Depth of Field

Private gardens or sheep?

Yeah that title is a bit strange isn’t it…. Sorry about that.

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I was planning on doing a bit of a post about London’s private gardens. The squares that should in my opinion be open to the public to enjoy but instead are there for the privileged that can afford to buy or rent homes in the areas that have these large open green spaces within our concrete jungle. There just for those that can also afford to pay the annual key costs; not the average working class person, not your average Londoner.

This beautiful looking green space is Eccelston square in London, SW1. Increasingly it feels like I need to move away from my city. Increasingly it feels like you need to be earning a huge income or next to nothing – topped up with housing benefits, tax credits, child allowance and other benefits that people wouldn’t need if they were given a decent London Living Wage.

Increasingly I find things like these private gardens frustrating. Perhaps its my shifting political opinions, perhaps its because I just think its bloody unfair the way hard working people that fall within that middle income seem to be the worst off in this bloody city I love.

These park areas are dotted around and closed to the hoi polloi; God forbid that the elite should have to mingle with commoners… Don’t get me wrong here, I have nothing against wealth but I do have what some might call ‘a chip on my shoulder’ about particular issues.   I don’t have the time to do a full personal project on these gardens and perhaps that is just as well.

You might be wondering where do sheep come into this? You might have even forgot that the word sheep is in the title?

I read a post on one of the blogs I follow, how this chap came across some fish leaving the  water as they ate, he stood and watched for a while because he had not seen this before. His post reminded me of seeing a long line of sheep walking across a field. One by one they stopped under a tree and looked up before they carried on with their journey across the field. Have you ever heard of the saying ‘People are like sheep’?

Well its true. I stopped to take the image above and people stopped to see what I was photographing. Its not the first time; it happens a lot. It amuses me that I will stop to take a photo and then two three or more people will stop to take the same photo. I’m not talking about the tourist attractions or something spectacular but just normal things like concrete stairs. What is that about, why on earth does that happen and what do they think they are missing?

Want to try an experiment?  You and a friend stand in the street and look up at something and I guarantee people will join you.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

21 of 365

21 photos into a 365 day project… Three weeks in and I can definitely see why photography teachers say get out there and use your camera.

I’ve not had any specific break throughs but my god, it really does make you look around and think. So, I would definitely recommend it.

Its tough with shift work and I guess it will be made harder now the nights are starting to close in. However, the biggest problem so far hasn’t been taking the images but processing them, deciding which to go with and getting time to upload them.

If I’d joined a project where I had to upload daily I would have failed miserably. Thankfully this is not a rule attached to the flickr group where I am posting my selected images.

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It feels a little lazy to have shot at home but, it was shoot this or nothing… well I guess I would have found something else but its simply a question of time today.

If you’d like to see the images selected so far, they can be viewed in my 365 album.

Feel free to like or comment and if you are doing a photography project, share your link.

As always, thanks for looking,

Jim Jimmy James

Whats art & what ain’t?

As a photographer I still find myself questioning what is art and what ain’t. I say ain’t cos thats the way I talk. It should in fact be ‘isn’t’ & it should also be ‘speak’ instead of talk… thats the English lesson over.

That was early for one of my slightly distracting rambles!

So, I sometimes; actually often find the question of art difficult. Who decides what art is?

Why is it that one person can pile up a load of broken disused plastic dolls limbs and it is classed as art selling for thousands of pounds and yet another person presenting the same concept is just some bod that has piled up a load of discarded plastic limbs.

Don’t get me wrong, I see art and think that is art. Its art but I might not want it in my home but I also see things and think ‘how is that art?’.

I struggle with photography being art. I get how some photography is classed as art but can not for the life of me get my head around it all being considered art.

Take this photo:

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Image taken on Fuji XT2 ©2016 Jim Jimmy James

I decided to leave the dust on the tuning nuts, not to reposition the tuning head with the reflection and on other aspects of the composition such as the depth of field and so on. However, is it just a photo of my bass guitar with lots of depth of field or is it art?

Artistic, yes! Art? I don’t know. What do you think?

A friend of mine, artist Gal Marin has an exhibition at the 1963 Gallery in London I took a number of photographs for him to use as part of his very complex self portrait project. This closes on the 11th September 2016.

Gal has photography, sculpture, ink drawings, chalk artwork and other items. Its art, its obviously art and it is interesting. It has taken him a long time to put the project together and I’m very flattered to have been part of this project that only Gal knew where it was going and had visualised the final presentation.

