Vigil for Dalian at IPCC

May 23rd, 2017

Although I always like to create a series of images that tell the story of any event, sometimes a single image seems to sum up everything, and at Justice for Dalian Atkinson at IPCC at the start of September, I felt this image did.

The placards make fairly clear what the protest was about, although they don’t mention the details of the particular case – Dalian Atkinson, a former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich striker dying after being tasered by police outside his father’s home in Telford on August 15th.

Also missing is any real indication that this protest is taking place outside the IPCC,  the body set up to investigate complaints against the police which many see as compromised with many of its staff being recent former police officers and having a miserable record in so many investigations.

Those who have been to the IPCC might recognise the distinctive foyer behind the figures, but this is an office block shared by a number of organisations, and the IPCC only gets a mention fairly small on the inside wall, virtually impossible to include in pictures.

But it is a background that has a powerful emotional effect, resembling a building going up in flames, bringing memories of images of uprisings such as that which followed the 2011 shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. The image was made late in the day as light was failing, bringing out the effect of the interior lighting.

Of course it is very much a picture about attitudes, and how these are expressed in body language and facial expressions. It was a situation I saw the potential of and moved to get in what I hoped was the right place to photograph.  It might have been slightly better without the person whose denim jacket intrudes at the left but this isn’t a great problem.

I suspect I have slightly darkened that corner in post-processing to make him less obtrusive, though without going back to the RAW file I can’t be sure. There will also be other minor areas that needed some attention, for example to bring out more clearly the expressions on faces, and that white shirt on the police officer will almost certainly have appeared a little too bright. The camera doesn’t ever record the scene as I saw it, particularly when lighting varies across the subject as in this case.

Things get even worse of course when  you start using flash, but fortunately there was enough light to work without. The image was taken on a Nikon D700 with the 16-35mm lens at 19mm. Using ISO 1600 the exposure was 1/125 at f5.6.

Another picture from the same event adds some more detail about the protest, with a list of a few of the names of those who have died at the hands of the police, as well as a view of the interior of the foyer with a man sitting at the reception desk.

I’d hoped that the third image here would be stronger, but this was made with a much longer focal length – equivalent to 225mm, and at 1/125 f5.6 there wasn’t enough depth of field. It’s surprising given the fairly close focus distance that the lack of depth of field isn’t more apparent, and given the focal length I was fortunate to avoid camera shake. Adding contrast in Lightroom helped, as did increasing sharpness and clarity in some areas, but didn’t quite rescue it – and I think is just a little overdone.

Limited depth of field can also be a good thing, though generally I prefer images that are sharp all over – as my brain usually imagines the scene in front of my eyes. This was made with the 28-200mm lens wide open at 58mm (in DX more – so 87mm equivalent) which gives an aperture of f4.8 and creates (rather fortuitously) what seems to me a pretty ideal balance between the sharp foreground and the slightly soft background.

More pictures at Justice for Dalian Atkinson at IPCC.
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UberEats Under Pays

May 22nd, 2017

I rushed to get to the address I’d been given on time for the protest by UberEats delivery drivers, but arrived to find nobody there on Bermondsey St but two photographers I know who were wondering if they’d come to the right place. Eventually one or two protesters arrived but there was still no sign of the Uber riders. I walked into the yard where the Uber offices were and the security standing around outside there told us that the protest had been called off.

Of course I didn’t believe them. There wouldn’t be security hanging around in the yard unless there was going to be a protest.

Fortunately for once my phone still had some charge and I was able to find a video of them setting out from somewhere near Aldgate, and so we waited and waited and eventually saw the peloton coming around the corner from Tanner St.

Most of those taking part were delivery drivers, but there were also some supporters on bicycles, including a few I recognised. The drivers were being supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain – Couriers and Logistics branch, and also getting advice from other unions that are leading the fight against bogus self-employment and the ‘gig economy’.

Uber changed the way it pays drivers, having at first offered enough to make a living to entice people to come and work for it. Now the payment has changed, and drivers say they are working for as little as £3.22 per hour, less than half the minimum wage – and they have to provide and maintain the bikes they ride and pay insurance and  petrol.

Imran was one of the first to publicly complain about the terms, and he holds up his phone to show that his access to the Uber App which is how drivers get work has been blocked – effectively sacking him.

The drivers wanted to speak to the management but were not allowed into the office to do so. Eventually Uber agreed to let a small delegation in, and the drivers held a show of hands to do so. But when the small group went inside they found the managers were not prepared to speak to them as a group but wanted to pick on them one by one, and they walked out.

