Archive for December, 2013

Walking Backwards for Tibet

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Tibetans walk backwards in front or Parliament in human rights protest

I spend quite a lot of my time covering protests walking backwards, and have the bruises and scars to prove it from various encounters with curbs, vehicles, lamp posts and other street furniture. Fortunately none of these occasions has been seriously damaging, other than to my dignity, long since a lost cause.

Human rights for Tibetans in Tibet also seems increasingly to be a lost cause, as Western nations eager for business with China put their own national interests in profit above higher concerns. Of course its always been so, and we even once went to war with China to force it to allow our drug traders to operate.

So while the west has made noises about human rights violations by China since the invasion of Tibet in 1959, these noises have been getting softer and softer over recent years and are now a mere formality, while China has ramped up its efforts to completely eradicate Tibetan culture, committing atrocities against the Tibetan people – with over 1.2 million deaths. In recent years around 130 desperate Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest, and the Chinese response has been to arrest and torture family members, charging them with abetting self-immolation.

They started to protest in Parliament Square but were soon told to leave by the GLC’s ‘heritage wardens’

Human rights are indeed going backwards in Tibet, and Tibetans decided to march backwards in London past the Houses of Parliament to Downing St to highlight what is happening there and as a direct response to China becoming a member of the UN Human Rights Council, despite its own terrible human rights record and its record of support for human rights violations by other countries.

Blue, white, red, yellow and a little green in the flags – and one man wears a Union flag as well

Protests by Tibetans are always colourful, with so many of them wearing or carrying the brightly coloured Tibetan flag – something that would rapidly lead to arrest and torture in Tibet. At times the colours tend to dominate the pictures and I sometimes find it overpowering. Visually you can have too much of a good thing.

They are walking backwards but it isn’t very obvious.

It was also a slight problem to convey the fact that people were walking backwards in a still image. People walking backwards do look rather similar to people walking forwards, and it’s something that makes far more impact in a moving image than a still. There is something about the postures in the images from a distance, but working close, I don’t think it is possible to tell.

Walking backwards in Whitehall – but impossible to tell.

However it was a welcome change to be able to walk forward while taking the photographs!
More about the protest at Tibetans Walk Backwards for Human Rights.

Cops Off Campus & more

Monday, December 30th, 2013

I’d been busy with other things in the first week of December and had missed covering the student occupation of the Senate House at London University, only hearing about it too late to easily change my plans. Living twenty miles from the centre of London also makes me rather less able to react at short notice than those living closer. So I didn’t witness the scenes of police brutality during the eviction around 8.30pm on Wednesday Dec 4th, though I did see some images of rough treatment taken by others, mainly by students who were either taking part or reporting on the occupation.

The following day I had arranged a meeting in the afternoon, and wanted to keep it, so although I covered two events earlier in the day, I missed the emergency protest at the university when the police again assaulted protesters. It wasn’t until the following afternoon – Friday – that I caught up with the what was happening at the University of London.

I was particularly sorry to have missed things earlier in the week, as the occupation had arisen out the student support for the low-paid workers on the campus, which is an ongoing story I have been covering for quite a while. But one person can’t be everywhere, and I also have to take things a little easier these days than when I was younger.

But before going to the university that Friday there were other events to cover in a very busy day for me.  Late the pervious night I’d heard the news of Mandela’s death, and as an active member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement since the early 1960s (and still a member of its successor) I wanted to report on this, and started my day at the Mandela statue in Parliament Square. I took a few pictures of the flowers and other tributes and those coming to pay their respects before going on the the next event on my schedule – and returned to later in the day both there and to the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square. You can see a few pictures in Tributes to Mandela.

The next event in my diary was very different, with EDL supporters at Downing St in support of Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, who was due to be sentenced having been found guilty of the cold-blooded killing of a prisoner of war. The EDL were calling for him to be freed arguing that he acted under extreme pressure and that his victim was not a prisoner of war but terrorist. There didn’t seem to be much happening – as you can see in EDL Protest Supports Marine A, and having talked to a few people I left to go to another event that seemed to promise more interest.

Another cause I’ve long had an interest in is the many unexplained deaths that occur in custody – in police stations, prison cells and closed mental wards. It’s difficult to be precise about numbers as what official statistics there are have been defined in a way that omits many cases.

