Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Brick Lane

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

I took one look when Paul Trevor began to speak at the launch of his new book Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane‘ last night, and decided against trying to take pictures in the dimly lit bar. Then a few seconds later I walked across to where I’d left my camera bag with friends and took out the Olympus OMD EM5II and thought “eff it, I might as well give it a try“.

I knew I’d set the camera earlier in the day on ISO AUTO, with a maximum ISO of 5000, but since I only had the 14-150mm f4-5.6 on the camera (28-300 equiv) it wasn’t really fast enough. Though since it was underexposing by a stop or two, the pictures were really taken at ISO10-20,000.

I’d been at the back of the room when the presentation began, and couldn’t easily get much closer, and there was a long table with drinks on it in my way. I’d put the camera on Shutter Priority, and set the shutter speed to 1/40th. The good news is that although I had to work at focal lengths between the equivalent of 60mm and 150mm, none of the images show any camera shake – the in-body stabilisation seems very effective.

The bad news is that with this lens autofocus is poor in such low light, with a lot of hunting at the longer focal lengths. Paul is a pretty mobile speaker – I think in part a nervous gesture as like many photographers he isn’t really happy speaking in public, and the camera could just not keep him in focus. I had to wait until it managed to focus and take a picture sharply before it lost sharpness again.

A second piece of bad news, I think evident even in these small pictures, is that the image quality is not great. I’m sure the Nikon D810 would have done rather better under these conditions. Working in normal daylight there isn’t a very noticeable difference.

But the Olympus scores on noise. I’ve not bothered to use the silent shutter mode (which comes with some problems) but the mechanical shutter is one of the quietest I’ve use, hardly noticeable in most situations. The D750 and D810 aren’t particularly noisy cameras, but the shutter sound does become noticeable in quiet locations.

If you’ve not already bought the book, I suggest you waste no time in doing so. As it states on the Hoxton Mini Press web site:

‘Paul Trevor, one of the great unsung heroes of British documentary photography, spent many years during the 70s and 80s capturing life on Brick Lane, London’s most iconic East End street. Published here for the very first time, these images, full of humour, grit, love and surprise, capture a vibrant time before the area went through dramatic social change.’

As I commented on the publication of Paul Trevor’s ‘Like you’ve never been away‘ a couple of years ago:

‘I’ve always regarded Paul Trevor as the most interesting of the whole batch of British photographers who became known in the mid 1970s at exactly the time I was myself coming to photography, and there were some other impressive talents, some of whom are very much better known. Some were rather better at self-publicity.’

It was a well-attended launch and it was good to meet a few old friends there, including some I don’t see too often, including of course Paul himself, but after his speech I didn’t stay long, but walked out into Brick Lane, fortified by a couple of glasses of red wine and still with my camera around my neck. It was a little brighter on the street, and as I walked down to Aldgate East underground I took a few pictures. Nothing of any significance but I think they give a good idea of how Brick Lane has changed since Paul Trevor made his pictures here. A few more will appear on My London Diary, probably in a month or so.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Photographers Walk

Monday, October 7th, 2019

There is something about walking with other photographers that inhibits the making of photographs. The best companion when you are taking pictures are your thoughts.

I often see invitations to walks led by other photographers or group photographic walks, and back when I was still starting in photography I used to go out with a group of other photographers and we would take pictures.

That was useful, partly because I got taken to places I would not otherwise have been, sunset at Stonehenge, the South Wales Valleys, the Isle of Portland, deserted coastline in Kent and Essex and more, but mainly because we would meet up later and rip each other’s pictures to pieces in no-holds barred critical sessions.

But we were pretty independent guys who would usually walk in different directions and not as a group. We travelled together but seldom worked together and I can’t recall the others getting in my way or I in theirs. We had different ways of working and different interests.

Of course there are times when you need companions. Places photographers wouldn’t get to or wouldn’t dare to go without a fixer. But that isn’t the kind of photography I do. There are no ‘no-go’ areas in London, though quite a lot I’d avoid at some times of night.

But the walk I went on with a few others at the end of August wasn’t like this, and although my companions were photographers it was more a social event. And to be honest, more of a pub crawl, though on this occasion we did manage to walk quite a long way before meeting our first Wetherspoons.

