Archive for July, 2013

Dead End Bum Wiping

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Two articles among many that relate to the future of photojournalism and documentary photography that I’ve come across in the past couple of weeks are David Hoffman‘s Dead End Streets: Photography, Protest and Social Control  and a series of questions by Charlie Campbell to the legendary Vietnam photographer Tim Page for Time World.

Tim Page’s Wikipedia entry makes interesting reading, and most of the legends about him appear to be true. His own web site contains some interesting work and together with Horst Faas he edited REQUIEM, a book and exhibition which is a memorial to the photographers who died covering conflict in Vietnam and Indochina.

Page, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1944, left England at the age of 18 to drive overland through Europe the Middle East and Asia, running out of money in Laos. He got a job with USAID and taught himself photography, becoming a stringer for  UPI and AFP.  In the Time feature, Campbell says to him

I’ve heard you comparing a degree in photography with a degree in “bum wiping.” Any advice for budding snappers out there?

Page’s answer is typically to the point:

Don’t. Being a photojournalist now is the most fraught way of making a living. I’m no longer involved in the news, but I do other type of work. To make a living as a photographer these days is impossible. I was there the other day, and there were 100 people with cameras, video cameras and iPhones. And where are you going to sell the pictures?

Hoffman‘s essay is closely thought out and more difficult to read, looking at how the changes in media have both reduced the impact of still photographs and the ability of photographers to make a living from photographing social issues.  As he says

When I began working as a photographer a single publication fee would keep me for a week.  Now it keeps me for perhaps three hours.

Photographers now have to make several saleable images a day to make a living (I think the number is rather higher than he suggests) and no longer have time to study issues seriously and work in depth.  What perhaps he doesn’t stress enough is the influence on the nature of images that ‘saleable’ implies.

He looks briefly at the promise of democratic access of Indymedia and Demotix, two very different organisations which enable at least a limited publication of work but he says fail to allow “contributors a role in shaping the audience and the context in which the work is presented.”  While agreeing with much of his criticisms, they are surely even more true of the traditional media, with both Indymedia and Demotix allowing contributors considerably more creative freedom – the only reason I still contribute through Demotix. And, as he says “open access agencies such as these that are providing the last remaining life support for independent street photographers.” Though it’s not much of a support.

Demotix is part of Corbis, which gives some of the pictures from it a wider circulation, but in general he is correct that “neither has much of an audience.”  Work posted to my own web site or on this blog generally gets seen by perhaps five or ten times as many people as on Demotix. Some pictures from Demotix get published around the world in traditional media, and I think it has had a rather more important role for many photographers around the world who don’t have even the rather slim opportunities that remain here.

The final section of the essay is about “the forces of the state subverting and hijacking the reportage photographer with a variety of tools and techniques” and is his usual penetrating analysis of the situation, particularly as regards the police.  He also talks about the mistrust of photographers by protesters, including examples from both Climate Camp and the 2010 student protests, though surprising omitting mention of the right-wing ‘fatwas’ and violence directed at us (and I’ve been attacked at protests by people who thought I was David Hoffman, as well as others who know who I am, and been with David when we have both been subjected to threats and abuse.) But I imagine he takes that for read. It isn’t a new phenomenon for someone who was a photographer for Searchlight.

His is a piece that ends with a gloomy conclusion, and one it is difficult not to share. He writes:

Whether or not the kind of documentary photography in which I have been involved will still exist in the future is not clear…  The ecosystem that once maintained those creating socially relevant work is all but gone and it’s far from clear what, if any, new support mechanisms might take its place.  

Photojournalists are an endangered species, their numbers shrinking, and once extinct they cannot be replaced.

It’s hard in a fairly short post to give a fair summary of a long and detailed presentation such as this, and I hope not to have greatly misrepresented his opinions. It is a piece worth reading and thinking about, illustrated with some of his fine images. You can see more on his web site.


