Archive for July, 2009

Swan Uppers and Downers

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Although traditionally the Swan Uppers started their journey up the Thames at the City of London, in recent times they have missed out the tidal river, starting just a few miles upstream of Teddington at Sunbury lock. In recent years I’ve joined them on my bicycle at Shepperton or Chertsey, cycling with them along the towpath to lunch at Staines (which they took, appropriately, at the Swan Inn) and then in the afternoon going on with them to Windsor.

This year, the Uppers have deserted that stretch of the river altogether and start their journey at Eton College boathouse. I might have considered joining them there, but for the fact that it is going to be a royal affair, with the Queen expected to join the event at Boveney Lock.

I’m not in favour of the monarchy – it’s a shame we’ve still got one. I find the continuing interest in the press on the royals depressing, and have no wish to add or encourage it in any way.  Even if I did want to take pictures, royal events are bad news for photographers not in the exclusive clique of the royal rota with very limited opportunities and heavy security. So Monday is a day I’d choose to avoid.

© 2001 Peter Marshall

Back in 2001 I was still using film, and the best pictures I made were panoramic format using the Hasselblad XPan with a 30mm wide-angle, though the picture above was I think made with the Konica Hexar – I think of it as the Leica M9, though the build quality wasn’t quite there, but it had autowind and rather better metering than the M series. You can see more pictures – including a few of those pans on My London Diary, as well as those from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

Of course Swan Upping was always a royal event – the guys in the red jackets making the loyal toast in Romney Lock are the Queen’s Swan Uppers, but she didn’t come down from the castle to the lock.

I didn’t bother to photograph this part of the event until 2007, when there was a real fear that swan upping might be coming to an end. Photographing the loyal toast is pretty simple, as all the boats are in the lock and pretty static. Much harder is the salute between the crews at the end of the day which used to take place a few hundred yards downstream, where the river banks are lined by trees and bushes. It’s also spread across the width of the river, with the Dyers two boats close to one bank and the Vintners on the other. They come to a halt and stand up holding oars vertical, giving the two boats containing the Queen’s men a cheer as they pass through the middle, also standing with their oars raised, and returning the salute.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

This is about the best of a rather poor crop of my attempts to photograph it.  I had hoped I might do better this year, and was disappointed to learn of the changed schedule.

London Photographers Branch

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Yesterday there was a meeting attended by just over 30  photographers with an overwhelming vote (26 for, 1 against, 1 abstention) for the formation of a London Photographers Branch (LPB) of the NUJ. Of course forming a new union branch is a matter for the National Executive Committee to decide, but yesterday’s meeting certainly makes it more likely.

Debate at the meeting was almost entirely about the geographical nature of the proposed branch, which for several reasons, most particularly the union’s constitution, seemed irrelevant and at times more about particular photographer’s emotional issues than the substance of the matter.  A motion proposing it be proposed as a ‘national’ branch was reject by a roughly 2:1 majority.

Photographers (and videographers) do face different problems working on the streets to other journalists, and these have been particularly acute for those working in London both because it it the focus of so much protest but also because of the particular responses of the Met.

The NUJ was formed in an earlier age, essentially based around the ‘chapel’ or workplace organisation. There are also branches set up on a geographical basis – such as the unions largest branch, the London Freelance Branch (LFB), to which many of those at the meeting currently belong.

Most photographers are freelance, with fewer staff and agency positions every year, and they share many of their problems with other freelances – so being a part of the LFB makes sense. The LFB has tried its best to recognise and cater for the special problems photographers face – photographers form a large percentage of its membership and committee – but I think many photographers feel it is unsatisfactory.

Membership of the proposed LPB would be open to all photographers who work in London wherever they live – and would certainly include many based in London who spend much of their time working elsewhere around the world. It would both freelance, agency and also staff photographers, (you can belong both to a chapel and a branch, but only one branch) thus uniting photographers in all modes of employment.

Photography isn’t just an issue for photographers. At a time when more and more journalists are being handed cameras and told to take photographs, does it make sense to separate ourselves from our fellow union members in a separate branch?  Only I think because the NUJ doesn’t appear to allow any other way forward.

For some years the NUJ has repeatedly turned down the need for a photography organiser to work for the particular interests of photographers – and I would expect the LPB to continue the pressure on this. Photographers based wherever the union has chapels or branches need to see their special needs recognised throughout the union.

