Can you tell us a bit about your life in photography?
My photography journey started just over six years ago, I bought a second-hand Nikon D5100 DSLR with 18-55mm kit lens and 70-300mm lens which didn’t have a built-in motor so had to be manually focused on the body. I quickly traded the 70-300mm lens for an ex-display Nikon 55-300mm VR lens which would focus; this was to be my main lens for a year or so as my main passion is wildlife.
I purchased the D5100 from the local free ads paper and was very happy to have something I could essentially learn photography with. After just over a year I convinced myself I needed an upgrade as I was quickly improving, so I bought a second-hand Nikon D5300 body, again from a local free ad site.
One of Lee’s wonderful badger images
We understand your son Josh has really benefitted from an interest in photography too…
Yes, that’s right. By this time my 12-year-old son Josh was coming on many of my trips to find wildlife in the Peak District and he also started to use my now third-hand D5100 to take images of his own. I started to teach him about exposure and he started to get some great images of his own. Josh has Tourette’s Syndrome and I noticed that his tics and symptoms were largely reduced when he was out doing photography.
One of Josh’s images, which he took using the D5100, was shown on BBC Springwatch and went on to win a Highly Commended award in the 2016 British Wildlife Photographer awards. His image was also published in their book, which was amazing.
Josh getting his RSPCA Young Photographer award from TV’s Chris Packham
We received a grant from a Tourette’s Charity organisation so we could buy Josh some equipment of his own, including a longer lens for the wildlife. We again chose second-hand kit. Harrisons in Sheffield put together a great combination of Nikon D7000 and a Tamron 150-600mm lens for a bargain price. It set up Josh to take his photography to the next level.
Josh’s highly commended image from the BWPA awards
Where do you tend to get your used gear, and what are your buying tips?
Since then we have used Harrisons and also Wex Photo and Video to buy more second-hand equipment. In 2017 Josh won the RSPCA Young Photographer award in the 12-16 age group and part of his prize included vouchers for Wex. He used them to buy a second-hand 70-200mm f/2.8 Sigma lens which he now uses to shoot football games for Sheffield FC.
If you are looking for used kit and are on a tight budget like myself, I recommend researching which body or lens would suit your style of photography. For example I recently bought a very new-looking 12Mp Nikon D3 with a low shutter count. I opted for this based on its quick autofocus and nine frame per second burst mode. It does pretty well in low light too.
Lee and Josh out and about
How his Josh getting on now?
Josh has just finished school where he passed his GCSE in photography with a very high grade. He started college last week on a Level 3 photography course and wants to pursue it as a career – I guess that’s all thanks to secondhand kit.