Digital photography has changed the way we look at images. There are now people across the country with equipment that would make David Bailey gasp in astonishment, and photographs are now such an everyday thing that (for the most part) we don’t even bother to print them off our computers. The nature of my work as a writer has forced me into an uncomfortable stand-off with photography. You are much more likely to sell your words if there are pictures to go with them, and the same is true for photographers. It’s difficult to make a living as a journalist without doing anything in the way of photography, so it has fallen to me to learn some basics about capturing light on a digital memory stick.
I haven’t started from a standstill, and I am very glad to have taken a basic photography course when I was still at school, but those were the days when “digital” was still in its infancy and the majority of work we did was with enlargers, chemicals and red lights. I bought a moderately good “Sony” camera when I first started writing, and although it now bears the scars of having been dropped, bumped, stepped on and tangled in barbed wire, it has served me surprisingly well. Regular readers of this blog might remember my silly fury at having left it on the roof of my car and then driven away down the road by mistake. The long lens was broken, and I have been struggling on with a little stubby thing for the past six months.
I missed the long lens, and was very pleased to finally get my hands on a new one. On its first major trip out this morning, I managed to get the above picture of my partridges, who have now been free to roam the hill since August. The picture proves beyond doubt that they are the ones I released, and despite the fact that both of their leg rings have fallen off, these birds certainly came from the Midlands, where a very supportive reader of this blog was able to put his hands on them at around seven or eight weeks of age and bring them up to the Chayne.
I am by no means a talented photographer, but the great secret to taking halfway decent pictures is to have your camera with you at all times. I’m quite pleased with the partridge picture, and with the new lekking season just a couple of weeks away, I’m looking forward to snapping away with my new long lens (I take pleasure in using the expression “snap” rather than “photograph” – it really seems to get a rise out of people who take photography seriously). Inevitably, a selection of images will find their way onto this blog, but consider for a moment the fact that I have almost 5,000 black grouse photographs on my computer which I haven’t found a use for yet….