100 Followers!

I had a text notification or push notification or alert or whatever it is we are supposed to call them…

It was from WordPress and it was informing me that I have 100 followers. Its actually 101 now thanks to The Nomad Dad who is starting a second blog about a road trip he is undertaking across the USA. I don’t think he has ever commented on any topics but clicks the occasional like so I hope he has found something interesting.

My 100th follower is a youngster called Natalie & the person that has been with me right from the start is BeetleyPete who is slightly more advanced in years and enjoying his retirement.

There are those that subscribe by email, those that are doing the self promotion thing and those trying to flog something.

Whether you comment, click like or just follow and read the occasional post I hope you’ve seen some improvement in my photography. If you are someone starting out blogging or photographing our surroundings I’d really like to think you’ve seen something useful or taken an idea that you can develop.

In the big picture of the blogging world 100 followers is tiny BUT for me its a humbling surprise that anyone would follow never mind 100!

For the most part it is pretty anonymous but whoever you are, Thank You.

FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRender-1

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Book Review #5

If you are looking for a professional book review I suggest you look elsewhere. If however you are interested in what a normal general member of the public & student of photography thinks, read on….. Why it does not have to be in focus: Modern Photography Explained (Published by Thames & Hudson) was recommended to me in my City & Guilds class.

Rather than running or cycling I am currently commuting by London Underground and have nothing interesting to look at; the black walls of the tunnel and a few early morning snoozers getting the last bit of shut eye before they arrive at work.

So I thought it’d add to the collection I’ve been reading to pass the time. The book written by Jackie Higgins looks at a hundred images, offers some insight into the artist and their history along with something of a break down on the particular image chosen.

This isn’t a book that offers to teach us photography and techniques what it does do is offer an insight into putting works into context. Something that was highlighted to me by a reader of my blog John Acurso (I don’t know if it was a one off where he stumbled across my blog or is an email subscriber). This was particular to a small article I wrote about a Helmut Newton display I seen while in Germany. Although I am still not personally taken by his work I could appreciate at the time  that he was a talented photographer but I hadn’t really put his work into context of a bigger picture and body of work.

In her book Jackie Higgins takes images that could be easily dismissed as poorly composed & just very badly executed photographs but then puts them into context of a wider collection. Talking about the artists other work, how and why they set about capturing images in the way they did.

The book made me think more about art & photography appreciation, without being arty-farty. As well as highlighting how fickle some viewers can be; suggesting one artists images in colour are openly dismissed but the same images, technique and subject matter produced in black and white are widely accepted.

The one thing I’ve taken from this book is that it has reinforced a lecturers statement in regards to the importance of intent.

Some of the subject matter has left me with more questions around issues of plagiarism, both accidental or outright theft. Some of it has given me ideas of my own (at least I think they are) and I am also feeling reassured that my experimenting with focus sometime ago shows that due to my intent I may one day be published in why it does not have to be in focus part two.

IMG_1469

I’m surprised how much I got from this book. Its one to keep on my bookshelf and I’m sure it will be one to reference should I go onto further education.

And…………. here are two of my early attempts at deliberate out of focus photography.

8753666901_dd0b1cecb0_o

9451301904_432a6d2a01_o

For the record I have nothing to do with the author, publisher or any of the artists that feature in the book. For what its worth I found this book interesting, informative and found some inspiration for two maybe three future projects.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Jim Jimmy James

A Portrait

I wrote about a class outing to Leicester Square in London and spotting Mr. Warwick Davis.

Ordinarily if I spot celebs doing their thang I will just leave them be.

However, on this occasion Mr. Davis looked like he was just heading from A to B and happy to share a few seconds with people.

I asked if I could take a quick portrait and the intention was to ask if I could add him to my 100 strangers project on Flickr.

He was happy to stop and pose briefly but I didn’t get the chance to ask about my Flickr project because others started asking for selfies with him.

I’m fairly certain he would have no concerns about sharing the image on Flickr but the group rules are very clear, permission must be granted to post on their page. So for the time being my Warwick Davis portrait will not appear as one of my 100 strangers.

I actually wasn’t going to post the image here either but two people have asked to see it.

The story behind this image was a college trip to Leicester Square. I was struggling a little until I spied Warwick Davis and had taken his portrait.

He seemed a bit taken aback when I asked to take his portrait but he is probably used to just being papped.

Regular readers will know that is not how I do things.

Although I say he did not seem in a great hurry, he clearly was heading somewhere and I knew I would only have a few seconds with him.

I decided there was not going to be time to fart-arse around changing my lens.

The class project also had to be shot in landscape view so my head was not thinking in terms of portraits and bumping into Mr. Davis was totally unexpected.

IMG_5840-Edit12015-04-16-2

As a quick shot I’m actually reasonably pleased with this portrait. Had I felt I had a couple of minutes I would have considered the background a little more. (As it is I photoshopped out a sign that was at the side of his head).

I would have considered using a slightly shallower depth of field and I should have used the camera in portrait view. I also could have changed the focal length of 35mm by zooming to 70mm.

My personal criticism is that I didn’t notice and take a second to ask him to move his jacket a smidgen so that I could get the full slogan on his shirt.

That said, I certainly wouldn’t consider the portrait a failure.

As always the unexpected opportunity presented itself and has been a valuable lesson in my development.

Constructive comments are welcome.

I’d like to thank Mr. Davis for his time and thank you for reading my blog.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Framed

Twenty-three days ago I wrote Book review #4 about The Photographers Eye by Michael Freeman. I was left with mixed opinions about whether or not the information was going to be of any use to me.

Well it has, I think?

Our class were taken to Leicester Square in London. We were told to go and take lots of photos and then try to focus on one subject so that we could produce and print a small photo-book.

I’ve known Leicester Sq. since my teenage years (that was some time ago!). For me it is nothing more than an overcrowded tourist trap with its bright lights. It has very average restaurants, a couple of bars & the M&Ms store!

There are pick-pockets, drug dealers, people looking for alcohol fuelled punch-ups and some other people milling around that are intoxicated on other substances.

That said there is an obvious uniformed police presence and no doubt a number of police officers in civilian clothing. It is certainly a lot safer than it used to be and as is the case in most big cities, tourists just need be aware of their surroundings and not to leave personal belongings unattended.

So, our class with nice cameras is wondering around this small area that I personally find hugely uninspiring and we are expected to produce a themed set of images.

I suspected we’d all end up with something very similar but I was wrong. I was really pleased to see that we all had very different ideas and everyone had fantastic sets of images.

I’m not overly keen on the images I took but I am going to share a few with you.

I wasn’t doing very well until I spotted Warwick Davis and thought its a good job he had people with him… I’m not a big chap, a little heavier than I should be but pretty average as far as height goes. I get annoyed at being walked into and barged by people not looking where they are going or those that are just too stoned to care who they are walking into; the ditzy, the oblivious and the nonchalant.

I couldn’t stand the thought of being in such a busy area if I was shorter, I think it would feel frustrating and claustrophobic.

I asked Mr. Davis if I could take his portrait. That is probably more annoying for him?! Especially when he is trying to get somewhere. Anyway, he very kindly stopped and posed for a moment.

On one knee I was at his eye level and then I wondered what the view would be like if Warwick Davies had the camera….

Most of the images looking ahead were not interesting and did feel crowded with people but one image I took was framed. Framed looks good I thought to myself, where did I read about framing images with surroundings. Yep you’ve guessed it; The Photographers Eye.

So I had a theme, get low and look for frames. I also opted to keep the focal length at 35mm.

I guess my images were inspired by Michael Freeman & Warwick Davis. IMG_607742015-04-23IMG_606752015-04-23IMG_602932015-04-22IMG_585522015-04-16IMG_584812015-04-16

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and view my images.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

Book review #4

I read some great reviews about The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman so I added it to my ‘must read’ list of books.

When I started reading the book it quickly felt like an instruction manual jumping pages to refer to this or that page and I very nearly wrote the book off as one of those that target an audience just to make money rather than being of any value in developing the reader.

