Month: May 2016

Street photography project

I am about to start a street photography project. While I have shot strangers in the past, this will be different.

In the past I have felt a safe distance away from the subjects in candid shots and those that I have taken portraits of, I’d approached and sought permission.

Street photography is going to take me right out of my comfort zone, candid shots up close and personal. I have a great deal of anxiety about doing this.

Partly because I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I wouldn’t say I’m a handsome chap and I’m not the ugliest creature to walk this earth. I’m not tall or particularly short. I’m a little over weight but I carry it reasonably well… With the exception of sometimes looking like I am stuck in the ’70s & ’80s I think look really very average. so why do I think I stand out..

I’m using a DSLR that is big and unsubtle. Even in soho and the west end of London people do notice the larger more pro looking cameras.

On top of this is body language. This is my Achillies heel.  I have watched a few videos and observed a couple of street photographers and for the most part I am the polar opposite. The photographers that who produce the images I like are almost anonymous in the crowd, even when they are the subject and the photographer are the only two people in the street. They have a way about them; their body language is relaxed, they look non confrontational, they don’t make eye contact, they are quick and agile leaving the subject wondering if they had just had their photo taken and then thinking nothing of it.

Conversely I often get asked if I was in the military and on occasions get asked if I am a police officer. I’m always the person that gets asked for directions; even when out with a group of friends, the baffled looking person that is holding their mobile phone or an A-Z makes their way directly to me.

I think I am observant and aware of my surroundings but I put that down to where I grew up as a kid. I do tend to make eye contact and I can’t help that, I come into contact with a lot of people in my working day, eye contact, facial expression & body language are important. The visual clue is an important part of communication and because I rely on this I may hold eye contact longer than the average person.

Even wearing “normal clothes” I’m just the sort of person that does not blend into my surroundings. So, the reason I have chosen street photography is the challenge. As a genre of photography I have a huge range of options open to me.

I want to shoot soho life, the buildings, the people, the characters, the transient population and the resident community.

My big question at this point, and it really isn’t something I should be concerned with at the moment, is whether to shoot in black & white or colour.

Naturally as I go through the images I will get an idea of any theme in the content but here is the thing:

Lots of street photos are in black and white, often high contrast.

Some say the colour should be as seen and the image processed in a way to reflect the reality.

I personally like slightly desaturated images and this is likely to be my preference for the project but I’m just not sure it will show the grim or vibrance, the poverty, the glamour or the undercurrent of the area.

There seems to be no obvious consensus and it is really just a matter of taste.

If any readers can point me in the direction of any street photographers that use desaturated colour that would be extremely useful but I’d also like your opinion. What is your preference?

Black & white, Coulour: Desaturated or realistic?

No need for postcards, you can answer below…

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy or James

Photo compression

This is a further blog about testing the Canon Powershot G5X. Some of you may be getting a little fed up with reading G5X as that is all I seem to have blogged about.

I’m trying to get used to my new camera, there are things I like and things I don’t like.

One of the things I like the idea of but in practice has been a bit annoying is the touch screen. I like to use the view finder rather than the live view LCD screen unless I physically can not take the shot using the review finder; here the articulating screen is great and really does come into its own. However, if you do not turn the screen around so the LCD is inward facing there is a chance of changing your camera settings.

It was a rare occurrence but frustratingly it happened. Its also a shame that the manual focus is on the LCD screen and not on the front lens ring.

With the exception of a fe focusing issues I have been relatively happy with this camera and the more I use it, the more I like it.

Something I do like is the zoom lens. It has a 2.7 crop factor and offers from 24-100mm as equivalent to a 35mm camera with f/1.8-2.8 (variable throughout zoom range).

Used wide angle there is some obvious softness around the edges. This is particularly noticeable when used in the macro setting. However, throughout other focal lengths the lens is relatively sharp, in combination with the sensor some nice images can be produced.

One thing that I like about just carrying one lens is convenience of not being bogged down with bags and kit. It offers some freedom in composition.

I took the following image while walking along the river spree in Berlin.

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I like that someone decided they would do something artistic with spray can lids and went around to gather them up to make their own bit of art.