Independence Day

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

July has finally arrived for My London Diary, after some delays due to computer problems and pressure of work. I’ve already posted a couple of times about my visit to Hackney for a book launch, so the first new event in the month was SOAS Cleaners’ Independence Day at the University of London.  It was a fairly large protest for what is a relatively small institution, with a good crowd around the steps leading to the main entrance, but there wasn’t really a great deal to photograph, simply a crowd with various speakers, banners and placards.

The cleaners at SOAS get support from the students and academic and non-academic staff, with a long-running campaign for them to be directly employed by SOAS. There seems to be a very clear conflict between the principles and ethos of SOAS as an institution and the dubious employment practices involved in outsourcing work which is vital to the running of the place.

The slogan at SOAS is ‘One Workplace – One Workforce’, and the principle is that those who work there should all be treated with dignity and respect – not cheated over sick pay, pensions and holiday pay by employing them through a contractor.

My pictures are mainly about the people taking part and their placards, and there were plenty of both to add some interest. The one above had an interesting message, but a slight difference in viewpoint presented a visually more interesting picture, but one that provided me with a dilemma. Here are the two versions of it that I produced within seconds of each other:

Right face sharp

Left face sharp

Both images were taken using an equivalent focal length of 147mm in DX mode on the D800E, and at ISO800 the exposure was 1/200 f7.1. With a long telephoto like this there was insufficient depth of field to get both faces sharp – I had to choose one or the other (though with these rather small images the difference is less obvious.) At the time I couldn’t decide which was better, so I took both. But I still can’t decide.

I could perhaps have tried increasing the ISO, giving myself a couple of stops more at ISO 3200, but even then I don’t think both could have been sharp. The image with the sharp face at left ends up probably as my choice, both because it somehow reads better from left to right going from sharp to unsharp and because the gesture with the hand makes that face more interesting. In favour of the other image, having the ‘Unison’ on the poster sharp (and more complete) is a plus.

Of course it would not be too difficult to combine the two images in Photoshop (despite a small difference in viewpoint and framing) and get both men sharp, but I think that would certainly be cheating if I did it as an afterthought. But perhaps if it was implemented in camera it would feel acceptable, but having done a quick job with a quick select, copy and paste, the result is actually less powerful without the differential focus.

Composite image to get both faces sharp – which I wouldn’t use

Focus stacking (or focus bracketing) at the moment for Nikons is so far as I’m aware limited to using specialised software with the camera tethered to a computer, and its obvious applications are for macro work. Canon DSLRs can use the cracked ‘Magic Lantern’ firmware. Getting it to work with the camera off-tripod even for relatively static subjects such as this would be tricky, and perhaps the occasions where it would be of use would not justify the effort.

You can see the rest of the pictures from the protest at SOAS Cleaners’ Independence Day.


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


Deserted Royals for Sale

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The last ships to be loaded and unloaded in London’s Royal Docks were still chalked on a board in one of the dock offices when I photographed it in the summer of 1984, although they had all left by October 1981, almost 3 years earlier.

The docks themselves were virtually deserted, though there were still a few ships tied up, some stranded there due to financial problems with their owners, and a few smaller boats apparently awaiting repair or rusting to pieces.

One or two small businesses were still operating within the dock estate, but essentially the huge area of water and dockside was deserted, and in two days of photographing inside the fences that still guarded it I saw only two people.

One was a single rower practising on the 1.4 miles of open water of the Royal Albert Dock, who I’m not sure even noticed me as I took his photograph as he sculled up and back, the second a man working for a fork-lift truck company with whom I stopped to talk, and who posed for a picture. There were a couple of security guards for the whole site – roughly a mile and a half long and a third of a mile wide – and we talked briefly as they read my letter permitting entry – but they stayed in their office by the gate.

I wrote just a few weeks ago about photographing there in Royal Docks – 1984, and won’t repeat all that again, though I see I’ve chosen some of the same pictures to illustrate this post. The image above has a certain interest for me other than in the wallpaper with its ship design and the view of the docks with the curtain blowing in the wind, from a technical viewpoint. As you are probably aware from the shadow of the curtain it was taken with the aid of flash, something rare for me at the time.