One picture that I missed was of one of the managers leaning out of the window and giving a sign to the drivers with his middle finer. He quickly moved inside when he saw he was being photographed and my picture was too blurred to be usable. A shame as I think it would have summed up perfectly the management attitude.

I left as the drivers were beginning to move off in small groups to picket outside some of the clients where other Uber drivers would be picking up orders across the evening, hoping to persuade the riders who came for them to join the strike – and join the union.

Uber’s contention that these riders are self-employed seems unlikely to be upheld in the courts, rather simply seen as a way for the company to evade its duties as an employer. They should be on a payroll, with national insurance contributions, pensions and proper rights as workers. And while there is a case for flexible contracts, these need to ones that give workers a living wage for the hours they are available to Uber. Existing labour laws may cover this, but if the courts fail to clarify this then new legislation is needed.

Uber is currently expanding its UberEats service to other UK cities, but the Financial Times recently reported it as having “a backlash from investors and employees” over “its ‘toxic’ culture, sexual harassment allegations and leadership issues2 and a legal battle over IP rights with Google.

More at UberEats couriers strike for Living Wage.
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Phulbari Vigil

May 21st, 2017

According to GCM Resources plc:  “The combination of high quality coal, a large coal resource, thick seams, highly competitive average stripping ratio, low operating costs, a project life of over 30 years and easy access to markets make Phulbari a world class coal project.”

But campaigners say the mine would displace 130,000 farming families, destroy 14,600 hectares of fertile land, threaten clean water resources and have a devastating impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and UNESCO heritage site, the Sunderbans.

BHP Billiton sold the mineral rights it bought in 1994 to Asia Energy in 1998, according to Wikipedia, as it thought because the seam was too deep, at 151m below the surface. Asia Energy was incorporated in London in September 2003, later becoming Global Coal Management and now GCM Resources plc. Its rights to mine Phulbari are said to be its only major asset.

There were huge protests against mining at Phulbari in Bangladesh in 2006, said to involve 70,000 people. At one large protest three people were shot dead and 300 injured. Protests and strikes continued but protests at the mine site were banned by the Bangladesh government.

Press reports stated that Bangladesh had withdrawn the mining rights, and the shares crashed. The company  apparently deny the rights have been withdrawn, but when trading resumed the shares, which a few months earlier had been at 665p, were trading at 95p.

Despite pressure from GCM and the US government to go ahead with the project, Bangladesh announced in 2015 that it has no plans to allow open-pit mining at Phulbari and will instead import coal to run two large coal-fired power stations to be built by 2030. The GCM share price which hit an all-time low of around 3p has shown a recent increase to almost 30p, probably as a result of the election of Trump as US President, but may also reflect some attempts by GCM to diversify.

The protest outside the London Stock Exchange was a vigil for three villagers shot dead and two hundred injured at a mass protest in 2006 ten years ago, and called on the Stock Exchange to de-list GCM from the London Alternative Investment Market, a marketplace with little regulation and which allows companies either to comply with these rudimentary rules or to explain why they are not complying.

The protest took place on a fairly narrow pavement, and police were worried about this being blocked, but the protesters from the Phulbari Solidarity Group were very persuasive and the police relented. Barriers for roadworks prevented people from walking out into the traffic and it was only possible to take an overall view of the protest by using a fisheye lens.  I had to wait for some time to get a clear view as the pavement was quite busy with city workers going to lunch.

10 Years of Resistance to Phulbari

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Stanley Greene (1949-2017)

May 19th, 2017

Stanley Greene, one of the finest photographers of conflict around the world over the last 30 or so years has died in Paris age 68 after having suffered with liver cancer for some years. His father was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and he trained to be a painter, joined the Black Panthers and refused to serve in Vietnam. Meeting Gene Smith changed his life, and Smith gave him space in his studio and persuaded him to study both the technical an aesthetic aspects of photography, first at the School of Visual Arts in New York and later at the San Francisco Art Institute.

More than any other photographer, Greene in his later career (after working in music photography, newspaper work and then fashion) became a photographer truly in the spirit of Gene Smith; as I wrote some time ago, he was “haunted by the ghost of Gene Smith and the nagging of his example and his advice to photographers “You have to give something back.”

Greene though widely published was more of a photographers’s phtoographer than one widely known to the public, and at times suffered because his work was too uncompromising and too raw for editors. I’ve written a few articles about him since I came across his work and was truly bowled over by it back in 2004 – when my reaction was to write and publish a 2000 word essay on him for the web site I was then working for. You can read a little of that in Stanley Greene, and a later article about how I missed meeting him in Brixton two years ago.

Rather than read more by me, I suggest you go to Time to read Olivier Laurent‘s STANLEY GREENE – The death of a poet, illustrated by some of Greene’s images and including a video of Green himself talking and below that, HIS LIFE, HIS LEGACY in which around 15 photographers and editors who worked with him reflect on his impact.

