Tuesday, 23 December 2014

December observations at home ... and DSLR discrimination !

Newcastle Christmas Market  GJC_020378
Newcastle Christmas market.
December is always a busy month for obvious reasons and is made up by a series of deadlines, which is why I haven't caught up with other peoples blogs yet ... boxing day onwards ! I hope you are not expecting wonderful images throughout here as the quality is not consistent using material from three different sources ... the clue is in the title, more about that in a moment.

I had a week off work in late November to make a start on the Christmas letter to my Mothers friends and my own. Unfortunately the dangling carrot of a few days away in that period with a friend was too much and it meant I only had two days at home. These days turned out to be getting ready and packing for the 5 day break (an adventure in itself worthy of a future set of posts). As I hadn't planned to visit any Christmas markets and had to work a weekend at short notice, time slipped by so I opted to photograph local scenes in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne instead.

Alice in Wonderland   GJC_020372
Alice in Wonderland, Fenwick's Newcastle.
Those following this blog for a while may remember that I did a similar post four years ago covering Fenwick's window on Santa's toy factory (here's the link for some background ... Fenwick's window newcastle 2010), so I thought it was about time I revisited it on these pages.

Fenwick's Christmas window provides great interest every year as the shop decorates all eight of them in a systematic seasonal or children's story with moving parts and music, this year it was Alice in Wonderland.

Mad Hatters tea party at Greggs ! GJC_020544
Mad Hatters Tea Party
It is not the easiest of locations to photograph on several fronts, firstly the reflections of the sky in daylight and neon signs across the street at night. I opted to leave in the Newcastle based "Greggs the bakers" sign as it is my take on a local The Mad Hatters tea party.

Through the door  GJC_020533
Alice in Wonderland, Fenwick's Christmas window
Secondly and unfortunately as a result of what happened, I wasn't happy at the end of the Window evening so I wanted to cheer myself up a bit by covering other topics of December later in the month and the post.
I have known for some time but it was confirmed to me clearly on this occasion that DSLR users are discriminated against as they are viewed with suspicion in public places particularly in the vicinity of children. It seems that as a result of my activities outside Fenwick's window, I was reported to the police.

Fenwick's Christmas window  GJC_020562
Fenwick's Christmas window,  Newcastle
Obviously I knew nothing of this until I was approached by two of them later in a large bus station. To my shock and on my questioning, it turns out that I was followed for a considerable distance on overhead close circuit TV monitors. As I wasn't using my own transport (no need to carry a driving license) and wasn't previously known to the police, I had my bank details and account number scrutinised as the next best form of I.D. along with all my images on camera and phone (which I never even used). It would of course be nice for the person reporting me to the police view this post and check out how I have compromised peoples privacy here in relation to what I suffered on that night. It may be a minor detail to some, but I gave up in daylight hours as there were too many people about and was reprimanded by a Father for not joining the queue like everyone else. I returned on another occasion later in the day and the month, hoping for less people. Personally I thought that small children should be at home at that time and not seeing potential December evening misbehaviour in a city centre. As I didn't have children with me, it was awkward standing in the queue awaiting my turn and I'd be reluctant to cover the window again.

Maybe the stereotypical person in life should watch 2 hours of TV per night including a soap opera, have an interest in alcohol, shopping or sport, never travel outside your home county unless in an aeroplane to a sunny destination .... and only take pictures on a mobile phone :-)

Borrowed this ...        :-)
As a result I decided for this post to vary my hardware and use the more damaging mobile phone as well ...  as no-one questions the use of that in public places. There's more use and upset on social media with the mobile phone than what there ever will be with a DSLR.

On the other side of the coin, I came across an article in a national newspaper this month that suggested people want to eat their cake and have it as there were issues with a parent wanting to share their child's Nativity play on Facebook ...
Metro newspaper article

Take me Home  GJC_020380
For sale,  Newcastle Christmas market.
Newcastle upon Tyne always has a small Christmas market in the city centre during late November / December.

Paella on Tyneside  GJC_020383
Paella, Newcastle Continental Christmas Market.
Two weeks are normally dedicated to hot continental food and another set of traders use the same stalls to sell Christmas and Winter wares during a subsequent fortnight.

