Month: August 2014

The people we shoot.

Do you think about the subjects you shoot? Ever wonder what is going through their minds? Consider what sort of life they have?

I recently captured two images of two different women doing the same thing and both images have a very different feel to them.

Lady in red: Wavy, loose, untied hair. Bright clothing and nail varnish. Open space around her and a care free smile on her face. She is almost winsome.

Is she reading a joke, flirting, maybe getting gossip from a friend?

Phone 1

The denim lady: Darker clothing and more plainly dressed. She looks like she is reading something serious or something disheartening; appearing to me to be disappointed and dejected.

Phone 2

Two women, different lives, both distracted by their phones and conveying contrasting stories.

However, with regards to candid street photography and the people we shoot “there are no facts, only interpretations” Friedrich Nietzsche.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Happy my name isn’t Smith!

I blogged about wanting feedback on my images and told you that I had a Flickr account. Its a great place to get ideas and inspiration.

For some reason I decided to search for people that have the same surname as me. Don’t ask!

I’m not able to comment on whether they are born with my surname, married into the name, are adopted or like Johnny Marr, changed their name from any one of the derivative spellings found for the surname.

Marr supposedly pre dates the Scottish clan feudal system. I type that like I am some authority on the matter, I’m not. It is just something I have heard over the years and I have no definitive answers regarding any substance in that statement.

Anyway, because we apparently pre date the clan system we are actually a tribe rather than a clan.

We were also supposed to be one of the original seven stewards of Scotland.

Potentially interesting stuff if one was into family tree building. I’m not and before I get distracted into the topic of genealogy I’m going to prevent myself from rambling off course.

Flickr…. Marr…. Is there anyone out there with the same surname as me that comes anywhere near my talent with a camera? [Just in case anyone is now thinking “Arrogant sod!” that was genuinely said tongue in cheek].

I’m looking for feedback and contacts and it makes sense that if we share the same name there is already some sort of connection. At least I can kind of argue some sort of logic and rational behind what could be total madness. Who knows I might even find a long lost relative that just happens to be an awesome photographer and is willing to teach me everything they know. So here goes…..

Hells Teeth!!

52 pages. Wow….Thats a surprising 1,342 photographers to check out. Lordy!

Where to start? Date joined or number of items?

OMG! You know when you start something and you think ‘WHY?’

…..I’m hopeful, so, onwards to the next page……Done!

So what did I find?

There were many profiles with no images, some with very few images and lots of photo-streams that had not been active for a long time. As expected some were/are just photo dumps and rather shockingly one was porn.

There were a handful of duplicates and most were just very very average.

Ultimately I’ve lost a couple of hours of my life.

What kind of a fool would think to look through photographers on flickr because they have the same surname?!

I’m just glad my name isn’t Smith!

A year!

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 19.25.49

Flickr is a funny old place to be. For those that do not know it, Flickr is a photo-sharing domain with many group pages such as those dedicated to street photography, macro photography or with images using a particular lens such as a canon fixed 50mm. Of those some will specify that the fixed 50 must be used on a full frame sensor and others don’t seem to mind.

Anyway its a funny place to be. Some photographers go there to show off how good they are. I don’t mean show off as in saying look at how wonderful I am, I am a sh!t hot photog. I mean they only put their absolute best images on there and they show off their images like an online portfolio and free webpage.

Others seem to use the site to upload everything and anything. I refuse to say rubbish photos because that would be a tad harsh. Just because it looks like 30 shots of a car moving from left to right does not mean its rubbish and I would rather think of it as that person experimenting and learning. In any case, if they put too many images like that on their page they do not get followed and they do not get feed back. So the images range from poor through to average and onto those that are just stunning and to a professional standard.

When I started out with poor to very average photographs I joined a 52 week project. My hope was that I would learn from others by looking at their images and getting feedback from the others in the group. Naturally this would mean giving feed back on their images. I felt a little uncomfortable at first but some of the members were really pro active and I started to feel like I could comment on composition and maybe suggesting a crop or even changing something to black and white.

