Archive for September, 2012

Sean Rigg

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Sean Rigg was killed by police in Brixton Police Station on 21 August 2008. It took almost 4 years for the inquest into his death to be held, and they jury were then denied the possibility of giving the verdict that they would have otherwise reached. Instead they gave a lengthy narrative verdict which made clear exactly how police actions led to his death, and also condemned the NHS for their failures before his arrest and killing. The Rigg family immediately called for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring criminal charges and for a public inquiry into deaths in custody, not just that of Sean Rigg, but of the many others who die as a result of police action – including many that for various reasons don’t make the official statistics,

I first met Sean’s sisters at the annual United Friends and Families Protest march along Whitehall to Downing St in October 2008, and was impressed by their determination to fight to find what really happened to their brother and to get justice. Their tenacity has resulted in an inquest that made clear the crimes that were committed, the cover-up by the police and the the complete failure of the IPCC to investigate what took place. But they – and the other families of the several thousand people who have died in suspicious circumstances by police actions or in police custody, in prisons or in other secure facilities have yet to see justice.

© 2008 Peter Marshall
Samantha Rigg-David, 2008
© 2008, Peter Marshall
Marcia Rigg-Samuel, 2008

From the start, the ‘Justice & Change’ campaign’ the family set up has been concerned not just with their brother’s death, but with the wider issues of justice and accountability of the police and our judicial system.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

I’d arrived at the  Sean Rigg 4th Year Memorial in the large assembly hall inside Lambeth Town Hall on 21 August around 20 minutes before the start of the event and was in time to take a seat with several other photographers close to the middle aisle in the second row of the hall. I’d missed an official photocall a few minutes earlier with the family and the banner, but that isn’t the kind of thing I usually bother with. I had plenty of time to make a few test shots, hoping that the same main lights would be on for the meeting, and found I could just about get usable results without flash on the D800, working at around ISO 3200 with the Nikon 28-105mm wide open. It isn’t a fast lens, only f5.6 at the long end, and I probably should have brought the Sigma 24-70 f2.8, but I’d had to rush back from an outing, grab my bag and run out of the door to get to the event, and just hadn’t had time to think.  But I think the Nikon is sharper.

I did take some pictures with flash, but I don’t like to use it more than I have to, as when I’m attending meetings I find a lot of flash photography is disturbing. But for some pictures there just wasn’t enough light  without.

It was an interesting meeting, but perhaps went on a little too long  – over two hours, and some of the ‘questions’ from the floor turned out to be lengthy speeches. But I was really waiting for the march through Brixton that was to follow. It did eventually, but I think was held up by a number of people with video cameras stopping the leading figures and interviewing them.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Eventually everyone was lined up outside and the march started, going just a quarter of a mile down the road to the police station. It got very crowded around the memorial tree, and I got into an argument with a man with a camcorder who came and stood right in front of me after I put my hand on his shoulder to ask him to move. He became very angry, but fortunately everyone was keen to calm things down.

Unfortunately at this point my SB700 flash started refusing to work at all on the D700, and it was very dark. I couldn’t see any reason why, and it worked fine when I switched it over to the D800.  It’s the kind of annoying thing that can happen, and often the reason is simple and obvious once you sit down and take a look at things in good light, but is impossible to solve when you are frantically trying to work in darkness, as I was.

I swapped the 16-35mm to the SB-800 – it’s just a bit wider than the 18-105 – and continued working with flash. I was working at 1/60 at f6.3 with the flash, and it was so dark that to get any real contribution from ambient light and avoid an almost black background I needed to use ISO 6400.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

This picture was taken at 17mm (around 25mm equiv) and the flash was I think set to underexpose by around 2/3 stop. I think I’m actually too close for flash to be reliable, but the main problems I was having were actually subject movement and focus.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Using the 16-35 at 16mm on the D800 (24mm equiv)

I was a little reluctant to follow the group who went inside the police station to photograph there, but soon realised that I needed to as everyone else pushed in. Inside the lobby there was a decent light level and I could work without flash, but it was so squashed there wasn’t really room to change lenses. I had the the 10.5mm onto the D700, so was only getting the 5Mp or so files that DX lenses give on that camera. I had the DX body set on ISO 3200, and once processed in Lightroom 4, the quality isn’t bad.  When the Superintendent came to a side door to talk to the crowd I was on the other side of the lobby, but with the camera held as high as I could reach I managed to get a picture that I thought worked OK.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

