Archive for the ‘Photo Issues’ Category

Famine Porn?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

I hesitated to add my thoughts about the World Press Photo Instagram posts from Alessio Mamo showing villagers from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in front of tables with what for them would be exotic foodstuffs. Really I didn’t want to give what I felt was a misguided project any more publicity. But since every man and his dog, including The Guardian and the BBC have had their say I felt I too should say something, just in case anyone had manage to miss this and the enormous stir it has created on the web.

Firstly I think it important to state that some of the criticism has been ill-informed. The villagers that Mamo worked with were not starving or particularly malnourished, though certainly they were not the obese figures we are so used to in the west.

As Mamo has stated:

Most of the people enjoyed spontaneously to be part of this and photographed behind the table. The people I photographed were living in a village and they were not suffering from malnutrition anymore, they were not hungry or sick, and they freely participated in the project.

Mamo, as he says, “brought…a table and some fake food, and…told people to dream about some food that they would like to find on their table”. But the food on the table was not food and would not represent the dreams those people had of food.

It isn’t true to say as some critics did, that this was bringing fake food to starving people. It wasn’t although it did rather look like this, and it is that impression which matters. We make pictures but it is others who read them, and create their own meanings from them whatever our intentions.

This picture highlights the problems when photographers start doing rather gimmicky projects like this imposing a false situation on their subjects. It might be art, though I think not particularly impressive as such, but it certainly isn’t photojournalism, and should have no place at all on the World Press Photo site, whose Instagram posts Mamo was given the opportunity to takeover for a week.

The guidelines to photographers who take on this responsibility remind them that they should present “quality visual journalism and storytelling’ and “present accurate, compelling and creative work allowing people to see the world freely.”

WPP reserves the right to step in and “edit a post or a photographer’s selection”, but chose not to do so, and instead gave what many of us feel a response which fails to support any clear idea of what photojournalism is or should be.

The area into which these pictures fall is certainly not photojournalism, but rather more that of advertising, with Mamo thinking like an art director trying to sell a product to an audience than allowing “people to see the world freely”.

There have been so many comments on this work already made – with large collections of them on various web sites including Scroll and PetaPixel. For a couple more opinions you could read Allen Murabayashi of PhotoShelter and Yamini Pustake Bhalerao on ShethePeople.

Grenfell – another month

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Very little progress appears to have been made in finding homes for those displaced by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, and in April little or no progress appeared to have been made in the official investigations, either by police or others. There seems to have been a great deal of deliberate delay, one of the usual tactics of the establishment under threat, giving time for that grass to grow long.

But I think it is clear that the Grenfell community will not give up its demands for Justice, with these monthly marches keeping up the pressure for action, even if so far little has resulted. One thing that many were discussing before the silent march began was whether something more active was needed.

Moving the march to start at Kensington & Chelsea Council’s offices just off Kensington High Street certainly make it more visible, with the march holding up traffic on one of London’s busiest streets, still full of shoppers and normally busy with traffic in the rush hour. Marching around Ladbroke Grove close to Grenfell Tower obviously was significant but could go almost unnoticed in the rest of London and the country.

Not only was the march more visible, the event was more audible too. The march remains silent but the United Ride 4 Grenfell by bikers from the Ace Cafe on the North Circular Rd, which included Muslim bikers Deen Riders, riding to Parliament and then coming to Kensington Town Hall was definitely very noisy. The silent marchers waited by the side of the road at the Town Hall as they went passed, then moved onto the road to start the silent march.

I didn’t find it easy to photograph the bikers. The glare from their powerful front lights as the came down the slope towards the town hall was overpowering, and the first of them were past fairly quickly. Fortunately they had to wait for some of the group to catch up, and then for the traffic lights at Kensington High St, so I was able to take a little more time. There wasn’t a great deal on many of the riders or their machines to show their support; a few had flags on their machines or labels on their clothing, one or two with Grenfell t-shirts visible. I took most of the pictures opposite the marchers waiting to leave so their banners and hearts appeared in the background.

