Pukes in the park.

I’m starting to get reasonably comfortable with my camera. I’m at a stage where if something doesn’t work I can make little adjustments without a huge amount of thought….Don’t get me wrong, I still have to think about it but it does not take so long.

I’m happy taking portraits in natural light, comfortable with the little knowledge I have with regards to flash and lighting modifiers. Night photography, candid street photography………you get the idea… I’m getting comfortable and have some confidence in what I’m doing.

However, on Sunday I think I took some of my worst images ever! ‘London Parks’ is one of my City & Guilds homework projects but the wind was such that I was never going to get any outstanding landscapes; the good news was that The Pukes (A ukulele punk band) were filming a music video for their new single.

It was cold but they looked like they were having lots of fun. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to get some nice candid shots of the band and my day wouldn’t be wasted.

Never have I been so wrong.

The sky was very bright but dull and boring; the band were under a band stand and in shade which added together made exposure a bit more difficult.

The videographer chap was sound and happy for me to shoot but obviously I had to be mindful of what he was filming and keep out of the way.

Some of the filming was some distance away and I could have done with a decent zoom or fixed 200 / 300 mm lens.

On top of all of this, I could not use any flash or light mods as this would interfere with the filming.

The band were closely packed so I was not in a position to isolate any of the band members and thus many of the shots either have people with their faces half hidden or instruments cutting across them.

It was a new challenge that I’ve not come across. Actually looking at it I would have thought it would be easy but it was a pain in the backside and for some reason much more difficult than I have found other areas of photography.

Obviously if I was directing the shoot or not having to worry about the filming I could have got very much closer and had some cleaner shots. I probably should have asked some of the band members if I could have taken portraits after the filming but they were genuinely starting to look a bit cold and tired. That is not going to come over in the video because they were extremely professional while the camera was rolling.

Here are some of the shots taken during the filming:

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Stuart Sterling filming in amongst The Pukes

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Many thanks to the members of The Pukes and film maker Stuart Sterling for not telling me to bog off!

Thanks you for visiting my page.

Jim Jimmy James

London Cycling.

Another day and the tragic news of another cyclists death in London.

It is dreadful for the person’s families and friends to have their loved ones lives cut short. It will undoubtably also affect the driver, police and paramedics involved and lets not forget the innocent bystanders.

Obviously I can not comment on the circumstances of any of the collisions that have led to the deaths in London this year, nor do I suggest that any of those cyclists have behaved or flaunted the law in the way that the following cyclists have conducted themselves in this photo-story.

At this point, before any cyclist start to get their knickers in a twist, I commute around my city by bicycle, motorcycle, on foot, all forms of public transport and much, much, much less frequently I drive.

I know how badly maintained the roads are, I know how congested they are, while on two wheels I was involved in a serious road traffic collision that left me with several fractures; for these reasons I believe I am well placed to give an unbiased view of London’s roads. At least I thought I was………

Starting this photo project opened my eyes to just how badly many London cyclists behave. Yeah Yeah its not just the cyclists. I get that but this project was started to look at cycling with intensions of following on with projects looking at other road users.

To start the project I decided I would take a picture at a crossing point I use frequently and is often chaotic with cyclists and pedestrians all dodging each other.

There are runners almost running into everyone, the ‘lycra-lout’ on light weight road bikes taking off at speed and riding head-on into everyone; I kind of get the sense that some of these people are looking for conflict with the more sedate that are trying to avoid getting caught up in the unruliness.

But then how can it be anything other than a chaotic and unruly, in this day and age where common sense appears to be lacking and people are used to our nanny state looking after them or dictating how they should behave rather than taking responsibility for themselves.

At this particular crossing, along with many others, nothing directs them to separate themselves from each other and their lack of forward vision means they can not see beyond their own noses; not even thinking they should use the left side of the crossing. We drive on the left so that seems logical to me but then maybe we have too many tourists that drive on the right using the hire bikes.

In my photo the police are not exactly setting a good example. I’m guessing they’ve forgotten what they were taught on their public safety cycling course.

Image 1

This crossing point is often very messy and I have seen a number of arguments break out here.

Most cycle lanes in London are nothing more than just painted sections in the road. Even within cycle lanes I’ve seen many example of cyclists not showing the slightest consideration for their fellow cyclists.

Below are two lanes, one for those heading north and one for cyclists traveling south. As you can see, the cyclists traveling south clearly think they are more important than cyclist heading north.