Nowadays with the Nikon this would be so simple to do that about the only thing I would have to do would be to put the SB700 flash unit into the flash shoe, turn it on and press the button. i- TTL BL balanced fill flash would sort everything out automatically, and I would see the result immediately and perhaps tweak my standard -2/3 stop setting on the flash if I felt it necessary and retake the picture.

Back then, things were different. The Olympus SLR  camera I was using had a flash sync speed of 1/60 second. It was I think taken on ISO 125 film, so the first step was to take an exposure reading through the window for the outside scene and determine the aperture that was needed.  At least by this time I had an electronic flash  (an advance that has gone unnoticed by popular journalism which still thinks that celebrities are photographed with the aid of flash bulbs) but you had to work out the aperture required for a given subject distance from the guide number.

This left me with the impossibility of using two different apertures for the same exposure. One standard way to get over this was to reduce the power of the flash by holding a handkerchief in front of it, but handkerchiefs don’t come well calibrated. And you only knew if you had got it right when the film came out of the developer.  I think this image was my first success.

Later I bought a meter that could record both flash and ambient light, and flashes too became more controllable, and using flash became very much easier and more dependable, although it was really only with my first Nikon DSLR that fill flash became a simple routine.

Silvertown By-Pass  bow-string bridge opened in 1935,  demolished 1990s

Ship’s names were written on the dockside for Lascar workers

A jacket left hanging on a peg when the workers left the docks in 1981

The Deserted Royals is now available for download as a PDF from Blurb, who seem also to insist that a print version is on sale. The PDF is £3.99 as a download, the soft-cover version is £30 and postage will add another five or six pounds.  I hope later to be able to supply it for UK customers direct from me at a lower cost.

There is a preview available on Blurb which shows around half of the 90 black and white images in the book.


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


More on Traveller Children

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

It seems a very long time ago that I wrote about the book launch of Colin O’Brien’s Traveller Children, and I’m rather surprised to find it was only 3 weeks ago. I’d just got a new lens for my Fuji X cameras, and had taken taken out the Fuji XE-1 with the Samyang 8mm f2.8 (along with the Fuji 18-55mm) to try out the Samyang.

The people close to the image edge are noticeably less distorted than with the Nikon 10.5mm

Like the 10.5mm Nikon I’ve loved to use, the Samyang is a DX format lens that gives a ‘diagonal fisheye’ view, producing an image that fills the frame with a 180 degree view across the diagonal of the image. Of course I can use the Nikon lens on the Fuji X cameras with a suitable adapter, but the Samyang is smaller, lighter and altogether more convenient to use. It also has a different – though similar – perspective,  its ‘stereographic’ projection giving less distortion of objects at the edges of the image. Like the Nikon, it also suffers from a fairly distinct degree of chromatic aberration,  which can be largely corrected in Lightroom or other software, but otherwise is optically pretty impressive.

It also, like the Nikon,  has a bulbous front element which precludes the normal use of front of the lens filters, but with a lens that cost me around £230 I’m rather less worried than with more expensive glass  It fits nicely on the Fuji XE1, and is also available for Sony E and Samsung NX mounts. It comes in both black and silver finish, so of course I choose the black.

The first – and so far only – minor disappointment is that at the back of the black finish lens barrel is a half an inch of shiny silver lens, cosmetically something of a disaster. Apart from this the build quality seems impressive for the price (actually better than many expensive lenses.)  This is a manual lens, but this isn’t really a problem. You seldom need to focus an 8mm lens, and with the shutter speed on Auto, the digital viewfinder automatically adjusts (if sometimes just a little slowly) to give a properly adjusted viewfinder image.

With the different projection, software such as my favourite Fisheye-Hemi dpn’t quite work properly, and need a little tweaking in Lightroom to get things more or less right – as in the example above. I was pretty pleased with this lens and look forward to using it more. Some of my favourite images on the Fuji-X cameras to date have been taken with the Nikon 10.5mm, and this looks to be a more convenient replacement. You don’t get any information on aperture or distance setting in the Exif data, but the scales on the lens are very clear and seem accurate.