 

Grenfell silent walk – 10 months on
Bikers for Grenfell

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Hizb Ut-Tahrir at Turkish Embassy

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

I first met Hizb Ut-Tahrir in 2004 and have photographed a number of their protests since then. There are often some at them who are not very happy about being photographed, though mainly it is a few men who are unhappy about the women on their protests being photographed. Of course they have staged women’s protests – such as one at the French embassy in 2010, but at most the women are relegated to an area well away from the speakers. At least at this one there were powerful speakers so they could hear what was going on, but at least while I was there, no women spoke.

The organisation was started in 1953 in Jerusalem by a Sunni Muslim scholar and aims to restore the Khilafah Rashidah, the “Rightly Guided” rule of the four caliphs who succeeded the Prophet in a 30 year reign when Muslim armies conquered much of the Middle East. They would sweep away the more recently created states such as Turkey which they accuse of complicity in handing Syria back to Assad in accordance with colonial interests.

While many Turks and Kurds condemn Erdogan as a dictator who is increasingly moving the country toward an Islamic regime, they condemn him as a secular leader, and in particular for his strengthening Turkish military and economic ties with Israel – which they do not recognise. The protest called on all Muslims to support the brave people of Palestine who “are raising their voices to speak out and protest against the illegal occupation, as they are mercilessly killed by the Zionist regime.”

Hizb Ut-Tahrir is banned in many countries, including, according to Wikipedeia, “Germany, Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey, and all Arab countries except in Lebanon, Yemen, and UAE.”
There were moves to ban it in the UK after the London bombings and again around the 2010 election but it remains legal here as there is little if any evidence of them being actively involved in any terrorist activities here. The organisation was given a huge boost by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but numbers of supporters have declined in recent years.

More at Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest against Turkey.

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Not Quite Déjà-vu

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

This morning I took a look at the front page of Café Royal Books, a small independent publishing house based in Southport, England originally set up in 2005 by Craig Atkinson as a “way to disseminate drawings and photographs, in multiple, affordably, quickly, and internationally without relying on ‘the gallery’“.

Since 2012, Café Royal Books has published at least weekly an ongoing series of publications presenting mainly ‘British Documentary Photography since 1960’. As he says on the site:

“This type of work has historically been neglected, in the UK and overseas by major institutions. It is often neglected by the photographer too, possibly because there has been no outlet, as such, for it.”

The publications usually present a series of images by a single photographer on a single project. It may be the work from a single event or representing a much longer project.  CRB has produced some larger works, but these weekly publications are generally between 24 and 40 pages, more a zine than a book, with the aim of building up a comprehensive survey of the area of work. Some photographers are represented by quite a few such volumes, in some cases more than 20, while others have preferred to stop at a single issue.

Atkinson keeps down costs, wanting to keep the issues affordable – currently £6 each for most.  You can get every title (except the special editions etc) with a 60 issue subscription – roughly the annual output – and there are also limited editions in a boxed set of 100 books every 100th title aimed “at public collections, so the books remain accessible.”

Among the photographers who have already had issues published are some very well-known names – including Martin Parr, Jo Spence, Daniel Meadows, Brian Griffin, David Hurn, Victor Sloan, Chris Killp, Paul Trevor and others, but some of the best books are by people you may well never have heard of.

The three most recent titles are Diane Bush — The Brits, England in the 1970s,
Ian MacDonald — Greatham Creek 1969–1974 and Janine Wiedel — Chainmaking: The Black Country West Midlands 1977, each worth a look, and you can page through them on the web site. Another recent title is John Benton-Harris — The English, where I have to declare an interest, as I helped John translate his ideas into digital form. It’s a great introduction to the work of this photographer who came to London to photograph Churchill’s funeral and stayed here as one of our most perceptive observers – and was also largely responsible for the seminal 1985 Barbican show ‘American Images 1945-80‘, providing most of the ideas and contacts and doing much of the legwork for which others were rather better at taking most of the credit.

But the déjà-vu? It came on the back cover of a book by another US visitor to this country, Diane Bush, who was here from 1969 for ten years, becoming a part of the Exit Photography Group with Paul Trevor and Nicholas Battye which produced ‘Down Wapping‘. On the back cover of her ‘The Brits, England in the 1970s’ was a picture of a car parked in front of a fence, using the reflections of that fence. It isn’t the same car nor I think the same fence, nor quite the same treatment, but I immediately thought of my picture when I saw hers.


