Archive for August, 2013

Don’t Date a Photographer

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Having been married reasonably happily for 45 years the topic covered by 41 reasons why you shouldn’t date a photographer isn’t of great personal interest, but with a few exceptions there were rather too many of the reasons which perhaps were a little close to the knuckle. This year at least I did remember our anniversary, though I can’t now remember what we did for it – it was around a month ago after all, and I’ve been busy!

It’s one of those posts that is meant to be amusing, but perhaps has a little more to it.

July at Last

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Is finished. All posted. And I can have a rest.

Save Legal Aid

London Views
Against Global Racism and Injustice
Free Bradley Manning Vigil
Rev Billy at HSBC
New Bridge to Walton
Tamils Protest Sri Lankan Killings

Another Dangleway Ride
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Whitecross Street Party
UK Uncut HSBC Food Banks

Fire Service March Against Cuts
London University Cleaners Protest
Trayvon’s Killer Acquitted

Swan Upping
Bring Talha Home
Abolish Bedroom Tax
Punish the Deed, Not the Breed
M&S Told Stop Workfare

Cypriots Demand details of 1974 Killings
Against Undercover Police in Protests

Divided Families Day
Brixton Protests Gentrification & Evictions
International Brigade Commemoration
NHS 65: Rally & Camarathon
NHS 65: Lewisham Hospital
DLR Views
SOAS Cleaners’ Independence Day

Traveller Children Book Launch


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


Legal Portraits

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

England (and presumably Wales) is in danger of losing a proper legal aid system, with the government intent of getting rid of all the specialist lawyers and bringing in a US-style system where those who can afford a decent lawyer get cut price representation, often by young and incompetent lawyers, some of whom don’t care whether their clients are convicted or not, working for companies like Eddie Stobart and Tesco.

The whole legal profession seems up in arms about the proposals, except for a few government stooges  who get rolled out onto the media to defend the proposed changes, though they seldom have much to say other than the usual nonsense that we need to cut costs – and to blame all our problems on the previous Labour government.

I spent most of my time at the event taking portraits of the speakers and of people in the crowd. Most of them were made with the 70-300mm, and for some I could only get a clear view from a little further than was ideal. but there were still quite a few I liked.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour shadow minister, spoke forcefully, but there was just one short moment where it really showed in his expression, and I was pleased to have caught it.

I was pleased too with this picture of Anne Hall speaking about how legal aid saved the life of her invalid son Daniel Roque Hall, which again I felt showed some of her fighting spirit – which was also vital in saving her son.

Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty is perhaps easier to photograph than most, though there was one image in which I think I caught a little more of her alertness. And I was pleased too that Zita Holbourne was speaking – I think this was the third event I’ve photographed her at in the last couple of weeks.

But perhaps my favourite image was of a woman who wasn’t speaking but standing in the crowd, and who has good reason to value the legal aid system.

Of course I didn’t just photograph portraits – you can see my coverage of the whole event at Save Legal Aid in 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


No Justice, No Peace

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

The march and rally against Global Racism and Injustice was organised by BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others to highlight the reality of racism and seek justice, both in the UK and US, and was timed for the anniversary of the shooting of Martin. A few days before it took place we were appalled to hear that his murderer, George Zimmerman, had been acquitted. In Florida, a white man only has to say he felt threatened to get a licence to kill, though it seems unlikely that anyone black would be treated in the same way.

But the protest wasn’t just about a case in the USA. It was also very strongly about the lack of justice felt by many black people in the UK, particularly over the actions of the police, who seem to be able to kill people with impunity, whether in custody like Sean Rigg in Brixton police station, or on the street like Mark Duggan or in a tube station like Jean Charles de Menezes. Of course it isn’t just black people who are killed but they are picked on disproportionately. And police have had to admit their failures over the investigation of the killing by racist youths of Stephen Lawrence.

For once the wind was being reasonably cooperative in blowing out the flag on the embassy roof as Zita Holbourne, one of the co-founders of BARAC, was speaking. Usually it either hangs limp or gets wrapped around the flag pole.

The other co-founder and co-chair of BARAC, Lee Jasper was leading the protest. As you can see, looking at the pictures in Against Global Racism and Injustice I found it hard to really find anything to photograph at this event – a few pictures of those taking part, the odd placard or poster. Perhaps the best of these was one held by the woman at the right of picture below, which say ‘Skin Colour should not be a Death Sentence’, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the picture.

By the time I took it, the protest march was close to Green Park station and I was getting too tired to continue (it was my third event of the day) and I left the march and went home to write my stories, edit my pictures and file them.  Perhaps I should have stuck at it longer.

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


Not in Notting Hill

Monday, August 26th, 2013


This August Bank Holiday will I think be almost the first that I’ve not been in Notting Hill since I first went there in 1990.


Of course, I’ve also photographed carnival in colour, as well as in black and white and you can see much of my work on My London Diary.

