Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Scientists for Science

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

It’s hardly a surprise that scientists are in favour of science. What is surprising is that so many people – and those with most power and responsibility including our political establishments here and in the US seem not to be. Our BBC, largely the voice of the establishment, maintains its pretence of impartiality by giving climate denying lunatics like Lord Lawson the same or greater prominence as climate scientists, and Facebook and the web are full of miracle cures for cancer.

Rather than listen to the experts, to those whose ideas are based on science, we distrust them. It seems likely to be our civilisation’s undoing in the not to distant future. I’m fairly sure our planet will outlast my lifetime (at least if people keep Trump away from that red button) but far from convinced for my grandchildren’s future.

Part of the problem is that many things that have little or no scientific basis set themselves out as science – and a prime area is of course economics, which seems to apply mathematics to derive results which are simply reflections of the premises of whichever school is involved.

Science isn’t really like that, though perhaps sometimes in minor details it can be mere speculation. The most basic necessity of any scientific theory is that it could be proved to be wrong and can survive such attempts. It’s good to be able to prove things are right, but necessary to be possible to prove them false.

Our particular culture in Britain has been one based on an education in the Classics and on the primacy of the word. In the beginning was the word, and for the rest of the way too, with numbers and playing with real stuff being relegated to the rude mechanicals. And we’ve shut them away in labs where they have done remarkably well, perhaps at least in part because they are away from the distractions of talking to the rest of us.

What can one make of a protest in which placards read ‘Do I have large P-value? Cos I feel Insignificant’ or ‘dT=α.ln(C1/C0)’? I have a couple of science degrees and had some idea about the first but had to go and ask about the second.

Scientists march for Science
Scientists Rally for Science

Save Latin Village

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Our system of local authorities is a mess. But worse than that it has largely become dysfunctional, often working against the interests of the population it is meant to serve. We seem to have lost the local pride that led to the great municipal developments of the late Victorian era, and which one still sees across the Channel, and councils seem to have morphed into businesses serving their own ends.

The Latin Village which has grown up around Seven Sisters Indoor Market is a thriving and vibrant community, a community asset that any local council should admire and encourage, and be proud of. But Haringey Council want to destroy it.

The block stands on a prime site on top of Seven Sisters Underground Station and on the area’s major road. So the council want to make property developers rich by replacing it with expensive flats and chain stores, profiting investors at the expense of the community. It’s something that you might expect of some sleazy and corrupt administration in a country with a bent administration, and that is exactly what it is, though the council runs under the Labour label. Italian anti-mafia expert Roberto Saviano recently called the UK ‘the most corrupt place on Earth‘, and we have a legal, political and law enforcement system that has developed over the years to protect ruling class interests and the corrupt financial system that powers the City.

It has been a long fight by the community against the council, and back in 2008 they gained the support of the then London Mayor Boris Johnson, who forced the council to think again. They did and came back with the same answer – knock it down, destroy the community and replace it by a bland block with housing for the wealthy and chain shops just like those on any other high rent high street. And big profits for their friends the property developers.

It was a lively afternoon, with speeches and music and dancing. I took a few minutes to go inside the Indoor Market, which I’ve only walked past on the outside before, and was amazed. So many people, so many shops, so much life. But I didn’t want to miss what was happening outside, so I didn’t stop to take pictures, meaning perhaps to go back later, though I’ve not yet done so, though I have since seen some good images and video by others.

The main event of the afternoon was to form a human chain around the block, and while the chain didn’t quite link up all the way round it did get to be around 300 metres long, and had people really stretched out it would have made it. I followed it around and then walked the missing 80 metres along West Green Road, where the line of shops would have made it a little difficult back to the Tottenham High Rd where the chain had begun.

People were still there, still holding out their hands to the next in line, and the afternoon sun was putting their shadows onto the pavement. These looked like those strings of paper men we used to make by folding paper and cutting out the shapes attached by their arms and hang as chains.

The fiesta was still continuing when I left for home, with more music scheduled into the evening. It’s places like the Latin Market and others also under threat from councils and developers that make London a great place to live in – and which London’s mainly Labour councils seem hell-bent on sterilising.

More pictures: Human Chain at Latin Village


Exploiting Terror

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

I don’t like photographing the extreme right, though I think it is important to document their activities, as well as those that go out onto the streets to oppose them. But their attempts to exploit the reprehensible attacks by a few deranged terrorists on people on the streets of London for their Islamophobic agenda I find particularly depressing and distasteful.

Londoners had made their feelings clear, both in the flowers on Westminster Bridge and in Parliament Square, and in the vigil the day after the Westminster attack in Trafalgar Square in which all communities in our city – including many Muslims – took part.

Britain First have a record of insulting Muslims, of making a nuisance of themselves in mosques and more. Their deputy leader was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment and fined £2000 for abusing a woman simply because she was wearing a hijab, and their leader jailed for eight weeks for breaching a High Court ban on his entering any mosque in England and Wales.

Behind the banner at the front of their march was a man carrying a ‘Knights Templar’ flag, an organisation including a number of former BNP members with strong links to European neo-Nazi and extreme right groups including the self-styled paramilitary Shipka Bulgarian National Movement and a banned Hungarian group.

But it is too easy to take dramatic pictures full of flags of Britain First – and leader Paul Golding arrived with a van full of them, though a few others had brought their own.

I found the rally upsetting, and in particular its misuse of Christianity, which did make me wonder how many of those present would be in church the following day. Certainly there was no Christian charity or message of love on display, and I think there would be vanishing few sermons preached in churches that would have been acceptable here.

Also out on the streets were the EDL, though they met at the Wetherspoons on Whitehall – and I photographed the police actually forcing them back into the pub as the anti-fascists were being rather heavy-handedly escorted away from the area on the opposite side of the road. At one time one group of police was trying to push them down Whitehall while another group of officers attempted to stop them, and a few protesters got rather badly squashed in the middle. It was rather a muddle, and there were a few arrests and at least one photographer assaulted by police. I got just a little pushed around but tried hard to keep out of the way.

Eventually police did manage to escort the few EDL supporters down for a rally close to where Britain First were holding their rally. For some reason they didn’t want to be photographed, and one of their stewards insisted I leave – and made a complaint about me to the police.

I didn’t have any time for the officer who came to speak to me, reminding her of the MPS Guidelines which clearly state “Members of the media have a duty to report on incidents and do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places. Police have no power or moral responsibility to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel” and saying it was none of her job to run around for the EDL.

So I took my pictures and then left, hoping to be able to take some more pictures of the anti-fascist, but because of the police barricades it took rather a long walk to get to them, and many had left by the time I arrived. But it was good to be back again among people who were happy to be photographed.

More at:
UAF protest extreme right marches
Britain First & EDL exploit London attack


September 2017

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Police arrest Charlie X at the DSEI arms fair

As nights draw in its good to remember those longer days of September, the events I went to, people I met and the pictures I took, and I’ve finally finished putting them on line in My London Diary. September was a busy month, starting with several days with protesters outside the world’s largest arms fair, held every two years in London – at least until the campaign against it manages to get it stopped. So there were quite a few pictures to add and events to write about.

I’m slow to edit pictures and captions, as I like to get both right, though like other people I sometimes get things wrong, particularly as I’m often half asleep as I rush to send images to the agencies. Though my definition of a rush is a rather old-fashioned one, usually a matter of several hours after the event, rather than the minutes photographers are now expected to file by.  And sometimes I find myself falling asleep late at night and decide the following morning will have to do.

But a very busy time in the last couple of weeks have meant that finishing my posts for September has taken a little longer than usual.  Just as it usually does.

Sep 2017

This and a later UVW protest led to re-instatement and a real living wage
Cleaners at luxury car dealers HR Owen
No NHS immigration checks

No Nuclear War over North Korea
End outsourcing at London University

One year of Ritzy strike
Haringey against council housing sell-off
World Peace Day Walk
Trafalgar Square blocked over pollution
No More Deaths in immigration detention
Free forgotten jailed Eritrean Journalists
Lord Carson Memorial Parade
Black Day for Sabah & Sarawak
Overthrow the Islamic Regime of Iran
41st monthly Sewol ‘Stay Put!’ vigil
Open House & more – Peckham
Open House – Banqueting House
Cody Dock

Derek’s Book Launch

Air Pollution protest blocks Brixton
Croydon Walk
Wreath for victims of the arms trade
#Arming The World

DSEI East Gate blocked
Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate
DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate
Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI
Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances
No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest

Another cyclist dies – Islington has provided zero safe cycle facilities
Die-in for cyclist Ardian Zagani
McStrike rally at McDonalds HQ
Vegans call for Animal Rights

London Images


Hull Photos: 29/9/17 – 5/10/17

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Another week of my daily postings to Hull Photos which are continuing through all of Hull’s 2017 year as UK City of Culture. You can follow them daily where each picture appears, but the pictures appear with comments on Facebook – and in the weekly digests here.

Comments and corrections are welcome here or on Facebook.

29th September 2017

Taken from Scott St Bridge, this shows one of the older industrial buildings along the River Hull, Paul’s riverbank Granary building, linked on its other side across Wincolmlee to the rest of the mill complex. At the extreme left you can see the bell used to warn of the bridge lifting, in front of the windows of the Paul’s bilding across Wincolmlee.

The local listing describes it as “Characteristic and increasingly rare historic riverside building. Important for illustrating the history of Hull’s development as a port in the 19th century. Extant in 1853 and pictured in a F. S. Smith drawing of 1888. Distinctive early 20th century iron covered overhead footbridge linking the former granary to the mill across the road has attractive decorative roundels in the wrought iron brackets at either side.”

85-5g-66: Granary, R & W Paul, Scott St/River Hull, 1985 – River Hull

30th September 2017

The River Hull is relatively narrow, even at high tide, and larger boats are unable to turn above Drypool Bridge. The swinging area just below Rank’s Clarence Mill was the former entrance to Drypool Basin which led from the River into Victoria Dock.

The Beldale H which I had photographed before going upstream towards Rix’s wharf a short distance below Wilmington Rail Bridge had made its way backwards down the Hull much higher in the water and I took a series of eight images as it swung around to go forwards towards the Humber.

The Northern Divers (ENG) Ltd building is still in Tower St, though the company moved to Sutton Fields in 2011. The 1901 building designed by David Christie, is a Grade II-listed former Trinity House buoy shed. Its distinctive tubular crane can just be seen behind a more conventional one; it predates the building having been originally installed at Princes Dock in 1861 and is possibly the only remaining example of its kind, and is separately listed as follows:

“Tubular Crane. c1865, resited 1901. Cast iron. Curved tubular cast iron jib which turns through 360 degrees. Original gearing and later electric motor at base. Sunk into circular hole in the quayside, with deep straight counter weight secured to base of quayside.”

This type of crane was designed and patented by William Fairburn in 1850 and constructed by various manufacturers.

85-5h-22: Beldale H at Drypool entrance swinging area, 1985 – River Hull

1st October 2017

Behind the Beldale H swinging out from the Drypool Basin entrance the large vessel is the 1424 gross ton suction dredger Bowstream, since 1996 known as the Porto Novo surprisingly still apparently in service, currently in Funchal, Madeira. Built in 1971 in the Netherlands as an effluent tanker and named Hudson Stream, she was sold to British Dredging Ltd of Cardiff in 1972 and converted to a suction dredger and renamed Bowstream the following year.

85-5h-23: Beldale H at Drypool entrance swinging area, 1985 – River Hull

2nd October 2017

When the new east dock (renamed Victoria Dock in 1850) was built in 1845-50, the plans included an entrance from both the River Humber and the River Hull. The entrance from the Hull led into Drypool Basin, with a further lock leading to Victoria Dock, and there was a similar arrangement but with twin locks (one larger with a smaller one alongside for barges) into the Half-Tide Basin from the Humber. The entrance from the Old Harbour on the RIver Hull was only completed a couple of years after the dock opened in around 1852.

When Victoria Dock closed in 1973, it was filled in east of Tower St, including the Drypool Basin (though much of the dock area was timber yards rather than water, with the timber ponds having previously been filled) and few traces other than the Half-Tide Basin remain in the Victoria Dock estate. The entrance to the Drypool Basin was retained as far as Tower St, as an essential swinging area allowing longer vessels on the Hull to turn around in the Old Harbour.

Tower St at the left of the picture is roughly where the outer lock gate was (previously a swing bridge had carried it across the centre of the lock), and a vertical stone on the river wall separates the lock entrance from the curved wall of the swinging area. The large board fixed on the building on the right at a slight angle names this as the Swinging Area and prohibits mooring, though the details are too small to read on the full-size image.

The building at the right is still there, though a little hidden, but that at the centre and left has gone. The 1928 large-scale OS map calls it ‘Pumping Station’ and the tower appears to be part of the hydraulic power system that was used in the docks. It’s replacement is considerably less attractive.

85-5h-24: Erdmann Ltd, Welders & Fabricators, Tower St and Swinging Area, 1985 – River Hull

3rd October 2017

The Drypool Bridge is raised for the small Rix tanker Bledale H to reverse through underneath, though it looks as if there might have been sufficient clearance without it opening, but the water is fairly high close to high tide.

The photograph is taken from the riverside path underneath Joseph Rank’s Clarence Mill, where another small vessel, possibly an oil tanker, is moored with crew on board.

In one of the more senseless acts of recent years in Hull, the Clarence Mill, an iconic local landmark, was recently demolished, and the site has lain empty for several years. It was meant to house a new hotel for Hull2017 Year of Culture, but not a stone on the site was turned and it seems that this was simply used as a pretext to gain permission to demolish one of Hull’s best-known and loved buildings.

It had little claim to architectural merit, having been largely rebuilt after wartime destruction, but was an important monument to one of Hull’s great men who changed the milling industry and was of some interest in terms of industrial archaeology. It appeared to be in sound condition and could almost certainly have been repurposed without losing its character, or at the very least some of the riverside elements should have been incorporated into any new development.

On the other side of the river just above the bridge is a block of warehouses, demolished in the late 1980s, another sad and unnecessary loss to Hull’s heritage. Again the site has since remained empty, used only for car parking.

85-5h-31: Drypool Bridge and River Hull, 1985 – River Hull

4th October 2017

Another picture of Rix tanker Beldale H, here moving stern first into the Drypool Basin entrance swinging area. At right is the Grade II listed Pease Warehouse, then recently converted into flats.

Although there are still quite a few barges moored on the west side of the river at the High St wharves, there is now quite a long empty gap.

85-5h-34: Beldale H at Drypool entrance swinging area, 1985 – River Hull

5th October 2017

By 1985, this shop had abandoned its earlier Royal Wedding window display I had photographed in 1981 and was back to basics – 4 toilet rolls for 52 p and cans of soft drinks.

85-5h-41: Shop window display, Church St, 1985 – East 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.

Unacceptable Barnet

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Barnet is a large suburban borough on the northern edge of London with a diverse population and the council has a small Conservative majority and became notorious for its ‘easyCouncil’ policies which cut services to cut costs and outsourced most of them to Capita. And a part of that has been limiting social housing for the poorest through regeneration schemes that have little provision for low income local residents.

I’d gone to Barnet because the second phase of a public inquiry into the second phase of the demolition of the West Hendon estate was opening at the RAF Museum in Colindale, but only looked in there very briefly. It was a fine day and I didn’t want to sit inside in what was bound to be a rather tedious meeting.

