Month: April 2014

A retro boot fair.

I recently went for a walk along the south-bank of the river Thames and stumbled across a retro boot-fair. It was really interesting seeing various items that I remember from my youth but the nice thing was seeing people dressed in the style of the 40‘s, 50’s through to the 70’s & 80’s.

Some looked fabulous, they looked relaxed and comfortable, in a way that would suggest this was their day to day life while others looked like they were dressing up for the day, and a little self conscious in what they were wearing.

Funny that although some of the style of clothes are over sixty years old many of the items are still copied in fashion today.

Controversially there was a stand selling fur, well actually it may have been faux fur. Faux fur as a fashion garment was popular for a while but seemed to lose its appeal with the hight profile fur and animal rights protests gaining publicity.

I know very very little about how animals are kept or managed when they are bred for fur. I have heard horrible things about how they are killed and I have friends that are vegans. One has been an activist but keeps it all very close to his chest.

I’m not going to comment any further with regards to fur but I will say it was good to see the mods, rockers, scooters and old cars.

It was far to busy to get any particularly nice images but I will keep an eye out for more events as it might be a great opportunity to take some portraits.

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I think this year is Fifty Years of Mod. So there should be a few bigger scooter runs around the UK.
If you’re into your northern soul, blue beat and so on, it might be worth a peak at some scooter magazines and taking a walk down memory lane for you slightly older folk; or it might be a chance for a slightly younger generation to discover something and see what it was all about.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

New Camera, New Project!!

For a few months I have been toying with the idea of upgrading my camera, so I did a bit of overtime and as a birthday treat I took the plunge and bought myself the new camera. Yay!
Its a whole new experience that I wasn’t expecting and I have two little personal projects that I hope will improve on the images I currently capture.

One is a fifty-fifty-fifty: Fifty images with a fifty mm lens in fifty days.
My big concern here is that I might just take images that I am not particularly happy with and post snaps to keep up to date with the project rather than producing the best images that I can.
Something I found myself doing with my second 52 week project that i recently started and of which I have withdrawn from. It also wasn’t pushing me. Unlike my first 52 week project which was great.
It really challenged me, made me think about how to approach the weekly topic and gave me a reason to use my first grown up camera rather than it sitting and gathering dust.

So a 50-50-50!!

I want to think about it and try to approach it with a mixture of some planning and some experimenting. I think, I hope, it will help a considerably in developing my composition skills.

The other thing I want to do, is finish the ‘One Hundred Candid Strangers’ project that I am half way through. I’ve read a bit about street photographers using 35 and 50mm lenses and I thought I’d use the 50mm lens to finish this project off but I’m not so sure that is going to happen.

I tried to capture a few people with my new set up and really struggled. The following two images where taken on a Canon 6D with a Canon 50mm lens.

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In both cases I just could not get close enough to the subjects to feel a hundred percent sure that they are really suitable to be added to my strangers project. I’m guessing that it will be easier in crowded areas such as buy markets and shopping streets rather than these quiet locations in Potsdam and The River Spree in Germany.

I’ll give it a go but think I will need to use a mix of focal lengths to get the strangers project completed.

I’m told that the isolation of the subjects and the space in both images adds a sense of melancholy.
Not what I set out to achieve and it has also given me a new appreciation of how personal some street photographers actually get.

As always, your opinions are welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

A walk along The Spree.

The Spree river runs behind my hotel so naturally I decide to stroll along the river bank to see what I can see.

There was actually lots that I found interesting such as the mixture of buildings from global offices and fancy apartments to squats and Yaam beach, the street art, the city art and people watching; Berlin’s residence and the tourists just like me sheepishly trying to order food and drinks in a new language.

There is too much to talk about and photograph, even on such a short section of The Spree so I will as always try not to ramble or post too many images.

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I couldn’t get access onto this boat otherwise I would have been tempted to climb on board and have a nosey.