Few of these deaths have been investigated in a timely or even professional manner, with the proper questions seldom being asked and at times with those officers involved refusing to cooperate with investigations. The official response has often been to knowingly issue misleading statements and to waste time before a flawed investigation by the IPCC following which the Crown Prosecution Service gives their standard response ‘not enough evidence to prosecute’. Since 1990 there have been 1433 deaths in custody, many under highly suspicious circumstances and there has been not a single successful prosecution.

The protest outside the CPS Offices at Rose Court came as an inquest jury was hearing evidence over the killing by police of Mark Duggan. The evidence given by police officers to the court appears to contradict that of other witnesses and of other evidence. The jury have yet to reach a verdict.

Marcia Rigg starts her speech at the Crown Prosecution Service with a tribute to Mandela

But among the speakers was Marcia Rigg, the sister of Sean Rigg, killed in Brixton Police Station in August 2008. The IPCC investigation took 18 months to decide the police had acted “reasonably and proportionately“. Almost four years after his death, following a considerable campaign by his family, the inquest was held and concluded that police used “unsuitable and unnecessary force” that “more than minimally” contributed to his death, highlighting the failures of the IPCC; a later independent external review found that they had failed to secure the crime scene, failed to prevent officers involved conferring and to ensure that all gave statements, had waited six months before interviewing them, had not examined the CCTV along with many other failures.

There is unfortunately little reason to assume that the treatment of Sean Rigg’s death was very different to that of many of the others who died in police custody; what made his case different was the strength and tenacity of the family in their continuing campaign to get to the truth. It still remains to be seen whether justice will be done. More pictures in Bereaved protest at CPS Failures.

I was sorry to have to leave this event before all of the speeches – there were others there who are still campaigning over the cases of their friends and relatives who have died. I was even sorrier when I arrived to find nothing happening – I found when I got home that evening it had been cancelled an hour or so earlier. One day I’ll have to move into the 21st century and get a phone that can keep me in touch while I’m away from home – my current antique mobile merely makes phone calls and just occasionally deigns to receive texts.

‘We Are Peaceful – Why Aren’t You #CopsOffCampus’ asks one of the placards, and it was a good question

It did mean that I was early for the next of the student protests, waiting outside the University of London Union in Malet St as people arrived for an emergency protest over the police actions on the previous two days. I’d had a few minutes to walk around the area and had seen police vans parked down many of the nearby streets, and there was one just a short distance from the ULU, as well as a number of blue-bibbed police liaison officers mingling with the crowd.

The liaison officers would have heard along with the rest of us that the organisers who spoke before the protest moved off intended to peacefully march around the streets and visit different parts of the university as a protest against police violence and the university management calling police on to the campus and also taking out an injunction against occupational protest. They made clear that they did not want there to be any violence and that they had no intention to occupy any part of the university in breach of the injunction.

It appears to have been a message that fell completely on deaf ears so far as the police were concerned. As the march approached the bottom of Malet St police appeared and formed a line across both ends of the street and the only side road. Students who tried to walk between the police in the line were ordered to stop and thrown roughly backwards.

It seemed clear that the police had intended to contain the students on Malet St, but had apparently failed to realise that there are several entrances onto the campus on the east side of the street. The students went through the main one and crossed the campus to Russell Square, where there were no police. They then went north and then west, passing the top of Malet St. I’d expected to see the police who had previously been there trying to stop them, but they had apparently followed the students rather than wait to stop them.

A group of around twenty police ran up behind as the back of the protest turned into Gower St, and obviously did not know what to do. Most of the protest had already passed and there were too few to make an effective cordon across the wide street. The students went on to briefly enter the courtyard of University College before heading down University St and then back down Huntley St towards their starting point.

By this time there seemed to be police vans going in several different directions and creating some chaos in the late afternoon traffic while having zero effect on the student protesters. It seemed to be a total waste of public money and a totally ineffectual over-reaction to a peaceful protest, which had caused far more disruption to Bloomsbury than the protest itself.

I left the students as they walked down into Torrington Square towards SOAS. I’d had enough of walking and had been on my feet for far too long and it was time to go home.

2013 Review – Part 6: September-December

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

The final instalment of my review of my own work – around 120,000 exposures – from 2013, these are some of my personal favourites from the year from my landscape format images which form the bulk of my work. The captions link to the stories from which the pictures come – and in a few cases there are two pictures from the same event.