Opposite the site on what was the old Hendon Aerodrome is the Grahame Park Estate. Hendon was one of London’s early airports, and its development for housing in the 1970s by the Greater London Council and Barnet Council is exactly what should also have happened to Heathrow, where an even larger development could have taken place.

The main part of the estate built in the early 1970s is largely in low-rise brick, with long terraces and separating pedestrians from traffic. It was first ‘regenerated’ in the 1980s when some connecting walkways between blocks were removed and some buildings were given pitched roofs. A more dramatic regeneration began after 2003 with the phased demolition of some areas and new properties being built on the estate, and considerable building work is now taking place in some areas.

The continuing regeneration by Genesis Housing Association and Countryside Properties has come in for much criticism for replacing homes at social rents by private properties at high market prices, along with varieties of ‘affordable’ properties largely beyond the reach of those on average or lower salaries. The latest planning application for part of the estate includes only 39 homes for social rent out of 1,083, a loss of 518 social homes compared to the existing 557 on the site, which London Mayor Sadiq Khan described as “totally unacceptable“. It is very much in line with Barnet’s policies here and in other estate regenerations.

Often, as at Grahame Park, councils claim support of residents for regeneration schemes. Most of us would welcome new and better homes, and existing tenants are always promised rehousing, but such promises are never kept. 518 of the 557 families – around 93% – are in line for social cleansing, being forced to move away from homes and usually into far poorer, less secure but considerably more expensive private rented accommodation, often far from jobs, schools and friends.

After walking around Grahame Park and taking some pictures, I went to look at some of the related new developments around Colindale station, also a part of the Colindale Area Action Plan’, before taking tube and bus to the West Hendon Estate, on the only part of Barnet west of the A5 Edgware Road (West Hendon Broadway).

The attraction of ‘Hendon Waterside’ to developers, as the replacement for the West Hendon Estate is obvious, and few if any of the former residents will be able to afford to live there. Originally there were 680 social rented homes on the site, but there seem unlikely to be more than a token handful in the new development, though exact figures do not seem to be available.

More about West Hendon and Grahame Park on My London Diary:

West Hendon Estate


March for Homes

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

It was a long march on a warm March day from Canada Water to the Aylesbury Estate, and not by the shortest route, but one carefully planned to take in as many as possible of the council estates currently being demolished or under threat from the London Borough of Southwark.  By the time we reached the end, the marchers had walked around 4 miles – and photographers quite a bit more.

Southwark over 15 years ago began to plan to get rid of its council estates, seeing them as liabilities rather than as vital to house the less well off citizens of Southwark – of which there are many. In earlier years they had done a decent job, building well-planned large estates such as the award-winning Heygate Estate, where extensive plantings of trees were coming to maturity thirty or so years later.

But Southwark Council came under new management, more specifically New Labour management, who realised that the value of the land that this and other council estates were built on was worth huge sums on the open market. The estate had previously been allowed to become rather rundown through inadequate maintenance but the process was deliberately accelerated, and people and families with problems were deliberately housed there. Money was spent on PR basically intended to demonise the estate, and they began a long process of removing tenants and leaseholders.

Estates in earlier years were built with large amounts of open space and a relatively low population for the area they covered.  When built the Heygate it had over 1200 homes, all at social rent. Under Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ policy a number of these were lost, but there were still many socially rented properties.

Heygate’s replacement, Elephant Park, will offer around 3000 propertie, but only around 87 at social rents, with a further hundred or so at three-quarters of market rent or under shared ownership schemes, both far above the means of those in the borough working in jobs at or close to the minimum wage or the real London Living Wage.

And although some councillors and council officials may have benefited from the deal, Southwark council got its figures sadly wrong and is probably out of pocket from the deal, partly because the costs of emptying the estate turned out to be much higher than anticipated, but mainly because allegedly they parted with the land for a criminally low sum, a fraction of its true market value.

