Archive for November, 2011


Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The basic problem that the Leveson inquiry seems to be concentrating on in the last few days seems not to be about news and photography but about the non-news aspect of the media and its obsession with so-called celebrities. That photographers seem to be cast as the villains in this piece seems both unfair and also dangerous for our freedom to report the real news.

In my view it isn’t any part of the job of the press as such to report on the inconsequential activities of the various nonentities that occupy much of the tabloid space, along with the various scandal magazines.  It is not what the freedom of the press is about, and the concept of a free press should not be used to defend it. Were it possible I’d personally be very happy to see legislation that put an end both to ‘celebrity culture’ and the reporting of it; both are I think aspects of enslavement rather than freedom.

Over the years we have seen an increasing trivialisation of ‘news’ with an increasing failure to report on the real issues in a cultural devaluation fuelled in particular by television.  It’s a canker that has wormed its way deep into even the most respected of our media – so many of are angered that institutions such as the BBC and newspapers including the Guardian think that stories such as the recent trial of the doctor who let a singer take an overdose deserve to be headline news.

When the colour supplements first came out they often covered real stories; I read the reports by guys like Don McCullin from Biafra and elsewher and many other fine photographers and writers. Now, even from the most serious of newspapers there is seldom much serious journalism or photojournalism, and the magazines are stuffed with silly fashions at silly prices, recipes with 37 ingredients that nobody ever really cooks, reviews of restuarants that only people on bankers bonuses can eat at and all kinds of tat at ridiculous prices, trivia upon trivia upon trivia. Frankly the odd ‘celeb’ getting a bit annoyed at someone poking a lens in their face seems of little consequence when we have a whole culture that is disintegrating and it is just a relatively minor manifestation of this.

Of course the guys who hang around outside homes and pester people on the streets, the ‘paparazzi’, are seldom real photographers, and most of the pictures that they take prove the point. As images they are poorly composed, badly lit and tedious to the extreme, but still the newspapers and magazines fall over themselves to pay big money for them. And it can be really big money, with some photographers making more from a single picture than I make from a year’s work. Take away this financial incentive and there would be no problems.

Unfortunately it is very hard to see how it would be possible to frame laws that would restrict the undesirable activities of the paparazzi without restricting the freedom of the press and of photographers in particular.

The relationship between photographers and celebrities is of course more complex than the media reports of the Leveson hearings suggest – they are after all brought into being by the lens. But I can’t help thinking that Leveson would have been far more likely to reach sensible conclusions if it had concentrated far more on the problems of ‘ordinary’ members of the public who get caught up and trampled by the tabloid circus (some of whom have made the headlines by their testimony too) and much less on giving more publicity to the sometimes relatively minor moans of some celebrities.

There are a couple of things I’ve read about this which started me thinking about the problem. One is a lengthy piece by Edmond Terakopian, I’m A Press Photographer & Very Proud Of It, who describes Leverson rather accurately as ‘turning into a witch-hunt against photographers‘ and the other an open letter by Christopher Pledger that he quotes in full in his piece.   Pledger makes a very good point about the way that TV news disparages photographers in many reports for their intrusive nature, when many photographers would feel that the TV reporters making these reports are part of the same media operation and in my experience usually more intrusive than their still counterparts.

Another issue raised is that of press cards and of ‘fake’ press cards. Although we do have a nationally recognised scheme under the UK Press Card Authority that is recognised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), that does not make those issued outside of this scheme ‘fakes’. The UK Press Card is however backed by a verification scheme and is only issued by a limited number of media organisations (the so-called ‘gatekeepers’) and so has a status that other cards do not. But journalism is changing and news and news media is a wider concept than when the Press Card scheme was established; many who are now increasingly contributing to the news media work through organisations that are not part of and don’t fit the recognised scheme.

Nikon Worries

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

My Nikon D300 gave up on Saturday, while I was photographing a march by Egyptians in London. It happened when the camera got a little knock as I was climbing down from a box on the street. Nothing significant, but it fell around six inches and bumped the side of it.

There was no obvious extra external damage, and I thought if anything I had damaged the lens, as when I tried to focus the 18-105 which was on the camera it hunted around a bit before coming to a halt decidedly out of focus.  I put the camera back in my bag and continued working with the D700 and 16-35mm, and hardly noticed the lack of anything longer the rest of the day. If it had been working there would of course have been pictures I would have made with it, but I’m not sure my photography really suffered. I suppose I could have continued working on it in manual focus, but really the viewfinder just isn’t good enough for that.