Earl Grey goes Dutch  GJC_020384
Earl Grey goes Dutch !, Newcastle Continental Christmas Market.
It's a bit unusual to see the combination of the best of Dutch food sitting in front the quintessential Englishness of Earl Grey, I wonder what he thinks about all this continental food as he looks down from his monument !

Chorizo Potatoes  GJC_020387
Chorizo Potatoes, Newcastle Continental Christmas Market
Not being one to miss out on a taster, I got to try some lovely Chorizo potatoes from Barcelona and special thanks to the chef for taking the time to pose just before serving my dish. It was wonderful.

St Oswald's Hospice Elves  GJC_020381
St Oswald's Hospice, Grey's Monument, Newcastle Christmas Market, 2014

Santa was here too for the day and he had some helpers who were supporting a well known local charity  .... http://www.stoswaldsuk.org

Tree for Christmas GJC_MOB_ 001
A Tree and a half for Christmas, Metro Centre Gateshead
The nearby out of town Gateshead Metro Centre is a Christmas rival to Newcastle and has it's displays on a different scale.
However it was nice to see that they had space for a large nativity scene which I took with my mobile  phone ...

Nativity  GJC_MOB_003
Nativity, Metro Centre, Gateshead.
 ... oops did I catch a child in the corner, like I said, mobiles are more dangerous than DSLR's !! ... even if the image quality is poor !
Other than Primary school plays, many people forget about the Nativity in favour of family and / or indulgence. Some may argue several points of view from religious history but it's important to remember that the overview of life is all about what we did with the Saviour of the World and how he can change our lives and destiny.

Bass guitar ... my carol service inputGJC_MOB_005
Spectre Bass Guitar
I have had a busy week preparing and taking part in a Carol service that far exceeded anything that we have done before in a much larger hall.

There were some festive treats afterwards and has set a model in all of our hearts to raise the bar of faith for this being the norm in future. As you can guess I had other things on my mind and shoulders to worry about without taking my DSLR along as well. A challenging and failed image on my camera phone trying to work out exposure and focusing on a massive depth of field. I have to say at this point that when I loaded the images onto here, the camera phone images loaded straight away with minimal KB whilst the others in MB took a while. I can't fool you into thinking that the above image is a good one or fool myself into thinking that the mobile is a s good as other cameras. Unfortunately, many people seem to think so.

Presents from the Boss  GJC_MOB_004
Christmas present from the Boss.
My Boss gives all the staff a small gift at Christmas, this was my local dialect seasonal offering.

Lastly I came across this sausage and bacon Nativity image on social media which may encourage more men to come to interactive Carol services !
... and on the other foot ...
Reindeers are hoping that Jamie continues with a traditional Christmas menu ! ...    :-)

Hoping for traditional Christmas dinners  GJC_MOB_ 002
Reindeer at Jamie's Italian Restaurant, Newcastle !

                                                Wishing you all a Happy Christmas


  1. I was in Newcastle recently and was tempted to take some pics of Fenwick's window but, frankly, couldn't be bothered. I think you worry too much - maybe that's a sign of an excellent photographer - but your photos are always super. I can't quite believe you were apprehended for taking photos (I had to look up DSLR) - but I worry that we are losing freedom these days in a tidal wave of unreasoned fear and political correctness. Personally, I think we have bigger battles to fight. All that said, loved your post - great looking bass and innovative sausage nativity! Have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. Thanks Mike, hope you had a great Christmas.
      Hopefully I've moved on from the CCTV incident, the police were very understanding about what I was trying to do once they saw my images and heard what I was about. I've got another similar story about this up my sleeve when I get around to posting it.

  2. Merry Christmas, nice to see some religious accents here on the shots!
    and the sausage Navity-well, someone was really creative, let's say:)

    1. Thanks Ola, Hope you had a good Christmas.
      It's interesting how Christmas traditions have developed over the years, decades and centuries. I tried to gather together everything I saw that was serious, funny and relevant that related to the way we celebrate Christmas. Pleased you liked the nativity scenes, like I said in the post in a few more words, it's what it's all about.

  3. AWESOME images dear Jay .... very creative and busy ...
    wish you nice Holidays !!

    PS. Haven't seen you on Flickr lately BTW>>
    Wat's up??
    All the best, Monika

    1. Thanks Monika, been mixing with both Blogger and Flickr for obvious reasons that you may notice. Still finding my way with Flickr although have done a lot of basic groundwork with it that I need to build on.

