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■A J FROM: Plymouth, Devon B&J www.alisonmayersphoto.com

Just four years after catching the photography bug on a holiday in Africa, Alison took the brave step of submitting images for an RPS Licentiateship

I first became interested in photography around four years ago after a holiday in Africa when I returned home with what I thought were fantastic photos. From that start I experimented with photography, being self taught with a sense of what seemed right, and soon realised that my fantastic holiday photos were just good record shots, capturing a moment but of no real technical merit. Two years ago I joined a local camera club and the exposure to other photographers and the critique of competition has improved my photography.

Though I enjoy all aspects of photography my first passion is wildlife, and I'd love one day to have the opportunity to do more travel photography. To revisit Africa would be first on my list with its amazing wildlife, fantastic scenery and beautiful people.

I originally started off with a Canon EOS 300D with the 18-55mm kit lens, and soon added a Canon 75-300mm. I now have progressed to the 400D and upgraded my lens collection to include my all-time favourite -the Canon 70-200mm IS L. I recently acquired a Sigma 10-20mm which has helped my landscapes. I use Aperture and Photoshop and am getting to grips with a pen tablet.

More recently I put forward my Distinction Panel of 10 images to gain my Licentiateship with the Royal Photographic Society. You need to present a balanced set of prints that work together, as well as show an understanding of photographic skills and evidence of developing a personal style. It was a very nerve-racking experience as the judges examined my prints to assess whether they came up to standard for a pass. I had recently thrown myself into Photoshop and feared that I may have shown inexperience in that area. However, I was elated when I heard the words 'I am pleased to say this panel has passed'. Like most photographers I want to improve and increase my ability, capturing and producing better images-Associateship is my next challenge! »

BELOW: Protected By The Elders

Taken at Howletts Zoo in Kent. I was watching the elephants, particularly enjoying the youngsters playing. Through the legs and trunks of the adult female elephants I spotted a baby elephant; I had one chance to capture that moment before the little face disappeared. 1/60 @f/5.6, ISO 400

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