Cameras, computers and personal stuff

Cameras

Never having had any success at all with film cameras, this site was never even a possibility until the mass produced digital camera age arrived around 2001. The first camera which cost about £700 was a 2 Mb compact Olympus upgraded a couple of years later to the 3 Mb version. Some of the photographs taken with these cameras were good and are still on site. The sheer joy of being able to delete rubbish before even looking at them on a computer and taking huge numbers of shots awoke my enthusiasm for a hobby I had long ago rejected.

In January 2005 I became the proud owner of a 10 Mb Nikon 8800 which had a swivelling display screen, vibration reduction and a 10x zoom. Many of the photographs now in my library were taken with this camera. The problem with compact cameras for the botanists comes when you try to photos of grasses and sedges. Because they are nearly always greenish against a green background the auto focus can't find the subject. Resorting to the manual focus on a compact camera makes you suddenly realise what a limited and awkward facility this is.

So I have inevitably moved to Digital SLR where auto focus options are many and manual focussing always works easily. I miss the the swivelling screen of the Nikon 8800 which allowed me to take photos on cliff ledges above my own head but this is a small price to pay. After that I bought a Nikon D200 with and increasing range of lenses. Most photos taken with this camera were with the 60mm micro (= macro in Nikon speak) lens but in 2009 I upgraded to the AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm with built in Vibration Reduction. This is particularly good for butterfly photos as you can get a full frame photo without approaching the insect so closely that it flies off. I also have a very large Nikon 80- 400 mm zoom lens with vibration reduction and a Sigma wide angle 10-20 mm lens. Now I use both a Nikon D800 with the same lenses as the D200 but have added an Olympus TG4 to the kit. The TG4 is capable of focus stacking in the camera itself which can produce some stunning close-ups.

Computers

For many people computers are a real pain but for 10 years after leaving teaching, I ran my own part-time business mending computers, reinstalling programs and operating systems and built computer systems from parts. I also helped the cyberlogically challenged to use and understand the internet. My own machines are always hand built and usually have fast kit with the latest operating system (2010: 8Gb 64 bit Windows 7, 1 Tb disks, NVidia 8800GTS) . I use Dreamweaver CS3 to maintain the web site even though it doesn't cope well with large folders of photographs (Adobe deny there's any problem) and I use Photoshop CS3 to process the original photographs. I must be unusual in that my copies of these programs are all legit and cost several arms and legs. I now use solid state disks for operating system use but they are very expensive and ordinary hard disks are very cheap. I keep a stock of a few new hard drives which I use to back up both system disk and photo files.

My son is a web designer and with great patience taught me the elements of html programming so the site is my amateur effort at design and any graphics are my own.

Photo Library

The site has been going since about 2004 and an accumulated library of photos, from which I select one or two for the web site, is growing. People ask for use of the photos from all over the world (and quite a few don't bother even to ask). Up to now I have always given permission or sent copies of the originals free of charge. During the summer months of the northern hemisphere the site is usually not updated as much with new photos - I'm out in the fields taking photos. There now (September 2017) more than nine hundred photos waiting to go on site from previous expeditions.

Some personal stuff

Married with three grown-up children, I'm a chemist by original training and have a PhD in Photochemistry but that seems a distant memory. I worked in industry for the first five years of my working life doing night school and day release classes in chemistry to HNC level. I then spent time gaining further qualifications at University. After a short spell delivering goods for a Plumbers Merchant I tried teaching. The idea of becoming a science teacher had grown ever since coming across the most awful lecturers who had no idea how to explain basic scientific ideas. I remember experiencing a great urge to get up and snatch the chalk (yes - chalk in the old days) and show them how to put these ideas across. I started in secondary school teaching in 1971.

After progressing through the ranks and then retiring early, I started a small business building and repairing computers. My clients were friends, local people, botanists and strangely, Bishops - even two Archbishops whose computer systems I built and maintained for years. I only repair/mend computers for friends now and rebuild my own system far less often than I used to. My current desktop has 16Gb internal memory with a 2Tb hard disk with Windows 10 from where my files are backed up onto other portable drives and the cloud.

My latest venture is giving (free) talks on wild flowers as I have a digital projector which links to my laptop and of course as you can see from this site, the most essential component - a very extensive collection of high resolution digital photographs. Currently I have talks prepared on:

Added on 22nd September 2017

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