DPAC at BBC – Tell The Truth

Love Russia, Hate Homophobia

DPAC take Pants to IDS

EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets

Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament

Aurora tells Shell – Stop Arctic Drilling

National Gallery Human Chain over Arts Cuts

Hizb ut-Tahrir Women March for Syria

Druids Celebrate Autumn Equinox

10,000 Cuts – Deaths After Atos Tests

Sudanese Call for Regime Change


UK Uncut Road Block for Legal Aid

Scrap Royal London NHS PFI Debt

Police & Developers Evict Soho Working Girls

Letting Agencies Illegal Colour Bar

Teachers March against Government Plans

Stop Shipping Tear Gas to Bahrain

Don’t Be Blind to DR Congo Murders

Vigil at Work Assessments Appeal

Movement Against Xenophobia

Chinatown Says ‘No Entry UKBA’

Climate Deniers told ‘Frack Off’

Southall Black Sisters Protest Racist UKBA

3 Cosas Defy London Uni Protest Ban

Cleaners Invade John Lewis Oxford Street

United Families & Friends Remember Killed

Russia, Free Greenpeace Arctic 30



Free Kieron & Arctic 30

Anonymous March on Parliament

Bonfire of Austerity Blocks Westminster Bridge

Free Shaker Aamer March in Battersea

End Drone Attacks in Pakistan

4:1 legal minimum NHS staffing

Cultural Workers against Zero Hours

Islamists Protest Angolas Ban on Muslims

Cyclists ‘Die in’ at TfL HQ


PMOI continue Hunger Strike

‘Cops Off Campus’ Protest Police Brutality

Bereaved protest at CPS Failures

Human Rights Day Candlelit Vigil for Syria

Cops Off Campus National Student Protest

Against PayDay Loans and Austerity

Reinstate Colombian Mayor Petro

Of course there are a few more days of December left, so perhaps I may take some more images that deserve to be included, though I have been trying to have a rest after a rather busy year.


2013 Review – Part 5: July-August

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Continuing my review of my own work – around 120,000 exposures – from 2013, these are some of my personal favourites from the year from my landscape format images which form the bulk of my work. The captions link to the stories from which the pictures come – and in a few cases there are two pictures from the same event.

On Hiroshima Day I had a final opportunity to photograph Hetty Bower who spoke briefly at the event. She died in November, aged 108.  I was away for two weeks of the month, including a week in Edinburgh, where I took some time off from the festival to photograph the Scottish Defence League and the protest against them.


SOAS Cleaners’ Independence Day

Divided Families Day

Against Undercover Police in Protests

Swan Upping

London University Cleaners Protest

UK Uncut HSBC Food Banks

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Rev Billy at HSBC

Save Legal Aid


Victory Celebration at Vedanta AGM

Al Quds Day March

End Zero Hours Contracts – Sports Direct

Cleaners in John Lewis Westfield

Stop MI6 Lies About Shaker Aamer

Hiroshima Day

Against Live Animal Exports

Putin, ‘Hands Off Queers!’

SDL and UAF in Edinburgh

Obama Don’t Attack Syria

Counihans Celebrate Anniversary


2013 Review – Part 4: May-June

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Continuing my review of my own work – around 120,000 exposures – from 2013, these are some of my personal favourites from the year from my landscape format images which form the bulk of my work. The captions link to the stories from which the pictures come – and in a few cases there are two pictures from the same event.


Cleaners at Clifford Chance

London’s 101st May Queen

Boishakhi Mela Procession

End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

London Marches to Defend NHS

Bring Shaker Home

Daddy’s Pig heads for the Trough

Lawyers Funeral for Legal Aid

Muslims march for Lee Rigby


London Supports Turkish Spring

Anti-Fascists Stop BNP Wreath Laying

Cull Politicians, Not Badgers

Save Legal Aid & British Justice

For and against Gay Marriage

London University Security Guards

Outrage outside G4S AGM

J11 Carnival against Capitalism

‘They Owe Us’ G8 Protest

Turks continue fight

Waiting for Assange

TUC Support for Turkish Protests

Dykes March

Gurdwara Rebuilt After Arson

Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion

UAF Oppose, EDL Don’t Come

Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage

Morsi must go say Egyptian People

2013 Review – Part 3: January-April

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

I’ve scheduled this post to appear on Christmas morning, though Christmas day is the day in the year I’m least likely to turn a computer on. And any pictures I take are probably going to be family pictures that won’t appear on-line. Christmas Greetings to all readers of >Re:PHOTO. I hope you have a good day. And wouldn’t it be great if there were fewer things next year that we need to protest about. 

