Tuesday, 8 October 2013

First Century - Stream of Consciousness

Out on the bike, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Did my first century cycle ride at the weekend in the 101 mile Wiggle New Forest cycle sportive. Here’s what went through my mind:

@0 miles... Wonder if I am wearing too much - do I really need 2 layers. Lots of people....
@2 miles... Group passing me, wonder if I can latch on... OK, on, but having to work hard...
@8 miles... Lucked out with this mob, Big peleton of about 20, going much faster than my normal pace, but they are doing all the work.... No sign of Steve or William, but Steen just ahead in the same group
@12 miles.... Cattle grid - Ouch!
@14miles... Damn, another hill, really struggling to hang on to peleton.... Push to catch them up again... Phew - made it.... Getting really tired, no way I will last 100 miles like this....
@15 miles... Cattle grid - Ouch!
@17miles.... Junction - chance to catch my breath while we wait for a gap in traffic
@19miles... Cattle grid coming up, OMG bike in mid air at front of peleton! slam on brakes.... at least no-one else has piled into him.... swerve around chap & see that his mates have stopped to help him. His face covered in blood.... Should I be stopping - feeling guilty about going on - nothing I can do anyway - keep going.... wow - flying bikes - just like the Tour on the telly
@20miles... Half the peleton gone & the rest breaking up - can’t keep up with the leaders - Steen seems to be still hanging on
@22miles.... Ooops half the people turning off - which way am I going??? - There’s Steen ahead & going left -  Think that's the sign for the Epic saying turn right - Just do it.... Did I mess up or did Steen.... Phew a sign saying I am on the Epic route.. Wonder if Steen will realise & turn back
@23miles... Pace more manageable now on my own, but not getting any free ride

@24miles... Previous peleton leaders coming past.... should I try & jump on... no the pace was killing me - I’d never finish... Just keep going at my pace

@25miles.... First food stop... draw in.... but I have enough water & have brought my own food... what did you stop for you idiot.... turn around & get going..
@30 miles... More f*** cattle grids - Ouch!
@35miles.... Great scenery
@40 miles... Horse on the road - slow down & avoid... dumb animal seem totally oblivious of all the even dumber animals on bikes flashing by
@42 miles... Moving bacon.... big pig chomping on acorns at side of road
@53miles.... OMG a cliff approaching.... this must be “the steepest hill in England” that William was waffling about.... thought he was talking bollocks... OMG it’s hard... OMG I can’t keep going.... How can I stop... If I even attempt to unclip I will lose all momentum & simply fall over... never live it down.... pain.... pain.... maybe falling over would be easier anyway.... pain... almost there.... phew... Wow - hardest 200 yards ever!
@60miles.... Ooops - Getting passed all the time now
@65 miles... Young lady going past but not too fast... latched on.... nice errr “bike”... keep going
@67miles... Another hill... Damn - she is dropping me
@75 miles...Food station... completely knackered - draw in and stand for a rest
@80 miles... Cattle grid - Ouch
@81miles... Mental arithmetic - just 20 miles to go... really struggling... pain
@82miles.... Wonder how accurate the GPS is, maybe I still have 20 miles to go... pain
@83 miles... Just under 20 miles to go... pain
@84 miles... Not sure I will get to 101 miles... pain
@85 miles... How on earth do triathletes do this & then run a full marathon straight after for an Ironman... nutters!
@86 miles... Pain
@87miles ... Pain... OK never again - the bike is going on eBay when I get home
@90 miles... Pain... Seems less painful at 95+ cadence
@91 miles... Pain... Even easier at zero cadence, shame I am slowing down
@92 miles... Pain... Keep at 95 cadence you idiot
@93 miles... Pain... Big hill (at least 1%) - Keep going you idiot
@94 miles... Pain... Keep going you idiot... 
@95 miles... Sign saying 10k to go - Relief that it is only about 6 miles to go... Look at watch & try & work out my approx time, then give up as too difficult
@96 miles... Passing lots of people now... Some of these folk are on mountain bikes - how on earth did they do 70 or 100 miles on that ?
@97 miles... Big bloke on mountain bike wearing t shirt & football shorts exposing the most gruesome builders bottom ever... Avoid & power to get past the frightening spectacle... Pain
@100 miles... Pain... should be almost there
@101 miles.... Pain.... Can see people turning off the road - Yippee must be almost there.... dirt track (Ouch)... finish line
Collect medal & goodie bag... see Steen grinning over the barrier with a beer in hand, smugly stating he did the Epic in 5:51.... He informs me I have completed it in 6:15 (turns out when I check the official times that it was actually 6:12... )  If I wasn’t in so much pain I would be elated. Takes me a couple of minutes to swing my leg off the bike & then I stumble off for beers. After beer I go for a 15 min massage to get some life back into my legs.
Sitting in the car half dozing I realise that I have done 100+ miles and that a few years before I had done several marathons.... Maybe the bike should not go on eBay & I should start thinking about an Ironman some day.... 