I’ve no reason to doubt the figures given by those who fought the council over the demolition, most of which come from council documents, including some released by an IT error as well as those published or dragged out by freedom of information requests. As well as failing to provide properly for the people of their borough it would seem that those involved have been.

Simon Elmer of ASH has this to say on conflict of interests in local councils implementing the estate demolition programme :

“The prime example here is Southwark council, where 1 in 5 councillors are lobbyists for the building industry, and where 6 of the most senior officers responsible for selling the Heygate estate to property developers Lendlease for one-fifteenth of its market value now either work for or with the company.”

Which perhaps goes a long way to explain what is happening in Southwark, and why, at the end of a long, hot march we were denied access to the council-owned Thurlow Lodge Community Hall,  where tenants Divine Rescue who had offered to provide refreshment and toilet facilities for the tired marchers were forced under threat of eviction to withdraw their offer, and instead the hall was locked and shuttered, guarded by Southwark Council security as a rally took place outside.

Southwark march for homes & businesses


Against Terror

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

When I arrived for the Vigil Against Terror called by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as it was about to start, Trafalgar Square was already fairly packed and I was unable to get to the press enclosure closer to the mayor in time.

Or at least I wasn’t particularly inclined to do so, as my interest in the event wasn’t to photograph the Home Secretary, the Mayor or the police chief who were there to speak and light the main candles, but in the crowd and the people of London who like me had come to “show their respect for those killed and injured in yesterday’s terror attack and to insist that Londoners will not be cowed and stand together against hatred and division.”

So my only picture of the official speeches included in the set I sent off was the distant view at the top of this post, and it was something I only really took for the picture agency rather than myself. Taken from a platform inside a second press space at the base of Nelson’s Column I also made some rather tighter views than this which was taken with the 28-200mm at 85mm (in DX mode – so equivalent to 127mm) but the wider view seemed more appropriate.

The light was falling fast and this was one occasion where a faster lens like the weighty telephotos many of the other photographers around were aiming would have been more appropriate. But even if I had one, I would just have got more or less the same images as all those other photographers who were taking turns on the steps – and where’s the point in that?

I left the pen and made my way through the crowd, which was less tightly packed at the end of the square away from the steps. Once the official proceedings had finished it became easier to move around.

I did spend some time tightly packed together with other photographers taking pictures of people lighting candles, but moved away fairly quickly to go elsewhere.

It was getting pretty dark, and although hundreds of candles make a pretty good light source, the extremes between the light of the actual flame and the gloomiest of shadows were too much for any film or sensor. While in some images it was possible to retain detail in the candle flames, particularly when only one or two candles were involved, I couldn’t manage to do so with some of the wider views.

Despite its technical faults, his final image here – and one of the last I took before leaving the vigil – was I think the only one that was used at least in the few days immediately following the vigil.

Vigil against Terror fills Trafalgar Square


Anti-Racism Day

Friday, October 27th, 2017

The TUC’s Frances O’Grady was among those holding the main banner

Stand Up To Racism manage to involve a wide range of other organisations in the March Against Racism they organised, including many trade unions and some Muslim groups, and the march and rally on March 18th was one of the larger to take place in London this year. I’m not sure how many the organisers claimed, but I reported ‘tens of thousands’.

As well as sheer numbers, it was also apparent from the many hand-made posters and placards that this is an issue on which many people feel strongly and realise that the situation is a critical one, with both Theresa May and Donald Trump promoting racist measures against immigrants and in particular Muslims, and much of the press promoting hysteria against Islam and against Europeans who have come to live here, as well as a general xenophobia.

Looking at my coverage of the event in Thousands March Against Racism it is clear that I was greatly attracted to the posters and placards, though I also photographed many of the speakers at the rally before the march. There was a larger rally at the end of the march, but like quite a few of the marchers I was pretty tired by the time we reached Parliament Square and didn’t stay for it. I decided I’d taken enough pictures – and you can see well over a hundred of them on the web site.