It was all very polite and naturally I only really commented on the images that I liked. What I did also do, was make a point of commenting on images belonging to people who made comments on my pictures.

The second 52 week project didn’t have the same ‘community feel’ about it, so, I dropped out and concentrated on my 100 candid strangers project. I only have fourteen more candid portraits, street shots and its done, Finito!! As I read in another photographers blog Ian Gibson said “even lazy photographers should have a project”. Well I have a few planned and it is my intention to try and get some more feed back.

I’m just not sure how to go about it. I tried the small Flickr groups thinking if they have few members people might be more receptive to feed back and more inclined give to feed back.

I have commented on photo blogs and blogs with bugger all to do with photography, all in the hope of getting some useful and constructive critiques of my efforts.

On Flickr, where the world and its wife shares images of everything from insects to galaxies I make a point of visiting everyones page that favours or comments on one of my images.

I always try to find something to comment on. However, a change in tact is called for. I decided to look at some other images that these people have clicked like or clicked as a favourite…. What I noticed on one was that on the same day they had clicked about 30 images after mine and who knows how many prior. I looked a bit further and it looks like a few others have done that too. Not many, just a couple. Its like the few that click follow but you know they are not; its a way of increasing traffic to their pages to see what they have to say or in the hope that we will comment on their images.

I will still visit these pages but I will be more selective in the ones I give my time to comment on.

In terms of quantity I don’t really care about getting exposure of my images on Flickr to hundreds of viewers; what I would like is quality exposure of my pictures that allows for constructive feed back, the sort that will help me grow my skills and develop an understanding of photography on the whole.

One year on and I don’t think I’ve done too badly but a change in tact may be required.

Maybe just an invite? Other newbies to photography looking for feedback, comment on this blog with a link to your Flickr, Tumblr account and I will visit. I might even comment on your images or click like because I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts.

As always, whoever you are, wherever you are, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

No Title Comes to Mind.

Anyone that has taken the time to read my previous blogs will know that there is always a danger of me going off track and being distracting from my main topic.

Ordinarily I catch myself and rein it in before the point of the post is lost.

This brief intro is being typed post blog. Why? Because I sat down to write about my 100 candid strangers project and I have gone way off course.

This happened because of some graffiti I spotted while out and about. Its only a short blog and because it relates to my London of the 80s and is very much related to what I see around me today in 2014, I am going to leave my post as it is.

The last couple of weeks have seen the news papers and some TV channels run a story about a graffiti artist called King Robbo. I know nothing of the man but am informed by a friend (Nikki Daly) who had some contact with him that he was a decent fella.

News reports say he was a giant of a man at 6’7” tall. If this is true he’d certainly tower over me. I’m informed that King Robbo (Mr. John Robertson) had been around for a long time as a graffiti artist and ended up having some long standing dispute with an artist that perhaps more of the general public, not knowledgable in graffiti, may most likely have heard of; Banksy.

This was covered by the British TV channel 4 in a program called Graffiti Wars. I’ve not seen it. Yet!

This weekend however [Thank you Nikki for details of this program] I will set some time aside to watch it.

While out looking to get some images for my 100 candid strangers project I ended up walking through Leake Street.

Leake street strangerThis is a legal graffiti tunnel and is also known by some as The Banksy Tunnel.

Its therefore fitting that there was some memorial writing on the walls.

LS King Robbo LS Robbo

People will have varying views on graffiti, I think some of it can be very very well done. There are some very talented artists out there and they come from all walks of life.

Graffiti can be stupidly funny, it can evoke an emotion, prompt a political opinion, it can be satirical and extremely witty. Personally I wouldn’t want to see it everywhere. That said, under the right circumstances it has its place and I don’t mean confined to places such as Leake Street.