These are of course hard times for photographers – and also for other journalists, both with changing technology and economic conditions. Times when we need the union more than ever, and the support of our colleagues.

At the end of the meeting a freelance working for the Guardian/Observer brought up the issue of the rights grab they intend to impose on contributors. In April the management made a decision to stop paying fees for any re-use of images. Guardian freelances refused the new terms and are being supported by staff in the Guardian chapel, but so far the management has refused to talk.

The Guardian’s action strikes at the very core of photographers copyright and rights management, although it isn’t something that solely affects photographers. Of course if we let the Guardian get away with it, then others will surely follow their lead.

Subotzky Wins Barnack Award

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Oskar Barnack (1879–1936) was of course the inventor of the Leica, a photographer who wanted to make use of 35mm movie film for taking still images, and his pictures of the 1920 floods in Wetzlar qualify as the first reportage series taken with a still camera on 35mm.

Leica started an annual photographic award named after him to make the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1979, and this year, the 30th award was supplemented with a Newcomer Award for photographers under 25. Both are for “photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form in a sequence of up to 12 images …  in which the photographer perceives and documents the interaction between man and the environment with acute vision and contemporary visual style – creative, groundbreaking and unintrusive.” In other words very much the mode of photography that the Leica made possible. The prizes aren’t huge – 5000 and 25000 euros respectively – but the prestige is, with the prizes being presented as a part of the Arles Rencontres.

This year’s winner is South African Mikhael Subotzky (b1981) who became a Magnum Nominee in 2007  and he has more work on his own site, all of it worth a look. He was one of my ‘Top 5′ from PDN’s 30 to watch in 2008 – and again got a mention here when he won the Infinity Young Photographer award the same year.

The Newcomer award went to Swiss-born photographer Dominic Nahr for his photographic essay from the Congo, titled ‘The Road to Nowhere’. He was one of PDN’s ’30’ to watch this year.

These awards are easy to enter on-line and attract very many entrants from around the world, including some of the best known photojournalists. All of the entries get displayed on the site, and you can look through them in various ways. By default the page that opens in my browser includes James Nachtwey, Bruno Stevens and others whose names I recognise. You can also look at the entries sorted by name – although entrants can choose to use a nickname – a letter of the alphabet at a time, or by country.

Although British entrants are labelled ‘Great Britain’ you will find them under U, though be warned, navigating the sideways scrolling site is somewhat like riding a bucking bronco (perhaps it worked better on the designers own system, but a simpler approach would have been preferable.) Eventually I did manage to find about 30 UK entrants for the main award, covering an extremely wide range of work, with a few of the best photographers around, down to work that could have come from almost any class of students and just one or two that seemed typically Flickr. There were fewer UK entries for the Newcomer Award, but some interesting work among them.

I couldn’t see anywhere the total number of entrants, but it must be pretty huge, and it takes a while for the “Show all” file to download (certainly longer than it took me to type this paragraph.) Fortunately you can start looking through the images before it finishes, but it isn’t easy to handle. There is so much on-line here that I find it difficult to cope, and it isn’t clear how long it will remain on line. Perhaps the best way to view it is the alphabetical listing and I mean to look through perhaps a letter a day, picking a few that interest me to click on to see the whole series.

Black Friday – Still Catching Up

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Last Friday was Black Friday here. Literally in that around 10am when I was getting down to work on my computer, the screen suddenly went black and the system started to reboot.  My hope were raised as Windows loaded again, but dashed a few seconds later when I got the message “Windows has recovered from a serious fault” and then everything went black again – and this time the computer didn’t reboot.

I used to work a lot with computers and have often fixed other peoples, but this had me beat. I couldn’t persuade the system to boot from a CD, and nothing looked obviously wrong when I opened up the box, though it was very dusty!

I unplugged the inessentials and tried again with no luck, and eventually I gave up, sulked for a bit, then called out a repair service. They told me an engineer could come in around 4 hours, though after4 hours they phoned to revise that to 6.  I’d hoped to go out and take pictures but instead found myself staying in for the call.

