Roger Riordan: Nature Observations and Photos

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Local birds

My Garden


Young Tawny Frogmouth

I have been interested in plants since I was a small child, and I have been trying to photograph them -- usually with little success -- since I acquired my first camera, which was my father's prewar vest pocket Kodak. It was a fixed focus camera using 127 film, with two shutter speeds and an adjustable aperture, and about all it was good for was taking blurry photos of your friends.

In 1955 I bought my first real camera, a German 120 of forgotten make. It had the usual range of adjustments, and could take good pictures if you managed to get the focusing, shutter speed and aperture all just right. But it was all done by guesswork, film still cost a fortune, and you got no feedback until your developed film came back, so learning was a slow process, and there was a lot of trial and error. Close-up photography was still almost impossible.

In about 1959 I bought a Hasselblad. This was a 120 SLR, and for the first time I had a realistic chance of taking close-ups of plants and insects. But by modern standards it was still very primitive, as you had to rely on a separate exposure meter, and there were no zoom lenses, so if you wanted to be at all flexible you had to buy several heavy (and very expensive) lenses, and for close-up work you required a collection of close-up lenses and extension tubes. I even had an extension bellows unit, though it was so cumbersome I never really used it.

My Hasselblad required a large haversack of its own, and when we began camping with the family it all became unmanageable, and I almost gave up photography for a number of years. Then, when we started travelling, I began borrowing Sally's 35mm camera. But film was still a terrible problem -- you had to buy what you thought you needed before the trip, and then decide whether to have it processed away, and risk having it spoilt, or bring it home for processing and hope that it didn't get fogged by the x-rays -- and that nothing had gone wrong with the camera!

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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2017

Local birds