What I didn’t say in the previous piece was that all of the images at the book launch, including the exterior images such as these were taken at ISO 6400, a full stop faster than I usually like to work, even with the Nikon D800E. I’d set the camera at this speed inside the gallery space, where the light was rather dim, and simply forgot to alter it when I came outside.

I can’t pretend the quality is the same as it would have been at say ISO 400, but it is surprisingly good and usable for many purposes. Of course it isn’t just the camera, but also the noise reduction from Lightroom. Here’s a 1:1 crop from a part of the image without any noise reduction:

and here is the more or less the same area of the image, again 1:1, after some fairly aggressive noise reduction and a little sharpening:

I probably haven’t got the settings at the optimum, but the difference is clear, with virtually all the colour noise (and some colour) removed, along with much of the luminance noice.  Very little actual detail seems to have been lost, and although at full size it seems a little low in contrast and lacking in  colour, it works pretty well at web scale, and also for reasonable size prints. And the contrast and saturation could easily be increased if necessary.

The result of the high levels of noise removal can be seen in the upper images, in particular the second image down, where the foreground figures somehow seem too smooth and lacking in detail.  But digital is certainly producing results that would have been impossible with film.

CMYK Struggles

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

I’ve spent the day battling with CMYK. It’s happened before and I’ve seldom managed to get things to work properly, despite reading all the documents, following the setting up of color preferences and all the rest.

I’m finishing off my latest Blurb publication, ‘The Deserted Royals’, which definitely has no connection at all with the Windsor family and their offspring, but about the Royal Docks, which when I photographed them in 1984 were more or less a ghost town. More details – including how to order – shortly.

Before I’ve always printed using sRGB image files – which are still the only option if you use Blurb’s free Booksmart software. But now I work with Adobe’s InDesign, and Blurb say you can get better results, particularly in the shadows, with CMYK files. Although I’ve been happy with the quality of my previous books, the black and white images were at times just a little too far from neutral for my taste, usually with a slighly green or cyan tone, with variations on different print runs. I’d like them to be neutral (or perhaps even a very slightly warm neutral) and more consistent, and I’m told CMYK is the answer to that problem also. Though it might make sense to send the files as slightly warm in the first place in case they drift a little. As we found long ago with inkjet printing, black and white is much more sensitive to these things than colour. There were of course even worse problems with printing black and white chromogenic films like Ilford XP1 and XP2 on colour paper, which few processors really managed to solve consistently, though in the darkroom the solution was simple – print them on black and white paper.

Blurb have some clear instructions on how to set up a Blurb color-managed workflow and print good black and white books (and different instructions online if you use Booksmart), with a video showing even the slowest in town how to set things up in InDesign. There are instructions too on how to prepare your files in Photoshop, converting from a neutral or toned RGB file to a suitable CYMK file, and there is a great Blurb book by Franz Huempfnerwith 33 proofs of pure or toned black and white images with the Blurb ICC Profile and some other CMYK Profiles” available to view in full as a preview on Blurb. It gives full instructions on how to do it and links to some useful presets and actions for Lightroom and Photoshop.

So I try it out. I start with an sRGB file, absolutely neutral having been converted in Lightroom from the original grayscale TIFF scan. Wandering across it in Photshop with the eye-dropper confirms R=G=B at ever point.  Converting it to CMYK using the Blurb ICC profile but saving and updating the image in InDesign gave a flatter image with a slight cyan cast. I got even worse results using a custom ICC profile suggested by Huempfner and others, or some of the presets he gave a link to. I played around with it a bit, checking and double-checking I’d done everything correctly, including updating the files in InDesign.

Eventually I gave up, and started writing about my problems. I decided I needed an illustration, so tried again exactly what I’d been doing earlier. No changes, following exactly the same directions. And it seems to have worked.  Of course I’ll only know if it does give a more neutral result when I get the printed book back from Blurb in a couple of weeks.