But what makes my images and the other photographers images art? Again they are artistic but I really struggle seeing my photos as art.

What has prompted me to write this blog post, well I read a tweet about an article on Nicholas Serota by  Charlotte Higgins via the photographers gallery and it makes me think that actually, modern artists, including photographers are very lucky to have people fighting their corner.

What are your thoughts?

 

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy 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

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……..

Next!

I made a submission to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Competition to be exhibited at The National Portrait Gallery.

The images were portraits from my City and Guilds submissions but printed on higher quality paper and delivered directly from the printers that I used.

Note that I said to be exhibited and not to win a reasonable some of money.

I had hoped that I would have at least had one image short listed to be shown and yes there is always the smallest of chances that someone might see a piece of work and commission a further project.

I got knocked back……… I am very disappointed. I’m pulling a very disappointed face as I type.

Non the less, the people that I collected the image from were complementary of my efforts. Hmmm, maybe they were just being nice because I’m fairly certain I was pulling a very disappointed face as I collected my photographs from the depths of South London.

Actually I went there two days on the bounce. I work near to where they were stored and popped in to see how they were packaged and I had to return the following day with appropriate packaging, that as it turned out wasn’t large enough!

The staff were great, friendly and helpful.

So I’m looking forward to seeing the final selection that make the exhibition and shall try to keep an open mind.

After all my efforts and stressing about edits, where to print, what size and on and on and on…….

…..In keeping with my usual train of thoughts, typing ‘on and on and on’ reminded me of The Ariston Advert. That is completely unrelated to anything I intend to document here. However, there it is!

So, yes. After all my efforts I might just as well have printed and entered one of these snap shots taken on my phone…..

Ladies and Gents may I introduce Adam.

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Just incase you are wondering about his name, when his cheeks are puffed out he looks like someone I work with.

Sooooooooo what next?

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I have a couple of projects I want to do and I have signed up for the next level in City & Guilds. I have a sneaky feeling this level is going to be a tad more demanding and with recent changes to my shift patterns at work my entries here may become a little more add-hoc, but hopefully you will still find something of interest.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

City and guilds Photography, Level Two, Part One.

I have finished my city and guilds in photography.

This had two main submissions. In each case there were topic areas such as still life, landscape and portraiture.

There were no set in stone rules so landscapes could be the more traditional mountains and fields or could be city-scapes. The only stipulation was that the topic area and theme had to be agreed by the tutor.

For theme one I opted for portraiture of people in the age range of forty-plus years but specifically those with a strong visual identity relating to street styles, youth cultures and sub-cultures that I grew up with through the 1970’s into the 1990s.

The vast majority of the people I photographed were strangers and it took a bit of effort on my part to approach them.

Only one person declined which surprised me. The remainder seemed either bemused or flattered.

Although most were happy for me to use the images in any way I wanted, some have stipulated that they would be happy for me to take their portrait and use prints for my course work but they did not want them published in any public forum.

I was able to photograph some Punks, Skinheads, Mods, Scooterists, Rockabillies and Rudies but didn’t find the full range of street cultures that I wanted to.

This was partly because of the time of year and there being no major events that would bring large numbers of particular groups together. I also had some issues around time management; primarily having a full time job that involves some rather unsocial shift patterns.

The dark nights and poor weather meant that when I did spot someone I wanted to photograph it was in poor outdoor lighting or inside pub/club/concert venues.

I found that this restricted me a little as I did not have a good working knowledge of using small off camera flash or lighting modifiers. Going to some of the venues I wanted to travel light and not be weighted down by having lots of kit.

The following two portraits are examples of the work I submitted.

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Biker at The Ace Cafe in London.

I suspected I would find one or two bikers at The Ace but did not expect to get any portraits. The only person to decline was a Hells Angel patch wearer. I have limited knowledge of this group but know they keep themselves to themselves and for that reason I suspected he would say no. No harm in asking and his refusal was never going to be any skin of my nose.

Its a shame he declined but I fully unerstand his reluctance and distrust.

So, I was at The Ace and was actually looking for people with a classic 1940s 1950s rockabilly look.

This biker arrived and looked like he would fit with exactly what I was looking for and fortunately he agreed to be photographed. Once we chatted for a little while it turned out that we had mutual friends in the past and that I may have even been at a couple of venues that his sister occasionally frequented.

The problems I had taking this portrait were the strong contrasting light, I wanted to hint at our location without making the location as equally important as my subject, The Biker.