The lighting for this is helped by someone using a video light, though I’ve  not quite got the colour balance optimised. But LED lighting is now feasible with still cameras too, working at fairly close distances and high ISO, and I’m thinking of buying a powerful and portable unit. I do have a very cheap unit, but it hasn’t enough power to be useful, except perhaps for reading in bed.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Twisted Images

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Thanks to Twisted Sifter for a page with 15 Photo Manipulations Before the Digital Age published in advance of  Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which claims to be the first major exhibition devoted to the history of manipulated photography before digital and will feature “200 visually captivating photographs created between the 1840s and 1990s in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, and commerce“. The show runs  from 11 October  2012 to January 27, 2013, and there is currently a short text about the show on the Met Site but not much more unless you have a press login, when I think you would be able to see the same 15 images as on Twisted Sifter.

Some of these are well-known – for example Henry P Robinson‘s very Victorian deathbed scene, Fading Away, Toulouse Lautrec as artist and model (by Maurice Guibert) and others by Maurice Tabard, Barbara Morgan, Grete Stern, a decidedly odd (aren’t they all) F Holland Day and one of Gustave Le Gray‘s cloud studies, but perhaps the more interesting are some of the commercial and anonymous images, including a ‘Man on Rooftop with Eleven Men in Formation on His Shoulders’, Saint Thomas D’Aquin’s ‘Man Juggling His Own Head’ and a daguerreotype of a man with two heads.

From the text I’m not sure how much this show will add to previous exhibitions and books which have featured such images – which I think have always got more than their just share of attention. They are an interesting side line, and often amuse, which is what some of them were meant to do. But some of those that amuse, their authors meant to be taken seriously.

A Short Walk in Spitalfields

Monday, September 10th, 2012

I’m not sure I will go to see the pictures by C A Mathew which will be on show at the Sandys Row Synagogue in Spitalfields from 20th September 2012, although it looks as if a visit to this synagogue, the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in London, and the last remaining synagogue in Spitalfields would be very interesting. But I think you can see the photographs well enough on-line.

Like the nearby mosque in Brick Lane, the synagogue has moved through several religious re-orientations. It was built on the site of an older chapel, l’Eglise de l’Artillerie, and opened on 23 November 1766 under the same title, serving the French Huguenot community of the area. A few years later they combined with other churches in the area and leased this building. From 1792 it was home to a Baptist congregation, most of whom left in 1801 when their minister made it Unitarian. When the Unitarians moved to Finsbury in 1824 it was leased to Scottish Baptists. In 1867 it was leased to Dutch Ashkenazi Jews, who were allowed to block up the previous entrance on Parliament Court and build the current entrance on Sandys Row and it was consecrated as a synagogue on 6 November 1870. The congregation bought the freehold of the building in 1923 and continues to worship there.

I first saw these pictures published on Spitalfields Life in 2010, and they have since been republished there on the 100th anniversary of their taking, along with a set of ‘then and now’ pictures, taken by the author of Spitalfields Life, who goes under the soubriquet ‘the gentle author‘ (TGA). The pictures are in the collection of the Bishopsgate Institute, which in 1974 published a bound 28 page pamphlet, The Eastern Fringe of the City, described as A Photographic Tour of the Bishopsgate Area in 1912 with around 20 photographs taken by Mathew on Saturday April 20 1912, his only known visit to the area.

C A Mathew began as a photographer in 1911, setting up a studio in in Tower St, Brightlingsea, Essex and is thought to have died shortly after his wife at the end of 1916. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal more known about him and the only other picture by him I’ve seen is a routine image by him included in a history of the town.

One theory, which I doubt, is that these pictures are the result of a delayed or cancelled train from Liverpool St back to his home in Brightlingsea on the Essex coast, just over 50 miles away (the station fell under Beeching’s axe in 1964.) TGA writes that perhaps he “simply walked out of the station, taking these pictures to pass the time.”

I think this is more than unlikely. While we might do such a thing now, photography back in 1911 was a rather more serious business, and although I can’t know exactly what equipment Mathew was using, I think it likely that it was rather cumbersome and heavy – not the kind of thing you would just take a walk while you were waiting with.

From the pictures I think the camera he used had a rising front and will have been used on a substantial tripod. Almost certainly it will have been a camera that used either sheet film or glass plates rather than roll film. So as well as the camera he will have needed a number of plate or film holders loaded with unexposed material. And of course a large dark-cloth and loupe.

I suppose it is just possible to envisage circumstances where a photographer travelling home would have all these things available – perhaps a commission elsewhere that for some reason he had been unable to carry out. Though it is hard to think why anyone would commission a photographer from Brightlingsea to do a job in London.

