Month: October 2014

Pukes in the park.

I’m starting to get reasonably comfortable with my camera. I’m at a stage where if something doesn’t work I can make little adjustments without a huge amount of thought….Don’t get me wrong, I still have to think about it but it does not take so long.

I’m happy taking portraits in natural light, comfortable with the little knowledge I have with regards to flash and lighting modifiers. Night photography, candid street photography………you get the idea… I’m getting comfortable and have some confidence in what I’m doing.

However, on Sunday I think I took some of my worst images ever! ‘London Parks’ is one of my City & Guilds homework projects but the wind was such that I was never going to get any outstanding landscapes; the good news was that The Pukes (A ukulele punk band) were filming a music video for their new single.

It was cold but they looked like they were having lots of fun. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to get some nice candid shots of the band and my day wouldn’t be wasted.

Never have I been so wrong.

The sky was very bright but dull and boring; the band were under a band stand and in shade which added together made exposure a bit more difficult.

The videographer chap was sound and happy for me to shoot but obviously I had to be mindful of what he was filming and keep out of the way.

Some of the filming was some distance away and I could have done with a decent zoom or fixed 200 / 300 mm lens.

On top of all of this, I could not use any flash or light mods as this would interfere with the filming.

The band were closely packed so I was not in a position to isolate any of the band members and thus many of the shots either have people with their faces half hidden or instruments cutting across them.

It was a new challenge that I’ve not come across. Actually looking at it I would have thought it would be easy but it was a pain in the backside and for some reason much more difficult than I have found other areas of photography.

Obviously if I was directing the shoot or not having to worry about the filming I could have got very much closer and had some cleaner shots. I probably should have asked some of the band members if I could have taken portraits after the filming but they were genuinely starting to look a bit cold and tired. That is not going to come over in the video because they were extremely professional while the camera was rolling.

Here are some of the shots taken during the filming:

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Stuart Sterling filming in amongst The Pukes

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Many thanks to the members of The Pukes and film maker Stuart Sterling for not telling me to bog off!

Thanks you for visiting my page.

Jim Jimmy James

London Cycling.

Another day and the tragic news of another cyclists death in London.

It is dreadful for the person’s families and friends to have their loved ones lives cut short. It will undoubtably also affect the driver, police and paramedics involved and lets not forget the innocent bystanders.

Obviously I can not comment on the circumstances of any of the collisions that have led to the deaths in London this year, nor do I suggest that any of those cyclists have behaved or flaunted the law in the way that the following cyclists have conducted themselves in this photo-story.

At this point, before any cyclist start to get their knickers in a twist, I commute around my city by bicycle, motorcycle, on foot, all forms of public transport and much, much, much less frequently I drive.

I know how badly maintained the roads are, I know how congested they are, while on two wheels I was involved in a serious road traffic collision that left me with several fractures; for these reasons I believe I am well placed to give an unbiased view of London’s roads. At least I thought I was………

Starting this photo project opened my eyes to just how badly many London cyclists behave. Yeah Yeah its not just the cyclists. I get that but this project was started to look at cycling with intensions of following on with projects looking at other road users.

To start the project I decided I would take a picture at a crossing point I use frequently and is often chaotic with cyclists and pedestrians all dodging each other.

There are runners almost running into everyone, the ‘lycra-lout’ on light weight road bikes taking off at speed and riding head-on into everyone; I kind of get the sense that some of these people are looking for conflict with the more sedate that are trying to avoid getting caught up in the unruliness.

But then how can it be anything other than a chaotic and unruly, in this day and age where common sense appears to be lacking and people are used to our nanny state looking after them or dictating how they should behave rather than taking responsibility for themselves.

At this particular crossing, along with many others, nothing directs them to separate themselves from each other and their lack of forward vision means they can not see beyond their own noses; not even thinking they should use the left side of the crossing. We drive on the left so that seems logical to me but then maybe we have too many tourists that drive on the right using the hire bikes.

In my photo the police are not exactly setting a good example. I’m guessing they’ve forgotten what they were taught on their public safety cycling course.