Even then, we only rushed to get there because the rain started. Which may be why I didn’t take any more pictures after that. But by the time we got there I had made a remarkable number of exposures for me on a photographers’ walk.

A few more pictures: City and Spitalfields walk

August 2019 on My London Diary

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

It has taken me a long time to complete putting my work from August on-line. Partly because I had a week’s holiday at the start of September. But while I covered quite a number of protests in August – and they all take time to put onto the web, I also found time to continue with one of my other projects with panoramic images, which take me rather longer to prepare.

Most of the pictures of protests are available for editorial use from Alamy, where the easiest way to find them is probably in my pages there. The latest images there are on the first page of many. Other pictures can be obtained direct from me.

August 2019

Students March to Defend Democracy
Defend democracy, Stop the Coup
Staines Moor
Solidarity with Polish LGBTQ+ community

Anti-fascists outnumber Protest for ‘Tommy’
Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal
Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In
Charing Cross to Greenwich
Official Animal Rights March 2019
Stand with Hong Kong & opposition
XR Rebel Rising March to the Common

Stand up to LGBT+ Hate Crime Kiss-In
Justice for Marikana – 7 years on
Stand with Kashmir

Kashmir Indian Independence Day Protest
Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Kurdistan
Kashmiris protest in Trafalgar Square
Vegans Protest Diary Farming
Kashmiris protest at India House

City & Thames
SODEM at the Cabinet Office
Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered
Legalise Personal Light Electric Vehicles
‘Free Tommy’ protest

Anti-Racists march against the far right
LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers
North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames
DLR – Bank to London City Airport


Afrikans demand reparations

London Images


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Youth Strike for Climate

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Youth Strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s protests, has injected a remarkable energy into the campaigning against what seems the inevitable climate disaster we are heading towards.

Most of those taking part in the protests on Fridays in London are taking time off from school to do so, sometimes with approval and even encouragement from teachers, but often despite threats and sanctions. Along with them are some students from FE and HE, but it does seem to be school students who are leading these protests.

And while schools may not approve, I think that many of the posters and placards show that the campaign is stimulating a great deal of activity in art departments across the area.

Of course as they say, it is their future which is at stake, their future lives that are at risk, while most politicians and those in charge of financial institutions and businesses in the rich world are likely to die before the worst effects of climate change begin to bite. Schoolkids don’t have a vote and feel that those who do are not thinking about the future of the young, and generally I think they are right.

Of course we are a part of the rich on this planet (despite homelessness and the other avoidable aspects of our increasing inequality); people in parts of the majority world are already in some places dying because of the effects of global heating, while here in the richer countries we are still ruled by smug wealth keeping getting richer with business as usual, and climate deniers who reject the science.

Theirs is a generation already feeling cheated by Brexit (whether we get either the current bad deal or a no deal) and by government cuts and longer term policies that have removed funding from education.

Protests like this one, and those by Extinction Rebellion, do have some effect in raising awareness and combating the lies still too frequent in the media. More people are beginning to think about how their own personal choices – over food, holiday travel and more – effect the environment but there still needs to be far more, not just at the personal level but also a giant cultural shift as well as political actions both here and across the world. We need as some of the posters and placards state, ‘System Change not Climate Change.’

More about the actual protest at Youth Strike for Climate.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Canary Wharf

Friday, October 4th, 2019

I was going to the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands that evening and since it was a nice afternoon decided to leave early and take a walk around Canary Wharf on my way there. And again when I left I took a few pictures on my way to the station.

It’s quite a while since I’ve seriously gone there to take photographs, though occasionally I’ve walked through parts of it on my way elsewhere, taking the Jubilee Line from Waterloo and walking to nearby places or changing to the DLR.

I hadn’t seriously intended to take photographs, but I did have a camera with me, though only the Olympus OMD E5II with a tiny 17mm f2.8 pancake lens – a 34mm equivalent. I’d recently got this secondhand (it seemed so cheap I couldn’t pass it by) and was interested to see how well it performed. It makes the camera almost pocketable.

I read a review which promised high levels of chromatic aberration and barrel distortion, and thought that these would probably not be important for most of my photography. But trying them out at Canary Wharf they might be a problem.

