Archive for May, 2007

Photo London: Fish out of Water

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

It was I suppose apt that I felt like a fish out of water as I wandered around Photo-London on the opening day yesterday. Its new venue, the old Billingsgate fish market, seems an excellent choice, airy and open, completely unlike the underground tomb in which Paris Photo is held.

What made me feel out of place and uneasy was in the main the work on the walls. Photo-London is supposedly dedicated to contemporary photography, meaning from the 1970s on, although a little earlier work did creep in, so I’d expected to see contemporary work. What I hadn’t been prepared for was the almost complete dominance of the show by large empty photographs. Of course shows like Photo-London are dealer shows, and the dealers follow the money, and big money is largely corporate money with vast office walls to fill.

Although the work in corporations may actually get done in open plan offices and cubicles often with virtually no walls at all, reception areas are designed to impress by scale, and 20×16 prints look rather small on a 30 foot high wall. As Photo-London showed, there is plenty of photographic choice for such spaces, from garish to minimal, to suit your company profile.

Of course not all big photographs are bad photographs, but in general I don’t think a large scale fits the medium well. Its most powerful statements have an intimacy that works better on a moderate scale, perhaps best of all in the pages of the photographic book.

Of course there was work that stood out for me, though relatively little. I’ll go back to the show (it runs until Sunday) and look at some again. Much of what attracted me was however familiar, for example – a fine set of work by Don McCullin as well as pictures by Chris Killip, John Benton-Harris and Ian Berry, all showing “How We Are”, (although three of these four are unaccountably missing on the walls of the Tate show) – but there was also work new to me (at least in actual print form) which I found exciting and hope to write more on later – so long as I can find images on the web. Along with much that confirmed my exisiting predjudices.

Portraiture in particular seems very much in a rut. Use flat lighting, stand your subject or subjects central, looking deadpan at the camera, photograph in medium or large-format colour and you seem to be guaranteed gallery space. Around ten years back this seemed fresh and new (at least to those who had never seen the work of August Sander, who did it so much better, if in black and white.)

Photo London opening
John Benton-Harris (2nd from left) with friends at the opening.

As openings go, its a rather dreary and disappointing event, with small cliques in the different gallery spaces and its hard to meet new people or have a real party. At least at Billingsgate you could go and sit outside by the Thames, although it was a chill evening on the north bank, even though the sun shone on the buildings on the other bank.

Peter Marshall

Missing Persons 5: James Craig Annan

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Another important figure from the 1890s omitted from ‘How We Are: Photographing Britain was the second son of photographer Thomas Annan (whose work was included.) James Craig Annan joined the family fine-printing firm when he was 19 in 1883, and went with his father to Austria to the studio of Karl Klic to learn his novel photogravure process for the reproduction of photographs, for which they bought the sole UK rights.

The firm specialised in the reproduction of works of art, and in the early 1890s, James applied his skills to making carbon prints and photogravures from the negatives of calotype pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. The Annan family had known Hill, and had moved from Glasgow to live in his Calton Hill studio in Edinburgh for the last year of Hill’s life.

At the same time, James decided to become a photographer, and his first show, on the company premises in Glasgow in 1892 made a great impression. His landscape work from Holland inspired Alfred Steiglitz, who went to a similar area of the coast and made a his own, in some ways similar image. Soon he was a member of the ‘Linked Ring’ and his work was shown to critical acclaim in London, New York, Paris and Russia, and later in many other cities in Europe, America and India.

James Craig Annan was included with Hill and Evans in a 1906 show at Alfred Steiglitz’s ‘291’ gallery in New York, as well as in the great show Stieglitz organised in Buffalo in 1910 which in some ways marked the end of the Pictorialist movement (and the Linked Ring dissolved in the same year.) Steiglitz published eight of his images from a trip to Spain in 1913 in ‘Camera Work’ the following year. This more or less marked the end of James’s photographic career, and he apparently took few photographs after this time. He retired from the family firm around 1940 and died in 1946, his photographs largely forgotten.

I’ve never fully appreciated the work of Annan, probably because of his use of photogravure as a printing method. I can testify from limited personal experience that this is an extremely tricky method. I made one print, largely to see exactly how it was done and never wanted to repeat the experience. It is a process that requires (and allows) great control. Although I can appreciate the photography of Annan, I find the prints themselves have too pictorial an aesthetic for my more ascetic taste.