The next day I put another lens on the D300 body and found it too failed to focus, while the 18-105 seemed to be working fine on the D700. It was the body and not the lens that had a problem, and it was one that made it more or less unusable.

I spent a couple of days wondering what to do. The D300 has seen better days, and has been knocked around quite a bit. I did a check on the shutter count (on-line by loading one of the .NEF files I did make with it on Saturday to My Shutter as I automatically strip some less essential Exif data from my jpegs, and the software I have currently installed on my new computer doesn’t read it from raw files) and found it was at around 158500, more than the rated life of 150000. The screen on the top plate has been broken since early summer and much of the rubber on the body is peeling. The top speeds no longer work properly, as I found when photographing swans in July, and I’ve been suffering more recently from the occasional exposure with half the picture covered in nasty coloured lines and the odd image that has an ‘unexpected end of file‘ or gives the annoyling vague Lightroom message ‘there was an error working with this photo.’* All in all it’s in rather a mess, and I shudder to think how much it might cost to get it fixed.

The D300 cost me £969 in April 2008, so it is coming up to 4 years old and it has seen reasonably intense use in that time. That works out at around 0.61p per exposure for the body, which has not been repaired or serviced in that time, so I wouldn’t feel bad about ditching it now. The sensible thing would probably be to get an estimate for repair and then sell it secondhand, but so far I’ve just wasted a lot of time thinking about its replacement.

Everyone on the web seems to have been expecting Nikon to announce a replacement for the D700 for some time – with very strong rumours in recent weeks that the D800 might emerge from under wraps at the end of this month, although these are now being discounted. New products have been held up and the supply of cameras and lenses seriously affected by the flooding at Nikon’s factory in Ayutthaya, Thailand, where all DX SLRs have been made since 2009, along with most of the DX zoom lenses, although the FX D800 will presumably be made elsewhere, probably at the Sendai Japan factory which earlier this year was closed until the end of March following the 11th March earthquake and tsunami.  But in any case it seems likely that it will be very expensive – I’ve seen a figure of $3600 mentioned. And if the strong rumour of it being 36Mp turn out to be true, I’m not sure I need it.

Nikon’s direct replacement of the D300, the D300s, offered few advantages. Better to get my old D300 fixed than go for that. Its replacement is also overdue and was once expected about now. At the moment the most attractive of the available Nikons to me seems to be the D7000, with slightly better image quality in low light than the D300 and some other minor advantages. As usual, the review I found most worth reading comes from Thom Hogan. It’s also just a bit smaller, lighter and cheaper. I came close to spending around £830 on one yesterday.

But today, while thinking about writing this piece, I had another play around with the ailing D300, trying it out on manual focus and in the two autofocus modes, verifying the lens still made the right noises for VR and so on. And suddenly it just started working again, as if something had somehow fallen back into place, and I was looking at a sharp image in the viewfinder (though a rather boring one.) I took a few images with brick walls in them and things seem to be pretty sharp. So perhaps I’ll give the D300 another chance until the next time it falls to pieces. By then Nikon might have their  new models out.


© 2011, Peter Marshall
Lightroom refused to work with this D300 raw file, but Irfanview had no problems and Photoshop finished the job.
Halloween in London, 2011.

* ‘There was an error working with this file’ and other error messages may simply be Adobe software being very picky about the files that it will open – and perhaps might be replaced at least in some cases by the message ‘Lightroom couldn’t be arsed to open this file.’

You may still be able to get a usable image from the file – as with the picture above – using other software, such as Irfanview, free for non-commercial use to extract to a high quality jpeg and then adjusting that in Photoshop. And even if you can’t extract the image from the RAW data, the included jpeg (used for displaying the image on the camera screen) may still be ok, although these are usually ‘basic’ quality and sometimes smaller than full size. You can download the free IJFR – Instant JPEG From RAW Free Utility from Michael Tapes’s RawWorkflow site – register there to be sent the download link. It’s a handy way to very quickly generate a whole set of jpegs from any set of RAW files.

Not For My Xmas Present!