Of course they were not, as you can see from some of these pictures (and the others on My London Diary in the post Canary Wharf. Both are lens faults which software can handle well, and it is hard to find much evidence of either in the results. If I open the RAW files in Photoshop, clicking the ‘Lens Correction’ icon in the Camera Raw dialogue tells me “This raw file contains a built-in lens profile for correcting distortion and chromatic aberration. The profile has already been applied automatically to this image”.

But then I looked at the RAW files, and they seemed fine too, with no hint of barrel distortion and the same small amount of colour fringing, not normally noticeable. I think my viewer software will actually be looking not a the raw data but at a jpeg incorporated into the RAW file, which I think means that any correction needed has been done in the camera. A few clicks on the web and I find that Micro-4/3 images are auto-corrected according to the stored lens profile (lens firmware) and a review on Optical Limits which shows the effect. As they say, barrel distortion “is only rarely noticeable in field conditions.”

The reviews also say the lens isn’t that sharp, at least when viewing large prints, but even examining these pictures at 1:1 on screen the sharpness in both centre and corners seems acceptable. There may be some uses for which it isn’t sharp enough, but I think it’s good enough for most of us. If anything it is the actual file size of the camera (4608×3456 pixels with the EM5II) that will be a problem for really large prints, not the lens.

Canary Wharf

London Church Walk

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Most years unless I’ve some more pressing committment I’ve accompanied my wife as she takes part in a sponsored walk around London churches in support of Christian Aid.

Walking around the City is always interesting, and although I’ve been in most of the churches before, most years there is something new to see. Many of London’s churches are open at times during the week, often hosting lunchtime concerts, others are usually locked.

The walk isn’t of huge length, but it takes quite a time, especially if you want to look carefully at those churches you get inside – some of the checkpoints are a table outside a locked building. Other churches offer tea and cakes and it gets difficult to complete the circuit in the time allowed; this year I was disappointed that we arrived at the Temple Church just as it was closing.

Most of the churches in the city were built around the same time, after the Great Fire of 1666, and usually the architect was Wren, but although they share some characteristics there are significant differences.

But of course the City has many interesting secular buildings as well as its churches, both ancient and modern, and I photographed a few of these as we walked by.

More pictures: City Churches Christian Aid Walk


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Tamils remember Mullivaikkal massacre

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The British colonised Ceylon and in the nineteenth century it was a major source of coffee grown on British owned plantations. When the coffee crops began to fail, efforts were made to replace coffee by tea plants and seeds from Assam in India. Although at first this was unsuccessful, by the end of the nineteenth century tea had replaced coffee as the major export crop.

Sri Lankan Tamils had lived in parts of the island since at least around the 2nd century BC, but the tea plantations imported Indian Tamils to the hill areas in large numbers. Following independence in 1948, the Sinhalese-led government deported large numbers of the Indian Tamils and also made life difficult for the Sri Lankan Tamils, severely limiting employment opportunies, suppressing their culture and encouraging anti-Tamil riots, leading to the start of a civil war in 1983.

One-third of Sri Lankan Tamils now live outside Sri Lanka, the largest group, around 300,000, being in Canada.  There are thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 British Tamils living in the UK, the figures vague as Tamil was not one of the ethnic groups listed in the UK census, though people could write it in.

Over 70,000 Tamils are thought to have been killed in the earlier phases of the Sri Lankan Civil war, but it came to a particularly disastrous and bloody end in 2009, on a small strip of land at Mullivaikkal, where 40,000 Tamils, around half of them civilians, are thought to have been killed, mainly by shelling by Sri Lankan government forces in what they had designated as a ‘no-fire’ zone, but some by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The numbers are highly disputed, with huge variations between government and Tamil sources, but there is no doubt that it was a massacre on a terrible scale. According to the Tamil Guardian:”

After providing an initial death toll of 40,000, the UN found evidence suggesting that 70,000 were killed. Local census records indicate that at least 146,679 people are unaccounted for and presumed to have been killed during the Sri Lankan military offensive.

May 18th, the date on which this protest took place is widely marked as Mullivaikkal Genocide Remembrance Day

The protest I photographed included some graphic re-enactments of shooting (though only with crude wooden guns) and many people with bandages and fake blood, giving plenty of photographic opportunities. And unsurprisingly, feeling run high. Tamils want Sri Lanka to face prosecutions by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and a referendum in Sri Lanka to lead to the setting up of an independent state, Tamil Eelam.