Continuing my review of my work – around 120,000 exposures – from 2013, these are some of my personal favourites from the year from my landscape format images which form the bulk of my work. The captions link to the stories from which the pictures come – and in a few cases there are two pictures from the same event.  One of the two pictures from the march to save Whittington Hospital is of the remarkable Hetty Bower, then 107, who died aged 108 in November.


Pussy Riot London Solidarity Demonstration

Anti-fascist Solidarity Against Golden Dawn

Save Lewisham Hospital


Waltham Forest Milad-Un-Nabi Procession

Friern Barnet Library Victory Celebration

Poulters Pancake Race

Shaker Aamer – 11 Years in Guantanamo

Thames Path Greenwich Partly Open

Reclaim Love Valentines Party

Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock

Hillingdon Marches Against Cuts


Fukushima 2nd Anniversary

Jackie Nanyonjo Murdered by UKBA

Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts

Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom

Budget Day Protest against Cuts & Austerity

Barnet Spring – Save Local Democracy

Barnet Spring – Save Local Democracy


Who wants to evict a Millionaire?

Outlaw Caste Discrimination

Stand Off at Venezuelan Embassy

Gurkhas Call for equal treatment

March of the Beekeepers

To be continued….


2013 Review – Part 2: Portrait Format

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Portrait format images get rather a raw deal in this age of looking at images on screens, even though most on the web are used at sizes that fit perfectly adequately upright. When I upload a set of pictures to Demotix, the lead image is always supposed to be in landscape format, and as on many other sites, portrait format images are displayed at a smaller size, to fit in the same vertical measurement. And the design of the monthly index pages of my own ‘My London Diary’ only really works for horizontal images.

The same happens of course in projections and other digital ‘slideshows’ though here on >Re:PHOTO  they get treated rather better, as on this site it is the width that is restricted – to around 450 pixels. So landscape images appear in the posts as 450x300px, while portrait format displays at 400x600px. In fact the landscape images are present at 600x400px, and can be seen at that size by right clicking and selecting ‘View Image’.

When I first came into photography in the 1970s, the books still gave the advice to ‘miniature camera users’ (a not too subtle put-down to those working with 35mm) to take both landscape and portrait versions of your pictures to submit to magazine publishers. Those working with medium format 6×6 cameras were told to photograph so that the square images could be cropped to either landscape or portrait. Of course I took no notice of such nonsense, always working to the frame. If it was good enough for Cartier-Bresson it was fine with me too! Though I was rather less successful than him both in taking pictures and in persuading editors they shouldn’t crop.

One of the ‘signs’ of a professional photographer apparently used by those security guards who are out to harass professional photography is that they take some pictures with the camera on its side! There are some subjects that fit the frame one way and others that work the other way (it’s seldom a good idea if you are taking video.) . Just occasionally I can see how to work with the same subject both ways, but they are often very different pictures.

Often ones that fit the vertical frame are ‘portraits’ of single individuals but there are other things too. It’s perhaps not a good idea to typecast it as portrait format, though that’s how I still think of it. Though I think most portraits I see in the annual shows at the National Portrait Gallery are landscape format, whether in the photography or painting shows. Not that I’m a great fan of either of these. Looking at some of the paintings I often find myself thinking a half-decent photograph would have done the job better. Then I go and look at the photography show and think exactly the same.

Anyway, here are some of my favourites from my pictures from 2013, and no, they are not all great portraits! The captions below link to the stories they come from on My London Diary.

Reclaim Love Valentines Party

Million Women Rise

PCS Strikers Boo Budget

St Patrick’s Parade Brent

Bring SOAS Cleaners In-house

Independent Midwives Need Insurance

March of the Beekeepers

Lawyers Funeral for Legal Aid

Anti-Fascists Stop BNP Wreath Laying

Save Legal Aid & British Justice

Shaker Aamer Daily Vigil Continues

Turks continue fight

TUC Support for Turkish Protests

Brixton Protests Gentrification & Evictions

Save Legal Aid

Abolish Bedroom Tax

Abolish Bedroom Tax

London University Cleaners Protest

Love Russia, Hate Homophobia

Malta Day Procession

Save Whipps Cross Hospital

Sudanese Call for Regime Change

Don’t Gag Free Speech

Letting Agencies Illegal Colour Bar

End Drone Attacks in Pakistan

Tibetans Walk Backwards for Human Rights

Tomorrow I’ll start posting some of my favourite landscape format images.


