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I have little doubt that I will be saying just that about my photography today in a year or two, but there really was a time, effectively my first two years of using a digital SLR camera, when I had only the dimmest understanding of photographic principles.

So when I look back on past archives and see pictures that really are quite pleasing, I am a little astonished at how I managed to do it.The fact is, I had no clear understanding of depth of field, or how to compose an interesting image, or how to use flash to fill foreground and dozens of other little technical things that've picked up over the years.These three shots are all from summer 2006 at Craster, Northumberland on the coast of the North Sea. All three were taken with the camera on automatic settings, proving that a camera with a well-calibrated electronic exposure and aperture mechanism certainly beats the novice. Not that I would ever use such simplistic settings these days. They work though.

The first two shots were taken at sunrise out on the jetty, looking towards the little fishermen's cottages (in one of which we were staying) in the top photograh and out to sea in the middle. The clouds on the horizon looked like icebergs to me. The bottom is the local lifeboat heading out for an evening exercise.

It was a glorious vacation. Nice to be reminded of it.