More on the protest: 10 Years since Mullivaikkal massacre
A week earlier I photographed a group of Tamils at Downing Strike begining a week of hunger strike for their demands:
Tamil Genocide Hunger Strike


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Justice and Bloody Sunday

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

I felt uneasy covering this protest against the prosecution of soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre, the murder of civil rights protesters in Derry/Londonderry in 1972, and other incidents in the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles.’

It wasn’t because of my views about their protest, though I’m clear that there is a need to see justice done for those who lost family and friends in that terrible event. I do wonder whether 47 years later there is much point in bringing ageing ex-soldiers to trial, and those who bear the real responsibility for the events – from Prime Minister Edward Heath down – are long dead. But is there any other way to reach some satisfactory conclusion?

It is of course shameful that these clearly illegal killings were not properly investigated at the time – and those soldiers who were found to have acted illegally brought to justice at the time. We shouldn’t have the culture of cover-up which is so deeply embedded in both our military, government and judicial establishment – and continues to cover up crimes such as the killings by police officers of mentally disturbed black young men, newspaper sellers and Brazilian electricians and those responsible for creating the death-trap of Grenfell tower (and almost certainly the mysterious death of weapons expert David Kelly.) The list goes on and on…

If I had been a few years older I would have either faced National Service either in the armed forces or to have taken the decision as one of my brothers did to enter one of the non-military essential services as an alternative. Fortunately for him, the call-ups ended in November 1960 when he was still a student, and I was still at school.

After the last National Servicemen left the forces in 1963, they became solely reliant on recruits and their nature has changed, developing a more conservative and right-wing nature. Extreme right organisations such as the EDL included many ex-soldiers among their members, and the Veterans Against Terrorism joined with the Football Lads Alliance for what was clearly a racist and Islamophobic protest despite the protestations of the organisers in October 2017.

So while the veterans protesting here were a much wider group – and certainly I would not label them as racists, I knew that among them would be some of those who had threatened and attacked me when I was photographing right-wing protests, and I was uneasy when mingling with the crowd. And as I made my way to the front of the protest I did see and hear several people pointing and making aggressive comments about me and moved very smartly away.

Once at the front of course I had no problems as those leading the protest were keen to get press coverage and not involved with the extreme right; when a UKIP EU Election candidate tried to make a political speech he was given very short shrift and hustled away, by people shouting “No Politics“.

The protesters feel strongly that the soldiers who served in the Troubles should be protected from what they see as unfair prosecutions – as the government have made clear that those who served in operations in other countries such as Iraq will be. It does seem hard to argue that those who served in Northern Ireland should be treated differently from those who served in overseas conflicts.

What really would I think be even more important than bringing the few guilty individuals to trials which may or may not find them guilty – and after so many years it must be difficult to find really convincing evidence despite their guilt – is for there to be a proper recognition of the institutional culture, prejudices and shortcomings that lay behind their actions and which allowed them to be covered up for 47 years – and I suspect may still operate to prevent a true verdict being obtained in any prosecution – and for effective action to be taken to correct these.

The Stephen Lawrence case made clear and public the institutional racism of the Metropolitan Police, and led to some actions to oppose this, though clearly much more still needs to be done. The deaths at Deepcut Barracks revealed the the toxic culture in the Army and much more needs to be done to combat this.

More about the protest and more pictures: Veterans demand end of NI prosecutions.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


More Canal Pans

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Photographing protests and other events generally keeps me pretty busy and for some years I’ve had little time for anything else, along of course putting some of my earlier work online and writing this blog and keeping My London Diary almost up-to-date. But one project that I’ve managed to do a little work now and then on is making panoramic images of London’s canals – and I hope to use a few of these in a show next year.

My first panoramic project, back in 1992 when I bought my first panoramic camera was on the DLR extension then being built from Poplar to Beckton. Prints from this were shown at the Museum of London back then, and a few are now in their collection – and one is in the current show, Secret Rivers at the Museum of London Docklands.

