best' angle of a subject - have a long look as to what is really the best.
- Be willing to walk - the best pictures are not usually taken from the roadside!
- Be willing for a bit of pain. I find that sunrise and the couple of hours afterwards often produce the best light and strongest colours. Sometimes I start at 2 a.m. so as to be on a mountaintop for sunrise.
- Think out angles and viewpoints. Sometimes I use a map to work out a good new viewpoint. I can also work out from which angle the sun will be shining. The strongest colours are usually achieved by taking a picture at right-angles to the sun.
- Use a tripod for landscapes, even when you don't need it. This helps you really think out the composition and foreground points of interest. A movement of the camera position of no more than a few inches can make the difference between a good picture and a great picture.