There are many photogravures by other photographers that I admire, but his work has always left me with an uneasy feeling of compromise between the photographic and the pictorial, which to some extent characterizes almost all the art photography of this era.

Peter Marshall

Missing Persons 4: Frederick H Evans

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

No proper view of British photography in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century would be complete without the work of Frederick Evans. At a time when most photographers with any pretention as artists were busily engaging in making their prints look less like photographs and more like paintings through the use of rough papers and special printing techniques that allowed them to work on the image.

Evans followed instead the example of P H Emerson, photographing in a technically precise manner and printing on platinum paper, which produced a linear tonal scale and was not normally susceptible to manipulation. He was noted for refusing to retouch his work, relying instead on perfecting his technique. His images owed their effect to light, and he would sometimes spend hours, days or even weeks studying the effects of light in the buildings he wanted to photograph in order to find the time of day and light that would produce the photographic effect he wanted.

He valued the clear and delicate tonality of the platinum print to such an extent that when the material went off the market he made no more prints, refusing to use the cruder and less linear tonal scale of the silver print. Some of his images were also reproduced using the Woodburytype process, which uses a relief image on a lead printing plate to produce different thicknesses of pigmented gelatin – and hence different tones – on the paper – essentially a mechanically produced carbon print.

As well as his architectural studies, which certainly include some of the finest images of English cathedrals and their interiors, he also made a number of fine portraits, including justly well-known images of Aubrey Beardsley.

Evans was a leading member of the ‘Linked Ring’ group of artistic photographers. He was also the first English photographer to have his work printed by Alfred Stieglitz in his magazine ‘Camera Work’ in 1904, and 2 years later Stieglitz showed his pictures in his New York gallery, ‘291’, along with the work of D O Hill and James Craig Annan.

Peter Marshall

Lightroom in Perspective

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Requirements
One of several things that I kept putting off in my previous incarnation at About Photography was a review of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I kept away from the betas that came out over around a year because although it looked interesting, my hardware wasn’t up for it. But when I heard the release date, Linda got my six-year-old PC and I got a new big black box with a reasonably fast processer and decent amounts of memory and storage to run Lightroom 1.0. (I instantly forgot such figures, but since some people like to know, Control panel tells me Intel Core2 6400 (2.14GHz), 2.93 GB, and ‘My Computer’ shows I started with 1395 GB of disk space.)

The second thing you need to make the most of Lightroom (hereafter ‘LR’) is a big monitor. If you want to print color it also makes sense to get a good monitor, and I chose an Eizo ColorEdge CE210W. Running at 1680×1050 pixels in 32 bit color it does a very nice job of displaying 1.5:1 aspect ratio images at 18″ wide – including both digital and scans from 35mm. Carefully adjusted with the supplied ColorNavigator CE software and an Eye-One Display 2 it has greatly improved my colour printing too – and the Display 2 can also calibrate all my other monitors. I’d certainly recommend a wide-screen monitor for use with LR – the program fits on better than on a normal ratio. I’ve not tried running it on dual monitors which might well be an even better solution.

Disillusion Sets In?
LR isn’t perfect – after all it is still in version 1.0 – and I’ve read on the web of various people becoming fed up and abandoning it. In several cases the problems that caused them to give up could have been solved by learning a little more about the software, and others certainly come from trying to run it on underpowered systems.

Improved Workflow
LR aims to look after most of your images from camera to end use, and for me it does a pretty good job. The tools for extracting from RAW are a real step up from those in Photoshop CS2, and are now up with the best available, although there are a few features that still need improvement (I was among many who cursed when they bought up the superior Pixmantec, but the free copy of Lightroom has now made me feel a lot better.) Of course there are still some images that need the more selective approach that Photoshop can provide, through appropriate selection or masking before applying effects, or indeed sometimes by combining areas of two different outputs from the same RAW file.

One of the strengths of LR for me is that it allows me to keep the old filing structures I’ve set up over the years to serve my purposes (with some very minor changes.) One of the reasons other people have given for abandoning it is that it doesn’t! Both statements could be true, but I suspect not. It took a lot of persistent fiddling to find out how to do it, and had I written a review after a short acquaintance I would probably have got it wrong.