Image 1

This crossing point is often very messy and I have seen a number of arguments break out here.

Most cycle lanes in London are nothing more than just painted sections in the road. Even within cycle lanes I’ve seen many example of cyclists not showing the slightest consideration for their fellow cyclists.

Below are two lanes, one for those heading north and one for cyclists traveling south. As you can see, the cyclists traveling south clearly think they are more important than cyclist heading north.

Image 3

Cyclists obstructed by a bus due to poor syncing of traffic signals. Southbound cyclists obstructing the northbound cycle lane.

Is it an arrogance or just a poor design? I don’t know. I’d like to say it is the design but after observing for a couple of days I think it is more likely to be plain and simple stupidity.

Okay that might be a tad harsh so to even the balance a little the next image shows pedestrians strolling along the same cycle lanes with no consideration or awareness that it is even a cycle lane with a cyclist being held up behind them.

Image 4

Pedestrians oblivious that they are strolling alone and across a cycle lane.

The next cycle lane is also occupied by a pedestrian. The pavement to her left was empty yet she decided to walk in the cycle lane and again appeared oblivious that it is a contraflow lane with motor vehicles approaching her from the front and cyclist coming from behind. Inconsiderate, stupid or just thoughtless? She is the sort that wonders around the West-end and Covent Garden like it is a pedestrian zone. You know what; as a road user in/on private or public transport, you’re the type of person holding me up.

Image 5

So it seems that if pedestrians are in cycle lanes it is okay for these next cyclists to decide they wouldn’t use the cycle lanes but opt to ride straight at a pedestrians.

Image 6

Image 9.

How about these cyclists riding across a zebra crossing without warning and forcing the driver to stop under emergency conditions. Seems like a reasonable and fun thing to do.

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Fortunately the other driver had already stopped for the pedestrian walking towards me.

The ones that bug me are those that ride on pavements. More specifically those that ride on pavements at any speed and no consideration for pedestrians. Those same bloody speed merchants that hammer along the footpath at the side of the canals ringing their bloody bells constantly to beast people out of their way.

Its a pavement, a foot path, a pedestrian crossing for pedestrians.

What about those cyclists that ride through roadworks where people are actually working. Plenty of people are injured by cyclists and receive anything from minor soft tissue injuries to more serious injuries requiring surgery. I get to see this first hand, day in, day out. The signs are there for all road users. Ignoring them puts yourself and others at risk of injury and death. Ignoring these road signs that are placed for our safety is not clever, its dangerous.

Image 10

As a motorcyclist and driver I find it frustrating when cyclists interrupt my progress because they are riding the wrong way up a one way street or on the wrong side of the road.

You know what, I don’t want to hurt you, I’ve avoided you, you’ve not gotten away with it because you’re cool, smart or clever, you are uninjured because I slowed down, stopped or moved over. You’re actions affected me. Why do you think your progress is so much more important than mine? Car vs Cycle = There is only ever going to be one winner and you might not get lucky next time if you come face to face with a distracted driver.

Image 11

I know its one way… I’m only going one way!

Image 12

Rider on left of image rode the wrong way up a one way street. Drivers being held up by slow moving cyclists riding side by side.

The next four images show cyclist that are clearly not in full control of their bikes.

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As a youngster we would get told off by the police for doing things.

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This man would appear to be a competent rider but the reality is he is not in full control of his bike.

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If that lorry at the left edge of the image stopped suddenly what do you think might happen to that man who clearly has X-ray vision and full control of his bicycle. How about the chap with the headphones that couldn’t hear me ask for the time while he was sat at traffic lights, how aware is he of things around him?

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I seem to have picked an almost traffic free day to capture my images but regardless of that, this person is not in control of the bike, nor is he aware of his surroundings. Personally I would add three points onto his provisional or full driving licence. If he does not have one then the points are held for when he does apply for one.

Here we have a cyclist jumping a red light. The rider should be fined, points on his license and the bike should be confiscated and crushed. Just like what would happen to drivers.One law of us and another law for them!

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Red Light…. I ain’t stopping for no one.

