Digital cameras: Me And My Camera - Carol Wiles

Joining a photographic society can make the learning process even easier
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Anyone can take a photograph, but not everyone can do it without planting their thumb across the lens or cutting their subject's head off (photographically speaking, of course). Whilst those who can avoid said pitfalls may not become David Bailey overnight, they may wish to give their pastime greater exposure. The advent of digital photography has made sharing photographs easier than ever before, bringing like-minded snappers together in a flash. Joining a photography club or society can make that process even easier, and arguably even more rewarding.

Carol Wiles, an amateur photographer, first became interested in photography when she was 12. "My dad bought me a camera that tookblack and white photographs, about one-and-a-half inches square. My mum used to tell me I had an eye for a picture, which encouraged me."

Wiles continued to pursue the hobby but her enthusiasm was really fired when she met her second husband, who shared her interest. Together they joined the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) in 2001.

The RPS is open to beginners who want to improve their technique and established photographers seeking recognition for their abilities. Anyone can join, but there are three levels of distinction to aim for. Wiles and her husband got their Licentiateships in 2002, the first level of distinction. "You have to produce 10 pieces of work which prove, through use of lens, composition, exposure and other techniques, that you're a competent photographer. The process can take quite a long time but it didn't take us very long because every room in our house has photographs in it!"

Wiles went on to attain an Associateship last month, the next level of distinction, but says she will stop short of the Fellowship, aimed at professionals: "I'm at the wrong time of life to become professional - I don't want to get involved with too much work now that I'm retired!"

There are also special interest groups within the RPS, and Wiles is a member of the travel group. "We have 'Blu-tac' exhibitions, where you take your work along and stick it on the wall at the AGM. We've started to do slide-shows too now, putting digital images on disc to play on the television and exchange between camera club members. It's great because you get to meet like-minded people and get ideas from them."

Wiles uses a Fuji S7000, a fixed-lens digital camera. "The focal range on the digital cameras is great. I'm buying a wide-angle attachment too because we're going to Cuba, and the wide-angle will be useful."

Wiles and her husband have been on numerous photographic holidays: "We've been to south-west America, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Utah, Arizona and California." Their holiday to Australia, where they went last year, is featured above. "We went last summer, Australia's winter, because the Red Centre is too hot if you go there in the summer. It was a fantastic place to take photographs and I would certainly recommend anybody to go. The weather was lovely, if very cold at night, and the light was perfect for taking photos."

For more information on the RPS, visit: