Month: September 2013

A busy two weeks.

One of the best things about living in what I consider to be the best city in the world is that there is always something going on and there are also plenty of interesting people around. Anyone living in London that says it is boring is surely walking around with their eyes shut.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. Samuel Johnson

In the last two weeks I have seen the ITU world triathlon finals:
This photo was taken on my Canon S100 compact. Small, light and convenient to carry. For a compact it has most of the settings found on my DSLR that I am yet to master. I think I had it on shutter priority. The light was fairly flat and I have had to change the exposure to improve the image a little.

The exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture) is something I have looked at this week. The following three images have only slight alterations in the camera settings but yet look very different. I have asked a few people which they prefer and all selected the same one; reassuringly the one I thought they would.



The Clash also had a pop up store & exhibition in Berwick Street, Soho, London.
I would normally call it a ‘Pop up shop’ But according to a couple of books Joe Strummer and some of the other members of The Clash had something of a fascination with things American. So today I will go with the masses and more commonly used name in the states and call it a ‘Store’. Where I managed to get a handful of pictures including this one of Paul Simonon’s smashed Fender precision bass guitar. This is the guitar that Paul Simonon smashed in 1979 onstage at the New York Palladium which was photographed by Pennie Smith and used on the Clash’s London Calling album cover and the poster seen above the cabinet.

What else did I see? Oh yeah!!
Aurora!!! The Greenpeace Parade that passed the houses of Parliament and on to the Shell Head Office in London. A peaceful demonstration with a few hundred people following. Although I’m not sure how many were involved with the demonstration and how many where tourists scrambling to see what was going on with the giant polar bear.
It was pulled and pushed by several people and made slow progress along our sometimes narrow roads. At least as big as a double bus it was very impressive.
I’m not going to comment on my opinion on Greenpeace or climate change. Thats a discussion for down the pub over a few cold drinks.
I will however comment on my photograph. I think it captures the scale of the actual poplar bear and by having some of the police carrier in the image it hints at either a parade or demonstration. However it doesn’t really tell the story. The image on its own does not show that the road was closed due to the mass of people, it does not show the banners that put the protest into context nor does it show that they are actually outside The Shell Building. My lesson taken from this… Think about composition.

Talking of composition; the 52 week Flickr group I belong to had symmetry for this weeks challenge and I took the chance to take this picture on the way to work.
I think it would be safe to say it fits the brief for the challenge.

There is more but I’m going back to ‘Exposure’.

I visited an offsite ICA exhibition on fashion. I’m sure some folks got a lot out of it but for me it didn’t live up to expectations. I did however get to play around with my camera and tinker around with different settings to take this picture.

As I was playing with ‘The Exposure Triangle’ I decided to make things difficult for myself and went to a gig. Another one of London’s characters …. Polly Pharmacy is a part time transvestite that fronts a London punk band called Seek Destroy
This photo was taken at The Water Rats, Kings Cross, London. They don’t have the three song, no flash rule that is found at the bigger venues but in order to practice for my big day as a Rock ‘n’ Roll photographer (he said with tongue in cheek) The Water Rats is one of the many smaller venues that the would be gig photographer can practice without being harassed. This is not a great photograph and is here as a reminder to me of just how difficult gig photography can be.

Prior to the gig I went for a coffee and spotted this couple.
Actually I’m not sure if they were a couple in the biblical sense or just two friends. In the interest of not causing any potential home disruptions for either of them I should clarify that I seen no physical contact between them so lets just call them friends. Anyway, they were chatting and looked to be enjoying each others company so I thought I would get a photo of them. We were in doors and it seemed a good opportunity to play with the ‘exposure triangle’.
I would have liked to have taken a candid shot of them to try and portray the interaction and warmth they displayed to one another but as I have friends with neck and facial tattoos I’m aware of just how intrusive people with cameras can be and opted to ask if I could take their photo. While the chap looks interesting with his tribal artwork it was their friendship and enthusiasm displayed to one another that I wanted to try and capture. I think if I had chatted a little with them before taking the photo I could have taken a better portrait.
None the less, walking up to strangers and asking to take their picture is a big step forward and just another progression as I inch my way along the learning curve that is photography.

I have my own thoughts on where I can improve as a photographer but if you have some constructive criticism please feel free to comment.

Once again, Thank you for reading my little diary.

Kind regards, Jim, Jimmy, James.

Light, light, light, light, light!!!! Its about the light.

I thought picking up a camera and taking photos would be easier than it is. Yep I was expecting to have to learn about different elements of photography but I had no idea what I was really letting myself in for. 

      Time is the biggest thing slowing me down. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to have a full time job, family and social life as well as putting in as many hours with the camera or even the post production side of things as I would like. I should rephrase that from “that I’d like” to ‘that I need’.

      I thought photography was just ‘simply’ photography! 

This is a perception that has changed very quickly. Photography is very much a trade and there are so many different genres in photography that present their own need for a unique approach and individual understanding. Each of these also has a sub category. 

      For instance, portrait photography could be an individual, a family, people and pets or just pets. All seem to need a slightly different approach.  

      How about Black & White photography? I thought this was simply photography without colour. I tried this and I found that I was most definitely wrong. 

In black and white the shadows and highlights become much more important. Black & white photographers seem to have an understanding and ability to explore tones, textures & shapes. 

      Event photography such as weddings or concerts. Action photos such as sporting events, commercial photography, documentary photography dealing with politics, journalism, social issues………..

      The list goes on & my point is that I have seen images that I like or absolutely love yet have never considered that there is a huge amount going on in each individual genre of photography. 

       In my last blog, I mentioned that Marc Weber guitarist with Go Groove had contacted me to correct me on an issue that came up whilst I was photographing them. He kindly sent me a link to his parents web site. Although I have said that each genre appears to need its own unique approach, I had a look at the web link that Marc sent me. As a wedding site, they (His folks) clearly have their work cut out for them. I would not like the pressure of capturing someones special day. 

They have the day time shots for the ceremony, portraits as well as the evening images to think about. All have one common element, ‘Light’. 

      Thinking back about images I have been drawn to in the past, they tend to be  documentary, concert and street photography in nature or it is very much to do with light and the way it is used for particular images. 

      I know that this is going to sound so so so boring but here is a link to some photos of a guitar cable. I was given the task of taking something boring and playing around with light. The images were taken in December last year which is when I decided to get my first ‘grown up camera’. Funny that although that was a little task set for me by a friend, it is only now, after looking at a few different photographers & genres that the role light plays has only just sunk in. 

      Light, light, light, light, light!!!!  Its about the light.

What is Photographic Plagiarism?

What exactly is plagiarism in photography?

Part of my problem is I sometimes think too much and I’m left pondering something I maybe shouldn’t be worried about yet; Plagiarism and Theft.

Not that I would take someone else’s images and exhibit them as my own but I have already had two of my own images used elsewhere. So blatantly that they were not even edited in any way.

Theft is clear-cut and definitely off of my page for moral behavior. Plagiarism on the other hand, at least in photography may be a lot harder to determine.

If I was writing an essay and a percentage of words looked like they had been copied and pasted or that the discussion and conclusion where not believed to be through my own thought processes, I would expect to be quizzed & held to account for plagiarism.

Now In music there are only so many ways that scales can be placed in any order to play as a solo over a particular chord progression. Come to thing of it, there is a finite number of chords and therefore only a certain amount of voicings and orders that those chords can be played. Take that thought down to particular genres of music and you are further limited.
So at some stage a lead guitar player will intentionally or unintentionally play something that sounds almost identical to, or exactly the same as another guitarist.

Does that mean s/he has stolen it? Not necessarily.

As part of my photography learning process I joined a 52 week project on Flickr.
I have had to try to capture a themed image every week and the theme that has left me thinking about plagiarism and theft is on forced perspective.

I had to look up forced perspective and try to figure out what I had to do and how I wanted to do it. I can’t say that I am the most creative person I know and this weeks challenge found me feeling particularly unimaginative & unable to think outside of the box. Therefore I had a good look online for some inspiration.

What I found didn’t really surprise me in that many of the images were copies of other people’s original ideas.

It is this that got me particularly thinking about plagiarism in photography.
I had a photograph published on the ITV news site. (More about that another time). I also had another photograph appear on Facebook. I was angry about them being used in the first place, particularly without my consent. But equally annoyed if not more so and left disbelieving my eyes that they had not even give me a credit. No No, worse than that; someone else had taken the credit for it.

Obviously if someone uses your own work it is nothing less than theft.
But if someone sets up a photo shoot to look exactly the same as a work you created or captured, could we argue that it is plagiarism?

I think the key phrase being ‘exactly the same’ is important. However I don’t know the answer or necessarily have a fully formed view. I also suspect this will be a very grey area and receive divided opinion depending on who we were to ask.

I guess what I’m asking myself and you is:

Is it just the image that can be stolen or is it the idea, the actual concept?

Again, I’m not entirely sure I have a fully formed opinion and think it would be down to whether or not someone was making money on the back of another persons idea or imitated image.

But then again, never mind if they are or are not making money, why should someone even take creative credit for an image that they have re-staged???

For example the two images below are the photographs I decided to go with for my weeks challenge of forced perspective. They are not ‘exactly the same’ as anyone else’s images and I took these particular photographs myself. I made the decisions on all the factors that went into capturing these particular images but the original idea was not mine. These are simply my versions of someone else’s concept. So can I still take any credit for creativity?

(The images have not turned out as well as I had hoped and with a little more patience I know I could have achieved a much better result).

Large racket!!

Big Feet

(Warm thanks to Seb Clover who kindly agreed to pose for these pictures. For those that are interested, Seb crossed the English Channel single-handedly at the age of 11 and at the age of 15 became the youngest person in the world to successfully sail across the Atlantic Ocean single-handedly in late 2002 / 2003. This record was held until 2007).

I would like nothing more than to credit the people who produced the first forced perspective images that I have attempted to replicate, but I can’t. Simply because I have no idea who it was.

After searching the world-wide web (albeit briefly) I’m still unsure what constitutes plagiarism in photography.

I did however find an article at PetaPixel that highlights theft as a problem and has reminded me that I should look into how to protect my images.

I doubt they (Peta Pixle) will have any interest in my novice musings on whether or not my replication/variations of images are plagiarism but I think I will send this post to them and invite them to comment.

As normal, thank you kindly for taking the time to read my short but sometimes rambling thoughts & naturally, if you have any thoughts on this subject please post them into the comments.

Me, Photography or Something Else?

As I write this post I am not sure where I am going to go with it. 

     I’m not even sure if this post is about Me, Photography or something entirely different. However, the one thing I promised myself and anyone interested in what I have to say or how I learn is honesty. 

     Looking at my images so far it should be clear to most that I am not a professional photographer. I’m not even sure at what point one can be labeled as a keen amateur? 

It is all new  to me and like all novices there are things to learn, mistakes to make and things to be avoided. 

     Currently writing a draft I have been awake for seventy one hours and only had a total of seven hours sleep. So I’m feeling a little tired and I’m ever so slightly miffed with the guitarist of a band that I photographed on Friday evening. The band are called ‘Go Groove’. They are very very tight, professional sounding & definitely worth looking up and going to see them live. 

       There is a build up to why I was feeling a bit irritated with their guitarist, albeit possibly unfounded. He, Marc Weber has a very impressive online CV, as an artist I personally would expect him & any other artist or performer to have an understanding of someone else trying capture the best images they can of him and the band he is playing with.  Especially since I have heard that his parents are professional photographers. At the time of my first unedited version of this post I did not know if this was true but if it was true, it added a little more disappointment to the unfolding situation for me. Why? Because his parents, like the rest of us would have also started off from scratch and gone through some of the stress and errors I’ve had or am going to encounter. Marc also lists himself as a music teacher. I would assume that he wouldn’t expect someone venturing onto stage after a few months of learning to play guitar to be shredding up the fretboard.

        To be fair he wasn’t to know that I am still taking those first tentative steps in a learning process. So this is not going to be a character assassination, that type of behaviour is not in my nature and certainly not appropriate because someone may or may not have been upset because a flash was used.

       There was a small build up….. A little while ago I had been invited to capture some work by Miles Davis Landesman, I did this to the best of my ability and Miles was happy with and able to use what I produced. He had no high expectations because it was all very informal but crucially no promises were made.

      Through Miles I met Chris Salewicz who found out I was busking some songs by The Clash at The Joe Strummer Underpass and wanted to see for himself what was going on.  This led to me getting a general invite to attend a book reading and signing where Mr. Chris Salewicz was promoting his biography of Joe Strummer from The Clash.

      I managed to get a reasonable photo of the event without being obtrusive and a number of people have said they like the photograph. I’m happy with it but as usual would expect to see an improvement in coming months. 

ImageAuthor Chris Salewicz. (Notting Hill reading & book signing). 

       Fast forwarding to this week……I found myself in the company of DJ and producer Paul Rudd who very generously invited me to attend a gig he was performing for an England rugby player at The Libertine Club in central London. 

       All of the above have been wonderful opportunities that I really can not express how grateful I am for the chance to practice my photography at these events.

As a novice I have been fortunate enough to meet genuinely nice people that have had no expectations but surprisingly offered me a privileged position to attend their events. 

     For Miles the format was video & audio. I am not going to post any images or sound because this was for a body of work and a play called ‘Nico’ that I believe is an ongoing project. I will tell you that it included a number of well known people including Sara Stockbridge (author and 80’s muse of Vivienne Westwood), Cobalt Stargazer (lead guitar Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction), along with various others…. This sounds like name dropping but please trust me its not. (Hopefully this will be clear at the end of the post).

   With regards to Paul Rudd, Here is one photo from his evening:ImagePaul Rudd, DJ  playing at Libertine near Oxford Circus, London. 

        Paul was difficult for me to photograph because of low light in the club and his high energy. The man does not stop moving. Hopefully I will get another chance to try and get a nice portrait of him at work and maybe by then I will have a better understanding of my equipment and light. 

       This was the birthday bash of Olly Barkley and there were other known people at the venue. The fact is that like the event held by Miles Landesman, I was not at the club to photograph celebs. They need to let their hair down and relax as much as you and I. So with respect for their privacy I concentrated my efforts on Paul and set about trying to capture an image to show his interactions with his audience and the way he delivered his performance. The photo above does not achieve what I wanted and there is always room for improvement. 

      From what I have read, in music photography there is a three song rule and no flash. Thats fine if there is a professional lighting rig. Difficult, but workable especially for those with some experience under their belt. 

     At the night club there were pro photographers using flashes with diffusers & getting some outstanding results. Lesson one this week: I learned while photographing Paul that there are times when the use of flash is the only way to really achieve a half way decent result. 

     The photograph below is of Jakob & Beukes of Livingston playing in Berlin. This image could also be improved, perhaps by adjusting the white balance. I have posted it because it shows that just a little light helps get an image without using a flash.Image

     So onto Go Groove, playing their gig at an intimate venue without the professional lights found at larger music venues….. During their set I had to make adjustments to the ISO, shutter speed and so on. By the time the band were playing using a flash was in my opinion and based upon limited personal experience, the only way forward with the camera that I own.

     I had gone out that afternoon to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light from the flash in the hope of not annoying people. At the venue I didn’t point the flash directly at people and used the ceiling/walls and floor to bounce the flash. 

    I spoke to the Landlord of the pub and even had a quick chat with the bass player to make sure it wasn’t annoying them. I wasn’t sure so asked my friends a few times if they thought the flash was irritating people or was obtrusive.

The people I was with are very straight forward and would have said yes if that was the case. However they all said no and they informed me that Go Groove had a professional looking photographer with them last month who was using flash photography and apparently not giving a second thought for the audiences view. 

        Why did I feel a little miffed? I had no intention of taking photos of the band during their second set and was just going to enjoy the performance but I got what I was told was a message from the guitarist via a third party; that his folks are pro-photographers and I should not be using the flash as it is irritating him. My nose was a smidge out of joint and my thoughts were “I assume that’ll be pro photographers with expensive full frame cameras and experience of shooting in poor light”. “Professional photographers that went along the same learning curve that I am starting along.

”      As I have already stated, this is not a character assassination on the guitarist. That is not the sort of person I am. If he had of made those comments he would surely have had his reasons. No doubt those that know him will say that he is a nice person.         But then (this is where I now take a look at myself) rather than feeling irked about the situation I should have made an attempt to chat with the guitarist either before the second set or after the gig to find out if he was finding it distracting or he thought it was interfering with other peoples enjoyment of their performance. Actually I should have hung about to speak with all the band members to get some feed back. Actually I should have introduced myself to the band before the gig and told them my intentions. (Lesson two, interact and communicate). 

         Generally the band were enthusiastic, looked like they were thoroughly enjoying performing their stuff and had lots of interaction with the audience. They even made my friends night by singing Happy Birthday. A really nice thing for them to have done and appreciated by the people that made up our group. The bass player looked like a proper dude and was clearly feeling the grove and enjoying himself. The singer, Katy Shotter, well, the general consensus was / is that she was flawless in both performance and looks.

     For the purpose of this blog I am going to post a comparison between two pictures of Go Groove. One with flash the other without:  


Marc Weber, Guitarist for Go Groove has since been in contact and kindly forwarded the link for his parents website and assures me that he had not passed any comments regarding the use of flash. If you do an internet search for ‘The Elephant of Truth'(I found this by accident) you will understand why I’d rather not get drawn into the ‘He said, She said, They said’ scenario. After all, the only person that knows the full truth is The Keeper of The Elephant. (If that sounds odd, please do look it up).

My big lesson for this week is to take lots of shots in difficult environments, don’t be afraid to use the flash but learn how to use it sympathetically, accept criticism without taking it personally or getting binty and resign myself to the fact that in the future not everyone is going to be happy. 


Thanks to Marc for contacting me and thank you for taking the time to visit and read my blog.