The good news was that he eventually got it going. The bad news that it took him an hour and a half at expensive rates, and that he couldn’t really identify the fault.  Removing the memory then replacing just one of the four memory modules brought it back to life, but it continued to work when all four were replaced, and all passed the memory tests on his diagnostic software.  Perhaps it was just a poor or corroded contact, possibly on the memory but perhaps somewhere else on the motherboard, disturbed by the pressure on removing and replacing memory. Perhaps a short circuit somewhere broken.

So I now am considerably poorer, have lost a day’s work on the computer and half a day’s photography and have a computer with a doubtful motherboard. It could well go again any time, though at least I can now do everything that worked for that engineer without having to pay anyone else!

If there is plus point it’s that it’s made me think more carefully about what I can do to save things if the system does go again. While waiting for the repairman I set up email on another computer, and checked that I had all my essential files backed up on an external hard disk (most of them were there.)  I also installed a copy of the free Raw Therapee v2.4 conversion software – it’s an old computer that isn’t powerful enough for Lightroom or recent versions of Capture One Pro, and none of the software already on it could read D300 or D700 files.

Raw Therapee does seem to produce decent results, but trying it out in case I needed to process the job I had booked in for the following day I was soon very aware why I use Lightroom. And very relieved that the computer was up and running when I needed it.

Firstly, workflow and in particular the much better design of the interface. Raw Therapee seems too much of a community effort, with everyone wanting their own particular bell or whistle included, rather than picking the best approach.

Then I’ve become entirely addicted to the various possibilities of Lightroom’s ‘Adjustment Brush’ – allowing local adjustment of exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity and colour – in any combination. Being able to define presets for particular purposes is extremely helpful – I’ve got one called ‘Remove Highlights’ and another called ‘Spotoff’ – which works well together with the supplied preset ‘Soften Skin’.

And finally the whole output side  is easier to use – and I’ve set up all the presets that I need for different purposes.

I haven’t quite managed to catch up with what I missed, and haven’t quite decided what to do about the computer. The serviceman suggested it was probably time to think about a new one as it’s hardly worth replacing motherboards these days and systems are now so cheap. But it seems so wasteful.

And of course I’ve been checking my backups, although I lost none of the files on my hard disk – except for the anti-virus that was corrupted and had to be removed and re-installed. But today I’ve been busy writing out more of my images on to DVD.

DVD may not be good for long term storage, but there is something satisfying about a box full of disks that you can take out and put into almost any computer. Of course I also have the files on removable hard disks, the latest a 1 Tb Toshiba USB 2.0 model that cost me under £70 (now £75) and will store around 80,000 NEF RAW files. I’m happier with belt and braces.

Although digital photography has many advantages – and I often mention some of them – it has made us entirely reliant on computers. If you’ve not thought about what would happen if your computer suddenly stopped working, now would be a good time to do so.

Pride 2009 – and nearly a fall

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I failed to photograph the only slogan I saw at Pride that made me laugh or at least smile; one of those times when you see something and for some reason don’t photograph it, intending to do so later. But later seldom happens.

So I didn’t get a picture. But it doesn’t really need a picture – and probably why I didn’t photograph it was that it didn’t make a good picture. “ASEXUALS don’t give a F**K” amused  me, but not visually.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
HM Prison Service: “Banged to Rights”

Fortunately quite a lot did visually appeal, and I took rather a lot of pictures, and despite a few technical problems quite a lot of them came out. Enough certainly to make editing a real pain.

It had been a good night on Friday, and I probably still wasn’t fit to drive a camera – fortunately they can’t breathalyse you for it. For some reason I left the D300 on a high ISO setting for an hour or so while taking pictures, though fortunately I managed to set the D700 to something sensible. Working with two bodies, I had a Sigma 12-24 (equiv 18-36mm) – just back from repair – on the D300 and another Sigma, the 24-70 HSM on the D700. So for that time the wide-angle shots were taken at silly settings like ISO 3200.

© 2009 Peter Marshall
For mysterious reasons this was taken at ISO 2500

The results were noticeably more noisy than I’d like. With the D300, I’m fairly happy working at ISO 1600 if I have to, but try to avoid anything faster. For the first time in a year or so I found the noise reduction built into Lightroom wasn’t enough and had to turn to specialist noise reduction software.