Another is that it simplifies workflow and cuts down time. It automatically makes the initial backups I need. During the import I use a basic preset I’ve specified that applies a standard tone curve, a minimal amount of sharpening, performs an ‘auto tone’, a minimal amount of luminance noise reduction, rather more colour noise reduction and various other minor tweaks. For each group of images I import, it adds the basic keywords I specify, along with my standard name, contact and copyright information.

Chromatic Aberration
Recently, particularly thanks to Nikon’s 18-200mm VR lens, I’ve discovered chromatic aberration with a vengeance (the 10.5mm also has a nice amount too.) There is really very little on the other main lens I use, the 12-24mm Sigma. LR provides a simple pair of sliders that can largely remove it. I do wonder if this could be largely automated in the same kind of way that PTLens (winner of my best value award for Photoshop plugins) does for lens distortion.

Speed
As my initial paragraph suggested, LR needs a reasonably specified computer. I haven’t tried to install it on my notebook, and won’t. I’m currently working with a library of almost 50,000 pictures (and growing fast.) It does take the software some time to finish loading, although it comes up on screen almost immediately. It’s best to switch the computer and monitor on, start the software and do something else for a while – and it also gives the monitor time to become stable. Once it has finished all the things it does in the background, the software seems reasonably responsive on my system – and seldom keeps me waiting. I’m very impressed by the speed at which it writes out a set of a hundred or so files. With other software I used to do this as a background task, but with LR it hardly seems worth the CTrl+Alt+Shift+E keystroke needed after each and I usually just run the task at the end while I take a short breather.

Gripes? Of course.

  • Importing files: So far I’ve found no way to automatically get LR to assign consecutively increasing numbers to files from different cards in the same directory. I have to look at the last file imported, add one and enter this into the start number box.
  • Templates: Some templates can’t be edited or even deleted (except by going to the appropriate folder using ‘My Computer’.)
  • Sharpening: This isn’t great, but then I don’t sharpen much – the libraries I send files to say not too. When I do sharpen for my own use I use the Focalblade plugin appropriately set for the particular output, rather than Photoshop’s rather less useful tools.
  • Noise Reduction: Again doesn’t match that of the better Photoshop plugins, though gives a basic adequate effect on most of my files.
  • Crashes and Hangs: This is version 1.0, and yes, it does from time to time. Usually it requires actually using Task Manager to end the LR process rather than the application. The good news is that so far, LR has then started up again without problems, and I’ve never lost any image files, nor even edit information other than about the file I was working on.
  • Lens Distortion: One of LR’s biggest missing features for me is a tool for removing lens distortion (again, the Sigma is fine, but the Nikon 18-200 needs help.) It would be nice to see this made largely automatic along the lines of PTLens mentioned above.

Still No Review
I still don’t feel I know LR well enough to write a review (though some hacks do it from the press release.) After all I’ve only been using it 3 months, and have hardly looked at the Slideshow, Print and Web modules. But I’ve said from the start, this is something worth buying and worth spending time and trouble to get to know.

Lightroom 1.1
It’s good to hear that this free upgrade will be arriving before too long (Adobe are still coy on the date), including some fixes for a few of the problems above. According to reports on the preview (see for example in the comments on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider blog – reposted well down the thread after details mysteriously disappeared in the item itself) here’s what we can expect:

  • Lots of bug fixes, so it should crash less (and perhaps speed up a little;)
  • It will apparently let you edit and delete metadata templates;
  • Better ordering of templates;
  • Support for exporting and importing (merging) libraries;
  • Improved unsharp masking for sharpening, with controls for amount, radius etc.
  • A ‘Clarity’ slider that increases local contrast using high radius low amount unsharp masking.
  • A Spraypaint tool that lets you copy settings of various types – keywords, flags, develop settings, crop/rotation etc – to groups of images (replacing the Keyword Stamper.)

I suspect this will be the last free upgrade and the next (except perhaps for some bug fixes) will be chargeable, perhaps early next year. However if you’ve bought a book on using Lightroom, you may well want to upgrade that as well, as the changes are considerable.

Peter Marshall

Missing Persons 3: H P Robinson

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Looking at the booklet for the show ‘How We Are: Photographing Britain’ before making my way into the gallery I got a shock. The curators appeared to have omitted the very man who started the whole thing, W H F Talbot. I checked again – it couldn’t be true, and thankfully it wasn’t. They had simply placed him wrongly in alphabetical order under the letter F. So when I realised that H P Robinson was missing, I immediately looked for him under ‘Peach Robinson’, but he wasn’t there either.