There is also ‘Stanley Greene, Teller of Uncomfortable Truths, Dies at 68‘ by James Estrin on the NY Time Lens blog, and doubtless there are or will soon be many more obituaries.

Hull Photos: 4/5/17-10/5/17

May 19th, 2017

4th May 2017

When I took this picture it struck me as being a statement about the state of Hull’s fishing industry, once so important but largely brought to an end by the Cod Wars. But the final settlement in 1976 was largely a matter of the Cold War rather than fish that settled Hull’s demise, with Iceland threatening to withdraw from NATO over the issue. This would severely have restricted NATO surface and submarine movements in the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Greenland and also between Iceland and the UK, and would have allowed Soviet submarines access to these waters.

Without these considerations a settlement would surely have been reached that kept the deep-sea fishing industry alive, if at a lower level than before. The British government under James Callahan sacrificed our deep sea fishing to the military hawks. Hull became a victim of the Cold War as well as World War II.

The picture was I think taken from the near the top of the steps up to the footpath which still leads across the roof of some of Albert dock sheds between the dock and the Humber, still one of Hull’s most interesting experiences. Around 20 years after I took this picture it became a part of the Trans Pennine Trail and European walking route E8. There are 3 blocks of barrel-vaulted sheds, each with 7 vaults alongside the Humber, designated from the east as A, B and presumably C. The footpath comes up from beside the entrance lock to the east end of block B, then goes along the top of this and block C, at the end of which steps lead down and the path continues beside the Humber. These boxes were I think in the space between blocks A and B – with a little of block B visible at top right. There is then a short drop down which hides the roadway to the narrow quay with the tee-head mooring bollard (numbered 205) and the Humber beyond.


32q21: Empty boxes, Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

5th May 2017

Taken through the girders of the steel swing bridge which took the road and a single rail track across the entrance lock to ALbert Dock. This bridge was across the centre of the lock was later replaced by a much less sturdy structure taking just a footpath across close to the other gate. The footpath also runs across the inside dock gate as an alternative route.

Albert dock was full of vessels but there was very little movement in or out of the dock and Hull’s fishing fleet was largely idle. Fish were I think still being landed, but now by Icelandic vessels.


32q11: Albert Dock from swing bridge, 1982 – Docks

6th May 2017

Humber Dock is now Hull Marina, and crowded with yachts. The distinctive tall 3-bay No.13 warehouses on Railway Dock are still there along with some of the city centre buildings on the horizon, but the rest have long gone.

Another small ship is moored beyond the Coquet Mouth but few details are visible, and this side of the dock is otherwise empty. The Coquet Mouth is a small (171 Gros tons, 30.84m × 7.85m) Grab Hopper Dredger, presumably there to dredge the DOck for use as the marina. She was built in 1955 by W.J. Yarwood & Sons Ltd at Northwich and a few years ago was still working at Goole.

She replaced an earlier dredger of the same name which was sunk by a mine in 1940, which got its name from the River Coquet, which flows into the North Sea at Amble, Northumberland. The ship was on sale in 2012 for £ 54,995 described as a Barge Mooring Vessel for possible conversion to a houseboat, but is I think still around, with some fairly recent images showing her in dock at Hull and on the Humber.


32q13: Humber Dock from Wellington St, 1982 – Docks

7th May 2017

Inge, moored here in Albert Dock in 1982 had a small taste of fame when she was hired to make a Christmas episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’, ‘To Hull and Back’ in 1985, in which Del and Rodney go in it from Hull to Holland with experienced sailor Albert – whose experience turns out to have been only in the engine room rather than on the bridge – to buy diamonds with counterfeit cash to smuggle back to Hull, getting lost in the North Sea on both outward and return journeys.

Coming back they follow the Hull – Zebrugge roll on – roll off ferry MV Norland but at first this takes them to Zeebrugge rather than Hull – so they wait and follow it home. I rather suspect the Inge would not have been capable of keeping the ferry in sight for long with the ferry’s maximum speed of 19 knots.

Inge was owned by Humber Divers and used for survey work both in 1985 and when I took this picture in 1982. The divers used it to explore a number of wrecks along the east coast – particularly World War II aircraft – where a smaller vessel than their main one was adequate. The company went in to voluntary liquidation in the late 1970s.

At the right is the Albert dock entrance.


32q31: Inge moored in Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

8th May 2017

The public footpath, now part of the Trans Pennine Trail, is on the extreme left of the picture behind the fence and the view is along most of the three blocks each of 7 barrel vaults beside the Humber, though it gets hard to distinguish the roofs in the distance. The curve of the Humber shore with Hull’s Eastern Docks and then the cooling towers at Saltend and on towards Spurn still looks similar today, though with rather fewer cranes.