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I won’t be rushing out to buy a copy of  Vivian Maier: Street Photographer which, according to Amazon will be available from 8 Dec, published by Powerhouse Books as a 128 page hardcover (ISBN-10: 1576875776 ISBN-13: 978-1576875773) at the pre-order price of £24.64. It’s cheaper in the US, and the Amazon page includes a one minute video which exposes the book and around twenty of her pictures, and makes very clear why I think the hype around her is unjustified.

Make no mistake, Maier was a good photographer. A very good eye who picked up stuff from all sorts of guys and made her own take of it. You can see in the video and the half a dozen images on the web site that she has learnt well from Walker Evans, from Lisette Model, from Lee Friedlander, from Henri Cartier-Bresson from Harry Callaghan and from others. What you don’t see, despite the several self-portraits, is any clue as to who Maier herself was as an artist.

It says in the text that she took over 100,000 photographs in a period from the 1950s to the 1990s, though overwhelmingly I think her work shows its 1930s roots. 100,000 over 40 years is a relatively modest output and not unusual for the keen amateur that she was, at 2,500 pictures a year, it works out at around 50 a week. It’s hard also to know how much of the back-story is true. Did she show her work to no-one, or was it that the people in Chicago she did show her work to didn’t find it of particular interest.

Mike Johnston on The Online Photographer seems considerably more convinced of the book’s worth than me. It seems a pleasant enough volume, but certainly nothing to get excited about, and I sincerely hope nobody buys me it for Christmas, though I’m sure there will be considerable media hype and many photographers are likely to find a copy jammed in their stocking. Please, please not for me.

There are obviously others who disagree with my verdict on her, and the featured comment by Sherwood McLernon says “I think of it as the book that I had hoped The Americans by Robert Frank would have been, but wasn’t.” which must deserve some kind of award.

I don’t know where McLernon was sitting waiting for the publication of ‘The Americans’ in  1958. Maier had hardly started in photography when Frank took 2 years and around 28,000 images to make the work in 1955-7. Published first in France, where Robert Delpire put his future with the family firm on the line to get it in print, it shocked the photography world, or at least those who saw it, as most of the reviews were extremely negative. Wikipedia quotes Popular Photography as deriding his images as “meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness.

The Americans is in no way a perfect book, but it became a seminal book, although it remains in some respects a difficult book. Maier’s work (both in the show and on the various web sites) is safe and easy to assimilate. If I wanted one word to describe it, I think “anodyne” would do nicely, whereas for Frank it would be “iconoclastic.” The mention of Frank is however interesting, as looking at her work in the gallery this summer, one thought that came to me was that despite her obvious talent and facility, she had never really got to grips with his work.

If you are looking for a present for a photographer with any interest in street photography and you find they haven’t got a copy of ‘The Americans’ then I suggest you buy that rather than this book. Maier’s work is easy listening while Frank’s remains challenging, even after I’ve known it since the 1970s when I was getting into the medium.

If you are looking for a present for a photographer with any interest in street photography and you find they haven’t got a copy of ‘The Americans’ then I suggest you buy that rather than this book. Maier’s work is easy listening while Frank’s is still challenging.

You might also want to look at Martin Parr’s pick of the best books of the decade, made for the PhotoIreland Festival in the Summer. Perhaps among a few of his choices I might endorse is John Gossage’s  Berlin in the Time of the Wall – you can see a selection of the pictures at the Stephen Daiter Gallery, but even at the reduced price of $132 it’s a little expensive for my relatives.

Perhaps at some time I’ll try and write more seriously about my own picks of recent photography books, and I have another of my own Blurb publications arriving shortly.

Ten Years On

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Stop the War, along with CND and MAB marked the 10th anniversary of the Invasion of Afghanistan with a protest in Trafalgar Square followed my a march to Downing Street, which was led by that redoubtable woman whose picture ended my previous post, Hetty Bower.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I rather like the feeling in this image that the man on her right is not helping her to walk but holding her back.

It was, as the picture shows, a rather dull day, but for much of the press the big news was the appearance at the event of Julian Assange. There was a huge scrum when he arrived into the enclosure around the platform in Trafalgar Square, but I decided it wasn’t worth trying to join it as there would be a much better opportunity later.

