I have always been interested in photography, even from my mid-teens when I was playing with disposable film camera’s. I was well into my 30’s before I started to take more images. Mainly family images on a Fujifilm Finepix. This was good for the family shots I was taking but I was just a point and shoot at that time. I used this for several years until I loaned it to a family member, and it was returned broken, Life went on and I purchased another cheaper point and shoot fuji film point and shoot which lasted for many years just taking occasional family shoots.
Life took a dramatic change and I ended up separated from my family and back living alone, It was during this time of my life that I started to look for something that I was interested in and that would get me out at the weekends, One of my friends was very much into photography and loved shooting portraits, through talking to him and seeing some of his work I decided to take up photography on a more serious level.
I was out with one of my daughters and I just decided to go into park Cameras in Burgess Hill to look at cameras, not really knowing what to buy or even what I was looking at, ( very much an impulsive buy) We wandered around the store and eventually came upon the Nikon Stand, I had a very limited budget at that time and there was a Nikon D3200 kit which was a very basic place to start out and within my £350 budget, so I purchased the kit and went away very happily thinking I would quickly master this set up. How naïve was I at that point lol?
So I had this D3200 and a stock 18-55mm lens, now what do I do with it and how do I use it I asked myself. Within a few minutes’ walk from the house was a large managed woodland, (I know I will go get some great images) I wondered around these woods for hours to start with the camera was set on auto and I happily snapped away. This is one of my very first images.
I had this great little Camera but was relying on the camera to do all the work (Auto Mode) Nope this wasn’t good enough. I wanted to learn how to set and experiment with what the camera could do and how I could learn to do it, so I set it to Manual mode, and I have never gone back since. Yes, it was very frustrating at the start, I had no idea what I was doing. Or how I was doing it. I would simply play with setting until I got the image to look how I wanted it to. It very quickly became clear that the stock lens I had was very limited for what I was trying to achieve, I spent hours reading online about how to set camera’s the triangle of iso, apertures and shutter speed. My first lens purchase was a 35mm F1.8G. I found the added aperture was a vast improvement along with the quality of image I could achieve, I would take images of anything that stood out to me, especially flowers as I had a garden full of them, I would read lots of tips and tricks to get the best from a subject, Simple things like spraying a flower with water to give more depth to the images as with the Rose below.
I soon wanted to expand into other genres of photography, So I found myself back at the camera shop looking for another lens, Well I came away with the Sigma 150-600mm C. I had decided I wanted to capture wildlife as well as flowers and landscapes I joined a photography group on Facebook and soon started to go out with them. Our first big adventure was to Bushy Park to capture red deer images. I was really in my element, outside with this massive lens. I though I was the doggies do dars lol. It was real eye opener for me, I arrived and there was so much gear in the group that I felt very under equipped and out of place, but nevertheless I had what I had and carried on to the best of my ability. (big lesson learnt, it’s not always what you shoot with, but how you use it to its best ability). I was hooked, I loved Wildlife then and I always will.
It was after this my Photography journey took a dramatic change in direction, As earlier mentioned a friend was really into portrait and model photography, he showed me this image that really changed focus.
After seeing this image, I took a shift into working with models, and although I still shoot Wildlife and flowers I was really into model and portrait work, I was very lucky to work with many top models in the southeast area where I was living.
It was the next model that would change my Life, Focus and my world. After several months of discussing a shoot, we arranged to work together and here is a result of it.
We worked together a few times and soon realised that we were special together, fast forward 3 ½ years and we are engaged (marrying next year). Emily no longer models, and I no longer work with models, we both shoot with Nikon D850’s, as a team we are Si-Em Ridley Photography. We can be found regularly long the river Crane in west London following the Kingfishers and other wildlife we also cover weddings, church, and family events. We are better known for our Kingfisher page
We can also be found around Richmond Park, following the deer, but more recently we have been following operation Centaur and taking images of the shire horses so they can use them for promotional purposes.
I hope you have enjoyed a brief look into my photography journey. I hope yours has been as much fun as mine has been, Photography has truly changed my life in a way I never knew possible.
We can be found on twitter ( si-em ridley photography (@siemphoto) / Twitter ) main page
Or our wildlife twitter (West London Kingfishers and wildlife (@SimonRidley14) / Twitter ) West London Kingfishers and wildlife.