I zoomed to a longer focal length to pull the molecule men and lids closer together. While the focusing could be a bit better (user not camera) I think it is an okay example of how compression can change composition and an example of how the Canon G5X fixed zoom lens makes the camera convenient to carry around.   IMG_0254

The Molecule Men can be found on The Spree River close to the Oberbaum Bridge. They are thirty meters high and the sculpture are by American sculptor Jonathan Borofsky, They sculptures also found in other cities are filled with holes that represent the molecules that are bound together to create our existence.

In Berlin they also symbolically represent the intersection of the then three districts of Treptow, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Copyright question?

Yep its a copyright question again. Actually maybe its more of a ethics and false advertising type of question. You’ll need to decide and I would really like your opinion.

I have had at least one trip to Berlin over the last few years (except last year). Most times I stay at The NHow hotel.

When I stay elsewhere I am just content with a clean bed, room and half decent shower but when I’m in Berlin the NHow get my cash. Why? Because its clean, modern, a bit funky, has a late(ish) bar and for the most part the staff are really friendly and happy to accommodate a Londoner speaking German very badly.

But I’m not doing a hotel review or a review of the staff, its about photography!

So the NHow has a little twist. It is a music hotel, I’m told they have recording studio facilities and they also had some Mini cars for hire by their guests. Thats pretty cool.

Anyhow, I took a photo of one of these cars with the parking space sign. What can I say, it just made me smile.

I  was treating it as a little composition exercise. There is a lot that can and should be done to improve the image if it was a publicity photo but its not. The image was also shot on a compact point and shoot that I was testing (for myself).

When I was going through some files I found the image below and was going to post it onto Instagram  and then thought I might stick a watermark on the photograph. Not for concern about it being used or re-blogged but to direct people to this page in the hope they’d look at other posts and perhaps like, comment or even get an idea for a project of their own.

So the reason I did not post it elsewhere as it is in this post is for the simple fact that I do not know if it is wrong.

Watermarking ones own work is a photographers right and is done for various reasons. As a photographer I can shoot whatever I want in a public space (To the best of my knowledge this stands in the UK but I am not sure about other countries so please do not quote me).

Here is the dilemma: If badly done I think watermarks can spoil a viewers enjoyment of an image. They can be huge and really ugly but they can also be easily removed. So, getting to the point of this post, this question; take a look at the photograph:

nhow mini for punks

Taken with the Canon G5X

To the best of my knowledge I can do pretty much what I like with this image. Its mine; my intellectual property and my copyright. That is the case the moment I pressed the shutter release and took the photo.

That is also provided I do not use the image in anyway to misrepresent any of these companies or their associated organisations.

I have chosen a pink watermark for aesthetic purposes. The same reason for choosing this position of the watermark is for it to be subtly in keeping with the image but also visible.

I have chosen a different pink to that used by the NHow chain and kept a particular vibrancy so that it does not look like part of the cars paintwork.

For the record I have not paid for advertising or been sponsored by NHow or anyone associated with the Mini Cooper. However, if either would like to sponsor my further photography education please do get in contact.

I have also not intentionally set out to mislead in anyway.

I’m not sure if the question is one of law or ethics or something else…

If you are a photographer, lawyer, interested party or any other, What is your opinion on watermarks and what is your opinion on this particular copyright mark (© relates to the image only).

I’m sure I am not the only photography student to be concerned about copyright and image use. So comments will hopefully benefit more than me.

Thanks for stopping.

Kind regards, Jim Jimmy James

Another example….

 

More Canon G5X

If you follow my blog you will remember that I got a tad frustrated by always seeming to have an unsuitable lens with me and not wanting to carry lots of kit around. I think it was Traveling Light.

Anyway, the Canon G5X looked like it might just fit the bill and after doing a small amount of online research I headed to a few shops to tell them what I was looking for in a camera. These shops were independent of each other and one is a place I have used frequently and had really good advice; London Camera Exchange on The Strand in London.

I tried out the camera at a concert in Berlin & didn’t get any results I would consider half way decent. That said, I had not had much of a chance to get to know the camera.

The big problem I had was a noticeable lag with the electronic viewfinder. The result was that when I was pressing the shutter release the frame I was seeing in the viewfinder had already changed by the subject or light changing.

The auto focus had some real problems in low light too.