Its surprising how much of Berlin is derelict and neglected but I guess that is what gives it some of its character and charm; some of what makes it feel like London in the 80s. Its a foreign city that oddly feels familiar.

I’d go as far as saying, that if I was twenty(ish) years younger I would definitely consider a six month move to Berlin with the intention of assessing if relocating would be a real option.

Back to my stroll on The Spree and again another abandoned area that I would have loved to investigate. An old closed down fairground. The fence was only small and could have easily be climbed over but not having a good enough grasp of the language to try and explain my way out of trespassing I went with my head and not my natural curiosity and stayed on the right side of the fence.

So I was limited to taking some pictures where there were gaps in the fencing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was later told that the owners of the fairground are in prison serving a lengthy sentence for attempting to smuggle a huge amount of drugs into Germany by concealing them within a fairground ride. 

I guess this stuff is going to sit here and continue to decay? 

I wonder what the owners will do with it when they get out of prison?

Will they be made to clean the site, will Berlin authorities make some sort of compulsory purchase and reopen the site to the public? ImageImageImage

Maybe when I plan my next trip to Berlin (Yes I am definitely going to visit again) I should look into finding out if they ever open the site to nosy people like me. 

Feel free to comment on the images and please feel free to provide more info on the park.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Berlin, Punk & Disorderly.

I’m not a big traveller and most of the places I have been to on holidays have been English speaking countries. On the odd occasions that I have been to foreign speaking countries I have made a point of learning some of the basics… ‘Please, Sorry, Thank You!”

You get the idea.

I don’t like the way Brits are often seen when abroad; commonly as loud, rude and shouting very slowly in English. Like that helps!

I think making a small attempt at speaking the native language (Even really badly) goes a long way towards people being helpful and a lot more patient.

Last year was the first Punk & Disorderly gig I went to in Berlin. My linguistic abilities of the German language is based on a small handful of lessons and a very handy phrase book. My language capabilities extend to asking for help, asking for directions, asking “Do you speak English?” (In German!!) and a very very basic understanding of a typical restaurant menu.

Lat year we flew into Berlin Schönefeld Airport and had a short train journey to where we were staying in the borough of Friedrichshain. This year we touched down at Berlin Tegel Airport and naturally, after looking after us so so so well last year, we booked to stay at the same hotel again.

The journey from the airport was as expected, cheap, clean, very simple, quick and with typical German efficiency the buses and trains all run on time. (Please take note TFL).

Berlin is a beautiful city and the people are warm and welcoming. Unlike London you do not hear sirens continuously screaming or see the police rushing around everywhere.

I am of course doing all the typical tourist visits & wondering around different districts we have not read about. The hotel is in a good location to explore the city and was also chosen for its closeness to the gig venue; The Astra Kuturhaus; The Culture House.

Don’t that sound posh!? Its not!!!

It gets some really bad reviews which I hadn’t read until now. But don’t let them put you off. Especially if you’re heading here for a punk, rock or ska gig….. Okay it has a flat floor and if, like me, you are vertically challenged you are not going to see much from the back of the venue. But then I suppose when many thousands pack an arena to see a pop star, not everyone gets a fab view.

Just as important is the atmosphere and the sound quality. Personally I thought the sound was good last year and I really do not think the atmosphere could have been any better. Hence coming back.

The venue is located in a residential area with really good transport links, lots of hotels and some very good eateries and bars.

The actual venue looks like an old derelict squat area with derelict buildings, poor lighting, graffiti, a few iffy looking characters hanging about that look like they could point you in the direction to buy Cannabis or something stronger. However, they don’t approach you or make any comment as you pass them. Berlin actually feels like a very safe city to stroll around, even at night.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photographers pass but if I can get anywhere near the stage I may do a gig review?

In the mean time here are some day shots of the compound where the Punk & Disorderly event is happening.

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I’m not planning on having Curry, a burger or fries from here tonight. 

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Last minute language revision and some dutch courage. 