Although Rejlander’s ‘Two Ways of Life’ showed a path for photography, it was one taken most enthusiastically by his friend Henry Peach Robinson (1830-1901), who, over the years, starting with ‘Fading Away’ (a ‘touching’ deathbed scene which is perhaps hard for us to appreciate, but was only too common an experience in the era before modern medicine) produced a number of impressive works using similar combination printing techniques (such as ‘When The Days Work is Done’, as well as many fine portraits and landscapes.

fading away - HP Robinson
‘Fading Away’ is one of 12 images by H P Robinson available on the Free Information Society web site.

Robinson had trained and exhibited as a painter and was a great fan of Turner and of the Pre-Raphaelites, and he composed his works in much the same fashion, and dealt with some of the same subjects, including for example, a picture of “The Lady of Shallot“.

His use of combination printing continued to cause controversy in photographic circles, Robinson arguing that the aim of photography was to make beautiful pictures, and that the techniques used were irrelevant. He explained his appraoch in the influential book, “Pictorial Effect in Photography“, published in 1867, and was famously involved in arguments with another great photographer, Peter Henry Emerson, who favoured a more simply photographic approach to produce pictorial images.

Pictorialism to which both men contributed, remained a powerful influence in art photography for the next 40 or so years, particularly through groups such as the ‘Linked Ring’ (a strangely masonic guild established by Robinson and others when he left the Photographic Society in 1891) and various other seccesionist groups of art photographers based in other countries.

Although pictorialism was eclipsed in art photography by the rise of modernism in the early twentieth century, much of the debate between Robinson and Emerson had strong resonances in the 1970s and since, when increasingly fine artists began to take up photography and reject much of the purist orthodoxy.

Peter Marshall

Photographing with a Bicycle

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The bicycle and photography were products of the same era and have many synergies. A few years ago, being interviewed by an amateur photographic magazine, I was surprised by the question “What is your favourite photo accessory?” but needed no time to think. Number one was my Brompton, with a good pair of comfortable walking shoes coming a close second. I can’t remember if either response made it to print, certainly they were not the kind of answers the reporter was looking for.

At the end of the nineteenth century, both bicycle and camera (thanks to the recently introduced dry plates and Mr Eastman’s Kodak film, and the introduction of the new ‘safety’ bicycle as an alternative to the ‘penny-farthing’) were popular crazes for the young and wealthy middle-class city-dwellers. In New York, as Alfred Steiglitz struggled to get his photographic crusade into top gear through the New York Camera Club, he took a tumble as its members put forward a motion to transform it into a bicycle club. (The motion was narrowly lost, but he took the hint.)

Both photography and cycling were relatively new and exciting and in keeping with the spirit of the times, offering new freedoms and an increasing ability to investigate a wider world. Some thirty years later, industrial workers, benefitting from shorter working hours, also took to their bikes and cycled out into the surrounding countryside, some of them with cameras. Bert Hardy was one, and began his career photographing cycle races. And many years later still, in my first conscious photographic project, I too got on my bicycle and cycled out to photograph a grove of ancient oaks.

Forty-five years later, the bicycle is still my favourite photographic transport, though I favour a folding model that can easily be taken on trains or even buses for longer distances. Unlike a car, you can stop and jump off when and where you like, and carry it up steps, over footbridges and ride or push it along footpaths.

Chafford Hundred (C) 2007, Peter Marshall
Chafford Hundred. 1/250 f8 70mm ISO 200 Nikon/Brompton!

This picture was taken in Essex, one of many last Thursday made possible by Brompton. The bike got me there and many other places, and it also, by standing on the crossbar, gave me the height necessary to shoot over the fence which stopped me falling to my death over the edge of a cliff. Its a part of a long-term study of the Thames Gateway area, one of the largest developments anywhere.

I’ve always envied the tall guys who can see (and photograph) over walls. Although taking thought can add nothing to my stature, taking the Brompton gives me an extra 20 inches or so (or, more precariously, with one foot on handlebars and the other on the saddle a full three feet.) Think of it as a stepladder with wheels.