2013 Review – Part 1: Pans

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

I’ve just spent a couple of days looking back at my own work over the year, never an entirely satisfying practice. Its always too easy to see where I’ve been thinking lazily, and I don’t think 2012 has been a vintage year for my work. A lot of decent pictures that I can think I did a pretty good job with, but rather few that really make me sit up and think I’ve managed something different.

Financially it hasn’t been too great either. I keep hoping that Demotix is going to learn how to sell photography, but it has yet to happen, if anything they are getting better at giving it away for peanuts. In cash terms I’d probably do better putting my pictures almost anywhere else, except perhaps in boxes under the bed. But I like being able to publish a decent set of pictures along with a story and the alternatives I’ve looked at – other than my own website, My London Diary, don’t work like that.

One very satisfying thing in 2013 was to have a set of ten of my panoramas included in the exhibition Estuary celebrating 10 years of the Museum of London Docklands from May to the end of September. But these were all works from around ten years ago, and this year I’ve made relatively few panoramic images. But its perhaps a good excuse to start with a selection of those I have made.

I started well, on New Years Day, retaking a panorama from the same spot in Northfleet where I’ve photographed several times in the past, making images of the huge cement works. Now all of that is gone and in its place largely mud:

The following month I was by the Thames again, walking along the riverside path north of Greenwich:

[You should be able to see these panoramas larger by right clicking on them and selecting ‘View Image’]

The images in ‘Estuary’ were all made on film and had a horizontal angle of view of around 120 degrees. Now I’m almost entirely working by stitching digital images, and there are no limits – this is I think around 240 degrees. It also has a great vertical angle of view than those I made on film. I prefer to keep the aspect ratio of the image similar to those I made with film at around 2.5 : 1, as I think anything much higher than this becomes difficult to view.

In June I spent some of a long summer day in Docklands again, and made several panoramas around the Royal Victoria Dock.

This shows at left the Excel Centre and at right the view across the high level bridge which I was standing on to make the image.  Although the two appear almost parallel in the picture they are roughly perpendicular, and the entire horizontal angle of view in the image is a little over 180 degrees.  I’m not sure that I like the way that extreme angles of view like this can distort our perceptions.

Its also possible to produce stitched images that are not in panoramic format but still have a very wide angle of view. The next image, made in the same place as that above, has a similar horizontal angle to the panoramas I made on film, but over twice the vertical coverage, resulting in an almost square format. The upper image has a horizontal angle of view of around 180 degrees and that below around 130 degrees. When I create the panoramas I put the angle of view in degrees and the type of projection into the file name, which for the lower image ends “ved137”; however I often crop the final images a little, so the actual angle of view may be less than the stated figure. The Vedutismo or Panini projection was used by eighteenth century Italian painters including Panini and Canaletto and is particularly suited to this image because it keeps all diagonals through the centre of the image straight.  You can see in the upper image that the rough stitch I’ve made doesn’t quite succeed in the cable at right of centre.

From there I took the DLR from West Silvertown to Stratford and revisited the View Tube on the Greenway overlooking the Olympic site. I first photographed from here in the 1980s and made panoramas from close to this point before the Olympic bid was even announced, and have been going back at intervals since – except when the whole area was closed to the public.

The Olympic site seen in an almost 180 degree view from the furthest corned of the View Tube garden. This uses a cylindrical perspective like the swing lens film cameras I have, but with a greater angle of view both horizontal and vertical.

The view looking over the other side of the Greenway, with a similar horizontal angle of view to the film panoramas I worked with for around 25 years.

The final one I made, before hurrying off to photograph an evening protest shows the View Tube and the Olympic site in a slightly less than 180 degree view.

The following month I had a few minutes to spare when in the City of London, and made an attempt to retake an view I’d photographed before on film, but wasn’t entirely happy with the result below. I could never quite get the colour correct when printing the film version, and while this is truer, it seems a little cold and clinical.  It also shows my tendency to go too wide with digital panoramas

That’s a helicopter in front of the cloud, not a nasty dust spot. I think the image benefits from a crop to something more similar to the version I made with a swing lens camera in the 1990s, like this:

And I’ve made just a slight shift in colour too, which looks better on my screen.

In September I made a few more panoramas, both on a visit to Thames Barrier Park on another day with a fine sky (empty blue or grey can kill a scene when many have wide expanses)

and later in the month on a rather grey day, to the Harrow Road flyover near Paddington.

It hasn’t been a very productive year for me so far as pans are concerned, and going through the little work I have done, I’ve made a few resolutions for next year. Like I did last year! Then I picked up the Hassleblad X-Pan with its 30mm lens on Jan 1. I had it with me when I made the top picture in this post, and did take some images on film, but couldn’t bring myself to keep on using it, or never had it with me when I wanted to do so. It’s been sitting on my desk gathering dust all year.

Film imposes a particular discipline – every picture from a particular camera has the same aspect ratio, the same angle of view, the same projection. In the last few years I took many panoramas I was using two cameras, the rectilinear Hassleblad using the 30mm with a 2.4 : 1 aspect ratio and a horizontal angle of view of just under 90 degrees, and the Horizon with roughly 2.3 :1 aspect ratio, cylindrical perspective and an angle of view of  slightly under 120 degrees (the two other swing lens cameras I own give similar images but slightly wider coverage.) Both cameras have useful if not entirely accurate viewfinders.

Digital stitching  is limited only by the characteristics of the projection you choose, possibly up to 360 degrees horizontal and 180 degrees vertical. You don’t have a viewfinder but simply decide roughly where you want the boundaries to lie and then take images to fill that area – with a fair degree of overlap both inside it and across the edges.

High res scans from the Hassleblad or Horizon negatives give images around 7500 pixels wide. Not greatly different from the 7360 pixel width of the D800E sensor. I started thinking about this as I began writing this post late at night, stopped a little after midnight, and woke up around 6am still turning the problem over in my mind, and think I came up with a solution. Or rather two solutions, one to replace the Hasselblad and the other instead of the Horizon. It would be nice too if I could find the viewfinder from the Horizon I wore out and scrapped, but kept somewhere in case I found a use for it. So perhaps next year I’ll really get back into making panoramic photographs.

Cyclists Die In London

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

There are some surprisingly dark places on the streets of London, despite the huge output of light which makes the sky starless there. The area of street actually below the offices of Transport for London (TfL) is well lit, but police had taped that area off, and although people were still walking through as usual, cutting off the corner on their route towards the station on their way home, the protest there was kept on the pavement outside, where it was several stops darker.

We were there because of the number of cyclists who are being killed on London’s streets, mainly by lorries and buses – six in the previous few weeks – and TfL are seen to have failed to properly consider cycle (and pedestrians) in their transport plans, which have largely been directed to getting faster movement of cars and lorries.

I have the feeling that these changes in lighting have become greater in recent years. Certainly this is true on the suburban street were I live, where a couple of years back the council ripped up all the old lampposts with their mercury vapour lamps and replaced them with new posts carrying much more directional LED lighting on the grounds of economy. It is brighter in places (and light enough inside my house to go down the stairs with reasonable safety in the middle of the night) but midway between the lights the road is rather darker. And perhaps less makes its way into the night sky, though we still seldom see more than a handful of stars.

I set the sensitivity on both Nikons to ISO 3200, generally a practical limit for decent quality at full size, but it was still only giving me exposures of between 1/10 and 1/50s at full aperture as I moved around. Which wouldn’t have been too bad, but often the people I was photographing were moving too and were blurred on the images.

Lenses for digital SLRs are large and heavy things, and apertures of anything affordable and luggable tend to be rather limited, The 18-35mm is a nice lens, but only f4. In the old days I’d instead have been working with the Leica or Konica body and an old 35mm f1.4 Summilux in low light (I had wider lenses too but they were slow, only f4 or even f4.5 so stayed in the bag when it got dark, though I might have occasionally used the 50 f2.) The whole set of lenses was of course lighter and less bulky than the Nikkor.

In colour I’d probably have been using ISO 400 film, while in black and white it would have been Tri-X, pushed to perhaps ISO 1600. But that F1.4 lens (it had cost me around a month’s wages) gave me a 3 stop advantage in terms of exposure – making the ISO 400 equivalent to ISO 3200, and the black and white like working at ISO 12,800. So perhaps things haven’t changed as much in practice as I sometimes think.

