Archive for September, 2011

Photomonth Opens – Phil Maxwell

Friday, September 30th, 2011

© 2011, Peter Marshall
Phil Maxwell speaks at the opening

Tonight saw the opening of Photomonth 2011, still London’s only real major photography festival, although nominally limited to East London. That is a fairly elastic definition, and there are also a few shows outside the area, as well as some on-line.

There had been a suggestion that there might be a greater emphasis this year in the run up to the London Olympics on photographs of East London in general and the Olympic area in particular, which was why I organised the show ‘East of the City‘ as a part of it, with work by three photographers and including some of my own pictures from what is now the Olympic area, taken around 25-30 years ago.

Looking through the very extensive catalogue of exhibitions this year – well over a hundred shows in East London, as well as other activities, relatively few seem to have taken that suggestion to heart, but at the very centre of the festival, showing the the Bishopsgate Institute and Rough Trade East is Phil Maxwell’s ‘Forty Years On’, and it was this show that was the centrepiece of this years Photomonth opening.

I found it a slightly difficult show to view in the library at the Bishopsgate Institute, with some pictures high up on the wall above the book cases, and others rather smaller on the ends of the stacks. I was thankful that their was a listing of the images so I could work my way slowly around the space and make sure I saw them all, though I did find it a little annoying to have to change from my distance spectacles for those pictures on high and back to my ‘computer’ glasses for those at a lower level. Maxwell’s earlier work from Liverpool in the 1970s was rather easier to view, shown more conventionally in the corridor outside the library, and perhaps because of this and a more limited range of subject matter I found it photographically more coherent.

From Liverpool, Maxwell came down to London, and his pictures show that he took the East End to his heart, and the reception at the opening showed that the people there took him to theirs.

Here are some pictures from the opening on Thursday 29th – in time I will post more on the 2011 September pages of My London Diary.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall
Festival Director Maggie Pinhorn introduces Phil Maxwell
© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Over the next month there are many events and shows to enjoy in London  – see the details on the web site or pick up the brochure from any of the hundred or more venues.

Shahidul Alam in London

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

When I began to write about ‘World Photography‘ eleven or so years ago, one man in particular earned my respect for his work in setting up the agency Drik and in general promoting photography from the majority world.

I’ve mentioned Dr Shahidul Alam quite a few times on this site, and next week those in London can hear him give a free public talk When the lions find their storytellers at the National Geographic Store, 83-97 Regent Street on October 4th at 6pm.

Later in the week, his first solo retrospective in the UK, ‘My Journey as Witness‘ opens at Tristan Hoare’s gallery in the Wilmotte Gallery at Lichfield Studios, 133 Oxford Gardens, London W10 6NE on 6th October, and runs until 18 November 2011, with a book of the same title being launched the in the UK on October 10 by Skira, Milan.

Why Wasn’t It Like This In August?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Today it’s a beautiful summer day, though unfortunately I’ve had to spend most of it at a computer getting things ready to hang ‘East of the City’.  Yesterday I did get out a bit, a few errands on my bike, then the annual attack on the eucalyptus tree in my garden, which would otherwise by now dwarf my house and be a fire risk.

We got it as a present, a small tree, planted it and forgot about it for a few years, then were astounded at how big it had grown.  Now I’m trying hard to keep it at the size I can trim it from a ladder, and yesterday I was up there with saw, secateurs and tree loppers. I’m not too keen on heights, and tend to dissolve into uncontrollable wobbles, but managed to stop myself falling off the ladder and get the job done, though I was exhausted by it.

Then I came back indoors, back to the computer and put on-line the pictures from two days of walking beside the Thames at the end of August, when it was cool and rainy.  The first day I had to wear waterproof trousers as well as a waterproof jacket and boots, though the second was rather better – just some heavy showers, and by the end of the afternoon it was really quite summery, a good excuse to go into a village pub for a beer.

These were not particularly lengthy walks,  though we did take several diversions which brought them up to around ten miles, and it’s too far for me to carry a heavy camera bag with all my usual kit. So generally I just take one camera – usually the slightly lighter D300, with the 18-105mm, as I did on both these days. Sometimes I’ll also add the 10.5 fisheye just in case I really need a wide-angle, but usually I don’t bother. I can’t quite say there are no wide-angle pictures when I don’t have a wide-angle lens, but on jaunts such as these I don’t feel the same compulsion to deliver effective images as when I’m working.  I’d miss not having a camera with me at all, but these days are leisure (if strenous) rather than work.