Normally on the way home the plates would have all have been exposed. Had their just been one or two pictures, it might perhaps be possible that Mathew, on his way back from a job in the city might have paused on his way to expose a couple of unused plates, but the number of pictures rules that out. It seems almost certain that he had travelled up to Bishopsgate with the express purpose of making a set of pictures of the area.

Since he was a professional photographer the most likely reason for this is that he was being paid to do so. Since his studio was in Brightlingsea, his client was most likely to be there also, although possibly a visitor to the town; perhaps one of those wealthy gentlemen who came for the yachting at Brightlingsea Sailing Club had started his life in the area.

One of the most intriguing things about the pictures are the captions on the original mounts, which I think could also be a clue to the actual reasons for the pictures, although it isn’t a mystery I can solve. Not only does Mathew carefully describe the locations but he also gives the widths of most of the streets in feet and inches. Brushfield St (width 29′.3″) is the caption on one mount – either the photographer has taken measurements with some  precision or has gone to the trouble of looking them up somewhere. Why?

Possibly also the choice a Saturday is significant, a day when businesses in this Jewish area were closed. As the Bishopsgate curator noted, it meant the children were all in their Sabbath best, but it also made it possible for the photographer to place his tripod in places where heavy horse drawn traffic would have made it difficult on a working day.

Although working with a digital camera, or even a 35mm or 120 film camera we might now make similar images in perhaps an hour, probably the pictures here represent the best part of a day’s work. Since a number of the images include shadows, it would be possible for a more dedicated sleuth than myself to work out the exact time of day these were taken.

I’ve walked into Spitalfields a few times over the years, and taken a few pictures there, and once published a little article on the area. They don’t have the same interest that Mathew’s have, partly because the times had changed when I first went there in the late 1970s, and particularly because there were far fewer children on the streets. Here is a street corner from my first visit there in 1978.

© 1978, Peter Marshall
Samuel Stores, 1978, Peter Marshall

Spitalfields Life has quite a few other articles about the photographers of the area, and among the most recent is John Claridge’s Cafe Society. I have also photographed several of the cafés featured here, in particular the Victory Café, though it was on the Hackney Road in Bethnal Green rather than in Whitechapel when I found it, 23 years after him.

© 1986, Peter Marshall
Victory Café, 431 Hackney Rd, Bethnal Green, Peter Marshall

Although I admire many Claridge’s images, I find the style of his printing, with its high-contrast lith effect, annoying. There are a few of his images it really suits, but more of the time I think it detracts from his work.

You can see more of my café pictures – in colour – in Café Ideal, Cool Blondes, & Paradise, a work I first put together as a book dummy in the mid-1990s and which I intend to revise again and publish as a book before too long.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Before the Olympics goes ISBN

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Today I published my first book to have an ISBN, though I hope it won’t be my last and I have another 99 numbers waiting to find a home, and hope to begin work on my rather monumental ‘London Series’ shortly – a little of the work from which is on my ageing Buildings of London site (though web sites don’t really age, just get to look rather dated.)

It isn’t really a new book, but a revised edition of my book first published in 2010 and is now ‘Before The OlympicsThe Lea Valley 1981-2010: Peter Marshall ISBN 978-1-909363-00-7

© 1990, Peter Marshall
The Olympic site in 1990

Those few of you who have a copy of the first edition needn’t rush out to buy a copy – available direct from Blurb (and at their US site) – as the changes are relatively minor. The new edition has no new pictures – and actually one small image less, and I’ve slightly revised some of the captions and text. But probably the main changes are in tidying up the design and also slightly but noticeably increasing the size of many of the smaller images.

© 2005, Peter Marshall
The Olympic site in 2005,  from a few yards northwest of the view above

Publishing with an ISBN makes books easier to find, and also means that I have to send a copy to the British Library under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, though the requirement to deposit a copy goes back several hundred years longer.

There is a preview on Blurb which shows over a third of the book. At £26.99 for an 80 page paperback it isn’t cheap, roughly twice the price I would like to be able to sell it at, and unfortunately I can’t offer the kind of discounts that would enable it to be sold through the shops. At the moment this new edition isn’t included in my book sale, though I do still have just a few copies of the first edition available.

