I was accidentally born in Somerset; five months after my parents had closed the door of their terraced cottage in Bow, East London leaving it and most of their belongings to escape the doodlebug raids at the end of the war.
We remained in Minehead (I never knew why they chose that town and never will now) until my father thought it safe to return home which we did during an air raid in the late Spring of 1945.
I grew up in a London pitted with bomb sites and like most children used them as playgrounds. I was aware of the flowering of these wastelands as they supplied one of the few splashes of colour in a dull 1950’s world but had no idea of their significance. Without knowing, I played on the classic urban habitat.
Today most of these habitats have been built upon and our green space continues to disappear at an alarming rate. There has, however, been a fight back with groups and individuals taking over bits of waste land too small for the developers to bother about and turning them into gardens. This cheers up the environment, encourages wildlife and lifts peoples' spirits when they see them.
Happily, this gives me lots of opportunities for photography right here on my doorstep!
It’s at this point that photographers traditionally talk about their camera equipment. I must say that photographic gear doesn't greatly excite me. I tend to quickly turn the pages of photographic magazines when there is an in depth view of this camera or the other.
I have, however, a much loved and somewhat battered Nikon D300 which I had no intention of replacing until I managed to drop it twice in one day and it went off to A&E! I now have a pristine version of the same model which I bought in Grey's of Westminster with a full years guarantee.
I use it most of the time with a Nikon 18mm – 200mm 3.4 - 5.6 VR zoom which is great for street photography and covers most of my flower photography needs being particularly useful for the urban stuff.
For close-up work I use an elderly, non VR Nikon 105 macro 2.8 on a tripod. Even the smartest, newest VR macro isn't as good as a camera on a solid support.
Talking about tripods I've never found anything better than a Benbo, I currently use a trekker for lightness. It’s well known for its ability to get your camera into almost any conceivable position in relation to the subject which is particularly useful for flower photography. It needs a bit of getting used to however and some people give up!
For carrying the stuff I use an old Lowe-pro Orion Trekker rucksack, the type which carries the camera gear in a separate compartment at the bottom and the important things like your lunch at the top. The top compartments a little on the small side and I can just about squeeze a fleece in with the food but larger model are bigger all round.
Most of the time when I'm out and about I have my camera round my neck, it may be nice and safe tucked away in its bag but of no use if you want to take pictures!