Image 3

Cyclists obstructed by a bus due to poor syncing of traffic signals. Southbound cyclists obstructing the northbound cycle lane.

Is it an arrogance or just a poor design? I don’t know. I’d like to say it is the design but after observing for a couple of days I think it is more likely to be plain and simple stupidity.

Okay that might be a tad harsh so to even the balance a little the next image shows pedestrians strolling along the same cycle lanes with no consideration or awareness that it is even a cycle lane with a cyclist being held up behind them.

Image 4

Pedestrians oblivious that they are strolling alone and across a cycle lane.

The next cycle lane is also occupied by a pedestrian. The pavement to her left was empty yet she decided to walk in the cycle lane and again appeared oblivious that it is a contraflow lane with motor vehicles approaching her from the front and cyclist coming from behind. Inconsiderate, stupid or just thoughtless? She is the sort that wonders around the West-end and Covent Garden like it is a pedestrian zone. You know what; as a road user in/on private or public transport, you’re the type of person holding me up.

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So it seems that if pedestrians are in cycle lanes it is okay for these next cyclists to decide they wouldn’t use the cycle lanes but opt to ride straight at a pedestrians.

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Image 9.

How about these cyclists riding across a zebra crossing without warning and forcing the driver to stop under emergency conditions. Seems like a reasonable and fun thing to do.

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Fortunately the other driver had already stopped for the pedestrian walking towards me.

The ones that bug me are those that ride on pavements. More specifically those that ride on pavements at any speed and no consideration for pedestrians. Those same bloody speed merchants that hammer along the footpath at the side of the canals ringing their bloody bells constantly to beast people out of their way.

Its a pavement, a foot path, a pedestrian crossing for pedestrians.

What about those cyclists that ride through roadworks where people are actually working. Plenty of people are injured by cyclists and receive anything from minor soft tissue injuries to more serious injuries requiring surgery. I get to see this first hand, day in, day out. The signs are there for all road users. Ignoring them puts yourself and others at risk of injury and death. Ignoring these road signs that are placed for our safety is not clever, its dangerous.

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As a motorcyclist and driver I find it frustrating when cyclists interrupt my progress because they are riding the wrong way up a one way street or on the wrong side of the road.

You know what, I don’t want to hurt you, I’ve avoided you, you’ve not gotten away with it because you’re cool, smart or clever, you are uninjured because I slowed down, stopped or moved over. You’re actions affected me. Why do you think your progress is so much more important than mine? Car vs Cycle = There is only ever going to be one winner and you might not get lucky next time if you come face to face with a distracted driver.

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I know its one way… I’m only going one way!

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Rider on left of image rode the wrong way up a one way street. Drivers being held up by slow moving cyclists riding side by side.

The next four images show cyclist that are clearly not in full control of their bikes.

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As a youngster we would get told off by the police for doing things.

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This man would appear to be a competent rider but the reality is he is not in full control of his bike.

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If that lorry at the left edge of the image stopped suddenly what do you think might happen to that man who clearly has X-ray vision and full control of his bicycle. How about the chap with the headphones that couldn’t hear me ask for the time while he was sat at traffic lights, how aware is he of things around him?

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I seem to have picked an almost traffic free day to capture my images but regardless of that, this person is not in control of the bike, nor is he aware of his surroundings. Personally I would add three points onto his provisional or full driving licence. If he does not have one then the points are held for when he does apply for one.

Here we have a cyclist jumping a red light. The rider should be fined, points on his license and the bike should be confiscated and crushed. Just like what would happen to drivers.One law of us and another law for them!

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Red Light…. I ain’t stopping for no one.

My final image shows the reality of cycling in London. The roads are poorly maintained, road drainage covers are in our paths, busses and heavy goods vehicles are bearing down on us as we have to use the same lanes as other traffic.

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One cycling death is too many and many many more cyclist are injured on our roads.

As cyclists we can all improve our chances of arriving home to our loved ones in one piece.

Appropriate clothing, hi-vis and a helmet. Make clear your intentions and try to be predictable. Maintain your bike. Consider attending a road cycle safety class. Do not go up the inside of large vehicles, especially the ones indicating to turn left. Follow the rules of the road. Slow down occasionally…. let the situation in front unfold so you can take in the information and take appropriate action.

The best tip I ever had when I was learning to ride a motorbike applies to cycling, treat the road like no one has seen you, if you can not see in a drivers mirror, they can not see you.

Stay safe.

Jim Jimmy James.