Fortunately I was right, and  in just about the right place for it, and took far too many pictures of him. This is the one I like best, though perhaps I could improve it a little with some more work in Lightroom, I think it is just a little too dark at the moment.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I didn’t quite get the picture of him that I wanted, something that had a little more character, but it’s certainly better than many I’ve seen.  There were far too many speakers (and I missed quite a few while away elsewhere) but I did take a few pictures of them that at least I like.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I spent quite a while trying to get exactly what I wanted with Jemima Khan, and I think I came close, but had to work in a split second with John Pilger.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I’ve photographed Tony Benn so many times that I wasn’t going to bother yet again, but then I saw him and thought the lighting wasn’t bad as he took out his pipe to relax for a minute or two before being interviewed for TV.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

George Galloway always has a good line in theatrical gestures, and I thought this was one of his better attempts, though I’m not sure I would really call him an ‘artist’ as the caption on the screen above him seems to.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

There is something I really like about that little bit of movement in the far hand.

Some people are much more difficult to photograph. Jeremy Corbyn MP, the newly appointed National Chair of Stop the War Coalition, often seems to speak with his eyes closed or near closed and it seldom makes for a good picture.   I photographed him waiting to speak standing in front of the Landseer lions, and can’t decide which of the two frames on My London Diary that I prefer.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

You can see the other one, and my other pictures from the event on My London Diary in  Ten Years On – Stop The War Coalition. Things got a little hectic for a while at Downing St, and there were so many photographers that I kept getting pushed forward, too close to the action. It might have been a good time to use the 10.5mm, but the crush was so tight there was no way I could change a lens.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I could only work with the 16-35, mainly at the wider end, and do the best I could.

I’ve photographed many Stop The War events over the ten years it has been in existence, and at the moment am eagerly awaiting the launch of a publication celebrating those ten years, which includes quite a few of my pictures. But this event came several months too late to be included.

Cable Street Revisited

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Cable Street occupies an important place in British left-wing history, and like all such events is shrouded in myth. I’ve been criticised by some for pointing out some of these, but I think it never belittles our history to get the facts right. Just as last month, when the EDL tried to march into the East End, the people of the East End never got to fight the fascists. The battle in 1936 was with the police, and the people were successful. It was a victory for the people, and one against the fascists even if they didn’t actually come into contact.

This year the police were fighting with the EDL at times, and it was the police who stopped the EDL, as well as succeeding in stopping the people from the East End getting at them, although I saw no real attempt made to breach the police lines. The protesters against the EDL in 2011 remained peaceful, except when a coach full of EDL stopped in the area and started to insult people.

Back in 1936, the East End didn’t stop the fascists, though on that one day they did manage to stop Mosley marching through. But the fascists were busy inside the East End then.  It was also a time when real battles were being fought against them in Spain, and several thousands of brave men, many of them communists or anarchists, including workers from the East End, defied the government and went to fight.

Relatively few of those who went to Spain – or who stopped the police in Cable St – are still alive, but the memory of what they did lives on, not least through the splendid mural in Cable St itself.

© 2009, Peter Marshall6
‘They shall not pass’ in the 70th anniversary celebrations in 2006

The picture taken 5 years ago, when the celebrations were a little smaller and more local makes the connection between Spain and Cable St clear. This year there were people from all over the UK present, including quite a few Indian groups as well as the local Bangladeshi organisations.

© 2011, Peter Marshall
2011: The National Clarion Cycling Club banner also supports the ‘Cuban 5’

This year’s 75th anniversary also included several groups connected to Spain, including the International Brigade Memorial Trust, the Connelly Association and the National Clarion Cycling Club, who had taken part in an anniversary ride from Scotland.  Their banner was also that of the ‘Centuria Anglesa Tom Mann’

© 2011, Peter Marshall
And on the other side is the Tom Mann brigade banner

More about the 70th anniversary in the second story down this page of My London Diary, and this years event is  Battle of Cable St – 75 Years.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I took two frames with this woman carrying a banner, the second with the red flag hiding the boy in the green glasses, and I’m not sure which of the two I prefer. The main photographic problem was one of contrast, with a huge difference between the shade and sunlit areas.  Even the picture above, where the sunny areas were small required some fairly extreme burning in.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Of course fill-flash becomes very useful in these situations. When Max Levitas was speaking, one of my friends standing next to me was cursing as he didn’t have his flash with him; Max as the image above shows, was standing with his face in the light and forehead in shade, and flash was really essential to cope with this. Usually I have the flash set to -2/3 stop, and I don’t think the exposure can take the flash into account, so I generally use -1/3 stop of exposure compensation with it.