If it wasn’t for my short (20 minute) tube journey for my early shifts that start at 06:15, I probably would not have gotten around to reading the book. But the first train in the morning is too early to plug in my headphones and ignore the world around me.

So, my early commute made the though of reading an ‘instruction manual’ a little more tolerable. Thankfully the page jumping references didn’t happen too often.

The book takes a handful of images and breaks them down, analyzing the framing, composition, lines, curves and movement. The story the photographer wants to tell along with the reasons why certain images have particular patterns & rhythms that appeal to us as viewers.

The analysis of the images feels academic and would probably be a good book for referencing on a photographic essay looking at composition.

I’m not sure that one could use all the compositional thought process’ described while at a location. In fact I’m certain that if you tried you’d never manage to take a photo.

From reading this book I have taken away the importance of moving around, Michael Freeman reiterates a key concept of street photography & photojournalism in that observing and anticipating events unfolding affords the photography the opportunity to compose a shot but also highlights the need to sometimes just take a shot rather than risk missing the moment altogether.

Would I recommend this book? Truth be told, I’m not sure.

I guess I should have taken some notes as I was reading and that may have helped me really evaluate whether or not this book has been useful for me.

I don’t think there have been any lightbulb moments but it may help me a little when deciding which images I show.

I would be disappointed if I had spent my money on this book but it was a really good choice for a stocking filler at christmas. Sometimes I deliberately leave books on the train for others to read. However, this one leaves me with mixed opinions and it will go on the book shelf at home for future reference.

FullSizeRender

Taken on an iPhone

I was about to suggest if I read anymore books in the series by Freeman, they might best be borrowed from the library.

However, look what I got for my birthday…….

FullSizeRender

Taken on an I-phone

Lets hope the whisky & Capturing Light are more interesting.

I need a dodge in Camden.

Well finally something I think I will enjoy is on locally. Unless I’m getting a Hackney Carriage home and he decides to take the scenic route!

Actually it was a very entertaining journey and he knocked the meter price back down to where is should’ve been.

FARE PLAY!

Sorry! Just couldn’t resist it.

So, the night begins in a mexican restaurant near to KOKO in Camden. For the older folk that have moved away, this used to be The Music Machine.

Me and my date for the night (The lucky lady has been my date for the last 27 years) walk in to a mexican restaurant to get some grub and The Urban Voodoo Machine are there chilling out. To my surprise they don’t say a word to the table of ten girls sat next to them in their net ball outfits. Not very Rock ‘n’ Roll but very gentlemanly.

I know one of them has clocked the camera (The band not the net ball team) and I feel like saying to him, relax, yes I know who you are but there is a time and a place for photos and I’m not disturbing your last hour before a gig.

Its just not the done thing…. Its not how I work. I want people I shoot to trust me. I do not want to put sneaky photos out there and I’m not going to put out anything I would consider unflattering.

Entering KOKO. “Excuse me Sir, No cameras!” What the….. You’re kidding me right?

My wife then asks rhetorically “what even though almost everyone has a phone?”……… I have to say at this point that the security chap was extremely polite and I asked for his supervisor who offered to call the manager…. Its not on the tickets that we have, nor have I noticed anything on their website stating no cameras.

So here I am, camera in hand and ready to demand a refund when the manager of the venue apologises for the situation, appears empathetic to my concerns over the safety of my kit and gives a personal reassurance that it will be looked after.

Reluctantly I accompany him to a secure area and hand over my baby. I feel like its in safe hands but there is a niggling doubt that leaves me a little uncomfortable and somewhat diminishes my enjoyment of the show.

You know what else detracted from the show…. people holding up phones to take substandard photos and videos….. other people with DSLRs without battery grips turning their camera into portrait position and holding the camera in such a way that their elbows are poking out and obstructing other peoples views. Flashes going off… I wouldn’t have used a flash, the lighting at the venue was great, I’m always mindful of an audience that has paid good money to see a gig, nor am I recording moving images and sound, … I am not sure if this is a policy of the venue, the particular promotor or the artists? I’m disappointed.