There is a kind of sullen colour that you only get on wet days that rather appeals to me, as in this picture of the river, though I find it hard not to be a little tongue-in-cheek when taking such views.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

It was interesting when writing about the walks yesterday to take a look at some of the web sites about the Thames Path, not least to see how bad some of the photography on them was. Nowadays digital makes it so easy to take at least reasonable pictures, but some people do seem to have some special skill at not doing so.

We didn’t stick entirely to the way-marked route, and one of the diversions was to Iffley Church, which was a fine stained-glass window by John Piper, who I think also took some good landscape photographs as well as his better known prints.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I didn’t quite frame this with enough space around it to correct the perspective, but I think the picture captures some of the intensity of the original. The church is a splendid example of Romanesque, relatively little changed from when it was  built, although it would perhaps have been rather more exciting with coloured paint on the fine stonework.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The following day we set off upstream from Oxford, and it started fine, but soon there were heavy showers. Later in the day it cleared up, and we had an interesting time in the village of Eynsham before catching the bus back to Oxford.

Just after I took the picture above, I did have a wide-angle moment, and without a lens wider than the 18mm end of the zoom, the answer was obvious, and I made a few hand-held panoramas, each from just a couple of exposures.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

This is I think the best of them, and it has a horizontal angle of view of 95 degrees, just around the limit of rectilinear perspective. But the picture looks rather better when treated to a different projection, such as the Vedutismo (Panini) project shown here. You can probably see it twice the width if you right click and select ‘View Image’, at least that works for me in Firefox.

You can read more about the two walks and see more pictures from the two days in
Thames Path: Abingdon-Oxford and Thames Path: Oxford-Eynsham.

Al Quds Day Dilemmas

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Al Quds Day was proposed by the late Imam Khomeini of Iran as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people and of opposition to the Israeli control of Jerusalem, as well as more widely “a day for the oppressed to rise and stand up against the arrogant.”  He established it as the last Friday of Ramadan, and its celebration has become something of a controversy particularly in the last few years in London.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The annual Al Quds Day march here takes place on the Sunday before the end of Ramadan, and is organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a body which receives funding from Iran. Although a wide range of pro-Palestinian groups give the event their support, few of the larger groups take an active part in the march, although speakers from some of them have appeared at the rally which follows this.

Although many of us support the Palestinians in their demands for a just settlement and an independent state and oppose the long-standing occupation and oppression by Israel (and most including myself also recognise the right of Israel to exist in peace in the area) few of us are supporters of the Islamic regime that currently oppresses the people of Iran – or indeed of the dictatorship by the Shah that preceded it.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

As the march assembled, a small group of protesters gathered across the road, protesting against the march and for freedom in Iran. Many if not most of those marching in support of freedom for Palestine would have shared their hopes for an end to the current Iranian regime.

One affect of the counter-demonstrations by this group and others this year and in previous years has been to make the march organisers very sensitive to the way that the press covers the event.  There are often also frictions between some of the stewards at largely Muslim protests and the press, particularly male photographers, about the photographing of Muslim women in the protest.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Few of these problems seem to arise from the women themselves, and certainly those from many Muslim countries – for example Palestine, the focus of this protest – seem seldom to have any problem with being photographed. As one Palestinian photographer friend told me when I asked, “you can do anything with them!”

At this event I did have some problems with some of the stewards, one of whom attempted to remove me completely from the protest, but I refused to go, moving instead to the front of the demonstration when I had finished taking a few pictures. Fortunately one of the people covering the event for the organisers knew me and the work I had published on previous demonstrations and told them that I should be allowed to stay and take photographs – and I was able to do so.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The rest of the photographers covering the event had been moved across the road, and I felt a little upset by this. But I’d been allowed to stay because I’d argued and stood my ground,  and because some people there accepted my integrity as a photographer, and I felt I had to make the most of it.

Once the march started, I think all the photographers were able to work without problems, which hadn’t always been true in previous years. One previous year I had to appeal to Yvonne Ridley who in the march to prevent the stewards from forcing me out; fortunately she remembered I had talked to an photographed her on several previous occasions and vouched for me.

As the march reached the bottom of Haymarket, not far from Trafalgar Square, I noticed three men who I knew from English Defence League protests watching it come down the street. I’m sure they recognised me too, as I’ve been pointed out in right wing web pages and at one right wing protest as a left-wing photographer. Some who know me better on the right also recognise that although I disagree with many of their views I do try to present them accurately – and I’ve actually been invited to cover several right-wing events because of this.  If any of my reports show them in a poor light it is because of what they do. Accurate reporting is I think vital.