32q42: Public footpath across roofs of dockside buildings, Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

9th May 2017

From the public footpath on top of the dockside sheds between Albert Dock and the Humber I could see a small vessel moored in the river, its anchor chain clearly visible in a large image, but its name just too indistinct to make out. It appears to be a coastal tanker, similar to those often seen in the River Hull and making their way up the Humber towards Goole. Although static, he ship has a slight wake as the tide flows out past it, and its outline disturbs the otherwise careful near-symmetry of the composition.

The opposite bank appears to be fairly empty, except for trees, though in the distant haze above the bank above the bridge of the ship I can see the towers of oil refineries, presumably the Lindsey refinery at North Killingholme and its neighbouring Humber refinery at South Killingholme, though these are invisble on the small web image. To the right is a tall chimney and further right still a long line of buildings.


32q66: Dockside shed roofs and the Humber, Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

10th May 2017

A picture from a virtually identical viewpoint to one posted earlier from another walk along Bankside, taken through the gate to a wharf on the River Hull at Hull Exhaust Centre but with a landscape rather than a portrait view which gives a very different picture. Included at the right of this image are a number of moored barges, the Croda Isis Oil Mill and closer buildings which I think are a part of the Reckitt’s ultramarine works, established here in 1884.

One of the barges clearly has the name ‘TIT’ and the number 52 on its stern, and the closest vessel is possibly ‘JOLLY ?’. At the left of the picture the sheds on the west bank are clearly more modern, and beyond the Exhaust Centre is a van for Firdale Foods, a Boston, Lincs based meat and poultry company which was dissolved in 2000.

The Grade II listed Isis Oil Mill in Morley St were built in 1912 for Wray, Sanderson & Co (architects Gelder & Kitchen.) In 1947 the company became part of Premier Oil and Cake Mills Ltd and was acquired by Croda in 1967. In 1985 it was bought by Cargill Ltd and is still in business crushing rape to make rape seed oil and other products.


32r15: Hull Exhaust Centre, River Hull and Croda Isis Mill from Bankside, 1982 – River Hull


You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.
Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.
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Photo London

May 18th, 2017

Photo London opens to the public today – and I went to the Press View yesterday. I found it rather tiring, not least because I was determined to see everything I could on one day, and also had a couple of protests to photograph, at Canary Wharf and on Northumberland Ave.

I’d recommend taking it rather easier. The days start at noon, and I’d suggest doing an hour or so and then retiring for a leisurely lunch – if you want it on the cheap there are a couple of Wetherspoons not far away at Holborn, because you will be in need of refreshment, and a little food to keep you going. And for a tea break later there’s a Sam Smiths pub a short way west on the other side of the Strand. I made the mistake of tackling the show alcohol-free, and found it difficult. Best take a friend or two for support too.

As this may suggest, I find it a difficult event, though I’m still pleased I made the effort, because there certainly are works worth seeing, even if many of them are old favourites. But for me its rather too much like going to Mayfair – the smell of money disgusts. Silly things on sale at silly prices. And far too much work that is corporate decor rather than any significant photography. But it is still worth making the effort, as there is nothing like it unless you make a trip to Paris or further afield.

I enter the corridors in what is something of a truffle hunt, looking for photography among the heaps of arty rubbish. Its not actually quite that bad, but there are a number of extremely depressing galleries exhibiting and encouraging some extremely trite photography. But there are a number of things worth finding, though nothing that would get me taking out my cheque book (I do still have one and a reasonably healthy bank balance) at the asking prices. Even for pictures I really like there seemed to be one or two noughts too many. The problem is that photography is no longer just supporting photographers but supporting a huge superstructure of galleries, curators, gallerists – and expensive shows like this. And actually not supporting enough serious photographers.

Photo Paris – which I’ve been to half a dozen times – seems to do it much better. A wider range of work – and rather less of the dull arty stuff, and set in a less confusing space. And Paris and France has much more of a photographic rather than an art culture – and considerably less of a class-based nature.

I liked seeing the giant Klein murals – at their best on the outside of the Pavillion and one of the more impressive aspects of the show. Magnum’s contribution with the prints swapped by David Hurn was also a fine display. Back when I began in photography, the kind of print-swapping that this exhibits was widespread – virtually all of us swapped prints with other photographers that we knew.