Children’s Day in 2006

Last year I only made it on the Sunday, Childrens’ Day, which isn’t quite so busy, and in 2005, when I was suffering from intense knee pain I set out, dragging myself towards the station to take the train to carnival, but almost passed out as I tried to climb over the footbridge to get to the up platform and had to abandon my plan and crawl home.


A few years ago I had a little exhibition of black and white pictures from the first 10 or so years I went to Notting Hill as a part of a show on carnivals by four photographers, myself and Paul Baldesare, Dave Trainer and Bob Watkins, which you can see online. Mine are the only pictures from Notting Hill.

A little bit of carnival history in 2003

You can see more pictures on My London Diary from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011. and 2012. I was there in 2009, but haven’t yet got around to putting the pictures on the web!


All Saints Road, 2012

So, if like me, you can’t get to dance down Ladbroke Grove this year, you might like to sit down in front of your computer with a bottle of rum or a few cans of Red Stripe, put on some loud reggae and enjoy looking through some of the pictures.


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


Rev Billy

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

If you don’t know the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, you are missing out. I first met him at Downing St on his 2009 UK Shopocalypse Tour, and later in the day he joined in the Demonstration against Police Violence.

Rev Billy conducting the BP Exorcism

But more incredible still was Rev Billy’s Tate BP Exorcism in July 2011, and as well as my pictures there is a fine video on Vimeo, by You and I Films.

I was keen to meet him again and to photograph his performance on climate change at the Victoria (or Belgravia as they call it) Branch of the bank which is one of the main funders backing climate change – as well as a major tax dodger through its huge use of offshore tax havens – Rev Billy at HSBC.

Golden Toads and a gorilla leaving HSBC

Rev Billy was rather less prominent in this action, with the jaguars, eagles and monkeys taking the leading roles, dancing around the branch in their various styles until dying from the effects of climate change, and then being rescued by the Golden Toads (a species already made extinct by the effect on their habitat of global warming.)

Eagles, monkeys and jaguars dance around HSBC, while a customer ignores them to get cash

Of course the Rev was there, preaching with a megaphone, explaining what was happening and why, and calling on HSBC to repent and cease its sinful practices.

Rev Billy preaching in HSBC

Photographically there were few problems, except on first entering the bank where we all had to try and be inconspicuous. The last thing I wanted was for one of the bank staff to tell me I couldn’t photograph in the bank (where cameras are normally not allowed to be used) though I would have almost certainly have decided I had a public interest defence to ignore such as request.  But it was important not to interfere or prejudice the performance (and it was conducted as a performance rather than protest.) Fortunately the bank had very large glass windows and light levels were fairly high, though had I been thinking more sensibly I would have increased the ISO setting on my cameras, as when the dancing started some of the images were blurred in the wrong places. Blur can sometimes be creative and useful – as in the top picture, where I think I’ve deliberately zoomed the lens during exposure, but usually it just makes images unusable.

You can see the whole thing from the planning and rehearsing before hand to the finale outside the bank on Rev Billy at HSBC.


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


Google Glass – Future of Street Photography?

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

We’ve all heard of Google Glass, and probably seen features which comment on these devices, but on Time Lightbox, Richard Koci Hernandez talks about his experience of actually using this wearable camera.

He says: “It is jaw-dropping as a photographer to walk out with a wearable camera that’s almost physically and literally attached to your eye. Believe it or not, it’s just like wearing a pair of sunglasses, and it’s a lot less intimidating for subjects. Nobody has objected. Every now and then I’ll hear somebody whisper, ‘Oh, he’s got Google Glass.’ But nobody has stopped me or said ‘don’t do that.’”

Of course there are other glasses with cameras, though the image size and quality is generally low and a quick search on eBay or elsewhere will soon find slightly less obvious ‘spy camera glasses‘ than Google Glass for a relatively modest price, giving – according to the ads – high quality 1280 x 720 pixels video or 5Mp images. Of course you can’t talk to them and have to kind of scratch your ear to take a picture.

Google Glass is more than a camera as a TechRadar feature makes clear. But as a camera system its specifications are modest, 5Mp and 720p – just like the cheaper ‘spy’ glasses. So if you want to try this kind of thing out, you can probably do so now on the cheap.

Capa and Leica

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Thanks to dvaphoto for pointing out the great advert for the launch of the Leica Monochrom-M at the at the Sao Paulo Leica store, which is based on vignettes of the life of Robert Capa and some of his best-known images.

If you are not familiar with his work, it might be worth looking at a set of his pictures on Magnum before you view the video, and reading the profile on that page.

Capa really isn’t a great advert for Leica, although it’s true that his career started with a Leica II put in his hands by Simon Guttman who sent him to photograph Trotsky speaking in Denmark in 1932. But Capa fairly soon abandoned Leica for Contax (and sometimes Rolleiflex.)  I don’t think he used a Leica after he came back from Spain. All of his well-known World War II pictures were taken on a Contax II. When he died in Indochina he was using a Contax IIa and a Nikon S rangefinder.

Who knows what he would have thought of the M Monochrom, though it’s certainly a camera capable of fine black and white results. But were he still alive and working today – at the age of 100 – I rather doubt if he would be using Leica!