That said, when the light was fine and the subject was not moving, I managed to get some nice images like this shot taken at The Nhow hotel in Berlin.

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The above image was taken at a photographic exhibition called DO NOT DISTURB by Olaf Heine. Some great images and I bought the book.

I also had some images focusing on this toy bandit that I found while walking along the river spree. For some reason the auto focus kept trying to fix on the background. Although I wasn’t that close and do not think I should have needed to go into the macro setting  I changed the settings to macro and the focusing was fine.

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A quick trip up Berlin’s TV tower and really no issues with this little compact at all. In fact the fully articulating LCD screen really came into its own for framing this shot. I ended up using this screen frequently and its a useful tool on this camera.

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Back in London I headed out with the compact G5X again. Managed to get a few photographs of a protest but found the lag with the viewfinder to still be an issue.

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So it was over to the pond to try and figure out how much of a framing lag there was with the viewfinder. These two swans were perfect for this and at time they made the perfect heart shape. Unfortunately this was the closest I could get to capturing it. I think with a bit more practice with this camera the time lag can be mostly overcome, however Canon have definitely got room or improvement.

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Its not often you see the exotic out and about in London but this chameleon was alone the canal (with its owner). It took a few shots to get this nicely focused with issues being that the camera seemed to want to lock focus onto the background.

I’m going to preserver with this camera a bit longer. I can see that it has potential to be that good quality general purpose, small, easy to carry, every day camera.

If you’re thinking about buying one of these, the problem I have mainly experienced are  with auto-focusing. It really does not like things close up.

Do look at lots of reviews and even see if you can try one out before parting with your cash.  That said, I am looking forward to playing around with this little camera a bit more and will be putting it through its paces to see how useful it might be for street photography.

Thanks for stopping and reading my blog.

Kind regards, Jim Jimmy James.

Ps. You can see more images on Tumblr  Flickr and Instagram

Inspired camera testing.

I recently purchased a Canon G5x because I am a canon user and I wanted something small that I can carry around and not look as obvious as I do with the Canon 6d.

I want to do a street photography project and I was kind of hoping that this small powershot camera would be a good allrounder.

I am just getting used to it and I decided to get some of those wildlife shots that I see on Sylvia’s blog  Anotherday2paradise. Although being in London I would obviously not expect to shoot anything as exotic as the beasties that she has in her back yard.

One of the things that attracted me to the G5X is the feel and look of the camera. Very comfortable to hold, easy to carry, discreet and not too dissimilar to the dslr that I use.

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Testing autofocus on the Canon power shot G5X.

I’m finding that the auto focus has a bit of a tendency to focus on the background regardless of selecting an area to focus. But with some perseverance the intended shot can be obtained. Fortunately the Robin’s in Kensington Gardens are not shy and do not flit about as much as they do in other areas.

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Testing autofocus on the Canon power shot G5X.

I was able to obtain a nice depth of field that separates the Robin from the background but this took some time and could have easily been missed if the Robin was not so bold.

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The Swan. Canon G5x test

I would have like this image to be a bit sharper and will suggest that this may actually be user error, because I had the camera set to single-shot auto focus rather than al-servo.

However, the swan was nice and still in the next image and again the camera appears to struggle with a subject that is close to the lens and appears to be looking to select the background.

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Swan head..Testing autofocus on the Canon power shot G5X.

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Duck. Canon G5X test shoot.

This photo of the duck and the next image of the heron show that the G5X is capable of producing nice images when the subject has some separation from the lens and is reasonably still.

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Testing autofocus on the Canon power shot G5X.

I am not sure if the obstacles I have faced with this camera are down to user error or an higher expectation of the product.

Although I am happy with most of the images I have taken so far, at this time I would not recommend this camera to a friend or family member.  However, I will continue with the G5X and show the results.

Thank you for stopping, reading & even having a peek at the images.

Please feel free to click like or comment but do try to be constructive as this is not only helpful for me, but also anyone else that finds my photo blog diary thingy….

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Ps. I am not paid by canon or their competitors to carry out any reviews. My comments are based on my experience and if you would like to see fuller reviews by experienced reviewers, use google, bing or any other search engine to seek them out.

TTFN……..