Swapping prints wasn’t – as the wall text of the Magnum show suggests – a bright idea of David Hurn, who did extremely well out of his exchanges and was fortunate to be able to keep up the practice with his Magnum colleagues after it had largely died out elsewhere, and in almost every instance the wall shows he got the best of the deal. But in what seems to me a supreme irony is that the practice was stopped by the rise of the galleries which Photo London represents, with a corresponding increase in the price of photographs. Many photographers now have to sign contracts which prevent them swapping prints, and commit to limited editions which make swapping more difficult.

It’s a shame too that such a small section of the show is devoted to photographic books, although some galleries also have them on their stands. The book is I think most often the ideal representation of photography, and I felt this on looking at one of the two large sets of Korean photography on the east and west sides of the Pavilion. While the trees by Bae Bien-U certainly gained something from being more or less life-sized (though I did think I’d rather go and walk through a real wood – which I can do at a short bike ride from where I live) the images by Noh Suntag on the west side seemed to me to gain nothing from their scale – and would be better seen in a book.

I did enjoy the opportunity to see Isaac Julien‘s 1989 film ‘Looking for Langston‘ – Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes – though I didn’t have time to sit through the full hour-long movie, and there is only seating for a handful – I might drop back later, but felt the still images in the Pavillion were disappointing. Perhaps the images that inspired the film – particularly those by James Van DerZee and Roy Decarava – would have been a better accompaniment.

The work by Taryn Simon, the show’s ‘Master of Photography‘ was to my mind hardly appropriate, though of some mild interest, largely in showing how differently those who live in Iran see the world through internet search engines. I did try a couple of search terms myself – and got rather different sets of images returned for the UK than those I get from home from Google, and I wonder why – perhaps the search results are heavily influenced by cookies.

Other disappointments were that I was unable to see Matt Collishaw‘s ‘Thresholds’, a virtual reality recreation of W H F Talbot’s 1839 show in Birmingham; although we got him talking about it at the Press Launch. It sounded interesting, though again not photography. Jurgen Teller‘s special exhibition was also supposedly a highlight, but I found little special. His work has always seemed something something of the Emperor’s new clothes to me, though of course on the wall it was women who were without them.

I’m sorry to be rather negative. It would be good to have a real photo-festival in London, and most years recently we have done in the East London Photomonth, taking a rest this year. Photo London is a dealer show for wealthy collectors, and there were fools getting parted from their money today, but there are also a few crumbs which fall from those over-priced tables that make a visit for the rest of us worthwhile, even if we have to put up with much that lacks photographic interest.

Photo London continues until Sunday but if you can’t make it you can look at last year’s show on line in an impressive virtual tour. The pictures are shown in enough detail to recognise, but not really to view them, but at least you avoid the crowds. And the £29 for an adult day pass. The 2016 show was I think more interesting than this year’s event which I assume will also appear similarly at some time as I think I saw it being made today.

Tottenham Remembers

May 17th, 2017

The day after Black Lives Matter London in Altab Ali Park I went ot another event remembering the anniversary of the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham on on 4 August 2011.  Reading the accounts related to his shooting, including the subsequent trial of one of those with him and the inquest, for example on Wikipedia,  it is impossible to tell exactly what took place, but certain that the police lied, contradicted themselves, issued false statements and briefings and attempted to frustrate the inquiries into the case.

It is also clear that the police failure to communicate sensibly with either Duggan’s family or the wider community about the shooting was the spark which set off the riots.

The only possible conclusion seems to me that the police immediately realised that the team who had killed Duggan had done so illegally and had then swung into huge if rather badly coordinated attempts to cover up their actions. Given the published evidence, the jury verdict reached by an 8-1 majority that the killing of Duggan was lawful seems ridiculous – but as so often the police had got away with it.

Certainly for much of the community in Tottenham there was no doubt that this was another extra-judicial murder by police, and he is just another of the list of their people murdered by them, including Cynthia Jarrett, Joy Gardener, Roger Sylvester, and, more recently,  Jermaine Baker, shot in 2015 in Wood Green.

Tottenham remembers Mark Duggan started at the centre of the Broadwater Farm  estate, which became notorious at the time of the 1985 riots, which began after police raided the home there of  Cynthia Jarrett, who died. Her friends and family demanded an inquiry but the neighbourhood rioted and 500 police were sent into forcibly end it. One, PC Keith Blakelock, tripped and fell ot the ground where he was surrounded by a group of people and kicked and stabbed to death.

Police occupied the estate for the next two months with dogs, surveillance equipment and helicopters. Police made 379 arrests and six people were charged with murdering PC Blakelock – and three men were convicted of his murder, but had their conviction s quashed on appeal over irregularities in the police interviews. Two police interviewers were charged with perverting the course of justice and falsifying evidence – but were acquitted.