So I knew that there would be another protest against the march, and the police had confined most of the EDL to a pen on the corner of Cockspur St and Spring Gardens, which seemed rather distant from the march, although within view as it turned onto Trafalgar Square. Probably most of the marchers didn’t even notice them, though I did see a few pointing at them and laughing and others making less polite gestures.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

But as the march came down the side of the square I saw a small group I recognised from EDL events on the side of the road, and followed two women as the walked in front of the march, one stopping to give them the finger. Police soon took them to the side of the road.

I went to photograph the EDL and then walked back into the square to see what was happening, following a group of four or five others I recognised who were walking around the square. I missed a small incident where one man who police had apparently removed from the square once had returned and was arrested, then walked back to photograph those in the pen again.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

A few minutes later I saw an EDL flag being waved on the North Terrace overlooking the square and hurried across to find a small group of protesters surrounded by police, who began to escort them out back to the distant pen. I managed to get to photograph them (one held up his hand to cover my lens) and then walked down talking to one of them who complained to me that they were not being allowed to protest in the square before taking a few more pictures.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I think that I wrote an accurate report of the events, including some of what the EDL had to say, which to me contradicted their claims not to be Islamophobic. But so long as they remain within the law – and on this occasion I think they did so – they have a right to protest and I think they were perhaps unduly restricted in this by the police actions.

The EDL accuse the press of not reporting them and of concentrating on the excesses of a few violent individuals when they do cover their activities. Of course in general that is true about all demonstrations, with peaceful protests seldom making the news, even if large in size.

Many more pictures in Al-Quds Day Protests on My London Diary.

Secret Gardens Opening Pictures

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

One event I decided not to photograph was the opening of my ‘Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood‘  show last week. Although I had taken a camera along with me and was wearing it around my neck I didn’t take a single picture. So I was pleased to see Paul Baldesare taking some pictures at the event – and he handed the camera over to Jiro Osuga at one point.

I didn’t want to take pictures because I was too busy and perhaps too involved to work sensibly; it was really nothing to do with having drunk several glasses of red wine, very necessary to keep my voice working with all the talking I was doing!

© 2011, Paul Baldesare

This is a nice picture of Dr Cathy Ross opening the show, with a couple of photographers in the background.  Like the other pictures in this post it was taken with a Panasonic DMC-GF2 with a 14mm lens at ISO 640. Although the quality seems fine, it does point out a big difference between the 4/3 format and cameras such as the Nikon D700 where I would have happily been working at ISO 3200, more than 2 stops faster, or even faster, and working without flash, or if I’d brought the SB800 as well, adding a bit of bounce flash.  Of course there is a balance and the DMC-GF2 is a lot less to carry and perhaps easier to use than a D700 + SB800 combination  – and a lot cheaper. In favour of the larger combination are quality and flexibility.

© 2011, Paul Baldesare

Several of the garden owners are in the next picture, along with a few of the others present. But the 14mm in a fairly small space only shows a fairly small section of those present, with its 28mm equivalent field of view. Its the kind of situation where something wider – like the 16-35 mm on the D700 or the 10-20mm on the Nikon D300 (or perhaps better still the Nikon 10.5mm full-frame fisheye) come into their own.

© 2011, Paul Baldesare

The smaller format also I think shows its limitations in this image, where it hasn’t coped too well with the dynamic range. But I’m pleased to have these pictures of the event and Paul has done a good job in catching some of the  gestures and expressions of the people involved in the fairly short formal proceedings of the evening, particularly since I suspect he was ahead of me on the wine.  But they do I think show the limitations of the equipment, and confirm my decision for the moment not to invest in one of these more compact systems.

© 2011, Paul Baldesare

The final picture I’ll include is perhaps a good example of subject failure, if not in the classic sense of the term. I’m really rather better behind the camera than in front of it, seen here thanking Dr Ross for her speech.

But in the end the best camera is the one that was there – and was used by someone who knows how to use it – and my thanks to Paul for the pictures. You can see some better example of his work in our show together (along with Mike Seaborne, who appears in most of the pictures above) East of the City – which will be open to the public from Saturday.

Government Attacks Peaceful Protest

Monday, September 26th, 2011

From Maggie’s I went directly to another event where there was also very little to photograph, but one that I had wanted to write about.