It’s in a way possibly not that important. I’ve decided to go over to publishing in digital format in any case, assigning the ISBN for this ‘book’ to the PDF file. Two reasons, cost and quality. I can sell the PDF through Blurb at a sensible price and there are no expensive delivery costs – and I could also produce my own PDFs. Secondly, the quality of the images on a good screen is better than any printer can produce. Of course books do still have some advantages, and I’ll certainly want my own printed copy for the bookshelf. And as Huempfner points out, Wilhelm Reseach gives the HP Indigo inks used by Blurb’s printers have a dark storage life over 200 years without noticeable  fading or colour balance.

I’m still not happy about CMYK conversions, and haven’t found any of the various methods suggested by Huempfner or the presets and actions he links to give results I like the look of. Using the Blurb ICC profile without any toning is the only way I’ve managed to get results I like. Although some of the tonings look great in his book, when I tried them on my own images they seemed not to give quite the same results, mainly altering the image tone too radically for my taste.


Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Years ago when I wrote for a US-based web site as a part of my living I had to remember that for some reason Americans – or at least those who live in the US – used to let off fireworks for some occasion in July. Rather than our own good British anti-catholic bonfires and celebrations in November, though over the years we’ve mainly forgotten their origins and use the occasion to regret the fact that poor old Guy Fawkes, “the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions” failed in his plot.

But back in the US, I wasn’t surprised to find Pete Brook in Wired’s Raw File blog a few days back with a post on fireworks, Complete Idiocy Makes for Pretty Amazing Fireworks Photos, despite its unpatriotic assertion “we’re sorry to tell you that Mexico does explosions better than the United States.”

Back then I had to write ‘how to do it’ stuff as well as hunting for good examples of firework pictures on the web (they were fairly few and far between) and looking at these, I think one piece of advice purely on grounds of health and safety would be to stay away from the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, appropiately held as Brook points out “in honor of Saint John of God, the patron saint of hospitals, the sick, nurses, firefighters and alcoholics.

Fortunately you don’t need to put your life at risk, but can just look at Thomas Prior‘s pictures on Raw File.

Of course Lewes in Sussex, England does rather a good job of celebrating our Bonfire Night, though I’ve failed to find a really stunning set of images from there, though there a quite a few of some interest around on Flickr (along with far too many others) and elsewhere. There is a decent set on The Week, but although they give a reasonable impression of the event, I don’t feel they capture the atmosphere in the same way as Prior’s work.

June Complete

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

I finished putting all of my posts for June 2013 on My London Dairy a few days ago, but haven’t yet found the energy to start on July. Partly its because I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, partly it’s the heat which has been getting me down, but mainly it’s because I’ve been having an argument with Lightroom, which has been refusing to open my main image catalogue.

I’m a great fan of Lightroom, and one of many good things about it is that it is a non-destructive program, one that doesn’t alter your RAW images files at all. It isn’t really a great problem that I can’t open the catalogue, because all the image files are there, and all I have lost is Lightroom’s records of the rankings and edits I’ve made since the last backup – assuming that I can get that to load. It’s a matter of a few hours work, and in particular it means going through and re-editing around ten days of files to select and write out the files for My London Diary.

I kept meaning to start a new image catalogue, but hadn’t got around to it before, so at least the problem has made me do something I should have done ages ago.

Of course my first thought was to go on-line and look up what to do if an catalogue file gives the error message I was getting. There seemed to be a simple answer – delete the lock file, but when I checked I found I didn’t have one.  Nor were the file permissions the problem. I think Lightroom had crashed loading the file (perhaps because it was too big?) and it is corrupted. But if any Lightroom guru thinks they know the answer to my problem I’d welcome suggestions. Otherwise I’ll try to convert my old Lightroom 4 file to Lightroom 5 again.

Anyway, here is June at last, with a few things I’ve not mentioned on >Re:PHOTO. It was a pretty busy month for protests, but perhaps things will quieten down soon with politicians and students both taking a summer break.

