My Photographic Journey

Rodney Hart

My Photographic Journey

What are your first photography memories?

My first camera was a Kodak Box Brownie which was given to me by my grandmother. The year was 1947, I was 7 years old and living in South Africa. I remember that I shot an entire roll of eight images in next to no time and had to wait for ever to get them processed. When the prints did finally arrive, I was thrilled and thoroughly hooked, and I’ve been interested in photography ever since.

How did your interest in photography develop?

I was working in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1959 when I purchased one of the first Japanese SLRs – a Miranda-C 35mm with a 50mm F/1.9 lens - my first serious camera. I taught myself the basics by reading photography magazines. From these magazines I became aware of the artistic potential of photography but didn’t think of applying it my own work at the time. I just spontaneously photographed people and scenes as I encountered them.

When I moved to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) a colleague of mine taught me the basics of b&w film developing and printing – I went on to buy a developing tank and enlarger and discovered the techniques of dodging and burning.

I moved to the UK in 1963 and continued to develop and print my own b&w films, as well as moving on to commercially processed colour film and slides with my newly acquired OM10 and Pentax cameras.

Fast forward 40 years and I bought my first digital camera in 2004 – an Olympus Camedia 4000, with a 4-megapixel sensor and an f2.8, 32-96mm lens.

How has your style and approach to photography evolved over the years?

For many years I concentrated on the technical aspects of my photography, whilst still trying to shoot what I considered attractive images. I would shoot whatever I found in front of me – whether I was travelling on business, on holiday or at home. I didn’t consider composition and all the other creative aspects when applied to photography. That changed when I joined a camera club.

When did you join WEBCC?

I joined WEBCC in 2006. Initially I felt a little intimidated, being surrounded by so many seemingly confident, knowledgeable photographers. I quickly discovered there was plenty of help and encouragement on hand. I did make a few mistakes – and the less said about the matching of my mount colours to the dominant print colours the better! Together with judges’ comments, club talks, and perseverance, I started to improve. I became a Committee Member in 2007. Soon after that I became the Programme Secretary and held the post for 8 years. I found that being on the Committee increased my enthusiasm for photography and spurred me on to improve my photographic skills. I finally stepped down from the committee in 2015.

What THREE pieces of photographic equipment would you not want to be without?

LIGHTROOM – My essential tool. I never could, as the mantra goes, ‘get it right in camera’.

TRIPOD – As I’m primarily a landscape photographer these days, my tripod is essential, especially as I often work with long exposures.

ND FILTERS (INC. GRADUATED) – For years I struggled with the limited dynamic range of early camera sensors which led to burnt out skies in my landscape images. As many of you will remember, I was known for my use (some may say ‘overuse’) of HDR to provide a wider dynamic range. I did tend to produce unrealistic images at times. When I discovered very slow shutter speed photography using a 10 stop ND filter, I was converted and invested in a full set of ND and graduated ND filters.

So where do you get your photographic inspiration from these days?

I’m constantly inspired by the lush British landscape and seascape scenery which is in stark contrast to that of Africa. I try my best to reproduce what I see, in a way that reflects the beauty, light and atmosphere of the original scene. I am inspired and learn a lot from images I see, made by well-known as well as less well-known photographers but I don’t slavishly imitate them.

To sum it all up, it’s now 75 years since I received that original Kodak Box Brownie and I’m still just as hooked on photography as ever.

A selection of Rodney's images...