Parked car, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1978 – Peter Marshall

I don’t think there is much possibility that I had seen her picture when I took mine, but have a nagging suspicion that somewhere, by some photographer, is a similar image that we both had seen before making our pictures.
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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Photojournalism’s sexual harassment problem

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Some of the best photographers I know are women, and there are many women in photography whose work I admire. Probably a rather higher proportion than among male photographers, because in general it is tougher for women to have successful careers in photography. And when I had a job writing about photography and photographers I tried hard to give women their due, though in the past history of photography they are greatly outnumbered by men. But there are of course many worthy of mention, and I wrote at some length about as many as I could.

When I was teaching photography, almost all my best students were female, and I realised then the importance of female role models, making sure to include the work of women photographers in my teaching and to buy books featuring them for the college library – including Naomi Rosenblums 1994 ‘A History of Women Photographers’. Of course many I would have included in any case – such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Dorothea Lange, Jo Spence – but there were other less well known names.

A few years ago my union branch produced a t-shirt based on the experience of women photographers with the message “Yes I’m a woman – Yes it’s a big lens – Any other stupid comments?” but it was the public rather than photographers this was aimed at.

I’ve never been aware of sexual harassment of women photographers by other photographers and found the examples given in the CJR Special Report: Photojournalism’s moment of reckoning deeply disturbing. While it is no surprise that such people exist (and I’ve come across them elsewhere) what is shocking is the way that their behaviour has been tolerated and even excused by some of the best-known organisations in the business. As the report says “women photojournalists say publications, institutions, agencies, and industry leaders have turned a blind eye.” It’s disgusting to see the hypocrisy of “a field that claims to shine a light on abuses or wrongdoing in the world, while protecting predators in their own industry.”

While we all knew before the #MeToo movement that such practices were prevalent in the movie industry, where the casting couch was the route to many successes, some of us were naive enough to assume that photojournalism had higher standards. Apparently not. It seems our industry has to say #UsToo.

June 2018 – At last

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018


Huddersfield Royal Infirmary campaigners at the BBC – NHS at 70 – Free, for all, forever

I have at last finished updating My London Diary for June 2018. It’s been hard work for various reasons. Thirty three stories and around 1800 pictures represents quite a lot of time, travelling to and from events as well as being there to take the pictures. And on average it probably takes me another couple of hours to process and caption the images to upload to one of my agencies. Some stories require quite a bit of extra research, as well as more general research to keep up with events.

After I’ve sent off the pictures there are other things to do. Most I make available on Facebook for my friends and the public, particularly for those who took part in any events. Usually having created a Facebook album I then post links to the pictures on the event pages or other relevant places, as well as putting them on Twitter.

For the posts on My London Diary I then go through the pictures again, picking out more pictures that fill gaps in the story, showing different aspects or different people taking part and ‘develop’ those to add to the set I’s selected to go to an agency. Typically I’ll put a little over twice as many on my web site as I file, and these often include a number of the more interesting pictures which I’ve decided for various reasons aren’t suitable for the agency.

The text that was filed with the pictures is a starting point for My London Diary, but often needs extra information. And since it is my own web site and meant to be a personal one, often it gives rather more of my opinions. Finally, although I designed the web site to be easy to update, adding the information also takes time, most of it in adding captions which as well as telling readers what the pictures are about are also vital in making them accessible through on-line searches.

June 2018

NHS at 70 – Free, for all, forever
Torture protest at US Embassy
Vauxhall & Nine Elms
Peckham & Deptford
Many Thousands March for a People’s Vote


Vote No to Disastrous Heathrow Expansion

White Pendragon letters refused
No Heathrow block Parliament Square
Stop Arming Saudi to bomb Yemen
Protesters Stand Up For The Elephant
Assange in Embassy for Six Years
Staines Walk
Justice for Grenfell Solidarity March
Massive Silent Walk for Grenfell Anniversary


‘SOAS 9’ deported cleaners remembered

TGI Fridays demand Fair Tips & Fair Pay
Stop Brexit ‘Pies Not Lies’


Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day

Zionists protest against AlQuds Day
100 years of Votes for Women
End government killings in Nicaragua
Anti-fascists oppose Free Tommy protest


Free Tommy Robinson

Close all Slaughterhouses
Flypast for Queen’s Official Birthday
Colombian Carnival for Water, Life & Land
Die-in against Greenwich cycle deaths
University of London staff in-House now
Zionists defend Israel shooting protesters


Free Palestine, Stop Arming Israel

Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland Now


Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide

Anti-Knife UK protest

At the bottom of the page is a link to the pictures I occasionally take travelling around London, mainly from bus or train windows, and a few when I’m walking. I like to travel on the top deck of buses which gives a different angle from Google’s Streetview, and trains often provide a quite different view of the city.

London Images

As usual, comments are welcome here on any of these pictures and stories.

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Stop the Killing

Friday, July 13th, 2018

I spend a lot of time at events wondering what I should photograph. Of course there are people and situations that are visually attractive and it would generally not be sensible to miss these opportunities, but that isn’t enough. It can often even be quite misleading and unrepresentative of the event, though it’s often such images that get published, and what I think many photographers aim for to sell to newspapers.

Another type of image that seems often to get published are group photos, with large numbers of people holding a banner, taken frontally in the manner of team photographs – I often joke about putting someone in the middle holding the ball, though few find them funny. I suppose for small events these at least let you see how many were taking part, and local newspapers used to feel that showing more faces boosted sales, but when there is often a large group of photographers crowding to get around the centre spot I usually avoid it.

My motivation for photographing events is to tell the story. And for me that very seldom can be done in a single image but requires a series of images. Placards and banners are often very important in this, as to are gestures and expressions. At this protest, I tried to show something of the anger that people felt at the cold-blooded shooting of Palestinian protesters by Israeli snipers.

Things that are worth photographing aren’t always particularly photogenic, and it is often something of a challenge to make pictures that are visually attractive, clear and precise. I took a great many pictures, probably over a thousand, though at times there were very many of the same subject as I tried hard to ensure I had something close to what I wanted.

Photographing an event like this involves a huge number of decisions about where to be when and what to photograph – and on more technical matters such as focus, focal length and framing. I try to concentrate on these and take advantage of the automatic features of the camera to deal with as much as it can; though usually I like to chose where the focus is, I’m happy to let the camera actually auto-focus there, and to let auto-exposure get the exposure more or less correct.

This was a large protest, with several thousand packing mainly in to a fairly small space, making movement through the crowd a little difficult. There was a small press area in front of the stage, but I chose not to use it for photographing the speakers as it was too close to them looking up from below. But the crowd perhaps meant I stood in that one place rather longer than I would have liked.

I wondered briefly whether or not to photograph the counter-protest by half a dozen Zionists a few yards away, and decided to do so – and you can see a few at the link below. There were many, many more Jews in the protest ashamed of the actions of the Israeli snipers following their orders to kill and maim unarmed protesters at a distance, shooting many in the back as they ran away, using bullets designed to expand and inflict maximum damage to those they did not kill.

And as usual at such protests there were the anti-Zionist Jews with their message “Judaism Demands FREEDOM for GAZA and ALL PALESTINE & forbids any Jewish State” .

Here I’ve only posted a small and fairly random selection of the images that I took – and written very little about the actual protest. You can read more and see an unusually large number – around a hundred – of the pictures I made (edited down from perhaps a thousand) on My London Diary at Great March of Return – Stop the Killing

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Pennies for the guy…

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Pennies for the guy who took the picture is the offer to photographers from  National Geographic Fine Art Galleries (NGFA) revealed in the article  Is National Geographic Fine Art a Ripoff for Photographers?  published on PetaPixel. In it Ken Bower writes of how his initial reaction to having one of his landscape images selected to be sold by the NGFA turned sour when he found out more about how the NGFA sales programme works.

The NGFA explained it to him, and you can read their explanation in the Petapixel post. If NGFA sell the print for $1800, 10% of that amount goes to the National Geographic Creative agency – so in this case a miserly $180. That agency then gives half of their cut to the photographer, who ends up with $90 – just 5% of the price the buyer has paid.