Bis später!

Jim Jimmy James. 

Its good to laugh!

Its good to laugh but preferably with someone rather than at them.

We all like comedy. Actually that is a sweeping statement but I think, I guess, that even the most miserable of us like to have a little giggle once in a while. The occasional chuckle is supposed to be good for ones soul.

I sometimes wake up laughing or sometimes I just laugh in my sleep. I’ve also been known to have conversations and try to cook in my sleep. The most embarrassing of my sleeping activities was standing at the front door stark bollock naked with my boxer dog on his lead; I was trying to take him for a walk but thankfully I couldn’t get the door open.

When I say I sometimes laugh in my sleep, I do not mean a little hahah ha ha. I mean a proper raucous belly laugh. The sort that would ordinarily hurt your jaw, cramp your stomach and have tears streaming down your face. Its beyond me why this happens or even how on earth I don’t wake up.

I do have some pretty funky & weird dreams but that is for another place and time. I also have times when I never have dreams. But then I wonder if we dream all the time we are asleep and when we think we’ve not dreamt, we have but just don’t remember it?

Maybe you know and can fill in the blanks??

I managed to start straying away from the point I was going to raise on this post…. Comedy!

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a comedy show; a small place in South London and near Guys Hospital. (As a side note, the food was crap! It was so bad…. I’m not going to comment any further cos what I want to say may cause me some bad Karma. For that reason I will not even mention this pub’s name that is by the hospital, has a small stage upstairs and puts on comedy shows). The Guys & Gals that put on the show were fantastic. It was the fourth time I have been to a small small venue like this; actually its only the fourth time I have been to a comedy venue.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I wanted to make you aware of an all female comedy group, cohort, co-operative type set up called “All Made Up”. Some very clever improvised moments and they are very funny too.

If you like comedy and have never been to a comedy venue, why not give it a go? If you are London based why not go and see “All Made Up”? I believe their next gig is very soon but for more details about them and to see a list of dates they are performing, you can google them or do the easier think an Click Here! Click Here!

The venue was small, intimate and dark. A good opportunity to try and get some images in difficult circumstances.

I’m happy that I didn’t get in anyones way, I didn’t take too many shots so didn’t cause any noise disruption and got a handful of shots that I’m happy with.

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As usual there is room for improvement.

Thanks for stopping, reading and looking at my images.

Kind regards, Jim Jimmy James.

An adult weekend!

Before you read any further, this is not about an “Adult weekend” its about an over 18s music weekend and my photography. There is no ‘adult content’ in this post.  

I’m not a music journalist and I’m not about to pretend to be, or write a review in the style of one.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed live music but for some reason I can’t remember most of the bands I’ve seen. Probably the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol during and after the gigs has something to do with that.

Hmm, maybe my current age plays a part in that too.

Last weekend I went to an ‘alternative music weekend’ at Butlins. Yes Butlins!!

I’ve never been to a Butlins holiday camp/complex because its not the sort of holiday that has ever appealed to me in my adult years and we didn’t really have that many family holidays when I was a sprog.

Butlins have put on music events for a number of years and these have been popular with friends so it was time to bite the bullet and give a Butlins music weekend a go. Why not?! After all it was my birthday.

The accommodation was pretty basic and the food was not really remarkable; just the fairly average hot plate grub you’d find in a canteen or self service hotel.

I could be wrong but these weekends all seem to be out of the normal holiday season which suits me as I assume it keeps the cost down. I was a tad disappointed that the climbing wall was closed, as were most of the other outdoor activities, including Crazy Golf. I love Crazy Golf! Especially if there is a nominal 20 pence wager with friends or betting on who pays for the full English breakfast.

Despite the closed attractions and fairground I have to say that with the exception of a few noisy hen, stag parties and bloody seagulls, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and will definitely be keeping an eye on upcoming events.