Police investigations into the murder continued, with a considerable amount of police harassment of some of the suspects and ten men were arrested in 2010. One stood trial in 2013 and was acquitted. He stated he wasn’t present when the murder  took place and did not know who carried it out.

The atmosphere as people gathered for the march was a little tense. The media haven’t treated the estate or its residents fairly over the years and don’t trust them. I felt in a better position than most as a number of the main figures taking part know me and my work over the years, and that I’ve always tried to be fair and state their case accurately.

There were a number of people taking part whose relatives have been killed by police, including Mark Duggan’s aunt and mother, Sean Rigg’s sister Marcia and Jermaine Baker’s mother and other relatives , as well as some Black activists I’ve photographed at other events.

Things did get slightly more difficult at the rally in front of Tottenham Police Station, particularly when some other photographers began to get a little in the way of events and photographers were asked to move back. I had to move and work a little more discretely than usual, but still managed to get my pictures. One man towards the end did object to my presence, but fortunately others told him to ease off, as I was OK.

Policing in this country is often said – particularly by police spokespersons – to be policing by consent, policing which requires the trust and support of the community. I’m not sure that has ever been fully given in any working class communities, who largely regard the police as agents of the bosses and the rich, even if not everyone subscribes to the ACAB view. But certainly trust is at a real low in Tottenham.

Tottenham remembers Mark Duggan

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Black Lives London

May 16th, 2017

First, my apologies for not many posts in the last few days. May Day gets rather hectic here and I’m still trying to catch up with things. Then I went away for a weekend, had a birthday and more – and managed to forget what I was writing about…

There was a great deal of largely unconscious racism around when I was young, perhaps more xenophobia than racism. We were brought up in an atmosphere where to be British (or perhaps more importantly, English) was to be effortlessly superior to the rest of the world. We had just won the war – with just a little help from the Yanks (who we felt only ever succeeded in anything by sheer mass of numbers and fire-power) and of course ‘Uncle Joe‘ Stalin and his Russian hordes, But we were the proud little nation that had invented almost everything, from the industrial revolution to football, and had taken civilization around the world to create a glorious Empire on which the sun never set.

Of course, the Empire was on its way out. India (and Pakistan) had got independence, and more of those had been or were still a part of that Empire were beginning to take up that promise that they could come and live and work here. And in 1953, an England team were soundly beaten by Hungary at Wembley, rubbing it in the following year with a 7-1 thrashing in Budapest.

Even in my own family, where the views of English superiority were somewhat countered by a strong Christian belief in all men (a word that still then included women) being equal in the eye of God – unless perhaps they were Catholics – there was still a certain air of paternalism – and we were still collecting those halfpennies with a ship on them to send out missionaries to covert the heathen.

Of course there were a few foreigners, and even a few black people around; there had always been some in London and a few made their way to the outer suburbs where we lived. Some even came and stayed with us when we gave hospitality at Christmas to some overseas students whose homes were on the other side of the world, though quite what they made of us I still wonder.

Over the next twenty years or so, things changed fairly dramatically as first West Indians and later immigrants from India, Hindu, Muslim and Sikhs, moved into the area which Wikipedia now describes as having ‘a very high ethnic diversity with a low White British population.’

It was a change that in most respects I found positive. It created a more positive local economy, we got shops that didn’t close at 5.30 (or 1pm on Wednesdays) and even opened on Sundays, a considerably wider range of food etc. There were people to drive the buses (and to ride on them to keep routes open.) There were doctors and nurses and people to run other essential services.

London is a better place to live in than when I was growing up in many ways, and its new citizens who have come here from around the world have made a great contribution to that. But there are those who resent their presence, and still attitudes in some organisations including the police, much of the press and some political parties which discriminate against immigrants in general and ethnic minorities including those who are our citizens. We see it clearly in our immigration policies and immigration raids, in the imprisonment in immigration detention centres, in the still frequent ‘stops and searches’ of young Black men, in deaths in custody and in some court cases.

Of course it isn’t just Black people who suffer discrimination. Class is always important, and at the basis of how our society works. Islamophobia is rife – and behind most of the ‘fight against terrorism’, there is still antisemitism around (though exaggerated by deliberate attempts to paint any opposition to the actions of the Israeli state as anti-semitic), still extreme prejudice against Roma and other travelers, as well as other xenophobic attitudes.

This event remembered the many UK victims of state violence, including Mark Duggan, Sarah Reed, Mzee Mohammed, Jermaine Baker, Sean Rigg, Leon Patterson, Kingsley Burrell and over 1500 others, disproportionately black, since 1990 and was held five years and a day after the killing of Mark Duggan. The park in which it took place in Whitechapel was renamed a year after the murder there of Altab Ali, an 25 yea-old Bangladeshi textile worker, on May 8th 1978 by three teenage racists.