Peter Marshall

Missing Persons 2: Oscar Gustave Rejlander

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Rejlander, (1813-75), the son of an officer in the Swedish Army, had studied art in Rome and Paris before coming to England and trying to make a living as a painter. Once he saw a photograph, he realised tha this was the future, and in 1846 he opened a photographic studio in Wolverhampton.

As well as portraiture, his early work included a number of child portraits, some clearly erotic. He later married one of his child models, over 20 years his junior, who he had photographed since she was 14. Lewis Carroll was a collector of this early work and Rejlander, who became a leading expert, helped both him and Julia Margaret Cameron to set up as photographers. Rejlander’s later images of children living on the London streets in the 1860s attracted public attention to their condition.

Rejlander’s major contribution to photography was through his use of multiple exposures and combination printing. While other photographers may previously have used separate sky exposures largely to combat the lack of color sensitivity in all early photographic materials (being sensitive to blue light only, blue skies were over-exposed and lacking in tone if the exposure was made for the rest of the scene), he realised the potential of such methods for artistic purposes.

The best-known picture by Rejlander is his ‘The Two Ways of Life’, said to be put together from around 40 different exposures, painstakingly printed to give a virtually seamless image. It aimed to illustrate the choice between good and evil facing a young man at the start of life, a subject that gave considerable licence for posing models in various states of undress – so much so that when shown in Scotland, one half of the image was covered by a curtain. Read more about it.

Rather than include the image here, take a look at it on the George Eastman House website, where as well as this image you can go to the ‘thumbnails’ link and see their full collection of almost 70 images by Rejlander.

It would be a tricky feat to photograph such a scene today as a single exposure, needing a large studio with impressive resources of artificial lighting. In 1857 it was totally impossible. Using multiple exposures also helped in the tricky problem of finding models, with many playing different roles in the roughly 39 plate negatives he used.

At the time the image was highly controversial. Fortunately for Rejlander, Queen Victoria saw it and was amused, paying 10 guineas for a copy, which she gave to Albert, and he hung it on the wall of his study. With such royal approval, his reputation was made.

There was also a question of scale. At the time, all photographic printing processes were contact processes, producing images exactly the same size as the plate exposed in the camera. Most photos were small – ‘full plate’ size was 8.5×6.5 inches, and many cameras were half or quarter plate. By using a number of plates, Rejlander could make a larger print. The ‘Two Ways’ was 31×16 inches, bringing photography into the same order of scale as easel paintings.

Without doubt, photographs such as these had an influence on painting, and the work of pre-Raphaelites such as Millais often look peculiarly like these combination photographs. Photographs by Rejlander and others were indeed often used as source material, and combined together by painters to give similar results to those he obtained in the darkroom.

But his influence on other photographers was much stronger and more direct. Rejlander was a key figure in British photography in the nineteenth century, a pioneer in a number of respects, and has with considerable justification been called “The Father of Art Photography.”

Peter Marshall

Missing Persons 1 – A Whole Empire

Friday, May 25th, 2007

The first missing person from ‘How We Are: Photographing Britain’ is not a person but a whole slice of our nation. Britain was the great imperial power of the nineteenth century, and the empire was in many ways the heart of the British nation. It, and in earlier years the trade in enslaved human beings which we’ve recently been remembering provided the wealth and the goods that made the nation work. Slavery in the British Empire was only ended a year or two before the invention of photography (and those freed people were often still working for the same masters under even harsher conditions.)

Much of the best British photography of the nineteenth century was made in India and to a lesser extent in other countries outside these islands. No history of British photography is complete without the fine work of photographers such as John Murray, Felice Beato, Robert & Harriet Tytler, Linnaeus Tripe, John Burke & William Baker and of course the incomparable Samuel Bourne who arguably in several respects took British photography to new heights.

Sameul Bourne, Darjeeling. Library of Congress LC-USZ62-76815
Samuel Bourne: Darjeeling, 1875/6

Of course, we should not stop there. India was a part Empire Britain and its citizens until independence in 1947 were British too. Another of the truly great nineteenth century photographers was Lala Deen Dayal who learnt his photography in the first engineering college set up in the British Empire.

Peter Marshall

The 3 ‘P’s

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Let me introduce you to the 3 ‘P’s. They are what I feel makes any artistic project worthwhile, whether curating a photography show, making a body of work (including My London Dairy) or indeed, writing a column such as >Re:PHOTO.