The location was getting busy and I was limited with composition options and didn’t want to capture people in the background wearing more routinely accepted clothing. That would have ruined the aesthetic of my shoot and removed the impact of my models style and genre.

My next subject is a Mod.

I had been to a number of locations where they are known to meet but again due to the time of year and weather, not very much was going on.

I had met and spoken to several people from the Mod scene but many were a kind of oasis style brit pop hybrid of the real McCoy. Some had the right jacket but the wrong shirt, the clothes but not the right attitude and so on.

To be honest I was struggling until I met David and his good lady who agreed to be photographed.

They both looked the part, not only in what they were wearing but also their confidence and demeanour.

I opted to submit this portrait as I felt it was the strongest of the images that I took with them.

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I was very lucky to have meet some really nice people and everyone that modelled for me were simply awesome, relaxed easy going, a dream to direct and just made my job effortless.

Each person that agreed to be photographed were sent jpegs and it is my intention to invite them all to a private showing so they can see the collection in its entirety as well as have a glass or two of wine.

If anyone of the people modelling for me happen to see this, I’d just like to say thank you again. Without you there would have been no project. What ever your genre……. Keep The Faith.

My second project theme was Film Noir. If you’d like a quick preview of some of those images before I make my diary entry, a handful have been uploaded to flickr.

Thanks for visiting and as always your opinions are always welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Its all about the nuts!

A little task this week was to look at the world differently.

Very simple: Look at the world as someone/something other than yourself. 

I don’t think it will take long to figure out what my intentions were. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life as an urban squirrel. Its all about the nuts!

With the exception of Pete and the occasional new follower I get no real feed back on here so I have no idea if people like or dislike what they see? Although the page is primarily a diary for me to look back on, if anyone has constructive feed back for a novice photographer, please feel free to comment. 

 Anyway, if you’ve stopped to have a look. Thank you. 

 

Jim Jimmy James. 

Spider Poo

Okay so its a blog about things around photography and me learning how to use a camera.

The best thing to do?  Practice!!

Sometimes that is easier said than done. There is also the question of what to practice?

Recently I have tried a few different areas including shutter speed, exposure and composition, along with using my camera in aperture priority and manual modes.

Below are two photos capturing / showing motion:

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I didn’t really think about exposure with this image as I was more interested in getting the right shutter speed to show motion. The exposure was taken from the road and I tried to capture the cyclist as they entered the frame.  I’m not sure if I have exposed it correctly or even what metering I used. The composition wasn’t a massive considered either and I had to crop the image a little. Using cyclists rather than faster moving traffic to capture movement was interesting. Cars and motorcycles tended to be moving at roughly the same speeds where as the cyclist speeds was much more varied and challenging.

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Because this is a bit of a diary for me to view my own progress I have included this photograph for a couple of reasons.

I think its reasonably well balanced as the cyclist and runner are in black and red. I also think it does what I set out to do, capture motion. Unfortunately there is some camera shake so I have a bit of a mixed feeling about this particular image, have I really captured motion or do I have a slightly blurred photo? I think I’ve got away with it but would like to know the thoughts of both photographers and the casual on looker.

I also had a little Tinker around with shutter speed in the opposite direction in an attempt to freeze motion. This was easier with the slower moving cyclists, runners and pedestrians.

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These folks were doing bunny hops while taking part in a circuit class in London’s Hyde Park. As an image it doesn’t particularly float my boat. It might be a little under exposed but it sort of follows “The Rule of Thirds”, does freeze motion and it tells a bit of a story.

Depth of field is another topic I played around with. The next two photos have been posted because I was torn between which I preferred. The one with the shallow DOF does what I set out to do but I wanted to get the section of the berlin wall in focus too.

I like the composition and I feel that the message along with the dying roses complement each other.

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While trying some narrow depth of field shots I found a spider sat in its web, I thought I’d get a photo of it and had problems in auto focus so I had to switch to manual focus and while I was focusing, there it was; something I have never ever thought about. Why would I? When it happened I thought “Oooh!! This spider is having a poo”. It made me chuckle and I had to share this with a passerby. Black sticky looking stuff oozing from the spider. Surprised!? Yes actually I was. But then why should I be? After all anything that eats needs to excrete.

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Shame the passerby scurried off as I blurted out “Blimey this spider is poo-ing!!” Followed by an even louder outburst of laughter.

They must have thought I was bonkers.

Never mind, it tickled me and I’ll probably never see the passerby again.

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Jim Jimmy James.