The front man for the urban voodoo machine is our master of ceremonies, our compare…He is perfect, one or two little slip ups but does a fantastic job of keeping the evening moving. The Crunch start us off and are much better than I expected. Terry Chimes starts hammering out a rhythm accompanied by Dave Tregunna on Bass and Mickey Geggus showing us how to play an axe with attitude. On vocals and the second guitar is Sulo Karlsson.

The Crunch go on my list of bands to see again but preferably somewhere both I and my camera are welcome.

Don Letts then spun a few tunes before Chris Salewicz confidently gave a reading from his Joe Strummer biography ‘Redemption Song’. As a side note Mr. Salewicz came to the Joe Strummer underpass because he heard something was going on there one night. It was just me tinkering with my guitar… I’m very novice at guitar and most certainly do not consider myself a vocalist but if your interested it is here (Building work was going on in the subway and it was one of the most stressful things I’ve done). Intended to be just a record for me and a way of me looking back to see if I have improved. If you do decide to view it or even comment, be gentle.

I’ve no idea how Chris heard about it or what he thought was going on but none the less it was nice of him to stop and spend five minutes chatting.

Back to last night; the screening of ‘I need a dodge’ directed by Nick Hall. This was mostly in Spanish with English subtitles. It was an easy watch and at points it raised a few laughs. There was a bit of a racket from the bar area during the reading and screening; some fella that looked like Gary Bushall but surely it couldn’t of been him? He surely wouldn’t be that loud? Really THAT LOUD!

Then more music with various artists and singers. The billing from the KOKO website read….

….Cadiz Music presents Rock N Roll Cinema – The premier UK screening of ‘I need a dodge! Joe Strummer on the run’, on  Wednesday 25 March.

As well as a screening of the film, the evening will also offer an all-star band, playing The Clash and Joe Strummer songs. All Star Band with Special Guest Vocalists including… WAYNE KRAMER from MC5
CHARLEY HARPER from UK SUBS
RUTS DC
CHRIS BAILEY from THE SAINTS
NORMAN WATT-ROY from THE BLOCKHEADS & WILKO JOHNSON BAND
MARTIN CHAMBERS from THE PRETENDERS
PAUL RONNEY ANGEL from THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE
TYMON DOGG from THE MESCALEROS + ANTONIO ARIAS from 091
RACHID TAHA & HENRY PADOVANI from THE POLICE
LARRY LOVE from ALABAMA 3 THE CRUNCH – FEAT. TERRY CHIMES from THE CLASH / MICKY GEGGUS from the COCKNEY REJECTS / DAVE TREGUNNA from SHAM 69 and SULO KARLSSON from DIAMOND DOGS Plus Don Letts perform an exclusive DJ set.

Back to me: What an awesome gig, I really do not remember when I last felt the floor move so much.

I don’t write gig reviews so I will suggest you buy Vive Le Rock magazine as I’m pretty certain they will have it covered. If not I will be seriously surprised.

I’d happily watch this set again tomorrow. I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed the night. Missed my camera, kept feeling anxious about my camera but what a great gig.

As far as photography goes I got nothing more than a crappy snatched shot of Don Letts and Chris Salewicz.

IMG_579312015-03-25

Along with a quick shot of my knee. Yep my knee!

In my day job I quickly learnt not to kneel and that every situation presents something to learn from…… in this case it was do not kneel.

Yes I made the school boy error of kneeling down in a venue and ended up with a patch on my knee that smells like vomit.

IMG_580222015-03-25

So thats that.

A very unsuccessful gig shoot.

Until next time, thanks for stopping and reading.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

Google image search.

Interesting to see my blog being visited by someone that has used one of my images to do a google image search.

What else can I see on the admin stats page?

Visitors from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Czeck Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, The UK, The United Arab Emirates, and The USA.

I wonder what they were looking for?

Did they find anything interesting?

How many are return visitors?

If you are one of those that visited and return every so often, hello & thank you.