Another image where it was essential was this of 106 year old Hetty Bower, who was 31 at the time of the battle, and certainly the oldest person on the march – she walked the whole way from Aldgate.  She was looking up at the mural when I took this picture of her with a friend.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Benny Wenda

Friday, November 25th, 2011

I woke this morning to hear a name I recognised on the news, listed as a wanted man by Interpol. I first photographed Benny Wenda at a protest opposite Downing St against biofuels in April 2008.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

There are several more pictures of him and his companions on that page, along with a series of captions which read:

  • Musicians from the Free West Papua Campaign
  • Benny Wenda , Chairman of Demmak – the Papuan Peoples’ Tribal Assembly, was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by Indonesian solders for his part in leading a peaceful independence movement, but manged to escape and come to the UK.
  • West Papua was invaded by Indonesia 3 months after it gained independence from the Dutch
  • West Papua is the left hand half of Papua, the large island above Australia on the globe

The final caption was perhaps the only time I’ve found a photographic use for the Campaign against Climate Change’s inflated globe in a greenhouse, which has always seemed at other protests a visual embarrassment however conceptually appropriate it may be. For once I was pleased to have it there, and made sure that Mr Wenda’s uke was strategically positioned for the picture.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

On Friday 14 Aug, 2009 I photographed Benny Wenda again at a protest opposite the Netherlands Embassy in London marking the anniversary of ‘The Day of the Broken Promise‘, 15 August 1962. Then I wrote a much longer piece which you can read there on My London Diary, as well of course as taking more pictures. There were few journalists present and I think I was the only photographer who attended the event.

© 2009, Peter Marshall

© 2009 Peter Marshall
A man from the Netherlands Assembly takes a letter from Benny Wenda.

I’ve often said that the whole world comes to London, and this was another example (though Mr Wenda actually lives in Oxford.) I sincerely hope that our government will act to prevent Interpol carrying out this politically motivated extradition.

Lea Valley Gets New Life

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The Lea Navigation has always been teeming with life, but in the early years I went there it was mainly wild, both in the water and on the banks, where paths on the back rivers were often blocked by rampant brambles, vicious nettles and other weeds, and home for a wide range of birds and insects. But you could often walk for a mile or two and not see another person, enjoying what was then an inner-London wilderness.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Now the area has been tamed, domesticated and generally tidied up, and most of the life seems to be guided walks and people on bikes with enough gears to face Everest.  There were several boats full of people on Saturday afternoon tours too. The area may be rather less interesting than it used to be, almost sterile (and thousand of tons of its earth covering dug up, sterilised and then replaced anywhere on the site) but it is now a visitor attraction, part of the London tourist trail.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

As I walked along the Greenway (itself an earlier marketing revision of the Northern Outfall Sewer) overlooking the London Olympic site, a couple of Japanese held out a camera towards me and asked if I would take their photograph. Of course I obliged, though I find these compact digitals with an invisible image on the screen at the back hard to manage.  A few yards on, I photographed a man taking a picture of his young son on a rather arty looking seat with the stadium in the background.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Going past the stadium was a man in a hurry, perhaps practising for the Olympics, though more likely trying to keep fit. The atmosphere on the Greenway was quite different to that a year or so ago, when every few yards there was a security man, and photographers sometimes got harassed. There were a few about, and one did come and tell me I couldn’t take pictures, but it was his idea of a joke, though given my many previous experiences I wasn’t over-amused.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I’m not quite sure why his colleague was flying, but these things happen. I was actually there to take part in an event with four other photographers, all talking about our work around what is now the Olympic site – and in my case particularly about the book ‘Before the Olympics’ – but I’d brought the D700 and a couple of lenses with the aim of making a few panoramas, and I took a few other pictures as well.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

This isn’t perhaps the most interesting of those I made – and you can see these as well as the other work from the afternoon in Lea Navigation & Olympic Site on My London Diary.

The picture above, which shows a new suspended footpath that goes under the Bow flyover, has the file name 20111001-d0120eqr209-900s.jpg which is perhaps rather a mouthful, but a good illustration of how I’ve now taken to naming these panoramic files.