Simple maths shows us that the NGFA itself takes 90% of the purchase price – in this case $1620. That’s 18 times as much as the photographer. And although NGFA increases the price of the prints as the edition – of 200 prints – sells, that ratio remains the same. If they sell the whole edition of 200, those pennies for the photographer would however add up to a substantial amount – if nothing like as substantial as that made by the NGFA.

Now I appreciate galleries have costs. In this case they are making the prints, running a web site, conducting the sales etc. I’ve sold a few prints through galleries, and their commissions have ranged from 20% to 35%, and a 50:50 split is not unusual. Some I’m told even take a little more – but even the worst deals I’ve heard of leave the photographer with 40%, eight times what NGFA are offering.

As Bower points out, the NGFA seems to be “targeting photographers who have placed well in Nat Geo photo competitions or who are popular on the Your Shot community” for their sales, rather than the extremely professional and talented professionals whose work is published by National Geographic – who would have a much better idea of the worth of their images.

I’m not a great fan of commercial photo galleries, as regular readers will have noticed. With few exceptions I don’t feel they have the best interests of photographers or photography at the base of their activities. I still think and have often argued that the concept of limited editions is inimical to our medium and am unhappy at the fetishisation of the photographic print and in particular of the ‘original print’ that they foster. Overall I think they are parasitical on photographers and photography, though there are a few I respect for how they have genuinely contributed to our knowledge and understanding of the medium’s history.

But while buying prints from a commercial gallery, or better, from a photographer may at least sometimes be a sound investment as well as a pleasure to be enjoyed, it seems to me that the NGFA is essentially selling high price decor. I’m not dismissing Bower and those who have signed up with them as photographers – his is certainly a decent landscape image – but those with cash to spare will buy it or images like it because it goes with their colour scheme – and the next time they have new interior decorators in, that picture will go out with the trash – or if they try to sell it they will almost certainly find its resale value is far less than they paid, possibly little if any more than the worth of the frame.

As Bower hints, essentially what is being sold are high-price posters. Not printed by the photographer, the printing not overseen by the photographer, decisions about paper etc. not made by the photographer. An edition of 200 might almost as well be labelled unlimited, and the prints are not signed by the photograph but machine-signed with a ‘digital signature’.

There is a poll at the bottom of the Petapixel page asking for readers to rate the deal. When I looked at it, to my astonishment there were 15 people out of a little over a thousand who thought NGFA were offering a great or good deal. It made me wonder if they worked for the company, though on any poll you can get a few random drunken clicks. At the other end of the scale almost 96% thought it a bad or horrible deal. I think you can guess how I voted.

Yarl’s Wood 13

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

This was I think my 12th visit to Yarl’s Wood, but the 13th major protest there organised by the small left-wing political group Movement For Justice.

The protests they have organised here and elsewhere have done much to bring our terrible racist immigration detention system to public attention, and have given many detainees the courage to fight against the system, knowing they are not forgotten and that others outside know what is happening and support them.  MfJ bring a powerful public address system to their protests, and those who speak are mainly former detainees – and they also give people inside a voice over mobile phone link-ups.

So though the story told by a former active member of how she had been treated appalled me (though I realised I was only hearing it from one side) my overwhelming thought was that it was important that, whatever else, the campaign to close down these shameful prisons should go on.  The story didn’t actually surprise me – and some of what were presented as revelations were common knowledge, though some of the more personal aspects seem disgraceful. But much of it was exactly what might be expected of small left wing groups.

I’m not a member and would not consider joining such a group, or larger groups such as the SWP (which have also had their share of not dissimilar controversies.) I’ve always thought of myself as part of a much broader left movement, willing to support various campaigns I sympathise with, while still maintaining a professional distance and adhering to documentary and journalistic standards of integrity.

Perhaps some good has come out of the controversy, in that other groups have now also taken up the organising of protests against Yarl’s Wood, which before had been largely left to the MfJ. So far they seem to be on a much smaller scale but hopefully a larger movement will eventually grow. At the March protest they worked separately but alongside the MfJ, but since there has been at least one separate event. MfJ’s next protest there is on July 21st.

