film noir

Just two photos

These two photographs of the same scene were taken while in Berlin. I love Berlin. The place and the people remind me of London and New York City.

That sometimes gets some odd looks until I explain that Berlin is much like my London of the 80’s and it has a familiar feel about it; from the slightly run down areas, redevelopment, music scene and so on………

Anyway, the photos.

They are early attempts at night photography and although technically I would execute the capture differently today… Exposure would be different, focusing would be different and I’m sure the composition might be different; I still like them both.

Maybe when I head back to Berlin I will take these images again although it would be unlikely to have a car parked at the same spot and therefore the story would be very different.

Although I would have done things differently, as I said, I still really like these two images. Mostly because of the mood they create rather than anything else. Personally I have problems picking a favourite between the two; they both have their own weak points but more importantly, their own strengths.

It makes me wonder how photographers ever manage to pick an exhibition set?

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So, I hope you like the images.

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Busy but still plugging away.

It feels like ages since I last posted anything.

I’ve not gone away, I have just been busy with those life things (like work) that get in the way of us doing the things we want to do.

I have also been loosely planning a 50/50 project. 50 images on a 50mm lens in 50 days. I’d like to give this a go but need to have a few ideas in my head and maybe even a note book. Otherwise I will just be taking random shots and not learning from the challenge.

I have also been helping an artist with a long term project of theirs. They studied at St Martins and is still moving forward with a long term project with particular links through differing themes.

This time in the style of ‘film noir’. He had seen my work and asked me to take part.

I am not in a position to show any shots that might make the final selection but I can show you a couple of images taken on location while checking exposures and looking at the background environments.

Sunny!

This is a man made beach in Brent Cross. Situated along the A406, near the M1 and A41. It has a huge shopping centre and the local environment is fairly industrial looking. Not wanting the surrounding area to spoil the aesthetic of the images was a really good exercise in composition.

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This image does not tie in with the overall feel and theme of what was being shot on the day but does link in with my previous noir images. I took the opportunity to make this image while the next shoot was being set up.

I’m normally pretty critical of my own work but I actually really like this photograph.

I think the position the image was taken in, the simplicity, contrast of the main subject against the sand and cleanness of the shadow give it a movie still feel that I like a lot.

However, for me the key element is the tension I feel as a viewer. As the photographer this surprises me but I look at the image and find myself asking what is going on just out of the frame.

This feels like one of my most rewarding photographs I have taken. So based on that, for once I am not going to ask for any critique from you.

I have also visited a couple of exhibitions and popped into a handful of shops.

Tailor Mark Powell has some great portraits on his wall at the moment. They were taken from a photographer local to The Soho area of London.

I have also visited Getty Images and been to The National Portrait Gallery to see Audrey Hepburn portraits of an icon. 

So I haven’t been far. Just busy but still plugging away.

Thanks for visiting.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

City & Guilds Photography, Level Two, Part Two.

So my first submission was based on portraits.

For part two we had the same options again, portraits, landscapes, still life and so on…….

I don’t like labels and am aware that the gig photography or portraits are my stronger areas.

Although portraiture was a complete accident and a total surprise to me that I enjoy it.

Anyway, I wanted to move away from these areas and try something a little different. I also wanted to really challenge myself to learn about lighting.

So we are in class and the teacher asks people what they want to do. So far he hasn’t really questioned anyones decisions and then he gets to me.

“How about you Jim, what are you thinking of doing?”

Really I want to do a mix of things, I am happy with my first submission and confident that whatever I pick, if I screw it up, the first images would be strong enough to at least guarantee a pass grade.

Being me (Apparently a typical Aries…If you believe in that stuff) I don’t want to do one thing…. My reply was more of a question; because with tutor approval you can step outside of the suggested genres.

“Can I do some landscape/cityscapes, portraits and still life?”

The poor teacher has had to put up with me for two terms and I can see him thinking to himself ‘where is he going with this’. He asks me how I plan on tying the different images together.

I suggest ‘Film Noir’. I get a smirk from the lecturer who says “Go on then, lets see what you can do”.

Instantly I think I have made a huge mistake. But I have to say I loved this project so much and had a massive learning cure.  Not only technically with the camera and lights but with UK firearms regulations, having to be creative and getting organised.

Due to time constrains I was unable to complete all the images I had planned. I was finding it difficult to find particular props and rather than rigidly sticking to the 1940s and 50s film noir props I had to improvise and settle for the overall mood and feel of those classic movies.

Due to the time of year I was unable to arrange for friends to get city scape shots. Yes cityscapes don’t need people but this is Film Noir, I need shadows, silhouettes and so on. I guess I could have taken some without people and they would have added an element of suspense and danger but I had my plans…… So the long days and light evenings defeated me with regards to that aspect of the planned cityscape submissions.

Budget also played a big factor. I would love to have time and a budget suitable to tackle this project again.

One or two of the still life images may have been posted earlier; prior to making my final submission. Some of the images didn’t make it into the final submission because I wasn’t happy with them or I had stronger images.

As with my portrait post I am going to post two examples of the work produced:

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The image above did not make it in to the final body of work. I do like it and think it has all the right touches of Le Femme Fatale from the era. The silhouette of legs going up the stairs only add some mystery and intrigue to the image.

