Month: April 2015

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.