  • 20111001‘ needs no explanation, simply the date in the order that sorts correctly.
  • ‘-d‘ is really a hangover from the days when photographers used film and any scans from my colour negatives would have a ‘c’ in the filename to remind me they were colour. Now everything is digital, so perhaps I don’t really need the ‘d’.
  • 0120‘ is simply a sequence number, allocated by Lightroom to my digital files in the order that they are imported (most days these start at 0001.) This particular panoramic image was actually stitched together from seven exposures, numbered 0120-0126, and takes the number of the first in the series (all of which were vertical format 16mm images on FX format.)
  • ‘eqr’ is a three letter short form of the projection used, in this case equirectangular. Other possibilities include ‘rec’ (rectilinear), ‘cyl’ (cylindrical.  ‘ved’ (vedutismo) etc.
  • ‘209’ is the horizontal angle of view when I stitched the panorama; sometimes the actual angle in the image may be slightly less due to a little cropping, but it gives a good indication. Images do rather more often get considerably cropped top and bottom after processing to give a straight edge, so I decided there was no point in including the vertical angle of view in the name.
  • ‘900’ is the width in pixels. I don’t give the width for the original full-size file, so this is one way of specifying that this is a reduction.
  • ‘s’ stands for ‘sRGB’.  AdobeRGB is my default work space both in camera and in Photoshop, and files that end without a letter are in that default space.

This is a naming convention that I’ve found very useful, although there are some things that it doesn’t tell me, and others might like to use longer conventions, that would include things like the focal length, camera orientation, number of separate frames etc. But  20111001-d0120eqr209-900s seemed to me a good compromise.

Stick at 359 degrees?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

If you are in or have ever photographed in Slovenia you need to know it is now illegal to publish 360 degree panoramic images with recognisable faces unless these are pictures of events published as news.

You can read more about this apparently bizarre legal position on Dliberation, which kind of blames the situation on Google Street View’s decision to blur faces in its imagery, although Google wasn’t able to comply with Slovenia’s demand that they carry out the blurring of Slovenian images in Slovenia so Street View does not yet extend there.

Although the decision is bad news for Boštjan Burger, a Slovenian who is one of the pioneers of immersive photography, it actually seems pretty good news for the rest of us, as the deliberation by the Slovenian information commissioner clearly recognises and validates street photography.

I’m not a great fan on 360 degree panoramas, or really any that you need to use viewer software to see rather than viewing as a flat print (or on a screen) although Street View certainly has its uses. Although I have occasionally made 360 degree views I don’t think I’ve ever shown or published one. As I found a month or so ago photographing the Olympic site from the View Tube and earlier in the year on the gardens project, anything over 180 degrees or so seems to lose interest.

© 2011, Peter Marshall
Roughly 240 degree view
© 2011, Peter Marshall
120 degree view – My London Diary has larger versions of these and others made in the same area on the same day

But for those people who want to go the whole hog in Slovenia, couldn’t they stay inside the law by simply incorporating 1 degree of blank non-photographic space into their images?  Given suitable colour, tone and texture it would hardly be noticeable.

Thanks to a Facebook post by EPUK for bringing this Slovenian story to my notice. Another recent post is to an authoritative and very useful article on their own site, Stolen Photographs: what to do? though I think it is more an answer than a question.

Camera Club

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Mention of Clive Landen in the post on one of his former students, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, sent me off to Google to find out more about him, though there was disappointingly little. Almost all that I found were links about his exhibition and book Familiar British Wildlife, pictures of roadkill, which reminded me of the work of a friend of mine, Carol Hudson, and a group show back in 1985 where as well as her fine still life images of dead birds we had a row of prints of her photograph of a dead cat laid out across the gallery floor. Most visitors stepped very carefully over them.

I sent some of Carol’s work to J. David Sapir,  then a Professor (and now Emeritus Professor) in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, who had a pioneering web site ‘Fixing Shadows’, founded in May 1995 with a commitment to ‘straight photography’, and it precipitated quite a discussion about exactly what was meant by that term.

Also Google took me to another historic web site which I’ve not visited for perhaps ten years, Camera Club. This was set up by “artist, writer and lecturer Stephen Bull” as a contribution to Photo 98: The Year of Photography and the Electronic Image, and for it he persuaded six “well known gallery artists and photographers” to submit work to be judged as a part of an amateur photographic competition at the Ilkley Camera Club in Yorkshire.

