Month: April 2016

Getting to know the photographer..

You know those great photos that you see…. You know the ones that evoke an emotion, make you stop and think about the image, the story,  the one that just has something about it; that something you may not even be able to put a finger on the exact reason you like it… you know what I mean don’t you.

Well I am starting to look at some of those images a bit more deeply and getting to know the photographer. Not literally getting to know them! But rather getting to know their work.

I watched a short TV documentary shown by the BBC by filmmaker Marisa Murdoch about a photographer called Dennis Morris.

I spotted a number of images that I had seen before and researched a little further into his work.

Not for the first time, as I have looked at photographers other work in the past, I have realised that I have seen and like several images all from the same photographer but had never known it was that particular photographer that had taken any of those particular images that I liked. (I think that makes sense??).

So  in the future I will be making a point of taking a better look at photographers I like.

Dennis Morris had a small exhibition in London and was giving one of these question and answer sessions following an informal talk about his work as a photographer.

Interestingly he was brought up in my old manor where I was dragged up (I wonder if we’d ever passed each other in the street?). Living in sunny Hackney (pronounced ‘Ackney’ by all proper Londoners) might be the only thing we have in common.

Unlike me, Dennis had someone that sparked an interest and enthusiasm in photography. Luckily for him, he also gave him a camera and set him off on his career path.

My careers advisor at school looked at me aged fourteen or fifteen and said ‘Army’!

That was that!

No questions such as, what are you interested in, what are your exam grades predicted to be?

No question of what I might be interested in doing and advising me on the route I should take.

Army!

I ended up leaving school with no qualifications but got a trade, ended up going to night college and later went on to earn myself a degree.

Army! I went to the first school closed by OFSTED. Far too late in my opinion. It should have been closed many many years before OFSTED did the right thing.

Back on track……… As an adult starting off in photography I’m not sure the same opportunities are around today as they were in the 1970s and ’80s. The world is a very different place. London is a very different place.

When Dennis was starting off as a very young child, film was expensive, so I guess in that respect it is easier for people to access cameras and take more images now. But is it harder to get those iconic shots?

Is it harder to access people now?

The world doesn’t seem as exciting as it was thirty years ago, London does not seem as exciting. Its not derelict, its sanitised and people seem content with their lot. I’m not sure that anything exciting is going to happy anytime soon.

I don’t know if Dennis ever liked punk or if he was just in the right place at the right time? London was changing, there were various youth and subcultures. People had something to say and did things, people were out and about, people were being creative….. London was very different.

I went to his talk and asked whether or not he thought the opportunities are there for youngsters to start a career in photography.

As a 40+ individual this was just a general question,  I was interested to hear his opinion because I do think the world has moved on so much; especially with technology and it being more difficult to have your work stand out.

Its as easy as anything to get your work seen but not necessarily seen by the people that can change your hobby into a career.

I’m actually happy that his response was that he would just advise youngsters to shoot what they want in a way that they want.

At the end of the interview and Q&A people were invited to go up and have items signed. I didn’t have an old album cover or article so thought I’d push my luck….. I did have a camera with me and asked Mr. Morris to take my photo.

All I am going to say about the photo is that the circumstances were less than ideal, but hey, I had my photo taken by Dennis Morris….

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photo by jim jimmy james

Dennis Morris © 2016 Jim Jimmy James

Dennis said he wanted to be a war photographer and ended up within the music industry by chance. With tongue in cheek he likened his early music photography career in the mosh-pit as dangerous as being a war correspondent.

I wonder what his worst mosh pit injury was?

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© 2016

I’ve had a few bruises from the mosh-pit but this scratch was the first time I’ve had blood drawn. The joke of this is that it was a nurse that caused the injury. Well, a nurse wearing a studded leather jacket!

I recently got my hands on a canon powershot G5X and thought I would see how it coped with low lights found in many music venues.

Drummer of band called The Last Resort. Photo taken at punk & disorderly in Berlin. April 2016

Testing the Canon G5X in low light. © 2016 Jim Jimmy James

I’m fairly certain I could have got a cleaner / sharper shot if not in the mosh-pit. The image was shot at a high ISO and the only real issues I found were with auto focusing, which the camera had real problems with in this challenging light.

Thanks for stopping and reading.

If you have any low light or gig photos using a G5X that you wish to share please feel free to add a link in the comments.

Constructive critique is always welcome.

FAO Dennis Morris: If you happen to read this. Thank you for taking my birthday photo & if you are shooting in London and need a pair of hands from Ackney…. Jim Jimmy James 😉

More bird trouble :(

After getting very excited about the window box nest and getting concerned about not wanting to disturb the mum to be (see previous blog post).

I got home this evening at about 21:00hrs and the plants in the window box have been disturbed. Its dark, cold and raining….. Mum to be, is not in her nest & two of the three eggs have gone.

The nest is intact and the egg that remains does not appear to be damaged. We do have some aggressive crows that in the past I have seen hunting new fledglings but now I wonder if they or the magpies have been at the nest.

Did mum to be see the nest being attacked, did she have a chance to try and fend off the egg predator, did she get injured or did she come back and find that two eggs were missing?

As she is not in her nest now, I’m guessing there is not much hope for the remaining egg.

The above shows how uneducated I am in matters of wildlife and anything even remotely related to ornithology.

I am very disappointed and surprised at how gutted I feel.

I guess thats life!

Actually is mum likely to come back and lay further eggs?

If so, is there anything we can do to protect the nest??

