What became obvious to me from the outset in this Digital age was the fundamental difference between the Film Cameras of old and the Digital Cameras we use today.
Photography in the 70’s was a complicated affair. You bought a roll of film with a maximum of 36 exposures on it, opened the camera back, inserted the film into a reel on one side of the camera, pulled out the leader end of the film, fed it into a tiny slot in the opposite reel and lined up the teeth sprockets, closed the camera, wound it on until you were sure it was on the reel properly then you were ready to take photos. After you took a photo you had to move a lever across with your right thumb to wind the film on to the next frame. You kept a check on the amount of shots by looking at a tiny counter on the top of the camera and you had no idea what your photos looked like. After the film was finished you had press a tiny button on the base of the Camera to release the film reel, wind it back into its case, flick a lever or pull a switch to remove it from the camera then trundle off to Boots or Max Spielmans (remember them?) to get the photos developed and printed (which usually cost an arm & a leg). Only then, when you got them back from the Printers days later did you know if you had taken a correct photo or not… Many a time having picked up my prints and filled with anticipation I opened the print envelope to view my efforts only to find the film had torn from the sprocket teeth half way through and hadn’t wound on after every move of the lever so I ended up with 17 or 18 exposures on one frame..!! What can you do but buy another film and start again….
Today, you just insert a battery and a memory card into your Digital Camera and you can take thousands of shots, you can check each one on the screen on the back of the camera to see if you have cocked it up or not, if you have, you can delete it and take several more….!
Back then when I was developing Black & White photographs in the Darkroom I had to insert my hands into a black lightproof bag and by touch alone pull out the undeveloped film from the roll and roll it onto a larger reel and slotted that into a developing tank. I then entered the Darkroom to fill the developing tank with nasty chemicals, jiggle it about for ages to produce a negative film and hang it up to dry. Next day I cut it into smaller strips and had to place each frame one at a time; into an Enlarger to Nuke it with light and burn the image onto photographic paper, then soak it in 3 separate trays filled with smelly developer, stopper and fixer chemicals, all this took approx. an hour or so, all done practically in the dark I might add, (Red light) and only then you had your finished photograph…
Today, you take your 16GB or more postage stamp sized memory card out of your camera, (8 times larger than the Hard Drive I had in my first PC..!!) stick it in your computer, transfer all your photos across to a virtual folder in minutes, then with the click of a mouse, look through each and every one in thumbnails or enlarge them into super magnified mode and with a couple of clicks you can import your images into computer software to convert them into to Eye watering Colour, Black & White, or Sepia if you so desire…
With the Camera and Computer technology we have today we possess the ability to take and make pin sharp images with wonderful scenes in glorious colour, but increasingly (and I admit I'm guilty of this) we choose to make them look like a photograph that was captured a 100 years ago or with an instamatic camera from the 70’s complete with bad focus, light leaks and oodles of grain…!
Oh the irony…
I was born in Llandudno North Wales in October 1950.
My Family lived literally a Stone's throw from the Beach (little did I know at the time how important that word would become to me later in life). From when I was about 8 or 9 years old in the 50's and through to the 60's I spent most of my time on the Beach playing with my Friends, my Dogs and Kids on Holiday that I just met on Llandudno's Sandy Beach. In those days it was safe to let your kids play on the beach unattended. (Also there were plenty of people that worked on the beach that my Mum & Dad knew that were looking out for me). When I reached Ten or Eleven I helped out with the Donkeys that used to take kids for a ride along the Beach, I was never happiest seeing a young child with a big grin from ear to ear on his/her face sitting on top of a Donkey while I led it along the beach.
One Summer when I was about Twelve years old I was standing on the Jetty watching the Boats coming in and going out when the guy who used to own the Rowing Boats (a man called Davy Nicko) asked me if I could row a boat, I said of course, (I'd never been in a Rowing boat on my own before...) he said he was short handed and told me to jump in one of the boats and row around by the Jetty until he called me in, that was the start of Six amazing years of my life working on the Boats in Llandudno Bay. The following Season the rowing boats ceased. My Dad Andy Shields was always helping Ted yr Ogof and his son John yr Ogof with the Pleasure Boats that took Tourists on Trips around the Great Orme's Head and Fishing Trips a couple of miles out in the Bay so I begged him to get me a job with them. They took me on and eventually I applied for a Boatman's Licence, sat an exam about Llandudno Bay, passed it, and received a Badge and Certificate entitling me to Pilot Motor Boats in the Bay and around the Great Orme, (one of the proudest moments of my life). Ted and John let me take the Helm of their boat the "Welsh Maid" on the Pleasure Trips and Fishing Trips on many occasion, steering that magnificent boat around the Great Orme's Head on a Sunny day with a calm Sea was one of the best feelings in the world.
In them days Llandudno Beach had approx 10 to 15 Steps leading down from the Promenade to a beautiful Golden Sandy Beach with a few rocks scattered around the Tidal levels and it was always packed with holidaymakers from Easter till the end of September sunbathing on the Beach, sitting in Deckchairs or relaxing on the Steps. Llandudno was a thriving Holiday destination and the Boats did a roaring trade. At eighteen I got a job working on the Llandudno Pier Crew, repairing the Decking, Railings, etc in the Winter and patrolling the Pier in the Summer. Also in the summer Season we (The Crew) were responsible for bringing the Isle of Man Boats alongside the Pier Head for the Tourists to board for day trips to Douglas.
I met my Wife Sue whilst working on the Pier, she worked for the Pier Manager George Rodgers in the offices inside the Pavilion and we're still happily married to this day. As you can imagine, Llandudno Beach means an awful lot to me and I got quite emotional that day when I saw what they were doing to it... I suppose what I'm trying to say is, My Life, from the tender age of 8 until approx 22 years old was spent on or around Llandudno Beach, I basically grew up on it and I'm not happy about what's happening to it...
Fast Forward to 2014, 5.05pm Monday the 24th of March to be exact... I was driving home from work along Llandudno Sea front when I noticed several JCB's on the Beach. I parked my Car and walked onto the Promenade to see what was happening. What I witnessed in that short time on the Prom that day was to bring about something that has turned into a full blown Campaign to Restore Llandudno beach to its former Glory. As I drove home I wondered who could do this to the beautiful beach I spent most of my childhood on. I did some Internet Surfing and discovered that the Conwy County Borough Council was "Replenishing" the beach with Stones to bring it back to the 2002 guidelines for Sea Defence... The next evening I was updating my Photography page on Facebook and noticed upon the "Create a Page" button and I thought "Why not, it may attract a few Likes and if anyone was to agree with me about what I thought was the destruction of our Beach, maybe someone in authority might just sit up and listen". That it seems was an understatement, in just 16 days the Page has received over 3,000 Likes..! Locals, Visitors, ex Pats, even people from as far away as Vietnam, Australia, America, and other worldly places who have never visited Llandudno but think that what is being done to our Beach is... Just Wrong...!
I'm a keen Amateur Photographer and I love to experiment with all kinds of Photography, not just one particular style. The soothsayers say you should stick to a style you are good at, but my passion for Photography won't let me do that. I will tackle headlong any challenge that comes along...