Of course not everyone in the country shares the views of the marchers, and there was an organised counter-protest by the extreme right ‘Britain First’ who stood behind a large crowd of police at Piccadilly Circus and shouted insults at the passing marchers, many of whom shouted back, although stewards tried to hurry them on. But that small group were outnumbered by a factor of roughly a thousand to one.

There were so many good posters that it was difficult to know which to leave out, and impossible to do justice to them here. Quite a few were rather lengthy and I’ve chosen some of the more visual; a placard isn’t the best place for an essay.

Long texts also present a small problem on the web site, where I like to pick out and put at least some of the text from the banners and placards etc as text on the site, allowing for it to be found in searches.

Thousands March Against Racism


Theatre of Protest

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

The Lung Theatre ‘E15’ march to BAC was a slightly unsettling event, both protest and theatre, in which I was both photographing an event and playing a photographer photographing an event, along with protesters, most of whom I knew at least slightly, and some I had photographed before at many events and among them the performers from Lung Theatre.

Lung Theatre’s ‘E15‘ is ‘verbatim theatre‘, using the actual words of housing protesters, largely from Focus E15, but also from Sweets Way and elsewhere in a theatre performance, and their run of several weeks at the Battersea Arts Centre was beginning that evening.

The ‘protest’ was an opening event – and I suppose could be called a ‘publicity stunt’ though there were protesters there handing out leaflets about housing in London and publicity for their future protests. It was perhaps a little displaced as these were not in Battersea  but across the city in Stratford, but similar things are happening in all the boroughs across the capital – and indeed in other cities.

All protests – and perhaps in particular those organised by groups like Focus E15 – have an element of theatre, and this certainly looked and felt and was a protest as it handed out leaflets (including those about the theatre performances), held banners and spoke and chanted about housing issues outside Clapham Junction station (which is of course in Battersea) before the short march up the road to the theatre. And like all the best protests it took the road for the march.

I did have some problems taking pictures. The street outside the station is very crowded and rather dark where the protesters had chosen to stand,  though with quite a lot of light of various colours spilling from some shop windows – and in some areas of the protest this was useful. Lavender Hill up which they later marched seems very poorly lit for a major road.

For the static protest I worked without flash at ISO6400, I think mostly on auto-ISO with the limit set at that ISO. I was working in Shutter priority mode, setting speeds mainly of 1/100 or 1/125th, but my usual finger fiddling problems meant I made a few exposures at higher shutter speeds – like 1/500th or even faster –  which at full aperture resulted in several stops of underexposure and a few of the noisiest images I’ve ever used – perhaps exposed at ISO51,200.

Lightroom can do a reasonable job at producing an image out of more or less nothing, but there are limits. When you push images you also get the shadow changing from black to a deep mauve which needs a little local application of a tint to try and neutralise. And in lighter even areas such as the grey of the road surface you can see some purple patches. Mostly I just deleted these vastly underexposed images, but in a  few I felt the problems gave a strong graphic effect and retained them.

Once the march started, I had to switch to flash as there was just too much movement. Again I kept to high ISOs to record some of the street further from my flash.  As so often, I had problems with flash; Nikon’s flash system is great and always works when I test it, but somehow in the heat of the moment it sometimes refuses to play the game properly. It’s probably me rather than the machine, and just shows that while the system is great it isn’t foolproof!

Although I was invited to see the show that evening I was keen to go home and eat and work on the pictures, and it was not until a couple of weeks later that I actually did so, having been invited to sit on a panel discussion at the end of the performance about the role of the arts in protest, along with fellow panelists, theatre director Max StaffordClark,  Guardian journalist Dawn Foster and comedian Jeremy Hardy.

I seldom speak in public, much preferring to write where I can consider my thoughts at greater length and try and chose the correct word, but I was more on my home ground that the others and my stern critic in the audience felt I had done pretty well, though Jeremy did get more laughs.

Lung Theatre ‘E15’ march to BAC