© 1989, Peter Marshall
Pura Foods on Bow Creek in 1989- now demolished

It does include (if I counted right) 246 of my pictures taken around the Lea, though some are still unfortunately small. It was put together using Blurb’s free Booksmart software, which does impose a few annoying restrictions on design and has some problems with handling text, but generally does the job fairly well, although I’m considering using proper DTP software for future books. I chose Blurb’s Premium paper with a lustre finish, which does well with both the black and white and colour images, but does increase the cost a few pounds. But reproduction is important, and this was the first paper from Blurb that I felt was good enough for black and white.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Non-photographer Wins Photography Prize

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

I’ve nothing against photo-montage. I’ve written about it and admire many of the classic works by photomonteurs such as the Dada artist John Heartfield as well as more recent work. I’ve even allowed my own pictures to be used in photomontage, but it isn’t photography. There have been photographers who have worked with photomontage, and again there are some I admire – such as Misha Gordin, as well as a few who I think are mildly interesting, including Jerry Uelsmann, and a few whose work I find simply sick.

John Stezaker, the winner of this year’s  £30,000 Deutsche Börse prize at the London Photographers’ Gallery is not a photographer, but that doesn’t seem to matter, and the 2007 prize went to Walid Raad who also didn’t take the pictures he used.

Writing in The Guardian, Sean O’Hagan commented:

Does that matter? Evidently not – except to other practitioners who may think photography still has something to do with deep seeing, and then capturing that moment of deep seeing, in a split second. That is now in danger of fast becoming an irredeemably old-fashioned idea, both in the teaching of photography and in the market-driven curating of photography.

I’m one of those old-fashioned practitioners, and rather resent a photography prize being awarded to a non-photographer. I quite like some of Stezaker’s work – the prize was for his Whitechapel Gallery show – and although it reminds me very much of the kind of thing that other artists have been doing almost since the start of photography (well before Dada and the Surrealists), he certainly sometimes does it very well. But it ain’t photography!

You can also read about it on PDN, BJP and again in The Guardian in a piece by arts correspondent Mark Brown among other places.

Breaking Down the Beast

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

I was rather rude about street photography a few days ago, so it’s nice to be able to point you at some street photography I find really interesting as opposed to the mush. There are street photographers working now whose work I find interesting – just as some years ago I found Trent Parke‘s 1999 book Dream/Life worth ordering a copy from Australia, and wrote about both that and his Minutes to Midnight (2002-4).

One I don’t remember seeing before is Joseph Michael Lopez, featured on the Lens blog a couple of days ago in a feature Breaking Down the Beast by Peter Moskowitz, which has a set of 16 pictures from his street photography project, Dear New Yorker, which you can find along with other work on his web site. And that a picture or two did make me think of Parke is no bad thing, although Lopez’s work has many other aspects.

Photographing the EDL

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

I don’t like photographing the EDL, and they certainly don’t like being photographed, but I think it is important that their activities are recorded, and I try to do so with care and accuracy. If they emerge from my pictures or text looking bad, it isn’t because of how I photograph them, but because of what they say and do.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

I didn’t set this picture up, but just started taking pictures of the group drinking in the beer garden of the pub in Chelmsford a couple of weeks ago from the street outside. When one of the other people I was taking pictures of complained to a police officer about me photographing him without his consent, I was pleased that the officer told him that I have every right to photograph, whether he wanted to have his picture taken or not. Though after I had taken a few pictures he did ask me very politely if I would mind moving away as it was getting them worked up (I could be wrong when I remember him saying I was disturbing the animals.)  I’d taken several pictures like the above, and didn’t think I would get anything more so I was happy to oblige.

As I walked past the small group of EDL around the pub door, one of them pointed me out to the others and said “He’s OK” while pointing out another photographer walking with me as someone who should be chased away. It isn’t up to them to decide who should and shouldn’t be allowed to photograph them.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

But perhaps because of this, later, when I moved close to the banner at the front of the march I wasn’t asked to move away, although other photographers had been cleared across the road by the police. Though I think it was really more my ability to merge with the background and be unobtrusive when I want to.

Eventually the march moved off, and I photographed as it went past me. One rather large man walked towards me, though I wasn’t too worried as there were several police within a couple of yards. He moved in close and said  “I hope all your family die of cancer.”

I stopped to note down his exact words and then continued to photograph. Unlike most marches where I like to get in the middle of things, I had to work largely from the pavement, as I was getting some pretty hostile comments as I was working.  Fortunately their was some good lighting and I think some of the pictures work well.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

I didn’t have my voice recorder running during the event, but what I heard from many on the protest seemed to me to be full of hate against Muslims (and photographers!)