Kind regards, Jim…..

Bird Trouble!

‘Bird Trouble’…… If you hear that in London it would usually refer to the fairer sex causing grief, nagging, getting herself pregnant and such like.

The other side to this of course is that the bloke has usually screwed up!
Thats right, its always the fellas fault!!

Apparently the sooner we learn that and just say ‘Yes Dear’, the happier we will be…. Actually, on second thoughts saying ‘yes dear’ probably would not be the best response to any given situation.

So if you have landed on this page looking for advice cos you have genuine bird trouble….. go seek the advice from one of those agony aunt people or take a mate down the pub and chew on their ear. I am most definitely not the person to give advice on bird trouble.

Fortunately my bird trouble is that of the feathered variety and therefore less complex…. A lot less complex!

I arrived home from Germany and found a surprise in my window box:

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Focusing is slightly out as I wanted to be quick and not prevent mum from returning to the nest. Image taken with Canon G5X.

I looked on line to see what birds lay these beautiful blue eggs. It seems that a number of birds that nest in trees can have a range of colour pigmentation in the shell.

We don’t see many sparrows in London these days. I vaguely remember reading something about this being down to the Italians catching them in huge nets and eating them in their thousands. Well, a mix of that and people paving/tarmacking over their front gardens in order to have off road parking.

Good for their insurance but shite for the environment. There is even a suggestion that this is partly responsible for some floods we see in the city. The suggestion being that with the missing front gardens, rain water is not absorbed into the ground and only has one place to go; our old victorian sewage network.

Anyway that is taking me way way way off topic……

Sparrows were common in London. Now they are not. What ever the cause in their decline I personally miss the sight of these little birds flittering and hoping around. Maybe thats why Berlin feels familiar with their playful sparrows fluttering about.

Maybe our dwindling numbers was down to the Italians? I’m sure someone will fill in the gaps or call me anti-Italian. Don’t bother, as it is not true and it will fall on death ears…

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House sparrow once a very common site in London. ©2016 Jim Jimmy James – Canon G5X

I’d like to think this little chap or girlie at Berlin-Schönefeld Flughafen heard our London accents and felt a natural affinity to come and stand near us. They are after all cockney sparras (Not to be mixed up with the excellent but not so fluffy band called Cock Sparrer).

So……. one nest and one blue egg. Looking online suggested that city birds have fewer clutches of eggs. Okay so this little bird, what ever it is, will be having one chick. Thats a good thing as it will be less noisy.

I could have just got rid of the nest….. Yes its illegal but who would have known?!!

However, I’m not that way inclined and truth be told, although not having full use of my balcony will be a little inconvenient for four, five, maybe six weeks, I’m kind of looking forward to seeing these chicks hatch and grow.

Chicks! Chicks! Those of you paying attention will have noted I said there was one egg. In deed in the photograph there is one egg.

That was until mum popped another two out.

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© 2016 Jim Jimmy James

Its kind of exciting and I feel like I am about to become a proud father.

Here is the sad part…… Its not a sparrow! Sparrer or even a Cockney Sparra.

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Mum to be…

Why am I even blogging about this… Here is the thing; I need some advice… You see, the way it starts it sounds just like real bird trouble… but its different..

Can anyone answer the following please:

What type of bird is this?

How long before the eggs hatch?

How long will the chicks be in the nest?

Once they fly off are they done with the nest or will they return for a safe place for short period?

Should we leave some food out?
My concern is that it might attract other birds or potential predators?? Maybe even Italians! [I’m kidding!]

If we should leave out some food, what should it be?

If we put out a bird bath with water  will that attract birds that may cause harm to the eggs/chicks?

Can we still use the balcony to dry laundry or should we stay away completely?

I would like to take photos as the chicks grow and develop. So how long will mum be away and will popping out to grab quick shots cause any issues?

If there are any of those Ornithologist types or twitchers that can offer some advice on my kind of bird trouble, it would be very much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James…………………………… UPDATE

A trip up north.

With mixed emotions we headed up to The Highlands.

There is a joy at catching up and socialising with friends and family but also a sadness due to the purpose of the trip; ashes placed at a family grave and within the childhood village of my mother-in-law.

As usual the trip was far too short. I consider myself a Londoner but I was not born in London. I am, as my mates call me; a sweaty or to give you the full term ‘Sweaty Sock‘.

I don’t know why and can’t really explain it but, I feel my most relaxed in Scotland. That said, I am perfectly happy living in the hustle and bustle of London. Its home!

I got my hands on a Canon G5X and took a few photos whilst away. I wonder if it might be that camera that is the perfect travel companion for when top quality images are not needed and for when reasonable photos are required but without having to carry different lenses around.

The camera is easy enough to use, especially as I only use Canon. Unfortunately lightroom does not recognise the raw files for this camera yet and I only have jpegs to play with for the time being. (yes I can use other raw converters but at this time I do not feel the need).

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©2016 Jim Jimmy James.  Loch Ness – Taken with Canon G5X 

I did not have a tripod and this image was taken hand held.

 

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Royal Marine Memorial – ©Jim Jimmy James – Canon G5X 

I have never been to this memorial to The Royal Marines  on a bright warm day. It has always been cold, overcast or raining. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I have always found this to be one of the most sombre & makes me feel most reflective?

These images are not of the highest quality but so far the Canon G5X looks promising as a lightweight day trip camera.

Thanks for visiting…

Jim Jimmy James

Ps. You can also find my other images here: Flickr  – 500pxInstagramTumblr