Monday, 4 June 2012

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." - Frank A Clark

Of course the reality is that the obstacles are my will power & ageing carcass…. Not a simple tree.

A couple of weeks ago there were two life changing events that got me into this painful & depressing situation.

1 - I was late walking down to catch the train & had to run about 1/2 mile in my overcoat & hat. Although I caught the train (just)…. I felt like death warmed up & declared I had to get fitter.

2 - A friend was muttering in the pub the next night about doing the local 10k race… and I had consumed a beer or two by that stage

Naturally the result was that I declared I was also going to do the 10k….. despite not having run for 8? years or more. I was convinced that having run marathons etc in the (dim & distant) past, a 10k would be no problem.

F*** - how wrong can you get !

Running at 50+ is way harder than I ever remember it being before. Shana has been joining me on my training runs. She clearly hates me now - but it is doing the old girl some good regardless (she is 11 1/2 years old - a veritable pensioner for a Ridgeback dog)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Stranger #15 - Marco, Doctor

I really didn't want to meet Marco…. Having to meet a Doctor in a hospital on a ski trip is usually bad news.

Thankfully, he was a really nice chap and also confirmed that my ankle wasn't really broken….. Despite feeling like it when I wiped out on my snowboard the day before.

Turns out that this had been a light week for ski injuries…. the extreme cold temperatures have reduced the volume of people on the slopes.

Been to this hospital several times before… although my first time as a patient. The list of injuries for our party has been as follows:
1 Broken arm
2 sprained ankles
1 broken collarbone
1 puncture from skipole tip
1 knee sliced open to bone from ski edge
1 damaged knee tendon
1 cut head

Sounds alot doesn't it….. but we are typically a group of 20-28 people, half adults, half kids and we have come here every year for 12 years. Statistically thats about 1 hospital visit per 40 ski trips per person.

Given that I have been skiing / boarding for 30 years with at least 1 and often 2 ski trips per year I guess I was due a personal visit to the hospital.

This picture is #15 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at www.100Strangers.com

It's been months since my last stranger picture - I guess I have got out of the habit

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Good morning Switzerland....

Of course any morning when you are about to head out for the slopes with your snowboard is good.

Really f***ing cold though. Minus 18 centigrade at the hotel before we headed up to the slopes. Meant that every millimetre of exposed flesh on your face was in pain.

Barn buried in the snow, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Come to Switzerland... Learn to snowplough!, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

The church in Chateau d'Oex, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Sunday, 15 January 2012

River Thames at sunset in Wargrave

2/52 - 5 Mins from my home

Driving back from Henley when I saw the sun setting over the river so we stopped to make an image. Only camera I had was an iPhone, but it seemed to do a fine job.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Silhouette of big pointy thing a.k.a. Big Ben

OK, so technically Big Ben is the bell, but wtf - everyone refers to the clock tower as Big Ben.

Natalee and I went into London yesterday…. parked at my work car park & rented a couple of Boris's Bikes - By far the cheapest & best way to be a tourist in London.

Couldn't resist the sunset as we went over the bridge.

What a difference two and a half hours makes....

Monday, 21 November 2011

Shana decided to support Movember with me this year

Sadly we both have more grey in our moustache's than we would like.

At least it gives me the chance to create some ridiculous images for fun.....