Low Key Lighting – Gig Photography.

There are a couple of gig photographers that I guess I could reference such as Pennie Smith. Obviously as a long standing listener of Punk music her image on The Clash album stood out long before I even thought anything of photography. As did images by Ian Dickson whose pictures I was aware of long before hearing his name.

Occasionally I see an image and look up who a photographer was and may visit their pages every so often to see other work by them.

Although not new photographers and they are well established, more recently I’ve noticed work by Ami Barwell and Svenja Block.

So that is the influences referenced and from that you can safely assume that I like black and white images, low key lighting and live music photography.

I thought it was time to have another go at capturing some images in what can only be described as less than ideal conditions.

Low key light.

Saffron. Vocalist & front-woman of Republica. ©Jim Jimmy James (2014).

Low key light.

Dr. Clive frontman for Doctor and The Medics. ©Jim Jimmy James (2014).

A couple of images I’m actually very happy with and have had positive feedback from both of the performers. One directly and one indirectly.

If they are happy then I guess I should be happy.

Thanks for stopping and looking at my images.

Jim Jimmy James.

Book Review #3

If you have one thing in common with me, you may be the type of person that does not take five minutes to read instruction manuals and leaflets.

Like me you may have had furniture such as shelving that ends up looking like a modern piece of abstract art.

You may also have turned the air blue while trying to figure out how to tune, program and use that new computer, DVD player or games console.

I often find instruction manuals boring, confusing and sometimes difficult to understand; that is why I often find my self getting frustrated with new technology and putting those abstract art pieces together!

Buying my first grown up camera and wanting to take some reasonable images of family and friends that I would want to keep; I changed the habit of a lifetime and I decided that I would read the instructions.

Yep! In typical instructions manual style, it was a case of reading a bit, scratching my head, reading it again and then that particular section referring me to another part of the manual. Grrrrr!!

Not to be put off I went to a bookshop to look for a basic digital photography book. What I found was a book specifically for my camera. Great!

Armed with my new book and my camera I decided that I should probably sign up for an introduction to digital photography course. I found a course starting within a good time frame that also fitted in with my shift work. Fab!

I’ve got to say that I would highly recommend both the book and the course to those that are new to photography or those with a very basic understanding that have a desire to improve.

My teacher on the course was a photographer called Charlotte Ashworth.

The course was great fun and very informative. Charlotte was supportive and hugely encouraging. If you want to learn how to use your camera or improve your photography you really should consider signing up for a course.

(As that may look like a shocking plug here is the disclaimer: I am not related to Charlotte Ashworth and have not been paid or canvased. This is a recommendation based on my own personal experience).

Back to the book review……. David Busch’s book ‘Guide to Digital SLR Photography’ does exactly what it claims.

David Busch

Easy to read, Easy to follow & none of the exasperating toing and froing that has thwarted my plans and progress in the past.

David Busch does a series of books; in my case the camera is a Canon Rebel T3i/600D and I really can not recommend this book strongly enough. It really did make it all very easy.

(Again I do not know Mr. Busch and have not been paid, canvased or endorsed in any way). I’d like to have books and equipment sent to me for review but that hasn’t happened. Yet!  (Yes dear reader & publishers, that was a subtle hint).

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Pet Hate!

‘Pet Hate’ is a funny old term. It sounds like something we like to hate but in reality it is something that really gets our goat up.

Something that many may find trivial or a minor annoyance but for the individual it is something that is disliked intensely and is a constant or repeated annoyance.

Feet on seats!

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This is actually something that really riles me. I mean it really really does bug me.

I used to make comments to people and ask them why they felt it was okay to walk through all sorts of crap on our cities pavements and then wipe their feet all over the seats where people have to sit.

I also used to point out the faded, ripped seats and the new seats that had replaced the damaged and worn out ones. I’d ask them if they thought the savings made from not replacing these seats that are damaged by inconsiderate peoples shoes, boots….. could be passed on to commuters like us or spent elsewhere on the transport network.

Now I sit there and bristle inside, every now and then one of these unsociable and unsuspecting humans of London makes eye contact and I’ll ask: When you get home at night do you put your shitty shoes all over your own furniture.

They tend to put their feet on the floor and do not say anything. I need to be careful because our society is changing and as someone pointed out the other night, I’m not a young man anymore. Cheeky bloody upstart!

Maybe I should start a photography ‘feet off seats’ campaign showing these peoples faces?!

I’m like a grumpy old man.