Lens Culture ‘New Blog’

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I’m not quite sure how Jim Casper‘s “new LensCulture blog!” differs from the old one that has been so interesting and perceptive over the last ten years.  I rather hope the changes are not too great, since I’ve enjoyed and learnt from it greatly. Here’s what the opening post says:

Now in our 10th year, we’re expanding our scope and vision at LensCulture!

We hope to delight you, often, with inspiring posts about how people are using contemporary photography around the world — in art, media, politics, commerce, propaganda and popular culture. Join us, and participate in our bold new vision to connect photographers and photography lovers via one great, dynamic platform.

Cheers, and please let us know what you think.”

Lens Culture has been a valuable resource for those interested in photography. Recent posts include Rene Burri talking about his career and talking about six of his best-known photographs and currently on the ‘newest’ page of the site you can see work by the “21 New & Emerging Photographers from Lens Culture“, most of whom are worth a look. Of course Lens Culture is not the only place where you can see such lists, but I think perhaps the most interesting, and with more truly ‘new’ photographers than some.

Of course I don’t find everything on the site of interest – it sets out to cover the whole of contemporary photography, even those parts I find rather trivial and boring!  But it’s great to have sites like this. When I started writing on the web around fifteen years ago, there was relatively little photography on the web, and what there was was largely amateur illustration or commercial advertising. Things have changed dramatically since then.

Fuji on the Italian Job

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I think it was possibly in 1992 that I first photographed the procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which takes place every year in Clerkenwell. Since then I’ve been back most years, though sometimes more to drink the red wine and enjoy the atmosphere rather than to take pictures. Over the years the actual procession has got a little more organised and become harder to photograph, and certainly harder to find things that interest me.

Slow focus on the X-Pro1 made this moment hard to catch

It was a warm day, very hot in the sun and I decided not to take my usual heavy Nikon kit, but to try out the Fuji X system I’m beginning to build up. At the moment this is a little limited. I do have two bodies – an X-Pro1 and an X-E1, but the only actual Fuji lens is the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom.

Focus isn’t a problem with the Voigtlander 15mm, but lighting was, with the faces needing rescue from deep shadow

Of course there are adapters to fit most other lens mounts to the Fujis, and probably the most useful of these is the Leica M adapter. For events like this I like a wide angle lens, and the 18mm of the zoom often isn’t wide enough, so I had the 15mm Voigtlander on the X-E1, where it does a very good job. Mine is an old Leica screw version, but with a cheap (from eBay) M adapter and is ridiculously  small and light. While it may not greatly impress the Leicaphile test chart fanatics, for all normal photographic purposes it is fine, with low distortion, little chromatic aberration and at least when stopped down a little (even from full aperture f4.5 to f5.6), good sharpness across the frame – it was after all designed for full frame 35mm.  Even after I’ve dropped it a few times and severely dented the built in ‘lens hood’.  The electronic viewfinder of the X-E1 is fine for the Voigtlander too.

Fuji do have an excellent 14mm f2.8, but it isn’t cheap, and is significantly larger than the Voigtlander. If I really get to love the Fuji system I’ll probably buy one, but at the moment I’m still slightly unconvinced. I think my main reason for getting the X lens would be for the EXIF data, though very occasionally autofocus might be useful. It will be interesting to see how it compares with the promised XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS for both size and quality too.

For most photography with ultra-wides it makes sense to turn off AF, set the distance to 2m and leave it there. Even at f5.6 things will be sharp from 1 meter more or less to infinity. It beats even the fastest of autofocus systems.

Autofocus on the X-Pro with the 17-55mm was occasionally slow enough to miss the moment, but generally did well. Still the most annoying feature of both cameras is their hibernation if you’ve not made an exposure for a few minutes.  Generally the fastest way to prompt them back into the land of the living seems to be the turn them off and then on again. It’s a real pain and such a difference from using a Nikon, where whatever state the camera is in, so long as it is turned on it reacts instantly to a finger pressing the release.

Probably the best of a series of rather confused images, with 5 doves in frame, 2 hard to see

The only time I really needed a wider range zoom at the telephoto end was during the release of doves at the start of the procession, when I would have liked to have been able to zoom in on one of the children holding the doves, since it wasn’t possible to move closer in front of the line of photographers waiting for the release. For the actual release I used the X-Pro set on continuous shooting mode – nominally 6 frames per second, and got a number of images.

None of them was particularly interesting, with some children releasing their dove rather slower than others, and the doves not getting into an interesting formation. There is an awful lot of luck involved in such situations and this year I wasn’t getting a great deal.

And yes, I should probably have crouched down to get them against a clearer background. You can see most of the others from the sequence, as well as more pictures from the Sagra and procession in Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Overall I think the Fujis came out quite well, particularly the X-E1 with the 15mm. But the Nikon D800E with the 18-105mm would have been rather better than the X-Pro1 and 15-55mm, though of course around twice as big and much heavier.


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