Donate on my charity page at mobro.co/jimshieldsuk

Saturday, 29 October 2011

More Strangers on Southbank

Stranger on Southbank, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
Met this lovely girl on Southbank. She seemed to enjoy Tyla & myself taking pictures of her & her friend…. wore that delightful smile the whole time.

Drummer by the river, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
I would love to tell you this chap's name, but I messed up taking notes on my iphone somehow. I do remember that he is a student & musician… plays drums, mostly jazz.

Out with Tyla again on Southbank hunting strangers. As usual she brought her stobe & umbrella along. She has a great image of his girlfriend.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Strangers on Southbank

Went out hunting strangers with Tyla on Wednesday…. Fantastic evening, partly because Tyla is such a delight to be out with, but also because street photography is so much easier and fun when there are two of you. First time I have done strobist street photography & someone to hold the light makes it a doddle.

Stranger #15 - Chris, Teacher, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
Chris is smiling 'cos he just got out of changing a nappy. Instead I dragged him across to the edge of the river in front of the sunset.

Chris is a teacher & had just come back from Japan to meet old friends in the UK. He was with his daughter & Japanese wife. Hope they enjoyed their visit to London.

Saw Dax's cool glasses & knew I had to make an image of him. He and his girlfriend Lee Yee were browsing in the bookstore under Waterloo Bridge on Southbank.

This is Patricia, she was quietly contemplating the world go by while consuming one of the worlds essential food groups.

She works as an executive assistant in an investment banking firm.

A lovely girl & a delight to talk to.

Stranger with pipe, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

This is an old chap that was visiting London from up in Glasgow. He seemed to be having a nice peaceful time smoking his pipe & watching the river & the people pass by. I did ask his name, but completely forgot it since coming home.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Model shoots - fun but challenging

So have done several model shoots over the last couple of months..... lots of fun, but really challenging. The biggest problem I found was trying to work out what I wanted from a model & then the next problem was how to direct him/her. My first shoot was OK, my second was better & I was pleased with the results of my third. Luckily on all I was surrounded by more experienced folk from the flickr group London Strobist - a nice bunch of people who were quite willing to help me out.

I went through various stages of working out what to do....
Stage 1 - Work with someone more expert / experienced and sort of copy what they did
Stage 2 - Preprepare the week before by collecting about 30 or 40 photographs that I thought were cool and try and re-create them
Stage 3 - Pick one element out of one (or several) of my various "target" photos and then use these to set my direction

Beyond that I have to talk to the models & encourage / direct them while simultaneously shooting.... And it turns out I am bloody useless at that.... I can barely walk & chew gum at the same time, so composing a photo while putting someone at ease and directing their mood / pose is just beyond me. What seems to work best is giving them some direction then doing the photo thing while they move & adapt on their own (vaguely based on my initial request) gives me some good results.

Anyway here's some of my pics from the various shoots.....

Eisha - Here's looking at ya, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Black & White - Live, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

The choice between looking cool & watching your step., originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Monique in the grunge, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Monique - Attitude, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Alicia - Profile, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Lucy - full face, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Lucy - Live, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Free fall, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Diamond, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
I decided to rework one of my older shots of Sebe. Nice how a bit of easy manipulation completely transforms it.

This is #2 son - Sebe. He spends about 12-16hrs a week rowing / training which is why he has muscles. Mine are long gone ;-(

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Making ART

Making ART, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
Started a 52 week project based on the book Soulpancake. More info here for a fun group if you want to tag along.

The wk 2 challenge: Art at Arms length - "Make some art out of whatever you find around you."

OK, so I took this literally and "made" ART

Letter A
- Through the Lens - National Geographic's Greatest Photographs
- Exposure - Jane Bown
- Firewire Cable

Letter R
- The Art Book - Phaidon
- Moleskine Notebook
- Dexter - DVD boxed set Series 4
- The Cathedral & the Bazaar - Eric S Raymond

Letter T
- Masterclass in Photography - Michael & Julian Busselle
- Visionmongers - Dechemin
- Balancing Agility & Discipline (A guide for the perplexed) - Boehm & Turner