I was torn between this and another image, my C&G photography peers helped me select a couple of images.

You can see the stronger image that was chosen from this shoot on my flickr page.

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As you can see from image one and two (Along with other images taken in the series) lighting was an important element for the project. I learned a huge amount and feel like I have only just scratched the surface of how to sculpt an image with light.

I hope you like these enough to visit flickr and see the other images.

If you are wondering what grades I got; it was a distinction for submission one and…….. distinction for submission two.

I’m not really sure how the grades work to be honest. I have seen some people call it a ‘double distinction’ but I think the overall grade is just a distinction. Thats good enough for me.

One last thank you to everyone that modelled & provided props. Without you it would not have gone so well. Thanks also to everyone that provided feed back and encouragement. Especially Mrs.M. PJ. & my working photographer friends, Teacher & Classmates whose blogs and work and be found by clicking the links: PJ, Caz, Seb, Ian, Tim, Matt, Hannah, Paul & Sara.

As always, thanks for looking. Constructive feed back and your thoughts on my photographs are welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Rejected image

Please take a look at this image.

Take your time and critique it (to yourself for now).

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This is one of my rejected images that I wrote up for my city & guilds submissions.

If you have finished having a look at the photograph I will tell you why I rejected the image………

Firstly I will say that when I first looked at this image on my computer I loved it. I felt I had caught a really nice portrait and I was really pleased. Actually I was chuffed!

  • The model is slightly off when using the rule of thirds. That was intentional but as other images were not slightly offset, would the examiner really know the intent of the composition. Probably not.

If I had three or four images slightly offset this would show intent and the composition would be perfectly acceptable.

Naturally rules are there to be broken. However, not when I don’t want little things to distract from the image and my grades.

  • The wall paper has damage or creases.

Obviously this is something that can be easily rectified.

  • The chair rail is not totally straight.

To be fair I could live with that and again, it is an easy fix.

  • Some loss of detail in the black areas but hey, its supposed to be in the mood of film noir so thats okay and not really a problem.
  • The image was taken in landscape view and not in portrait view.

Well, every image was shot in landscape to show intent.

Many were also shot around the 30-40mm range. Again to show intent.

Unfortunately only once the image was printed did I notice the false perspective of the models left hand.

That was the point that I felt the image had to be discarded from the final selection.

I suspect you spotted all of those and perhaps one or two or three or more others.

I like the light, the depth of field, the composition, the catch light in my models eyes; generally speaking I like the pose and her playing with the pearls but I kept seeing the hand and feeling negative about the image.

Please feel free to take another look and critique it openly this time (constructive comments are always welcome).

You could also head over to my flickr page to see more images.

Thanks for visiting.

Jim Jimmy James

Busy Busy Busy……

I’m very conscious that I’ve not posted in a while, or at least it feels that way.

You’ll assume by the title that I have had a great deal to do, and you’d be correct.

Work and college have demanded a lot of my time and my time management for my final college submission has been less than organised.

Actually much of my time has been taken up with researching the kind of shots I want to produce, learning a little more about lighting and reading legislation around the UK firearms laws.

Interestingly, well it is to me; there was a time when novelty lighters in the shape of handguns/pistols/revolvers seemed… not common but just available and easy to get a hold of.

That is no longer the case. Neither can I get hold of a realistic looking toy or replica without breaking the bank.

You might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about firearms for?

Well…. props!

Now’t exciting going on in my world. I am not about to try and rob a bank or anything that might endanger myself or others. Though I am sure my web-search-browsing malarky-thingy has likely triggered some sort of warning/alarm on some Government agency watch list.

However, The clever people that they are, will see that I am just looking for props for some photographs I want to make.

Those are not the only props that have been difficult to find on the cheap. Rotary telephones and typewriters seem to have shot up in value. Luckily I was able to hire a couple of items and super cheap too; cheaper than a pack of smokes!

I don’t smoke and thought I would add some cigarettes to the mix, in an attempt to add a smidgen of authenticity, well not authenticity but definitely in keeping with the genre I’m hinting at.

I was seriously shocked…… Nine quid! …….. £9 for a box of twenty cigarettes! makes me wonder how so many people can afford to smoke but that is another discussion.

So, the inquisitive might be asking ‘what is he shooting?’

Those that read my blog or just know me might be thinking I am just rambling in my rambling thinking out aloud way that I sometimes do.

I’m gonna post two pictures and I would like your opinions please……

My college project is influenced by film noir.

Note I said “INFLUENCED”.

I would love to have the time and budget to be strict on details and keep items and clothing within the classic 50s film noir style but alas, no time and no big budget!

So I’m working on a noir style project.

As I said I am after an opinion between two images that might make the final selection but I can not decide between the two.

A handful of friends have suggested the tighter crop from the two images.

A few of my fellow students have kindly had a peek on the college’s student website/forum and also given useful feedback.

There are pros and cons for both images and I am leaning towards one more than the other but your opinion will help me make my final decision so please do feel free to give your opinion.

As always, constructive critique (open response or privately) is always appreciated.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

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