I’d chosen to work in panorama (using a Japanese Widelux camera) because I thought that the essentially linear nature of the railway was particularly suited to the panoramic format, and it seems to me that the same applies to photographing the canals. I’m now working of course with digital, and the pictures I’m making don’t natively come in a panoramic format as the camera sensor is either 3:2 (with the Nikons) or 4:3 in the pictures I’ve made with the Olympus EM5 MkII.

The character of the cylindrical perspective that I’m currently working with (others are possible) means that the image curvature required to give the wide angle of view (around 145°) increases towards the top and bottom of the image, and using a 4:3 or similar format makes it more noticeable than a more normal panoramic format such as 2.5:1. So I often crop the images to a more panoramic aspect, often 1.9:1 which can give a more natural look.

Cropping the image also has another advantage. In making these images it is important to keep the camera level – aided by indicators in the viewfinder at bottom and left of the image. Doing so means that the horizon will always be a horizontal line splitting the image into two equal halves, and this can make a set of images a little monotonous. When cropping the images, it is possible to move this above or below the centre line. In days largely long past, landscape photographers used cameras with a rising or falling front to acheive the same goal, and for much of my black and white work on film I used a 35mm shift lens which could do the same.

These pictures were taken between the end of a protest in Hackney and my visit to an Open Studio event at the Chisenhale Studios in Bethnal Green to which I walked. I began the walk along the canal in one of my favourite spots where Mare St becomes Cambridge Heath Road and goes over the canal and then walked east along the Regent’s Canal towpath to the junction with the Hertford Union Canal. I had time to go a little beyond the studios before turning around and returning to leave the canal and make my way to the studios. By the time I got there the rain was beginning to come down fairly steadily and I’d walked around a mile and a half.

More pictures at Bethnal Green Canal Walk


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Insects

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

I think most of us have a horror of insects, or at least of some insects. Creepy-crawlies give us the creeps, and many react like little Miss Muffett to spiders (which are insects in English if not in Biology.) I have a particular dislike for wasps, though I feel that this is entirely rational after sitting down in the dark too close to a nest on a trip to http://www.buildingsoflondon.co.uk/pm/borders/ Hawick in 2004 left me with multiple stings and a day or two of total delerium.

But of course insects are essential to life on the planet, part of the complex web of ecosystems that in particular allows us to grow food. We rely on them, particularly bees, to pollinate so many crops. And bees have in recent years been subject to huge declines in population, with the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides being a major cause.

Herbicides – of which the best-known and most widely used is Monsanto’s Roundup, containing glyphosate – are used to stop the growth of plants. It can be used on some growing crops as it is more readily absorbed through the broader leaves of weeds than most crops, and varieties have been developed that are resistant to it, but it is also sprayed on field and road edges to kill weeds there.

Many insects, including bees, are heavily reliant on these weeds and their flowers as a source of nectar to feed on, and herbicide use means the land can only sustain smaller numbers. Recent research has show a more direct effect on bees, with glyphosate at widely used levels in fields and on verges killing beneficial bacteria in bee guts, rendering them more susceptible to disease and infection.

Some studies have also found direct effects on human health and Monsanto who introduced glyphosate as a herbicide (though many other companies now market it) have been accused both of trying to prevent publications of these and of sponsoring research which falsely reports an absence of such effects. Some US courts have come out in favour of huge settlements to workers over claims that using it have caused cancers, but the danger to the general public from exposure seems very low.

Hackney Council uses glyphosate to control roadside weeds and many Hackney residents also use this and other insect-harming chemicals in their gardens. The protest by Extinction Rebellion parents and children outside the council offices called on the council to completely end its use, and a man from the department concerned came to say they had reduced their use and were hoping to find ways it could be eliminated.

I don’t live in Hackney, but of course we need to stop or at least greatly reduce the use of glyphosate across the world. Years ago we used to have council workers coming regularly even to back streets like the one we live in armed with a spade to remove the weeds growing at the kerb. They were replaced by a machine with brushes that kept some of them down, but couldn’t clean most gutters as there were cars parked along the street. So the weeds grow. Occasionally a resident will go out with a spade and clear the short section in front of their house, but usually they grow until a long dry spell kills them, they die down and reappear after more rain.

More at XR tell Hackney stop killing insects.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.