UK Uncut had launched a series of protests across the country that had caught the public imagination, campaigning in particular against people and companies who were avoiding – mainly by legal subterfuges – paying their share of UK income tax. It was a campaign that was getting wide support, not least because most people get their tax deducted at source under PAYE and don’t have any choice in the matter.

If you are wealthy – either as a private individual or a company – you have the option of employing accountants and tax advisers who will tell you how you can legally avoid paying UK tax, exploiting various loopholes and dodges. Companies that are actually based in the UK, trading here, getting their profits from UK taxpayers can apparently save billions entirely legally by pretending to be based overseas, setting up a largely notional office in some foreign country.  Similar scams also help many of our richest private citizens to avoid large proportions of their tax bills.

Most of us knew that these things happened, but UK Uncut has made us aware of the huge scale that the national economy is losing out because of them – as well as the identities of some of the major culprits, with its protests at Topshop, Boots, Vodaphone, major banks and elsewhere.

Although the government occasionally condemns tax dodgers – and particularly those who do so illegally – successive governments have failed to take effective measures to prevent tax avoidance. The Conservative party in particular depends strongly on the contributions of those who gain most from lax tax laws, and protecting the interests of the wealthy – including many in the party – is at the heart of its policies.

For them, UK Uncut are a problem, and doubtless one that the police have come under great pressure to do something about. But their actions have been generally well-ordered and non-violent, composed largely of well-educated middle class protesters.  They have occupied premises for short periods, holding classes in them, and have then left when requested without causing damage.

At Fortnum & Mason, UK Uncut were also well-behaved. Outside the shop a few yards away police were fighting other protesters as the largest and largely peaceful trade union demonstration in London filed past.  The media were concentrating on the few hundred people involved in violence (and I’d left the UK Uncut protesters to go home shortly before they arrived at Fortnum & Mason, as I had been hit earlier by a paintball, and it was beginning to get rather uncomfortable as the paint was drying out), and I think the politicians and police saw their chance to act firmly against UK Uncut and carry out a mass arrest, linking them in the public mind with the rather mindless violence on the streets.

So the police lied to those in Fortnum & Mason, asking them to wait until things had quietened down outside, when they would be allowed to leave. Police praised them for their co-operation, but actually they wanted to hold them there until it was safe to bring up police vans to arrest them and take them away.

Many were then held for almost 24 hours in police stations, sometimes being refused their legal rights to make contact. Some were released in the middle of the night, miles from their homes and not knowing where they were, some dressed only in their underwear covered by near-transparent white suits.

© 2011, Peter Marshall
‘Would you send your daughter home Like this?’ As police did.

Eventually charges against most of them were dropped. Around 30 were picked out and charged with the serious offence of ‘aggravated trespass’, apparently because there was evidence (such as the possession of leaflets) that they wanted to ‘promote their cause’.  It’s unfortunate that the judge who pointed out that this was completely legal failed to take the obvious further step of throwing out these cases, though they seem almost certain to fail at a later stage.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

What won’t happen – and why there won’t be justice in this matter – is any proper enquiry into the political pressures put on the police or disciplinary procedures against those officers who bowed to them, who lied to protesters and who were responsible for detaining the protesters and their lack of proper treatment.

By arresting so many, and by keeping up the long-winded process of bringing some of UK Uncut’s key movers to trial, the government’s attack on organised peaceful protest in this way has been extremely effective. But in the longer term it may have the effect of radicalising a larger and wider swathe of the public.

It was  hard to know what there was to photograph outside the Magistrates Court, and I think many of those protesting there did not know what they should do. Some went into the public gallery though they had remove their white track suits to be admitted.  There were few placards or banners, little chanting, just people concerned about what was happening to peaceful protesters and who knew that our legal rights to protest needed defending and were prepared to come and stand up for them.

I didn’t want to organise or pose people but I did try and get them in front of the sign with the name of the court, and to make use of both the white suits they were wearing and the few placards. There are more pictures (and text) on My London Diary:  Support Fortnum & Mason Protesters.

Maggie’s At City Hall

Monday, September 26th, 2011

People who work in PR often seem to inhabit a different universe, one where bloggers such as myself would be interested in promoting new drink flavours, management services I can’t even understand, celebrities I haven’t heard of and the like. Although they send me messages which tell me how much they admire my blog, they very clearly have never actually read it or they would know that if it doesn’t have some clear link to photography or the kind of social and political causes I have an interest in I’m very unlikely to do more than curse them and press the delete key.