There are I think several programs worth considering to reduce noise, and when I used to seriously review software I was given free licences for all of them. But two years ago I moved to a new PC, and could no longer get them to work. Fortunately that old PC still works, and I switched it on for the first time this year to process these images.

The 3 programs that I recommended after my tests – and still recommend – are Imagenomic Noiseware Pro, Neat Image Pro and Noise Ninja, all capable of excellent results. For these pictures I actually used Noiseware, but either of the others would have given similar results.  You can actually download a free ‘Noiseware Community Edition’ for non-commercial use, which gives similar results although a few options are disabled. Its main limitation – at least if you only want to work with jpegs – seems to be that it is a standalone programme rather than a Photoshop plugin.

I sent a disk of mixed files taken at normal and high ISO to a library the day after Pride (I’d already e-mailed a few) and viewing them on my 21″ screen at 15″ wide the difference in quality is only noticeable on close inspection. At 1:1 it’s a little more obvious, but not greatly so. There is just a slight difference in colour quality that I think you can see even in the web files – more pictures on My London Diary – but frankly it’s still so much better than we would have thought possible just a few years ago.

Last year I wrote very little about Pride, but of course did take pictures I did give some links to some work from earlier years.

Remember Spain

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

In most recent years I’ve managed to attend the annual commemoration for the British volunteers who travelled to Spain to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War in 1936-9.  Each year fewer veterans of the war are able to attend, with only seven British veterans still surviving, all in their 90s or older. Although that is a remarkable figure, a third of the known surviving veterans from the Republican side.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

Our government refused to act, even making it illegal to send aid to the legitimately elected Spanish Government that was being attacked by Franco,  but over two thousand men and women from Britain, socialists and mainly communists, made their way to support Spain; over 500 dying there.

One veteran whose absence at the ceremony this year was deeply felt was Jack Jones, one of the truly great British figures of the last century as a trade unionist and activist, and former head of the International Brigade Memorial Trust.  Sam Lesser, at 95 one of the younger veterans of the war, gave a moving tribute to his life.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

Others who died in the past year were Bob Doyle, Bernard McKenna and Rosaleen Ross. McKenna, who came from a poverty-stricken Irish family in Manchester, had been wounded in two battles, recovering to return to the front and was then captured by the Germans and interrogated by the Gestapo. Unlike most others he was not executed but spent some time in an Italian prisoner of war camp.  He was repatriated in a prisoner exchange in 1938 – and got a bill for repatriation- £4 – from the Foreign Office on his return. It was still unpaid when he died last year.

You can see more pictures from this event at the International Brigade Memorial in Jubillee Gardens on the South Bank,  on My London Diary, as well as some from the events in 2007, 2006 , 2005 and 2004

Tour de France

Monday, July 13th, 2009

You can see 25 pictures from the Magnum archive of the Tour de France over the years on Slate.

For me, while I particularly admire John Vink’s pictures in this set – and you can see more in his story France Tour De France from 1985, I think it’s really the images by Robert Capa from the 1930s that have the strongest appeal. The event has changed so much over the years, and somehow back then it was all so more human and appealing.

And of course they even rode bikes rather like mine, though that dates from the late 1950s, although since then its been through several sets of wheels, new brakes, a new saddle and so on.  But the Cinelli of Milan frame and forks, the drop handlebars and even the cranks and bottom bracket are still the same as those that raced on the continent  – but only before I was given it because it was worn out after a year and its owner needed a new steed for the coming season.  It’s almost exactly the same age as my Leica M2 and had I kept it in anything approaching its original state, equally a classic, though rather more valuable.

But bikes have evolved and so have cameras, and Leica (I speak as an M8 owner) just haven’t kept up so far as cameras are concerned, though the lenses remain state of the art. Yesterday I was rather envious of one of my friends, shooting with a Panasonic DMC-G1 with an adaptor to take Leica lenses.  One drawback of it is that the Four Thirds size sensor means that a 24mm is a standard lens. Also, the body seems only available with a kit 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens; however, not the GH1 with movie capability is available it does seem to be selling at relatively reasonable prices around £450 (the GH1 comes with a much more expensive lens at more than twice the price.) But a cheap adapter for Leica M lenses from eBay adds another £50 or so, and the camera isn’t quite as quiet as I’d like…

So perhaps I’m still not convinced that anyone has yet produced a really viable digital replacement for that M2. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it, but neither can I persuade myself its worth shooting film any more.