Jun 2013

Morsi must go say Egyptian People
Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage

UAF Oppose, EDL Don’t Come
Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion

Say No To Torture
Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit
Victoria Dock and Silvertown
Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway

Teachers March for Education
Gurdwara Rebuilt After Arson
Dykes March
ENA Meet Left Opposition
Anonymous Occupy the Grass
Action Not Talk?
People’s Assembly
TUC Support for Turkish Protests

Waiting for Assange
Turks continue fight
No Intervention in Syria
‘Human Meat’ – Close Slaughterhouses
‘They Owe Us’ G8 Protest
Shaker Aamer Daily Vigil Continues
Canadian Foreign Service Protest
Harper, we don’t want your dirty oil!
G8 Protest Against Arms Dealers
Shaker Aamer Vigil Continues
J11 Carnival against Capitalism
Lobby Urges ‘Save Workers Lives’
World Naked Bike Ride
Big IF Solidarity Walk
No to G8 New Alliance on Food Security
Outrage outside G4S AGM

Brian Griffin Book Launch
London University Security Guards
For and against Gay Marriage
Save Legal Aid & British Justice
Stop Deporting Lesbians to Uganda
Bring Shaker Aamer Home Vigil
Anti-Fascists Stop BNP Wreath Laying
BNP Exploiting Woolwich Killing Stopped
Cull Politicians, Not Badgers
London Supports Turkish Spring


Egypt – the Revolution continued

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

On 30 June there were mass protests in Egypt calling for President Morsi to go, with apparently a majority of Egyptians feeling he had betrayed the trust they put in him at his election. Egyptians in London joined in, several hundred going to the embassy for a noisy protest, and you can see my report and pictures in Morsi must go say Egyptian People.

Among them were many that I recognised from the protests in support of the Egyptian revolution, but it seemed clear to me that there were now more women in Muslim dress than at these previous events. I’m sure that there are Egyptians in London who support Morsi, but at least on this afternoon they were keeping a low profile. One man did come along, together with his wife in black with a baby buggy. I first noticed him talking to the police at the embassy door, then a few minutes later he stood and shouted from the edge of the protest, holding up pictures of the pro-Morsi protests.  I took a picture from where I was with the 18-105mm, then moved through the crowd rapidly towards him. People were shouting back, and by the time I reached him police were leading him away, telling him if he wanted to protest he should do so somewhere else for his own safety.  There were two rather smaller pro-Morsi protests by different groups at the embassy the following weekend, one of which ended abruptly when it was shouted down by people from the other, but I was busy with other issues, But perhaps he came back and joined in then.

It was a densely packed crowd, but a friendly one, with people readily making space for me when I indicated I wanted to move through to take pictures, and I was able to make my way to the centre of where things were happening with little problem. Once there, the most useful lenses were the ultra-wides, both the 16mm end of the 16-35 for a rectilinear view, and the fisheye view – around 140 degrees horizontal – of the 10.5mm, which, as usual I was using as a 16Mp DX lens on the Nikon D800E.

At times the ‘native’ view of this lens, which has a circular feeling, curving the msubject more as you move away from the centre of the image I think really adds to feeling of the crowd, but normally I work with this lens on the assumption that I will correct it to a different perspective. There are various ways you can do this, either using Lightroom’s own ‘lens corrections’, Photoshop and various plugins or other software. I find it best to choose one method and stick with it, keeping in mind the changes it will make when looking through the viewfinder, and my favourite is the ‘Fish-Eye Hemi’ plugin from Image Trends.  Working with this in mind, the huge benefit is that the centre edges of the view finder show exactly what the extent of your frame will be after processing, but you have to remember that you will lose material from each of the 4 corners.