Of course I would welcome approaches from some that seem to never happen, particularly if they offered really useful free gifts.  Back when I wrote for it was company policy (but often rather elastically observed) that I must not accept anything worth more than $25 from any outside body, and I did turn down a couple of all expenses paid foreign trips. Of course when I did accept software or accessories or books for review I didn’t let it colour what I wrote – and got a few rather pained responses from some of the companies concerned to prove it.

But the e-mail from someone at cancer care charity Maggie’s Centres was different, firstly in that it was a very worthwhile cause but also because it came from someone who had clearly looked at my web site and they were organising an event which fitted generally into the kind of thing I like to cover for My London Diary, where you can finally see the story (published with fewer images on Demotix the day it happened) Maggie’s Charity Hugs London.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Maggie’s run centres for people suffering from cancer and their families, offering support from the time of diagnosis, during and after treatment, to recurrence, end of life or in bereavement. Their major London fund-raising event is an annual night hike which is also a special open house event, with those taking part paying a fee which includes refreshments and entertainment inside a number of London’s iconic buildings, specially opened for the event.

This year they began to enrol people for the event just as the London ‘riots’ began, and the numbers signing up were drastically down – even though the event was to take place in mid-September. So they decided to hold a demonstration and march in central London to try and get some more publicity and encourage people to sign up.

Photographically it wasn’t an exciting event. City Hall isn’t a great place to photograph – and if you get the building in, the people look too small.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Of course Tower Bridge does provide a truly London background. There was not a great deal happening, a few people in green t-shirts, a few placards, some very mildly risqué. The charity had a photographer present who did try to set some things up (which I generally refuse to do), but there was still very little.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

It was perhaps interesting to be able to work there without any harassment from security – the last time I’d been on that spot was for a photographer’s protest against restrictions on photography in this area.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I followed the official photographer inside the entrance to City Hall to try and photograph from the inside the line of people hugging the building. The lighting was completely wrong, turning them into near silhouettes, but their shapes lacked the interest this might have had. Using flash on camera was out of the question as we were working directly through the glass. Given an hour or so, the odd lighting technician, a bunch of lights and a good choreographer we could have made something of it. I spent around an hour later in the day trying to dig detail out of the image with the adjustment brush in Lightroom.

East of the City – Invitation

Monday, September 26th, 2011

You are welcome to the Private View 6-8pm Thursday 6 Oct 2011:East of the City

Oct 1-29 2011

 The Shoreditch Gallery • The Juggler • 5 Hoxton Market •
London N1 6HG

020 7729 7292 Gallery • 01784 456474 Other information

Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat: 10am-4pm. Closed Sun • Free admission

(Hoxton Market is just east of Pitfield St, reached via Boot
St or Coronet St)

Documents from East London by three photographers






Baldesare Seaborne Marshall

East of the City

East of the City is a part of Photomonth
, the 11th annual East London Photography festival.

Dog Makes Garden Panorama

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Thursday’s formal opening of my show ‘Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood‘ went well, decently full without being too crowded, and I had the time to talk to most of the people who came, though as usual forgot to say some things I had meant to. And people seemed genuinely to like the work, with quite a few buying copies of the book – currently only available from the Queen’s Terrace Café where the show continues Mondays to Saturdays until the easily remembered date of 5th November.

Dr Cathy Ross from the Museum of London gave a short opening address, linking my work to a project the museum had carried out some 20 years ago, and stressing the importance of documentary work such as this which created a record of what otherwise would be a largely unknown aspect of social history.

It was good also to meet again (or in some cases for the first time) some of the garden owners and hear their views, mostly very complimentary, of my pictures.

One image that attracted quite a bit of attention was the only non-rectangular image in the show, and one that came about rather by chance. Before I took each image for the project I carefully chose a particular viewpoint and thought about how to make a picture in terms of the horizontal and vertical limits of a virtual rectangular ‘frame’ I was going to fill*, and this image was no different.

Almost the entire project involved a different way of working to my normal photography and there is not a single image in the show (though a few in the book) that I could actually see in a viewfinder when I took the image. Most are put together from between 3 and more than a dozen separate exposures to produce the picture I had in mind before taking them.