I don’t often ride the Cinelli either, or at least not further than the local shops or library. Most of the cycling I’ve done in recent years has been on a Brompton.  The Cinelli is better at getting from A to B fast, but so often I want to fold the bike up and put it on a train, and in other ways the Brompton is very handy too – and a shorter wheelbase maies it a better bike in rush hour traffic.

The Unpredictability of Doves

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Today was the Procession in Honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel from St Peter’s Italian Church in Clerkenwell, London, an event which was first celebrated in 1883 and there is nothing else like it in London. For some reason it took place a week earlier than usual this year, and perhaps for this reason the numbers attending were a few less than in previous years.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

I’ve been fairly lucky in previous years photographing what is perhaps the key event in the procession, the release of the doves.  This year I was a little further away from the three priests as they stood holding the doves than I would like – at events like this you have to cooperate with the other photographers present, and usually they like to stand quite a lot further back than I would choose (what, after all are wide-angle lenses for?)

Because of this, I was using the Sigma 24-70 lens rather than the 12-24 that I had fixed on the other camera. I’d decided to leave it on the 24mm setting, although this was a little on the wide side for the men holding the birds, I knew I wouldn’t have time to zoom once they were released, agnd given the entirely unpredictable nature of their flight, the wide angle gave me a better chance of actually getting them in frame.

The sun had been coming in and out, and I was shooting with fill-flash, set to -1 stop on the Nissin Di622 which I’ve been trying as a cheap alternative to my SB800 – currently in for repair.  The Nissin works more or less like the built-in flash, using the camera controls. I’ve had some problems with it providing too much light, particularly with close subjects, and I don’t think it can cope with sync speeds faster than 1/250s which the SB800 can, but generally it seems a decent alternative to the Nikon at around a quarter of the price of the SB900 which has now replace the SB800.

Unfortunately I’d forgotten to switch to the high frame rate mode on the camera, so when the doves were actually let go and I held the button down I was only getting 3 fps, while the camera can give 5fps (more with extra batteries.)

Although it isn’t really possible to guarantee results in situations like this, if you stand in an appropriate place with the right camera settings you stand a much greater chance than if you don’t.  So yes, I was lucky to get the picture I did, but I was reasonably prepared for it.

I don’t know what the wingspan of a dove is, but not huge.  Although I’ve cropped all the pictures of  the release this one retains the full width of the 24mm focal length – used in portrait format. At a guess I’d say that the dove was about 2 feet from my lens when I took the picture.

The other amazing thing is that all three doves are in the picture.  Below is the sequence of frames that led up to this image. I think from the second image the pictures are at 3 fps. As  you can see, none are of particular interest.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

More pictures from this event shortly on My London Diary.

Hopper & Photography

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Edward Hopper has long been one of my favourite artists, and Walker Evans one of my favourite photographers. Both of them had their first show at the Museum of Modern Art in the same year – 1933, and that certainly isn’t simply coincidence. But it may make it rather hard to disentangle their relative influences on our medium.

Apparently there was a show in Essen, Germany in 1992 on Hopper’s influence on photography, but I don’t recall reading about it at the time, though I suspect there is something hidden away in the piles of old photo magazines in my ‘study’, and that and another post on the same blog talk about the Vienna show last winter, Western Motel. Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art, including work by photographers Philip Lorca diCorcia and Jeff Wall and other artists.

A short search on the web also reveals images such as Jack Delano’s 1940 ‘Children in the tenement district, Brockton, Massachusetts’ posted under the heading Paging Edward Hopper: 1940, and posts such as Linda Marion‘s about the 2003 show at the Whitney, ‘Edward Hopper and Urban  Realism‘ perhaps go a long way toward explaining the coincidences between painting and photography. The Washington Post’s photography columnist, Frank van Riper, also contributed a very readable piece on Hopper when there was a huge Hopper retrospective at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2007-8.

But it’s still welcome to see Edwin Hopper & Company by Jeffrey Fraenkel (of the Fraenkel Gallery) with an essay by Robert Adams, and some of the articles related to it in the media, including Edward Hopper’s Influence by Claire O’Neill (on NPR) and The New York Times feature on the show earlier this year at the Fraenkel Gallery – and there is also a related slide show.