As the front of the march reached the turning for their rally outside the town hall I went back to the centre of the shopping district where ‘Essex Unite Against Fascism’ had been holding their rally, noticing on my way that the police had sealed off the area with some high fencing and large cordons.  The counter-march was all ready to go, but was being held until the EDL were safely surrounded by police.

There were just over three times as many people, and a huge difference in atmosphere. Rather than hate it was a welcome that came out from the crowd, with everyone pleased to talk and be photographed and looking so much happier. And everyone was entirely sober. It was a pleasure to photograph them rather than a duty.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Of course there was some anger expressed in some of the Essex UAF’s chants, such as  “E-D-L go to hell! Take your Nazi mates as well!” and “Follow your leader, shoot yourself like Adolf Hitler!” but the second at least was shouted with a certain  humour, with some breaking into laughter afterwards. Other chants were more affirmative, such as “We’re black, white, Asian and we’re Jew!”

© 2012, Peter Marshall

I think my text and pictures on EDL Outnumbered in Chelmsford portray both groups accurately, although the view of the EDL is perhaps too kind to them, and I perhaps did a better job of making good images. Sometimes a little of a challenge helps.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Al Quds Day

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Quds is Jerusalem, and the day was inaugurated by Ayotollah Khomeini in the year of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, 1979, but in 1980 received the backing of the Jerusalem Committee of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, representing Muslim states around the world (including some officially secular Muslim states.)  It has been celebrated in the UK with a march in London for at least 20 years, possibly longer, and for many years there was little or no controversy surrounding it.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

The UK-based organisation that organises it is the IHRC, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, which describes itself as “an independent, not-for-profit, campaign, research and advocacy organization based in London, UK.”  The IHRC has been criticising human rights abuses against Muslims in non-Islamic countries but largely failing to do so in countries such as Iran, Syria, Libya, or Saudi Arabia, although it has submitted reports to the UN on Iraq, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, France, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Tunisia, Morocco, India, Bahrain, United Kingdom. It is also alleged to receive funding from the Iranian regime.

Criticism of the IHRC in the right-wing press has increased after it organised a number of international conferences, including those on Liberation Theology in Palestine, Human Rights and Israel at 60, and one involving leading Jewish anti-Zionists, as well as supporting various sanctions and boycotts against Israel. As well as attacks by leading supporters of of the Israeli state, its critics also include Iranian Royalists and the democratic Iranian Green movement.

In previous years I’ve had some minor problems in photographing the event, sometimes having arguments with stewards to remain close to those taking part. One year when I was photographing Yvonne Ridley in the march I had to ask her to support me being there – I’d photographed her at many previous events – and last year I was supported by people in the organisation who knew me to remain when most other photographers were being kept away. Last year there had been protests against the march by both the Iranian Greens and the EDL, and in the previous year there were also Iranian Communists, Iranian Royalists, a Jewish group and March For England all making their protest.

This year the whole atmosphere was far more relaxed, perhaps because there were no signs of any of the counter-demonstrations of previous years at any point on the march.  I didn’t see the incident, but I later heard that one pro-Israeli blogger had been discovered videoing the speeches at the rally and the stewards had insisted he leave.  I think that was unfortunate – there is really no reason to restrict the recording of such events even by those who oppose them.

I think some of my best pictures from the event came from working with the 10.5mm from in the middle of the crowded march. The curvy perspective of the images often helps by emphasizing the centre of the image, which seems to come out of the page at you.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

© 2012, Peter Marshall

In the upper image of this pair, the uncorrected full-frame fisheye has the effect of wrapping around the image and drawing you in to the centre. When I correct this – as in the lower image – because the lens, held up high above my head was pointing down into the crowd, the buildings around and the placards have a strong divergence, taking the eye away from the centre.

It would be possible to correct this divergence – a simple job in Lightroom, but doing so would lose more of the image, as well a lowering the quality in some areas. But I think it really doesn’t look particularly odd and it improves the image.

I saw the possibility of this picture when I was a few yards away and had to push through the crowd calling out “Excuse me, excuse me” to take it. Fortunately I had switched the 18-105mm for the 10.5 mm just before and was looking for opportunities inside the fairly dense crowd just before the march started. It was something that lasted only a few seconds and I had to rush to grab it. Of course I could have asked the woman to repeat it, but I don’t like to set such things up. It doesn’t work and it is an intervention which I think is unacceptable in photographing news.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Rectilinear perspective can often I think be slightly more disturbing in pictures with an extreme wide-angle – such as the wide end of the 16-35mm. I couldn’t get further away as they were in a crowd and other people were close  behind – and had I been able to stand further away, others would have come in to fill the gap – or I would have had to direct the scene, which would have changed it completely.