Most of the links away from this site no longer work, and so some of the associated material is no longer available, but you can still see the four pictures from each of the photographers and the brief comment made on them by the judge (who was fully aware of the project) along with his mark out of 20 for each picture.

In my experience, club judges seldom gave any picture less than half marks, so the 10 out of 20 awarded Landen for one  of his pictures was rock bottom, though Martin Parr also achieved this for his cup of tea. Landen’s four images totalled 51 points, making his by 2 marks the lowest score of the six. The club star was  John Kippin with 70, one of his landscape images gaining the full 20, and he was duly awarded the The Stephen Bull Trophy.

It’s a site that still amuses – at least it amuses me – and  also very much shows the passage of time, both in web design and in photography in the choice of photographers and their pictures. Though I’m not sure camera clubs have changed much; certainly in 1998 they were still very similar in their ideas to 20 years earlier.

September Has Officially Ended Here

Monday, November 21st, 2011

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Or at least I’ve now finished putting up my pictures from it onto My London Diary. It has taken me even longer than usual, partly because it was a busy month for events – and so has October been since then, but also for other reasons.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

A couple of extra things had been occupying my time. Producing the work for the show on the gardens of St John’s Wood, mainly hidden behind high walls, started in mid-May. I finished the photography at the start of August, by which time I’d photographed around 20 gardens, including half a dozen that for various reasons were not included in the show. People almost always underestimate the amount of work involved, after all it only takes a fraction of a second to take a photograph. In fact I spent around 40 minutes working in each of the gardens on average, but that was only the start of it. There was of course travelling time – and the journey from my home takes well over an hour each way, but also the time spent at the computer producing the panoramas from between three and around 18 exposures. For the average garden this was probably between four and eight hours.  Producing the show catalogue – an 80 page Blurb book – added several days of work, and it took another day or so for proofing and delivering the final files for the show to the printers.

This isn’t a complaint, it was a project that I enjoyed and I learnt quite a bit from it. However perhaps it was because of all the extra work that my computer complained – and a month after I’d finished my work on that show – and had also worked on and printed the dozen pictures for the East of London show  decided that ‘enough was enough’ and gave up the ghost. Apparently overheating had fried its memory.

For once I was lucky, and found a computer tech guy who knew his stuff, but although he quickly diagnosed the problem, getting replacement memory for this five-year-old computer has proved a problem. I have it back and running now, with more efficient cooling, a better power supply and yet another hard disk (making 4), the replacement memory isn’t quite right, and gives the occasional blue-screen when you least expect it – we are still waiting for a replacement for the replacement memory to make it fully usable.

Meanwhile I’d ordered a new computer. They promised it in 5-10 working days but it took 14, and again isn’t 100% fit, with an odd video problem that kicks in under stress. There seems to be a slight incompatibility between my Eizo monitor and the Radeon video card  (we’ve tried two of them) and I’m wondering what to do about it. But it isn’t that bad – today I’ve been working for three hours without a problem, so I’m beginning to catch up on somethings – like My London Diary.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

You can probably guess which events the four pictures in this post come from in the following list of links:

East London Photomonth Opens
Enough Is Enough – Abolish Vivisection
Silent Vigil For Yemen At Downing St
Intifada 11 Years Protest at M&S
Apprentice Boys Carson Memorial Parade
London Oddments
March For A Secular Europe
Wreath For Victims At London Arms Fair
Flash Mob Against Dale Farm Evictions
Arms Fair Fracas At National Gallery
DSEi Protest at BAE Systems
Down the Drones City Arms Fair Protest
Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood
Dr Zig’s ‘Bubbles Not Bombs’ Protest
Arms Fair Protest At Parliament
9/11 Anniversary – EDL & MAC
March Supports Dale Farm Against Evictions
Candlelit Vigil Against NHS Privatisation
Protest At Climate Change Deniers
Tower Hamlets Unites Against EDL
Protest Against Repression In Syria
Alternative Action Anti-Sharia Protest
Brian Haw Peace Protest Continues

© 2011, Peter Marshall

And of course you can find out more about all of them and see my pictures on the September 2011 page of My London Diary.