And if like me you didn’t make it to San Francisco, you can see a series of installation views of the show on the Fraenkel Gallery site. It all adds up to rather a treat for lovers of Hopper and photography, whatever conclusions you draw about it.

Police and Photographers

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

One of my colleagues, Marc Vallée, has a piece in the Guardian today, The Met’s attack on photographers which examines the advice issued today by the Metropolitan police service (MPS) to the public and the media on photography in public places.

© 2008 Peter Marshall
Protest by NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear and photographers at New Scotland Yard, March 2008

It raises a number of important questions about such advice, and in particular of how sections 44 and 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 apply to “protected journalistic material” where it is not at all clear that the police have the legal power to “view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras” that the advice claims.

The advice given by the MPS is that section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 (referrred to by the MPS as 58a of the 2000 Act)  which makes it an offence to photograph police where a reasonable suspicion can be demonstrated that the information was of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism should not be used to “arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protest.”

Which would be good news, except that there are, as Marc mentions,  at least two well-authenticated cases where it has been so used, including one  by a photographer I know who was covering the attempted eviction of a London squat – with absolutely no terrorist connections.

As Marc says “Professional photographers such as myself view it as part of an ongoing campaign to create a hostile environment for photography in the public sphere.” It’s something I first wrote about on ‘My London Diary’ almost five years ago – here is my exact text from October 2004 – all then in lower case. I’ve picked out the key parts in bold:

on the friday, critical mass were out on their bikes, together with rising tide and other environmental protestors. on a ‘london underwater 2050 tour of the g8 climate criminals‘. starting under waterloo bridge, they went on tour, visiting the london offices of several climate change villains, including petrol giants exxon mobil and bp and the canadian government, ending up outside the national portrait gallery, site of the annual bp-sponsored portrait award.
more pictures

it was a generally good-natured event, with an international samba band. from the top of a tourist bus an american voice asked the bill what was on. as he floundered to reply, the woman i was talking to suggested “hey it’s a fluffy takeover!”

most of the police were good-natured and cooperative throughout, but there were some ineffectual attempts to block the path of the demonstrators. by standing in the road the police blocked traffic, while the demonstrators simply walked around them.

worrying was the deliberate police use of photography as intimidation, with the police photographer going out of his way to confront demonstrators, aided by two other officers.

i worry because i think it is an attempt to attack civil liberties, but also because such behaviour makes all photographers suspect. i can only work effectively if i gain the trust and cooperation of those whose pictures i take. perhaps it helps that photography is one of the activities that also arouses suspicion and intimidation by the police.

as i walked away at the end of the demonstration, this team ran 50 yards down the road and caught up with me, one calling”excuse me, sir” and tapping on my shoulder. i turned to face him, and found myself looking into the lens of the police photographer, who took my picture as his colleague started to question me about who i was taking pictures for. it seemed clear and deliberate harassment, intended to intimidate a photographer acting entirely lawfully, photographing on the public highway.

This was the first time I was aware of being deliberately targeted by the police because I was a photographer, but it was the first of many times – and if we seriously believe that the police are now destroying all those images that they have collected over the years, there will be several thousands of pictures of me being deleted from hard disks and databases.

Another key moment for me came in April 2006, outside Harmondsworth Immigration Detention Centre, where I watched from a raised bank as a group of demonstrators were kettled by the police and a colleague showed his Press card. Officers told him that they didn’t believe it was a real press card, and he called to the 3 photographers watching from the bank to show ours to confirm.

© 2006 Peter Marshall

Fortunately one of the other photographers rushed to do so, as I’d noticed as I came out that day that mine had expired at the end of the previous month!

Since then I’ve also been told by officers that my now current press card isn’t a real press card, though more often they tell me they just don’t care if I’m press.

What is particularly regrettable about the MPS statement is that it fails to refer to the published guidelines for MPS staff and photographers that were agreed between the Met and the BPPA, CIoJ and the NUJ and later approved by ACPO, although some aspects of this are summarised.

One key paragraph is missing:

Members of the media have a duty to report from the scene of many of the incidents we have to deal with.  We should actively help them carry out their responsibilities provided they do no interfere with ours.