© 2011, Peter Marshall
The image as it is in the show, on a 40″ x 30″ dark grey background

This shows the view, invisible from the street, that hits you immediately when you gain admission via the entry-phone to the high-walled garden, and was taken with my back literally against the door. It was a busy afternoon at the house, and I had to work quickly in case someone came to the entrance, when I would have had to interrupt taking the picture and move my tripod out of the way.

Like most of the pictures in the show, it was taken on the D700 using the 16-35mm lens in portrait format, usually at the 16 mm end, giving a vertical angle of view of 96 degrees.  A series of exposures was then made, taking pictures at roughly 30-40 degree intervals to get a considerable overlap between each image (at 16mm the lens covers 73 degrees across the shorter dimension.)

I always started taking pictures where I intended one edge of the picture to be (normally the left), placing that in the centre of the first frame and tried to end it with where the far edge in the centre of the last frame.

To join the images, the software first alters their shape to suit the projection being used, changing the rectangular images into ones with curved edges. When the frames are combined to give the overall image, this results in an irregular shape with wavy edges, which are then normally trimmed off to give you a rectangle. One of the reasons for using a lot of overlap when shooting the series is that this makes the ‘waves’ shorter and thus less deep, and you have to trim less.

This strip of garden between the gate and front door was actually fairly narrow, and I decided that a single row of images would not give sufficient vertical coverage to include the chimney of the house. I need to use either two rows in portrait format or three rows in landscape format, and chose the second.

I had decided to start the image to include the small tree at left and to end it with the larger tree at right. What I had in mind was an image rather like this crop (though with sky where there is a black rectangle at the top and a little more of the path at the bottom.)

In the end it didn’t quite happen like this, and, thanks to the dog I ended up with a rather better picture, if one that some people are confused by. They interpret the picture with its dark grey background as being taken through some kind of gap in a fence, which although not literally the case, is certainly a good metaphor for what like the other images in the show is certainly a peep into the private domain.

As I was making the picture, one of the house residents, a large black dog, was running around the garden and watching me. I thought about cloning him in several images but decided more than one dog would be an unwanted distraction, and tried to avoid him. Finally, just as I was finishing the exposures I needed he came up and posed just in front of me and I took another exposure with him in the middle.

It was an image that didn’t fit the rectangle, which would have cut the dog in half, but rather than use a different exposure of the centre area of the path I could see two good reasons to include the image with the dog. The dog was beautifully positioned in a fine pose, tail leading up to the doorway of the house, and secondly the extra area of path in the centre of the image gave a much stronger impression of the path leading to the house.  It would have been difficult to include it in a rectangular image as the tripod legs would have appeared.

I took out a few of the 18 or so images I’d taken from the image to produce a slightly more attractive overall shape which you see, placing the image on a dark grey background – the same tone as used for the introductory page for each garden featured in the book.

But this is a picture which, if not taken by a dog, was certainly made by one.

Technical notes

Few of these panoramas stitch perfectly automatically, and most need a little assistance with appropriate masking of some of the images. Plants are not entirely static, especially on windy days, and anything very close to the camera is likely to be a problem, as it is hard to get absolutely precise positioning. Joins between images often need to be moved to areas where any slight misalignment is not noticeable, for example empty areas of wall rather than window frames.

All of the images shot RAW and were pre-processed in Lightroom before being combined in PTGui. Basic exposure, fill light, black point, brightness and contrast were simply synchronised across a set of images, but considerable care was needed to apply the ‘adjustment brush’ in the same way to matching areas on different frames.

* The projection used in assembling the images alters there appearance in a way that is hard to predict when taking the series of frames. Mostly I made use of an equi-rectangular projection which I think is a more general version of the cylindrical projection of my earlier film-based panoramas, but for some I found the newly rediscovered vedutismo projection worked better.

Prison Photography

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

I’ve mentioned a few times the web site Prison Photography written by Peter Brook who also is the lead blogger for’s Raw File photography blog.

Another blog I read regularly is the New York Time’s Lens, and a couple of days ago they ran a piece ‘Focusing on Prison Photography‘ in which James Estrin interviews Brook about his work and interest in prison photography, with examples and links to the work of a number of photographers. It’s an article that touches on important issues and links to some interesting photography, mainly by photographers whose work I didn’t previously know.

One UK photographer who has taken an interest in prisons is Ed Clark, and some time ago I reviewed his book Still Life: Killing Time on this site. I’ve also written about his more recent work Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out on the camp and those who were locked up there, although I don’t think the longer piece I wrote about this ever got published. And I never got around to putting it on this site as I was waiting for a promised review copy of the book that never arrived.