I wonder what now for Banksy & Team Robbo?

Please note, I do not know who the graffiti artists are, it is not my work, if it is yours and you want to take credit, please simply add a link taking the reader to your work.

I can not clarify any details in the links. They are in the public domain, if there are any errors please take this up with the host of the original post.

For images of graffiti from someone who knows what they are looking at please see Graffiti Junkie on flickr.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

This is an update: When I wrote this part of my blog I didn’t really know much about what had gone on. I really know very little about the ins and outs of graffiti. A very dear school friend of mine that died when we were seventeen (knife crime isn’t new!) might well have taken the path of a graffiti artist. After watching the documentary, I think if he were around today he would be on side with Team Robbo.

Do watch the documentary I’m sure it will open your eyes. Its a very tragic story.

Image Editing & Screen Brightness.

Are you seeing what I want you to see, and am I seeing your images the way you want me to see them?

By this I don’t mean are you getting the story I want to convey or am I getting the meaning of an image that you or any other photographer wants to portray?

I am referring to the actual likeness of the image.

If an image is in a gallery, the photographer has taken time to print this in a way that they are happy with. I assume they deal with lighting and consider the amount of ambient light within the environment of their display? We, the viewer do not really get a choice, the image is there, thats how the photographer has developed it, thats the available light, that is how you are looking at it, its the photographers decision, full stop!

Recently I have had some comments about exposure on a couple of my images. Just here and there on different photo-sharing sites. Its great to get feedback, its bloody useful to get feed back. In fact it is an essential learning tool.

Now here is my problem, well its more of a query or a thought process than a problem. To be honest this post is really just me thinking out aloud. Although I would really like to hear peoples opinions.

On a computer monitor or laptop screen our images are backlit, we will all have slight variations in colour calibrations and so on. Ignore every variable apart from our screens being backlit.

I was wondering if I view your images on the internet, will I be seeing the image as you intended if my screens brightness is turned high or low.

So, I’m thinking to myself, if people think a couple of my images look under exposed but look acceptable to me, is that personal preference or is there something else going on? Something I can change? Something I am doing with my processing or something to do with the way they are viewed on your screen?

Curiosity started to hurt the old brain box and I did a little experiment.

I took screen shots of the same image with my screen brightness at a third, half, three quarters and full.

Here are the results…..

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.27.26Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.28.33Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.28.19Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.27.57

Can you tell the difference? Neither can I.
You may have expected to see these results, you may have done something similar, you may be a computer nerd that chuckled at the very thought of me thinking I might see some variation in the images. I would like to think that one, two or a handful of people, like me, would have expected to see some differences, be they minor or very notable.
The feed back on my images that I have had is valued but I had thought some of it was due to personal taste, much in the way that some like black and white, some like noir, some like high contrast. But my experiment adds more validity to the feed back I have had.

It must therefore be me and my actions at home. So, I took the same image and made adjustments with my screen set at different brightness levels. I was expecting to see a difference here but after my previous experiment with the screen shots I was not so sure how much the images would differ. The answer is that the images actually varied considerably.

If you get a chance, have time or are just interested please view the images with the brightness of your screen low and slowly take it to full brightness.


I’m thinking that maybe I should always try to do my editing in dim lighting with my screen set at half brightness.
Probably common sense and something most people would have figured out very quickly. None the less, I learn by doing and it was useful for me to go through this. As normal, I am making a note of where I’m at with my photography and how I got here.
You never know someone else may have found it useful too?
Tips, examples, comments and links to useful articles are most welcome.
Kind regards,
Jim Jimmy James.

Accidental capture!

When you think you are taking one image (In this case it was just supposed to be a very quick exposure check) but you notice you’ve actually caught a very nice moment.

1 busking gorilla (More about him later) X 1 child with a stuffed soft toy gorilla =  A simple image that made me smile. Thats all. 2

An accidental capture!

Kind regards, 

Jim Jimmy James