  4. As if with criminal intent, you'd stand there for all to see taking photos with a big DSLR! Haven't these people ever watched spy movies? That's not how it's done. Anyway, there's a store in Minneapolis that does the theme thing too at Christmas time. The windows are all so festive. I'll be sure to show Kevin the bacon Nativity. Who are these warped people? Lol. Have a beautiful and blessed Christmas, J.

    1. Thanks Cranberry Morning, I must look up the Minneapolis store (and the North & South programme you mentioned in the previous post). Yes it was ridiculous showing the police these images on the back of my camera, it was so dark that it was difficult to see a figure or two standing at the window.

  5. PS. Just read Mike's comment. I couldn't agree more about losing freedom due to fear and political correctness. It's happening here too. Greater monitoring of people's activities and communication.

    1. I've been aware that Camera political correctness has been coming for some time, just didn't expect such a radical follow up literally on this occasion !

  6. Crăciun Fericit ! Merry Christmas !

    1. Thanks Daliana, Hope it was a good one for you too.

  7. Your series of photos are wonderful as ever.

    What an awful experience for you to have to endure for you art! We should not allow our freedoms to be eroded in this way.

    On a lighter note, I wish you a Happy Christmas :-)

    1. Thanks CherryPie for your comments and encouragement re: freedom of Photography, hope you had a good Christmas too.

  8. I really enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere in your captures, J.

    The experience of being checked by the police because of taking photos of the window must have been awful. You're right, mobile shots are taken almost everywhere and by so many people, in much less conspicuous way, and no one cares. I've never been checked by the police but it happened to me that one day I was walking in the village where we live and was taking photos here and there, one of the photos was of a beautiful blue pump attached to a well in a garden. A day or two later we had a foggy morning and I thought the pump would look nice in the fog so I went there and started prepare my DSLR camera. Suddenly a woman came out of the house asking me what I was doing and telling me that a neighbour of her told her that someone was taking photos of her house the day or two before. I explained what I was actually shooting and asked if I could make that foggy capture but though she agreed, I wasn't sure she believed me and the neighbour was watching me with suspicion in his look. I felt bad yet not guilty of committing anything wrong though I must confess that if someone was aiming their camera at our premises I might not have liked it either. That's the thing of what is acceptable and what is not and how differently we may look at it...

    Looking forward to your next DSLR captures! ;)

    1. Thanks for your comment and sharing a similar experience. I've been increasingly aware of this for some time. The woman dressed in the elf outfit above approached me later to find out where the photo was going to be published, I wasn't sure if she liked the idea or not.

      The problem is that people are fed so many stories from the press based on an occasional incident here and there. All are guilty of acts of Photography unless proven innocent later. It's strange how some people want fame and others don't want intrusion and it's that fine line in the middle that's become blurred. There's a saying in TV broadcasting, "Never work with children and animals". Hey ho, I'm a building and landscape man, why did I trespass ? :-)

  9. Isn't it ridiculous! As though you would use a DSLR camera for anything bad!! I see people using their mobile phones all the time, especially where no photography is allowed - now that IS annoying! It makes me wonder how many crimes were being committed while they were watching you on CCTV! Ok, rant over. You captured some lovely shots here and thanks so much for your visits to my blog! Have a wonderful photo filled 2015 xx

    1. Thanks Chel, I wanted to capture interior images of a specific Cathedral on a saturday (my day off) for a guest blog post but was told I couldn't as there were services on throughout the day. I was also informed that I needed to pay a price for a permit to take them at an inconvenient time. It was unfortunate that the person dealing with permits wasn't in that day so I just had to wander around the Cathedral and ... watch people take photos on their camera phone ... err ... damaging relics with their flash !!

  10. It is camera political correctness gone mad J....Use a camera phone in a crowded public place and no one bats an eyelid. The moment you start to use a 'proper' camera you do seem to attract attention and people seem to think you are up to no good... either that or they think that you are a professional and should be paying a fee to take your images....
    I no longer use my DSLRs preferring to use my Rangefinders which for some reason seem to attract less attention although not as invisible as a smartphone camera....

    Wishing you all the very best for 2015....


    1. Thanks for your thoughts Trevor, You are correct in what you say.
      Most people do seem to think I'm a professional, the upside is I got myself onto a Basketball court on two occasions following a professional BBL cup victory as the owner wanted as much exposure as he could.


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