My final image shows the reality of cycling in London. The roads are poorly maintained, road drainage covers are in our paths, busses and heavy goods vehicles are bearing down on us as we have to use the same lanes as other traffic.

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One cycling death is too many and many many more cyclist are injured on our roads.

As cyclists we can all improve our chances of arriving home to our loved ones in one piece.

Appropriate clothing, hi-vis and a helmet. Make clear your intentions and try to be predictable. Maintain your bike. Consider attending a road cycle safety class. Do not go up the inside of large vehicles, especially the ones indicating to turn left. Follow the rules of the road. Slow down occasionally…. let the situation in front unfold so you can take in the information and take appropriate action.

The best tip I ever had when I was learning to ride a motorbike applies to cycling, treat the road like no one has seen you, if you can not see in a drivers mirror, they can not see you.

Stay safe.

Jim Jimmy James.

Low Key Lighting – Gig Photography.

There are a couple of gig photographers that I guess I could reference such as Pennie Smith. Obviously as a long standing listener of Punk music her image on The Clash album stood out long before I even thought anything of photography. As did images by Ian Dickson whose pictures I was aware of long before hearing his name.

Occasionally I see an image and look up who a photographer was and may visit their pages every so often to see other work by them.

Although not new photographers and they are well established, more recently I’ve noticed work by Ami Barwell and Svenja Block.

So that is the influences referenced and from that you can safely assume that I like black and white images, low key lighting and live music photography.

I thought it was time to have another go at capturing some images in what can only be described as less than ideal conditions.

Low key light.

Saffron. Vocalist & front-woman of Republica. ©Jim Jimmy James (2014).

Low key light.

Dr. Clive frontman for Doctor and The Medics. ©Jim Jimmy James (2014).

A couple of images I’m actually very happy with and have had positive feedback from both of the performers. One directly and one indirectly.

If they are happy then I guess I should be happy.

Thanks for stopping and looking at my images.

Jim Jimmy James.

Book Review #3

If you have one thing in common with me, you may be the type of person that does not take five minutes to read instruction manuals and leaflets.

Like me you may have had furniture such as shelving that ends up looking like a modern piece of abstract art.

You may also have turned the air blue while trying to figure out how to tune, program and use that new computer, DVD player or games console.

I often find instruction manuals boring, confusing and sometimes difficult to understand; that is why I often find my self getting frustrated with new technology and putting those abstract art pieces together!

Buying my first grown up camera and wanting to take some reasonable images of family and friends that I would want to keep; I changed the habit of a lifetime and I decided that I would read the instructions.

Yep! In typical instructions manual style, it was a case of reading a bit, scratching my head, reading it again and then that particular section referring me to another part of the manual. Grrrrr!!

Not to be put off I went to a bookshop to look for a basic digital photography book. What I found was a book specifically for my camera. Great!

Armed with my new book and my camera I decided that I should probably sign up for an introduction to digital photography course. I found a course starting within a good time frame that also fitted in with my shift work. Fab!

I’ve got to say that I would highly recommend both the book and the course to those that are new to photography or those with a very basic understanding that have a desire to improve.

My teacher on the course was a photographer called Charlotte Ashworth.

The course was great fun and very informative. Charlotte was supportive and hugely encouraging. If you want to learn how to use your camera or improve your photography you really should consider signing up for a course.

(As that may look like a shocking plug here is the disclaimer: I am not related to Charlotte Ashworth and have not been paid or canvased. This is a recommendation based on my own personal experience).

Back to the book review……. David Busch’s book ‘Guide to Digital SLR Photography’ does exactly what it claims.

David Busch

Easy to read, Easy to follow & none of the exasperating toing and froing that has thwarted my plans and progress in the past.

David Busch does a series of books; in my case the camera is a Canon Rebel T3i/600D and I really can not recommend this book strongly enough. It really did make it all very easy.

(Again I do not know Mr. Busch and have not been paid, canvased or endorsed in any way). I’d like to have books and equipment sent to me for review but that hasn’t happened. Yet!  (Yes dear reader & publishers, that was a subtle hint).

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James