More pictures at Black Lives Matter London.
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Hull Photos: 27/4/17-3/5/17

May 13th, 2017

27th April 2017

There is little trace of the various buildings that were a part of Victoria dock now, with I think just the winding house of the slipway surviving, along with the slipway itself and the Outer Basin and Half Tide Basin, and the swing bridge from this across the entrance to the main Victoria Dock.

The two-storey brick building in this picture and the shed attached to it are some of the buildings which haven’t survived, and it isn’t easy now to know exactly where they were, but I was making my way east though the dock from the Half Tide Basin where I took the previous picture, but like all photographers I tended to wander somewhat.

Lister Blackstone were active from 1937, when Blackstone was taken over by Lister until 1965 when they were taken over by the Hawker Group. What this and the other engines etc were doing in this yard on Victoria Dock can only be a subject of conjecture on my part. It looks to an untrained eye rather like a Lister JP3 engine which were made in the immediate pre- and post-war era for both industrial and marine use, or perhaps a larger version of this. Many such engines are still working and can sell for a few thousand pounds.


32p42: Victoria Dock, 1982 – Docks

28th April 2017

This view looks roughly east from close to the boundary of Victoria Dock and the distant buildings are I think the sheds around the half-tide basin and dock with, between the first two buildings the two pylons carrying the docks name between them at the entrance. In the far distance towards the right, at the end of the line of telephone poles is Hull’s tidal barrier, and in front of it a chimney, which could be one of the few surviving features in the redeveloped area, the engine house of the slipway. The engine itself is now on display beside the Marina on Humber Dock St.

By the time I took this picture in 1982, Victoria Dock was already filled in, and this Attendant’s Office where drivers were instructed to report was boarded up and redundant.


32p43: Attendant’s Office for Filling of Victoria Dock, 1982 – Docks

29th April 2017

There were still a few men working in what appeared to be a graveyard for boats at the east end of Victoria Dock, in an area which had once been part of Earle’s Shipbuilding & Engineering Yard.

Charles and William Earle set up in business together in 1845 as millwrights, founders and general smiths but realised the potential of iron hulled ships and in 1853 built their first vessel. After a disastrous fire in 1861 they moved to a 26 acre site to the east of the new Victoria Dock, later adding another 47 acres and were soon the second largest shipbuilder in England, close behind the Humber Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co (formerly Samuelson’s) based at Sammy’s Point. In the 19th century it built ships for the Chilean, Japanese, Russian and Greek navies – and eventually several cruisers for the Royal Navy, as well as cargo vessels, ferries and of course trawlers. The yard went bust in 1900 and after a year was bought by another Hull company, the the Wilson Line, then the largest private shipowners in the world (but bought in 1916 by Ellerman to become Ellerman’s Wilson Line.) The yard closed in 1932, with much of its equipment going to the Kowloon ship yard in Hong Kong.

The yard was one of the earliest to build steel ships and also pioneered the use of triple-expansion engines, but an earlier attempt at innovation with a cabin on gimbals to combat sea-sickness built for Henry Bessemer was a disaster. They built the Russian Imperial yacht and one of their final orders was a flat-pack steamer for use on Lake Titicaca which remained in service there for over 50 years. They had in 1904 built the SS Inca in similar kit form which was assembled at Lake Titicaca, 12,507 ft above sea level, in 1905.


32p44 Site of Earle’s Shipbuilidng & Engineering works, Victoria Dock, 1982 – Docks

30th April 2017

Joynson & Son, Scale and Slicing machine specialists, established in 1892 were at 75 Mytongate, on the north side of the street in a row of shops between the Rampant Horse Inn and Thomas Borthwick and Sons Ltd, meat exporters on the corner of Vicar Lane. Joynsons are still in business, now at 45 Anlaby Rd, as catering equipment specialists, providing food service solutions & catering disposables.

The only building in this section of the street to escape demolition was the former Mytongate telephone exchange and headquarters of the Hull Corporation Telephone Department from 1914-64, at No.65 – though the street has since changed its name to Castle St, and is considerably wider, part of a continuing Highways Agency scheme to turn much of the city into the near-motorway A63, with a giant swathe of the Old Town lost to tarmac and wasteland, still largely awaiting recovery – or perhaps to be submerged by further road schemes.

Fly posters on the boarded up windows include those for ‘Rock Stateside’ at the Live Wire Disco, events at the City Hall and Hull Tower and a poster protesting against the first visit to Britain of President Reagan in June 1982 with the message ‘Neither Washington Nor Moscow But International Socialism’.