Firstly and paramount, is that it should be personal. Something you feel strongly about, rather than perhaps something produced simply to meet a market or curry favour with a patron. Although of course many great works have also done those things.

Passion (C) 1997, Peter Marshall
Passion: Paris 1988 ┬ęPeter Marshall 1988

Related, but not the same, is that it has to reflect a passion.

The final P, also related, is for point of view. It has to be there and it has to be non-trivial.

The 3 ‘P’s is of course a preciously contrived device to catch the attention. Earlier this year I wrote a rather more serious piece on the 3 ‘I’s of photojournalism (which, if memory serves, were integrity, inteligence and intention) and doubtless at some future date you will be treated to the 3 ‘W’s of Landscape photography. But the ‘P’s did reflect some of my thoughts on the current Tate Britain show.

In ‘How We Are: Photographing Britain’ curators Val Williams and Susan Bright certainly started off firing on all three ‘P’s but at some point appear to have been stymied. The Tate, perhaps wanting a rather different show, apparently brought in a review by the photographic great, good and celebs who covered the green with a great deal of balls, many of which had to be taken on board. “You can’t have a show without Bill Brandt” said some, fairly sensibly, but there were other rather wackier suggestions that also made the walls.

Quite a few reviews of the show have already appeared, of widely varying competence, though mostly favourable, although some writers do appear to have the mistaken impression that the show is come kind of history of photography in Britain. If you are reading this, you, like me, will probably have read all or most of them, and I’ve decided not to write at great length directly about the show.

Probably the best of those I’ve seen published was online at the Telegraph (may require free registration), by Richard Dorment, who puts the show exactly in its institutional context and then goes on to say: “this is not primarily a show about photography as an art form, or even about the history of British photography.”

Rather, as he goes on to say, it uses photographs to illustrate a social history by making use of them – and using them largely in contexts and ways that were not those of their authors. Reading the small booklet that accompanies the show you are certainly made aware of one aspect of this recontextualisation, when in the short section dealing with the period 1840-1900 they state “As the century progressed, women photographers were among the most skilled professionals in the UK” and in the following section, Into the Twentieth Century, “Women also continued to be a major force: making portraits, documentary photography and – as the Suffragette movement gathered pace – propaganda.” Personally I found material on the suffragettes (including images not taken by women) one of the more interesting aspects of the show, although perhaps evidence for the rest of these statements remains at best flimsy. But that women acheived as much as they did despite the social attitudes prevailing at the time is certainly worthy of celebration.

Dorment, like me, obviously found the show full of fascinations and he mentions some of them (I didn’t particularly share his enthusiasm fof the work of George Garland.) If you’ve not read this review (and who reads the Telegraph arts pages?) then do.

What I do intend to do, over the next week or two, is to make some posts on some of those missing from the Tate show, without whom any history of British photography is gapingly incomplete. ‘Missing Persons’ will hopefully do a little to fill that chasm.

Peter Marshall

Sorry Caron

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Tonight I missed the opening in ‘the underpass’ near Edgware Road tube station, despite a personal invitation from Caron Geary, who I met in the pub after the private view of ‘How We Are’ at Tate Britain.

In the pub, Pimlico (C) 2007, Peter Marshall

Caron (on the right in the picture) is a fast up and coming photographer, and one to watch. I first came across her name at the time of the graduate shows last year, and you can see some stuff on the Saatchi site. She’s even in the Daily Telegraph, though somewhat curiously for the Independent Photographers Award. (A gallery in Sussex, not the paper.) Clicking there on the previous button brings you to a picture by Richard Chivers, whose large landscapes impressed me at last year’s Free Range graduate show.

The Leica M8 did a reasonable job considering the terribly mixed up (but dim, dim…) lighting colour in the pub (that’s a pink or purple light on her shoulder), even without the IR cut filter which I keep meaning to get. Without it, Leica’s auto white balance is nothing like as good as Nikon’s, and I’m told the filter doesn’t help greatly. Of course, shooting raw this isn’t a great problem. The 35mm Summilux makes a pretty decent standard lens, and shooting wide open isn’t at all bad. More on the Leica later, also more on ‘How We Are: Photographing Britain’, after which I needed a drink.

I do suggest you go. Just repeat the mantra “this is not a history of photography in Britain” over and over as you walk round and enjoy what is on display for what it is.

Peter Marshall