Of course with the f1.4 lens wide open, there wasn’t a great depth of field, particularly at close quarters. And of course I could buy fast primes to use on the digital cameras, and perhaps I will, though I think not for the Nikons.

With the right adapter that 35mm f1.4 does work on the Fuji-X cameras (it won’t work with the official Fuji adapter for M mounts lenses, but does with a much cheaper Kipon) but the 1.5x multiplier makes it a standard rather than a wideangle lens.)  But the newly announced 23mm f1.4 (35mm equiv) is tempting, and I’ve recently bought the 14mm f2.8 (21mm equiv.)

D700. No flash. 16-35mm at 18mm, 1/30 f4

Back with the cyclists, for most of the evening event I worked with the 18-35mnm at f4 on the D700, and with the 18-105mm DX lens (27-157mm equiv) on the D800E, working with flash with the longer lens. It has a variable max aperture from f/3.5-5.6 and I was using it at full aperture, mainly at the wider end, where its focal length overlaps with the wider zoom. I was still using ISO 3200 to get as much exposure as possible from the ambient light, and had the shutter speed set at 1/25th with the camera on shutter priority, so rather curiously the exposures were sometimes greater with the flash than without it! I was using flash more for the different lighting effect it gave, as well as the ability to get sharp images in some of the darker zones.

There were several videographers present at the event, and some of the time putting their video lighting into all or parts of the scene. Sometimes this can be useful for still photographers, and I stole some of their light for my pictures! But it isn’t always helpful, sometimes decidedly unflattering and can put colour balance out, and using flash does help reduce its effect.

D800E. With flash. 18-105mm at 21mm (35mm equiv) 1/30 f5
The climax of the event was the die-in, when over a thousand cyclists put their bikes on the ground and got down there with them. The street was covered with bikes and bodies, making it virtually impossible to move around. One or two photographers were in the middle of it, either by accident or design, and they did spoil the pictures a little. I’d decided that it was best to work more or less from the edge, getting more cyclists in view, and had chosen to be where I thought they would be most crowded. The background with Southwark Underground station also seemed to be the best.

D700, 18-35mm at 28mm, 1/40 f4

I took a few working with the D700, mainly at 16mm, then switched to the D800E; after a few not very successful attempts with the longer focal lengths I wwitched to the 10.5mm fisheye. It’s the fastest lens for the Nikons that I own at f2.8, but I was using it around f4 for these pictures as I still had the ISO at 3200 and slowish shutter speeds. It was this lens that produced the best images of the event.

D800E, 10.5mm, 1/40 f4.5

November is Over

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Even for My London Diary, November is Over, and has been for a few days – I’m well into December already in putting my work on-line. There have been so many other things happening that I’ve got rather behind in posting about my work here on >Re:PHOTO.

There are still a few events I have yet to write about covering – such as the die-in by cyclists outside the HQ of Transport for London in the picture above, but it’s well past time to post the complete list of work on My London Diary for last month.

I was away from home for nine days in Germany because of a family event, so missed a few things. I think like many photographers I take considerably fewer pictures when I’m on holiday, unlike most other people. Though things have changed dramatically over the years with now so many non-photographers taking random images all day every day and posting them on Instagram or Facebook… Back when I was young, if you saw a cat you just stroked it. I don’t think I’ve taken a cat picture yet this year, but in Germany I did photograph a dog, though this is the only place I’ve so far published the picture:

But few of my family images make it to the web – there are just a handful among the other pictures from Germany which were more about the places we visited.

my london diary
November 2013

Left Unity’s instigator Ken Loach ponders his vote at the founding conference

Left Unity Founding Conference
Cyclists ‘Die in’ at TfL HQ

Islamists Protest Angolan Ban on Muslims

Cultural Workers against Zero Hours

4:1 legal minimum NHS staffing
Justice Not Jumpers at NPower HQ

Rocks where I climbed happily as a child
Virginia Water

End Drone Attacks in Pakistan

Remember Ricky Bishop – Jail his Killers
Free Shaker Aamer March in Battersea
German Holiday
Bonfire of Austerity Blocks Westminster Bridge
Anonymous March on Parliament in London
City Link & Cleaners at John Lewis

Gurkha Veterans Hunger Strike
Free Kieron & Arctic 30