Lightroom’s built-in lens correction is generally hopeless. It defaults to ‘100’ which produces a rectilinear image, but only a smallish rectangle – perhaps a quarter of the image area – is really usable, and most of the image you saw in the viewfinder is simply lost. It actually does rather better if you crop the result from landscape to portrait, as it keeps the mid-top and mid bottom frame edges, resulting in an image in portrait format with around half the original horizontal angle of view.  Sometimes a small value – perhaps 30 – can produce an interesting result, still with a pronounced curvature and also losing 10-15% of the horizontal field of view.

There is also other software that can be used to alter the perspective, including Photoshop itself, and plugins such as Panorama Tools and PTLens, as well as software designed to ‘de-fish’ images for panoramas including PtGui. I think these probably give better conversions to rectilinear than Lightroom but at the expense of a slower workflow.  It’s probably possible to do almost anything with Panorama Tools if you devote sufficient time and effort and become a real geek.

But none of the ways of processing the fisheye images – apart from the ‘Fish-Eye Hemi’ give me something I can really work with predictably when using the camera. If anything the results it gives are more like what I actually see when looking through the camera, as somehow I am less aware of the curvature. The mind somehow corrects much of the ‘distortion’  producing a more natural impression in a rather similar way to the filter. I often mention this filter, and I don’t get paid for doing so – it’s just something that seems unique and works. Everyone with a 10.5mm should try it.

It is generally fairly obvious whether I’ve used the 10.5mm image ‘neat’ or processed in Fish-Eye Hemi in the pictures  in Morsi must go say Egyptian People, but there is a simple way to tell if you are unsure. To apply the filter I first make corrections in Lightroom (particularly for chromatic aberration and fringing which are rather obvious with this lens) including any dodging and burning etc, then export a 16 bit copy to Photoshop to apply the filter. Lightroom renames the exported image, adding the suffix ‘-Edit’ to the filename. Browsers differ slightly, but right-clicking in mine gives an option ‘View image information’ which if chosen brings up a list with the current image name highlighted.

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


Another Pride

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

There are some events I wonder each year if it is worth photographing them yet again. But I do enjoy photographing Pride, even if it isn’t like it used to be, and it’s interesting to be able to look back at my record of it over the years since I first went, I think 21 years ago. Since then I think I’ve been pretty well every year to take pictures.

I hope my view of Pride is a little different from some. Of course there are the spectacular and sometimes ridiculous costumes, and I photograph some of these, but I also try to look for the more serious aspects of the parade. There are still serious political issues around gay rights, here and abroad, and there are communities in this country where homophobia is still rife.

I’ve photographed Peter Tatchell many times, and he is certainly someone who has fought to keep the issues at the forefront in Pride, marching at or near the front of the parade with his posters.  I started photographing him with some others as they were preparing for the parade, to try and get something a little different from just a man carrying a placard, and was just getting to work with the image above when he said to me “We’re not ready yet”.  A pity because I hadn’t quite got the picture I wanted, though the one above comes close. It needed cropping to the different aspect ratio you see above.

Later I caught up with him again, posing at the front of the march for photographs, holding up the placard, and took the same rather boring picture as most of the other photographers there of him holding the Putin placard. But I wasn’t happy with it. Sometimes people are just too concerned about putting across a particular image, too much wanting to control how they are seen. It seldom makes for good pictures.

Then a couple of people came to talk to him and he relaxed a little and I found a different angle which I think works, working from low down and putting Putin at the centre with the balloons to his left and the rainbow flags and Tatchell on the right.  It took a little work in post processing to bring Putin’s face out more – it was rather weakly printed, and I’ve also burn down the head and green glasses frame on the bottom edge, and done a litle work on Tatchell’s face where the lighting was too contrasty etc.  When the parade actually started I took some more pictures of him with a crowd of other placard carrying activists from the Peter Tatchell Foundation, but it didn’t really work too well.

Several of the pictures I liked most from the parade came from the ‘Queer Friends of Bradley Manning’, helped by the strong graphics of their posters and banner.

But one of the strengths of Pride is that almost anything can happen, and there isn’t always time to get things framed exactly how I would like. So when I saw a couple of #aggresive bisexuals kissing I just had time to take two frames, and I think again it’s an image that benefits from cropping to – for me – an unusual format.