The most important of the other organisations is I think ‘Detained Voices‘ which publishes the messages of the women inside the prison. After the March 24 protest one of them began her comment with “We want to thank all the protesters who were here today, and I hope we made our presence felt even though we are oppressed.”

I tried hard to take pictures of the women inside Yarl’s Wood (and there are a few men too in the family units. Only a small proportion of them are able to reach the windows visible from the field where the protests take place, though others in the prison will hear the protests.  Outside we can hear them shouting through the narrow gaps the windows open and see them waving and holding up signs.

Photographing the women at the windows presents several problems. Obviously you need a long lens, and something a little longer than I have would help. Most of these were taken with a Nikon 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.0-5.6, but working in DX mode which effectively makes it a 105-450mm, and most are at the 300mm end. Even then the windows only occupy about a third of the width of the frame, and some images are fairly severely cropped.  Obviously you need a fast shutter speed to avoid shake, and typically these were taken at 1/500s or faster. The aperture also matters, although there is little depth in the subject, but stopping down a stop from maximum aperture to f8 certainly helps to tighten the lens performance. To get those kind of exposure values I needed to work at around ISO 1000, not a problem with the NIkon D750, where this is hard to tell from base ISO.

A faster lens would help here, as you have to take almost all pictures through a mesh fence, and a wider aperture would put this more out of focus and so less noticeable. But a significantly faster 300mm would be large, heavy and expensive. The fence is also a rather better target for autofocus than the windows, and almost all these pictures were taken using manual focus.

The protesters pose another problem. They have come to shout and wave banners and placards at the women inside the prison, and in doing so often make it difficult to get a clear view of the women at the windows. It’s also difficult to get good images that show both the protesters on the rise and the women at the windows because you see the protesters from the back when trying to do so.

And of course I also want to photograph the protesters as well as the prisoners. You can see some of the results on My London Diary at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood.  And a couple of days earlier I had photographed a protest in solidarity with their hunger strike by people outside the Home Office: Support for Yarls Wood strikers.

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Opera Performance

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

I wasn’t expecting to go in side the Royal Opera House when I met a small group of members of the cleaner’s union CAIWU a short distance away on Bow Street, but when a few of them walked in I followed. And although I didn’t get to sing I did manage to take quite a few pictures before security led the few protesters outside, as they were too busy dealing with the noisy protesters to take much notice of me.

The foyer of the Royal Opera is a place of dim lighting, and even at ISO 12800 it really wasn’t enough. I don’t like to use flash in these situations as it draws attention to me and makes it more likely I will get thrown out. Flash is also a problem when people – like the security guys here – are wearing reflective clothing which results in large amounts of light coming back from the reflective strips. There was quite a lot of movement so I wanted a shutter speed of at least 1/125th second.

Faster lenses might help a little – my 18-35mm f3.5-f4.5 is a little pathetic in this department, but in situations like this you also need a reasonable depth of field, which generally makes larger apertures unsuitable even at the wider end.

I had expected a rather more leisurely start to the protest, which was around the sixth on successive nights at the Opera House in a concentrated campaign against the victimisation of six CAIWU members for their trade union activities. I’d assumed that security would have expected the protest and locked the doors as we arrived and that the protest would be on the pavement outside.

I had my D750 on a strap around my neck, but the D810 was still inside my camera bag with a longer zoom in place. Once inside I decided the situation and low light made there little point in stopping to take it out, though had their been time in advance to think I might have taken it out and changed to the 16mm f2.8 fisheye, often a useful lens at close quarters and with remarkable depth of field.

As I viewed the pictures later on my computer I was pretty despondent. The colour quality of most of those taken in the foyer was abysmal, with darker areas exhibiting a nasty purple cast and a blotchiness. I’d taken just a few with flash that were usable, and managed to get a couple looking not too bad. The rest I converted to black and white.

It’s the colour that goes first with excessive under-exposure, and by converting to black and white you can work at least a couple of stops faster. But I don’t like converting images taken thinking in colour to black and white – either my own or those by other photographers. But here it was necessary.

Outside on the pavement, alhough it was getting dark, things were much better.

More pictures: Cleaners protest at Royal Opera House.
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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________