photography and me

avatar Hi, I'm Sheila Goodyear and this is my personal website. With a keen interest in 'the wonderful world of digital photography', I uploaded my photographs over the years and created appropriate galleries. I still love looking at pictures but the desire to actually 'go out and take photos' has waned over time. My real interests still remain in digital photo-manipulation and I enjoy 'playing'.

Even as a child I always had a little camera and won my first prize for photography as a 12 year old with a photo of the frog pond in the school grounds. The following years were filled with photos of the usual milestones in life: holidays , special occasions, growing family and the like but nothing more challenging. Those few years saw some quite dramatic changes in the way photography was both approached and perceived .......... the magazines, now, didn't always have a semi-naked female on the front of every issue and they had come down to eye-level on the newsagents' shelves. It was during the following years, the late 1980s and most of the 1990s, that I finally took photographs for a photographic purpose rather than for family albums. As the family grew up I bought SLR cameras, went to nightschool for photography, tried slide photography and dabbled in the darkroom with monochrome mainly and, very occasionally, colour. I had zoom lenses, extreme wide angle lenses and filters to create weird effects. I didn't think it could get much better. How wrong can you be?

One evening at club we had a visiting lecturer called Barrie Thomas who came to talk to us about how we could take our photographs and put them into a computer, 'do things to them' and then spit them out again through a digital printer looking completley different! After the first 10 minutes I hadn't clue what he was doing or how he was doing it but what I saw on the screen completley enthralled me. It was a revelation and I was hooked! I was a complete dinosaur when it came to modern technology. In those early(ish) years the amateur digital market was still very much in its infancy and a digital camera was not a good option ( the 1 megapixel barrier hadn't yet been broken) so photographs from film were got into the computer via a flatbed scanner for prints, or a negative/slide scanner for tranparencies and negatives. So began the long, steep, uphill learning learning curve as I struggled to understand how a computer worked and how to use the software that was loaded onto it. I had finally found out what I really wanted to achieve with my photography. It was never enough to just take a photograph, no matter how perfectly composed and exposed, it was always about what else I could do with it.

When I first discovered the world of photographic manipulation I thought that I'd discovered my own private 'heaven'. Like most people I threw every effect that I could access at any half way decently composed photo that I could find. The results were often bizarre and over the top but I found it too exciting to stop. Reality has never been high on my list of priorities in a visual image so the constraints of trying to convey a recognisable and realistic image never worried me. Art, stories and poems have always been important in my life and many of the images I created were driven by the desire to express visually the words that I had read or to make a picture 'in the style of....' (my apologies to the 'great ones' that I have attempted to copy!) My aim, always, was to produce images that reflected my thoughts and impressions rather than the reality of the subject. I make them for my own enjoyment but if someone else appreciates them then that is a bonus.

the digital revolution

Almost overnight, it seemed, clubs were split down the middle as members were passionately 'for digital' or 'agin it.' There were constant and acrimonious debates about what was a 'real' photograph, what 'creative' meant, whether or not the darkroom or digital prints should be judged together or separately and accusations of 'cheating' were often to be heard. The 'die-hards' maintained that it was a 'flash in the pan' and that it would never catch on. Camera quality was still not good enough to attract the 'serious' amateur photographers who demanded technical perfection for Natural History and Record photographs. The darkroom print was still superior in quality (just!) to the digital print. So, the traditional photographers stayed with film and those wanting to be experimental in their approach to content and output had a field day whilst trying anything and everything that was possible; sometimes succesfully and sometimes quite disastrously. Of course, the digitally projected image, in the amateur clubs, was still a thing of the future. However, advances in technology raced ahead and in a few very short years we have reached a stage where quality in both cameras and printing is undeniable and the digitally projected image is commonplace in our clubs and societies. Competitions now see digital entries that range between stunning natural history images, gorgeous landscapes, memorable portraits and creative montages that challenge our understanding. The trick is not to try to judge them against each other but to look at each, individually, as an example of a particular genre and judge it on its own merits. Judges have never had it so easy ............ or so hard.

In many ways I now feel that the fast and furious speed of new advances in both software and hardware have left me behind to a great degree. I look back with nostalgia on the heady days of innovation and being in the vanguard of 'something new'. Many of the newer generation of club photographers have never owned a roll film camera; have never known the thrill of seeing a print appear in its dish in the red light of the darkroom; have never stumbled around in the total darkness of the colour darkroom fumbling for the edge of the print and slipping it from one bath to the next; have never known the thrill of getting a box of 36 prizewinning slides in the post only to find that 2 or 3 might just be OK in competition, if they're lucky!

Personally, I would never want to go back to the film and darkroom days because, as much fun as they were, the cost of film and developing was a constant factor to be considered and the frustrations of hours in the darkroom and a print spoiled in the last stages were always there. The digital era has given us freedom to experiment and push the boundaries of what we can create with the comfort of an 'undo' button if we get it wrong.

What was next? I love 'playing'... and I found an interest in Audio Visuals. I spend spend hours creating sequences that never go beyond the clubroom but from which I get a great deal of satisfaction.

When I made my first website several years ago I arranged my pictures in galleries reflecting the different years or events. These are now so obviously well past their 'sell by' date that I've decided to remove the galleries and just leave the links to Audio visual sequences.

I've had an enormous amount of pleasure, in this new millennium, taking photos, making pictures, entering competitions, and belonging to three quite different photographic clubs but now I shall just enjoy looking at those taken by other photographers.

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