You can see the other frame of this kiss, as well as many other pictures from the day at Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage on My London Diary.


Cleaners Occupy

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Occasionally I’m invited to cover protests which have not been advertised on the web, with the details kept secret so that the organisation the protest is against  doesn’t have the chance to put extra security in place. Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion was like this, and I didn’t know in advance exactly what was intended (and I prefer to keep it that way)  but trusted the organisers to keep things peaceful and legal.  The only information I had was to be a meeting point at 1pm.

When I arrived there was nobody there, but I waited and after a while someone I recognised as one of the protesters arrived. He’d had the same information as me. We waited. He made a phone call and found that most of the protesters were waiting inside the building we were standing outside, but would come out shortly. We waited.  And waited more, when some eventually emerged in the foyer and I went in to meet them. We were still waiting, though it wasn’t clear to me what we were waiting for. But eventually the protest started, with around 30 people moving quietly around the side of a building until we got to the main courtyard on the west of Senate House, when everyone broke into a run.  I paused to take a couple of pictures of the few at the front, then ran to catch up with them as they arrived at the door.

I had no worries in following the protesters into the Senate House, but had I been asked by someone with the relevant authority to leave, I would of course have considered doing so, unless I felt (which I might well have) something was happening that there was an over-riding public interest in recording.  Fortunately it didn’t happen, and I was left to get on with my job without having to come to a decision.

I’d deliberately chosen not to use flash, partly because I didn’t want to draw particular attention to myself, but mainly because I knew that most of the time the areas involved were too large to light with my flash and I was likely to have colour balance problems with the flash and the indoor lighting.

It was a dull day outside, and I’d already turned the ISO up to 2500 for the picture of the leading protesters running towards the building, partly to make sure that I got everything sharp (1/400 f8) but also because I thought things might begin to happen as soon as we got inside and I didn’t want to miss things fiddling with the camera before taking pictures – or get everything blurred  at a low ISO. It’s always good to think ahead.

We were not challenged at all as we entered the building and made our way through the reception area into the main ‘Crush Hall’ where conference delegates were standing around finishing their lunch break. I had time to increase the ISO to 3200 before taking more pictures, as the lighting was fairly dim inside. Most of the pictures inside were taken on the D700 with the 16-35mm at around 1/80 f4. There were quite a few less than sharp images, some of which had some nice subject movement.

Lighting and exposure got a bit trickier as the protesters made their way up the stairs, with some large windows on the upper floor adding daylight to the scene, and rather confusing the auto-exposure.  Fortunately I was able to get one of the IWGB red flags  to double as a lighting ‘flag’, though the material they use is perhaps a little thinner than I would have liked.  I like the effect of the closer people and flag being blurred – both depth of field and subject movement perhaps helping here. The focus was on the people at the centre, but with the 16mm at f5 there is considerable depth of field. At 1/100th the close figures are blurred by movement, but those at the top of the stairs  are out of focus.

At the top of the stairs the protesters went along a short and rather dim corridor leading to some doors into the Vice-Chancellors offices, which they made no attempt to go through, but made a lot of noise outside.  Most of the lighting here was from a window on one side of the corridor just before the doors, and the exposures here were still around 1/100 f5 at ISO 3200. In the darker corridor  it was down to 1/30 f4.

We were inside Senate House altogether for 20 minutes, and you can see the pictures at Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion.  The protesters were pleased at having been able to protest inside without any trouble, and I was reasonably satisfied with the pictures, although I knew that there would be little interest in them from the media as it had been a peaceful protest.

Had it happened in Spain or Egypt it might just have made the BBC news (as a small protest in Spain did today, but not the larger march and rally I covered in London), but there seems to be an agreement to avoid anything that might suggest we might have some kind of social unrest arising from inequalities and extremes of wealth,  government policies against the poor, and other  serious issues lots of middle-class protesters are arrested or buildings are burnt down and things erupt on a scale that simply cannot be ignored.