I’m not a big fan of multi stage events, in this case there were just two stages. While there was some conflict between which bands to see (Both playing at the same time) I also found it a great opportunity to see bands I have not seen, don’t recall seeing and would not necessarily have gone out of my way to see.

I tried to get a photography pass for the weekend but had no joy. Booooo!! Apparently Butlins do not issue them and you have to get a pass from the particular bands or individuals you want to shoot. I’m learning and trying to build a bit of a portfolio so if anyone knows if that is the norm please let me know.

None the less I managed to get some reasonable shots of some of the bands and all without using a flash!

The Ramonas All girl tribute band to The Ramones. I like the Ramones and had never seen them. So I wanted to see how this band of women performed. I was not disappointed; hot rock chicks that not only look good, they sound good and put on a great performance, using up most of the large stage and interacting with the audience. They, The Ramonas, go on my list of bands to see again.

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Toyah… Actress and Singer. If in the unlikely event you do not know Toyah you can go back, click on her name and read about her. One of those performers that has been around for an age; that I have been aware of since my childhood but never really had any burning desire to see performing live. Thats not to say that I don’t like what she has done, just other gigs and things were on my priority list.

I have to say that I am very glad I made the effort to get along to the stage where she was performing. Her years of experience shone through, relaxed, she owned the stage, got involved with the audience… actually she owned the venue and there were a lot of people there to see her. A top class performer who clearly enjoys and is very good at what she does.

If like me you’ve had other priorities, if you do get the chance to see her, do.

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The Damned were, as expected, very good. Not much chance of getting near enough to get decent images of the entire band, so its just a snap of The Sensible Captain. 

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To be fair that was the case for most of the bands. It was a good line up. Another band I know I’ve seen but could not remember was Chelsea who gave us another great performance.

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Too many bands to review but Eddie and the Hot rods are another one of those bands I’ve heard and read about but never seen performing live. My loss! They also go on my list of bands I will be seeing again if they play near me.

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TV Smith….  

From The Adverts to protest-acoustic-folk-punk. Its all good stuff. Thats all. 

All in all a great weekend of live music. Punks not dead folks, its just getting ready to retire to Butlins. I’m just kidding……

Its not just punk and alternative music weekends that butlins put on; they do Mowtown, Ska, back to the 80s and much more….. I’d give it another go and I would suggest that if you have a long weekend off and no plans, have a look at the Butlins music weekends website.

You never know, you might just enjoy it.

So a quick review of my images… I think they are better than previous gig photos that I have taken. This might be because of better stage lighting, a slight upgrade in lenses, luck or perhaps I’ve improved a little. Maybe all four?

Anyway, its not only what I think; what do you think?

Ps. My apologies to anyone that found this blog/diary due to the title. 

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James. 

 

Book review number 2

Another book review.

This is not something I ever planned on doing but its photography related & about blogging!

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I’m going to keep this very short and very simple…. Had I of read this book before starting to blog I am not sure I would have ever started keeping my wee diary-blog. I found the book a tad daunting when it suggested finding a niche, planning and having a target audience. But reading the book after already starting to blog has given me a little insight into things I can consider for the future.

The book has switched me onto some really useful sites where I can learn techniques that will hopefully improve my images. I’m not going to tell you what or where they are; the author has done all the hard work so it would be wrong for me to just list a handful of these useful photography sites.

Another thing the book highlights is that reviewers should be upfront about being sponsored or paid. For the record, I’m not sponsored or paid. Nor do I know the author or anyone involved with the production or distribution of this book. Although I would of course be happy to have a peek & review anything they want to send me.

Naturally that also goes for any camera and lens manufacturers!!

To the point:  Would I recommend this book?

Yes actually I would. Its well laid out, straight forward, easy to read and I personally found it very useful. I’ll be keeping this book on a shelf for future reference.

I hardly get time to read photography books (Actually I don’t get much time to read anything) so please feel free to add your opinions on this book and please also tell me if there are other photography books you think would be useful.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James