Working into the sun I’ve got a little flare in a couple of places, unfortunately in both girls’ faces, though hardly visible in the one at the right, as well as on the buildings in the background. While it might have been nicer to avoid it, I don’t find it particularly disturbing, perhaps because the shadows at the bottm make it clear that the sun is shining directly at me. I didn’t have time to try a few pictures using my left hand held resting on the end of the lens, using it as a flexible and positionable lens hood as I often do.

Of course both in this image and the one at the top of the page I had to work with Lightroom to get the shadow detail in the people, and particularly in their faces, increasing both exposure and contrast in the shadow areas.

As usual, more pictures on My London Diary – at Al Quds Day March.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Pussy Riot Jailed

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Pussy Riot‘s performance in a Moscow cathedral certainly brought them a great deal of publicity around the world, though rather more attention was given to their outlandish dress than their anti-Putin political views. Given their performance over the Occupy movement on their steps, I’m not sure that the reaction of St Paul’s to such an interruption would be greatly different from that of the Russian Orthodox Church. Though the  Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 did get rid of our common law offence of blasphemy, I’m sure there are plenty more offences that similar activists here could be charged with.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

And while all these masks can be rather fun and occasionally dramatic, I really do prefer to photograph faces.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Though sometimes you can do both.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Many more pictures at Free Pussy Riot on My London Diary.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Thank Heaven For Clouds

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

I hadn’t actually meant to go for a walk by the Thames when I left the house, but was hoping to photograph some protests about increases in rail fares and proposed cuts in jobs and services on the railways.

I should have gone earlier, when I knew a larger protest would be happening, but travelling in the morning rush hour is just so expensive, and I’d been sent details about a later protest. I can get a ticket to visit my son almost 200 miles away for roughly the same price as it costs for the 19 miles each way into London if I catch an early train. So I caught the first train I can get at the still expensive off-peak rate, and arrived to find nothing much worth photographing still happening. So little that I took no pictures.

The train operators say they have improved the service, and the trains do rattle less, but when I first moved to where I live there were six rather than four trains an hour to London and the fast trains did the journey in 29 rather than 35 minutes. And without keeping to that special railway operators time which means that any train can close its doors and leave half a minute early.

It was a fine day, sunny but with some nice clouds, so it seemed a pity not to take some pictures, and I decided to walk along a little of the Thames path in London once more, starting from Battersea Bridge as I’d been assured there would be something to photograph at Clapham Junction latter (wrongly as it turned out.)62 This area of London used to have industry along much of the riverside, including a large factory and lots of wharves, and I’d recently scanned some black and white images from around 40 years ago when I first came here. Now almost all of that has gone, replaced mainly by expensive flats, with the odd hotel and some offices.

© Peter Marshall
St Mary’s Battersea from across the river – the factory is no longer there

One gain from these changes is that you can now walk beside the river virtually all the way, and there are also one or two decent buildings among the largely profit-oriented poor quality developments.  Changing attitudes to health and safety do unfortunately mean that you can no longer walk on a high-level path through the waste-transfer station next to the mouth of the Wandle, and I’m sorry I never did when it was open.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

When taking largely open landscapes like some of the views across the Thames, I was pleased to have plenty of clouds in the sky.  Having a clear blue sky is about as welcome as a uniformly grey one so far as I’m concerned. One of the buildings I passed on my walk is St Mary’s Battersea, where I’ve on previous occasions photographed the stained glass windows commemorating two of my favourite artists, William Blake who was married here and JMW Turner, whose mother was a Marshall, though so far as I’m aware not related. Turner was rowed across the river from his home in Cheyne Walk to paint the skies from the porch of the church. I don’t think he would have bothered on a blue sky day either!

© 2012, Peter Marshall

The flats above are on the ‘Pure Genius‘ site that was occupied by ‘The Land is Ours’ in 1996; they were evicted after five and a half months but the site remained derelict and empty for seven or eight years afterwards. In May 1997 I photographed the march on the first anniversary of the occupation, and two weeks later put on-line what now seems a very curious web page,  Pure Genius – One Year On, with some weird scans of my pictures.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

On the opposite side of the river, demolition seemed to be taking place at Fulham Wharf, but the sand and gravel site there and on the south bank immediately upstream of Wandsworth Bridge was still working, and I made another panorama from the bridge as well as taking a few more pictures. You can see more at Battersea Riverside on My London Diary.

________________________________________________________

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________