Sunday, 30 January 2011

Reeds at sunset (and details of the coolest iPhone app for photographers)

Went for a walk along the Thames in Henley at sunset..... Love the warm light at that time.

Timed my dog walk especially for sunset.... recently got the coolest iPhone app for any photographer - it's called "The Photographers Ephemeris"..... which nomenclature probably means sweet F.A. to you as it did to me. It is actually an app that tells you exactly when sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset is or will be wherever you want in the world. It also tells you where it will be relative to where you are standing and all sorts of other useful stuff in addition. Links in a sensible way into the iPhone GPS and compass functions also for real time help on the scene.

Jim Shields Photography

Stranger #12 - Tony, Water Consulting Engineer

Tony is a Water consulting engineer. (Helps with Dams, Weirs etc)

Met Tony while walking along the towpath beside the Thames in Henley. I was out taking photos while walking the dog & he was searching for his wife. (Not in a `'speed-dating`' sort of sense.... he is already married but had simply misplaced her.) I met him again about 20-30 mins later, but he had still not found her.

This picture is #12 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at
Jim Shields Photography

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Brochure cover assignment - Still Life

Training assignment to do a "Still Life" to fit on an 8"x8" brochure cover.

We are to make an interesting, compelling photograph of something that is inanimate. Something to illustrate an article that is inside a magazine. The goal is to catch the eye and compel a closer look, or investigation into the brochure we are shooting for. The Brochure covers interesting discoveries in technology, design, "Green" processes and agriculture.

Spent more time thinking about what to shoot than doing the actual shooting.... Sometimes a wide open theme is harder to create for than a single defined specification.

In the end I went for 2 different approaches..... one a naturally lit, organic shot.... (the espresso & coffee beans shot above), and a hard clinical, metallic shot of kitchen utensils with hard artificial lighting (see below) as an alternative.

Personally I like the kitchen utensils one more, probably because it was harder to do & I thought the hard work paid off, but I got many more comments & faves when I published them on flickr for the espresso cup shot. Either way, pleased with them both.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


Word #15 - Commemorate, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
I decided to do a "professional" product shot of my watch. Fuck, but this was harder than I could have imagined.... 2 lights, multiple diffusers & reflectors & lots & lots of frustration.... There is still one reflection that bugs me but wtf!.....

So how is this a commemoration?..... I bought this watch from some of the dosh out of my fathers legacy..... always wanted a "proper" watch & decided that some of the dosh from his legacy should go towards something that was permanent & lasting. Been a few years now but I still think of him when I look at the watch... not every time... sometimes I just want to know what the damn time is.... But when I LOOK at the watch...... I think of my father.

24/365:2011 - 24th Jan
100 words: Word #15 - Commemorate
Jim Shields Photography

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Carry a camera.... really!

Word #28 - Distance, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
Glad I carry my camera around almost all the time..... sometimes the best shots are completely unplanned & just appear before you.

This one happened when I went to Henley Rowing Club to pick up #2 son from his training session. This is him at the far end of the boat house. Loved the reflections off the boats on their racks and all the lines leading towards the distant light from the open door at the far end.

23/365:2011 - 23rd Jan
100 Words: Word #28 - Distance
Jim Shields Photography

Monday, 17 January 2011

Stranger #11 - Jack, Aspiring musician

Saw Jack coming out of a shop in Henley & his bohemian appearance just screamed out to be photographed.
When chatting to him I discovered that he is currently earning his living as a gardener, but aspires to a career in music as a guitarist. When I mentioned that my eldest son is also 20, plays guitar & that we lived locally he seemed keen to hook up with him for some jam sessions. I passed him my card so he could see his photo and perhaps contact Nathaniel through me.

This is the first night photo I've taken for my strangers project. (A fast lens is really essential). Really pleased with the view behind him of Henley town hall with the bokeh lights and the reflections on the wet pavement.

Jack was happy enough to do a couple of different poses. Alternate in comments.

This picture is #11 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at
Jim Shields Photography

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Stranger #10 - Jane, Retiree & Charity Worker

Jane stopped to chat to me when I was taking a "face-down" shot in a pedestrian underpass. (Actually she stopped to ask about Shana, my Ridgeback dog who was my "assistant"..... Seemed obvious to ask her to be one of my 100 strangers).

She was a cheery individual and chatted about her two dogs (Yorkies), and the charity that she has been involved in since retiring from working at Heathrow. The charity is "People & Places" and she clearly enjoys her time there.

This picture is #10 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Teenage Hoodie a.k.a. Number One Son

Decided to join Lighting Essentials Project 52 to stretch myself a little (actually probably a lot). It's all Tyla's fault for suggesting it.

OK so the exercise for week 1 is to write a Mission Statement.... "Tell us with a single paragraph what you want to be able to do with your images."

No not corporate bullshit stuff, nor even what I what to achieve with my nascent portrait photography business.... after all I take many more photos for my own pleasure & learning than I do for profit (much as I wish this ratio was reversed!), but a statement about what I want my photography to achieve for me. Ideally I would want to have this ALSO be a foundation for business success, but not necessarily. I guess that is more of a chicken and egg debate i.e. learn to build a business around what my passion / vision / mission is vs learn to enjoy what I have chosen for a business.

So what do I enjoy....
- seeing how people act & think
- telling a story about people to people
- have a dialogue with people
- look at what people do or say
- telling jokes to folk
- creating a sense of awe or fascination
- learning how to get stuff done
- creating something that is both unique and innovative
- creating something I can take pride in
- I am a geek & like playing with technology

Now convert that into a mission statement !!


OK - Here is a first attempt. Not sure I am happy with it and it certainly does not trip off the tongue very easily. But I'll work with it over the next month or so to make it fit better.

I find people fascinating & often amusing. I create unique and different images that communicate this wonder and humour so that there is a dialogue between the observer and the images or their subject. My images will evolve over time.

And finally the image at hand..... This is Nathaniel, my number one son. I've portrayed him as a teenage hoodie here, but in actuality he just turned 20. Lighting concept for this one sort of came from this image by Lubdah.... who is even further from being a teenager to say the least.

p.s. Look at this large to see his eyes - which was more happy accident than design

Jim Shields Photography

Friday, 7 January 2011

"The Hound of the Baskervilles"

Celebrating the "birthdate" of Sherlock Holmes.

Sometimes it is fun to play with photoshop

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sarah & Jonny

Sarah - B&W, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
Did some portraits for some kids just before Christmas. (OK - Kids may be a misnomer as they were 18 & 20). They wanted a protrait for their mum as a Christmas present. In exchange for a free session they spent some extra time posing for me so I could practice some extra poses / lighting scenarios. Liked the close in versions of Sarah.... this one I processed as B&W. Not often I get willing subjects other than my sons to pose for me & I feel I can't really waste the time of paying clients for experimental shots.

Into the light, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
Played around a bit with one from my session with Sarah. The original was cropped in much closer so I added some negative space and a light source.

Looking Up, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....

Smiley dude, originally uploaded by It's life Jim.....
So much easier to get a nice portrait when the subject is smiling... Making wisecracks obviously pays off occasionally.