Hull demolition contractors D J Broady, ‘Space-Made’ went into administration in 2011. Together with Sam Allon they were responsible for demolishing many of Hull’s most notable buildings. The wife of one of Hull’s most prominent Aldermen was said to be a major shareholder in D J Broady.


32p52: Joynson & Son, 75 Mytongate, 1982 – Old Town

1st May 2017

Telstar was I think TELSTAR CARAVANS LIMITED, a company who made caravans and whose registered office had the address Victoria Dock, Hull and went into liquidation in 1978-80. I’m not sure of its exact location in the dock but think it must have been to the west of the Half-Tide basin which I photographed a few frames later, and is fairly close to the bank of the Humber, perhaps near the slipway in what was once the LNER dock yard.

Probably the company was named after the 1962 instrumental hit written and produced by Joe Meek for the Tornados, which got it’s name from the first communications satellite to transmit TV across the Atlantic, Telstar 1, also launched in 1962.


32p53: Telstar, Victoria Docks, 1982 – Docks

2nd May 2017

Burnett House was built as the Queen’s Hotel at 82 Mytongate, and in 1875 the frontage was rebuilt with the Britannia consoles and distinctive window surrounds and the hotel renamed as the Britannia Hotel. It closed as a hotel in 1913 and became the offices of shipping agents Stockwell & Co. Ltd. After the second war it was occupied by shipping agents Burnett & Co (Newcastle) Ltd and renamed Burnett House, though retaining the name Britannia Hotel on its east wall. It had been empty for some years when I took this picture stood empty and derelict for years on Mytongate.

Mytongate was around this time drastically widened as the A63 and renamed as Castle St, with Burnett House becoming 82-3 Castle St The frontage was finally renovated in 2006 back to its 1875 condition and advertised without success as office space. Later it was converted to seven flats and ground floor retail premises around 2015 when it was finally let. The ground floor is now occupied by an estate agents and property letting company. Some of the delay has been attributed to incompetence by the agency set up to market Hull Council properties, Hull Forward, which was disbanded in 2010.


32p66: Burnett House, Mytongate (Castle St), 1982 – Old Town

3rd May 2017

These sheds were either along the dockside either close to the entrance lock to Albert Dock, and may have been taken from the south end of the substantial swing bridge which then took a roadway and the public footpath across the lock, or possibly on Humber Dock, where I made my next exposure.

There were warning lights and gates which closed the entrances to the bridge before it swung, and large notices prohibiting pedestrians or vehicles from being on the bridge while it was being operated. But on one occasion the bridge operators failed to notice that my wife was still walking across it with our younger son and took her for a ride.

The recent Scale St footbridge across the River Hull was designed and built as the first such footbridge in England that allowed foot passengers to be on it while it is operated, and is opened briefly every Saturday, at a time which depends on the tide for those who wish to take a short ride.


32q12: Dockside sheds, Albert Dock or Humber Dock, 1982 – Docks


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Scorpions, Magnum & Datta

May 12th, 2017

Kenneth Jarecke‘s Two Scorpions Cross A Stream is an excellent post about the state of the photographic industry as revealed by the Datta/Magnum/Lensculture controversy, and one that I recommend all those with an interest in our medium to read.

Though I do have some slight quibbles. One is over the title, I think a reference to an ethical fable probably of Persian origin as ‘The Scorpion and the Turtle‘ and later as ‘The Scorpion and the Frog‘, which re-emerged in popular culture in the 1950s, in which the scorpion having convinced the frog to ferry him across the river, stings him in mid stream so they both die, giving the reason for his action as “It’s my nature…”.

The two scorpions are presumably the photographer and Magnum, and clearly in the current story they were both acting out their rather poisonous nature, but it was not that which led to their downfall – and indeed was very much the reason for the success that they (and others) had been enjoying, until their fall.

The agent of that fall was not a scorpion but a quite different kind of animal, duckrabbit – photographer Benjamin Chesterton – as I posted in Lensculture & Child Rape.

His story spread rapidly though the photographic world, and led to the further revelations about Datta’s plagiarism by Shreya Bhat which were published in PetaPixel, and which I wrote about in The Strange Case of Souvid Datta a few days later. Jarecke is thus incorrect to state “The initial scandal focused on photoshop manipulation and photographic plagiarism” though that aspect has since rather eclipsed the initial outrage, and I think for rather obvious and unsavoury reasons.

As Jarecke finishes his piece by writing, Magnum have “not apologized for any bad behavior or their association with this whole debacle” and as he suggests if they do so Datta will become the scapegoat. And putting all the emphasis on the plagiarism and Photoshopping neatly enables Magnum to step aside from the wider issues of the content of Datta’s work, to which unlike the manipulation they have awarded their approval.