I hate it with a loathing and yet, for some reason it is fondly called a Pet Hate!

Jim Jimmy James

Beside the seaside beside the sea.

It is the early hours of the morning and I should be sleeping. However someone is snoring (That will be the wife) and that means I can either lay in bed awake or tell you about our short trip to Dungeness & Rye.

There is not that much to tell, we actually didn’t do much because there isn’t that much to do.

But it was great to escape the city and relax for a few days. I also met a photographer called David Purdie whose work I really liked. I should’ve asked if he was related to Naomi Purdie that I went to primary school with. I wonder whatever happened to her? She was always late for school. As was Kevin Skiosk, Skioski or however his name was spelt. They were nice kids but didn’t really fit in. There are very few people from primary school I’d be interested to know how they got on in life, Naomi, Kevin and a Greek Cypriote kid Andreas (Andrew) are probably the only ones out of twenty odd kids that I’d like to know what happened to.

Anyway, David Purdie, I liked his work, got talking and he runs workshops so I shall be having a look at those and checking my diary to see when I can book myself onto one. Dependent on price.

We also met another artist, a sculpture called Stephanie Rubin. She has a great space and is surrounded by other creatives in their studios in a building that was once a school. Her work was great and she was telling us about a commission she is about to start work on. The drawings were on the wall, a sad but hugely romantic piece. I shouldn’t say more than that about it. We’d like to see the finished peice so I will keep an eye on her website.

I’m due to start a 100 strangers portrait project and if I had a flash with me I guess………. I’m making excuses! I could have used ambient light. I should have asked to take their portraits but then I haven’t finished my 100 candid stranger yet. Just five more to go.

Rye! It dates back to the good olde medieval times, it lays at the junction of three rivers & it is known for providing ships at times of war in service of the King. It is also known for its involvement with the smuggling gangs of the 18th and 19th centuries. It has a lot of history but I’ll let you look that up.

Drye!

Taken on an iPhone with small adjustments made in Lightroom.

This deliberate misspelling made me chuckle so I thought I would just share it with you.

This telescope also made me laugh. The gardeners need to get out their sheers and do a little pruning.

Telescope

Taken on an iPhone with small adjustments made in Lightroom.

As it is, the telescope provided a wonderful close up of some bushes and trees.

Rye is in sussex but not far from Dungeness & its nuclear power station. I wonder if the radiation was affecting all the time pieces in the town or if I was stood on some weird and wonderful undiscovered meridian line?

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Taken on an iPhone with small adjustments made in Lightroom. 

Dungeness is an odd place. Its home to a nuclear power station, its sparse and I guess it can almost be described as a desert. I thought there was a very slight irony that there is a steam train that runs past the nuclear plant.

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Captain UKIP was some way from the sea but one has to admire his/her optimism that their little boat was sea worthy.

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I’m also surprised that we didn’t see any scrap metal collectors. The place is littered with with what I presume are old winches that were used to pull the boats ashore and other small collections of metal.

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On a more serious note, there is no shade on Dungeness and it didn’t feel particularly hot when we were there. To prevent burning consider sun screening either with one of the many creams available, clothing or maybe just don’t walk as close to the nuclear power station as I did.

I wonder if I will glow in the dark?

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I’m already looking forward to another short break but will it be beside the seaside beside the sea?

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

ViewBug

As I started off learning photography I have learnt that the more I learn the more there is to learn.

It was suggested to me that joining a photo sharing website would help me discover what I like and what I don’t like. Basically looking at these sites would help me develop myself as a photographer.

It was also suggested that once in a while I should consider entering a few images into photo contests. I joined ViewBug & I have entered a few competitions. This was really just to gain a little exposure and to get some feedback on my images.

I’ve had a few people like a couple of my photographs but have not had a huge amount of traffic through my page until the other day.

Oddly I started getting email notifications saying that this person liked this image, this person is following you. Another person is following you……….this other person likes this image! As I say it was out of the ordinary so when I got home after a sixteen hour day I had a quick peek at my VewBug profile and it turns out that they had featured my profile on their members page.

I was pretty chuffed. I know for me to be featured on their members page was a totally random selection but non the less it would mean a handful more people might see some of my photographs. That can only be a good thing.

I looked a little deeper and they have done the same thing for over four thousand photographers!

I’m no longer feeling as flukey as I did a few minutes ago but I still feel extremely privileged that I have 81 new people following my posts.

So, this is just a quick and public thank you to the viewbug admin team for the extra exposure.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.