Archive for January, 2014

McCullin & Somerset Levels

Friday, January 31st, 2014

One of the more famous residents of the flooded areas of the Somerset Levels, and someone who has for some years devoted himself largely to photographing that landscape is Don McCullin, and as I listened to the news some of his black and white landscapes came to mind. There is one at the bottom of an article from the National Gallery of Canada (you’ve just missed his show there) that seems particularly apposite, a deliberately dark and moodily printed image of flooded field and a silhouetted line of winter trees under a heavy sky, The Somerset Levels below Glastonbury, UK (1994).

McCullin hates being described as a war photographer, but many of his most famous images are war photographs but of course he has done so much more. There is a short video of him talking that is worth watching  mentioned recently on fStoppers, and an excellent and well-illustrated recent feature by Gerry Cordon, McCullin: a conscience with a camera.

This includes another of his images from the Levels, as well as a rather hillier Somerset landscape, and also tells the story of what McCullin describes as the only picture that he has ever staged.   Some of the same ground is covered in an article about his photography the McCullin himself wrote for The Guardian in 2012. For a slightly different perspective you may like to read My Husband Don McCullin, written by Catherine Fairweather of Harpers Bazaar where it was published in 2013.

I’m not quite sure what to make of a Canon advertising film, Inspiration, made in mid-2012 in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France, when Canon sent him with a well-known wedding photographer Jeff Ascough as his guide to “discover more about shooting with Canon digital cameras.” It says “Don McCullin is still shooting with his Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR and a variety of Canon EF lenses” and good luck to him, though should I reach his age I think I might prefer something rather lighter. I think the best of these digital images by him are still in monochrome, and there are some nice pictures of him by Ascough.


Benefits Street

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

I don’t watch television. 45 years ago, when I was first married, we decided there were far too many other things to do in life to waste time on watching TV, and I’ve not owned a TV set since (though the other things have rather changed.) I do occasionally watch programmes after transmission on the computer, where you can select the short sections worth watching and quickly slide through most of the tedium. I seldom watch more than 10% of any programme.

So I’ve not watched a whole episode of Benefits St, let alone all those that have aired, but I have seen a few short clips and read a number of articles and some of the many comments on them. Most interesting were those from people who actually know or even have studied James Turner Street in Winson Green. The programme seems to me a cynical exploitation of the people featured with no attempt to examine the underlying causes or to treat the residents with appropriate respect or honesty.

The Birmingham Mail quoted one of those in the show who helped Love Films in making it, Dee Roberts as saying:

“They said they wanted to film for a TV show about how great community spirit is in the street. I participated in the show on that belief.

“But this programme has nothing to do with community, which you can tell from the title. It’s all about people in the street living off benefits, taking drugs and dossing around all day. It makes people out as complete scum.”

From what I’ve seen and heard, the values behind the programme seem to be entirely those of making ‘”good” – i.e. popular – television; the morality of the viewing figures. It’s perhaps what you would expect from a company noted for The Great British Bake Off, a kind of cultural lobotomy. Truly bread and circuses.

Photographically it wasn’t an easy event to cover as it seemed rather disorganised. Visually the most interesting aspect was perhaps a very short period of shouting slogans towards the Love Film office. But the protesters were standing very close to the front of the building and the photographers were behind them, though I managed to squeeze between protesters and the offices for the top picture (and a few similar) and some of those present didn’t really seem to be getting involved.  It was a protest where those taking part didn’t seem really sure what they were supposed to be doing.

Later things did get a little more organised, with a number of speeches, including those from campaigner Reverend Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty, no stranger to the ways of television as he was for 16 years until his retirement in 1999 the real Vicar of Dibley, or at least the church used in the filming of that series in Turville, Buckinghamshire.

As you can guess from this picture, by the time he was speaking it was raining fairly persistently, and the lighting in the narrow street surrounded by tall buildings had dropped considerably – and it had been dull at the start.

It’s always difficult to know how to adjust the colour balance in such circumstances, and I often find that the auto white balance gets things not quite right. It isn’t easy to know what is right, and it probably isn’t what is technically correct in most cases, but I found myself making more tweaks than usual in these pictures, mainly aiming to get believable skin colours.  The Rev Nicolson is red in parts on his face because of the light through the disposable red Unite Community rainwear, which is fine, but in the top image, I had to do a little brushing of the tint with Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush to bring a more healthy looking face to the woman shouting.

When taking pictures of speakers at event such as this, wherever possible I look for backgrounds which relate to the person and/or the event and provide some context – such as this placard with its message ‘Bankers are the real scroungers’.  Another of the placards read ‘Target the Tories Not the Poor’  and for the woman below, from Barnet Alliance for Public Services I like the out of focus word ‘Justice’ which can be made out from the Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign banner behind her.

Story and pictures at Benefits Street Protest at Love Films and there are a few from a smaller protest a week later at Channel 4’s Victoria offices, No More ‘Benefits Street’ Channel 4.


Too Much Water

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Riverside Path at Staines, 12 Jan 2014
I don’t have any great regard for the UK Environment Agency, particularly over flooding. They cause me a certain amount of grief and cost me several hundreds of pounds a year in increased insurance costs as well as what I pay towards them out of my taxes by classifying my home as being at high flood risk because of a stream at the bottom of the garden that ceased its natural flow thirty years ago, but they refuse to change their maps. But there is also a risk of flooding here from a considerably larger and more active river, the Thames. Its official route is around a quarter mile from here, but most of the land around here is low-lying, and once it floods the water can get into some fairly surprising places. Its a problem that is heightened by the fact that it mainly does so via the sewers, so that when it does so it brings not just water.

Flooded street at Staines, 12 Jan 2014

There have been two major floods in the area in living memory, the worst in 1947 when I was too young to notice and living several miles away and on ground perhaps 10 feet higher. But then this house had water in the foundations under its floorboards, but it didn’t come above them. For various reasons, almost all of those floorboards have gone, replaced by solid concrete floors, so that can no longer happen. In the 2003 floods we had floodwater in the street on the opposite side of our road, though the ditch which may be slightly lower, along with our side of the road and the house and garden remained dry.

Riverside Path at Staines, 12 Jan 2014

But even so, when this year we again received an automated telephone warning call from the Environment Agency about the high risk of flooding in our area, we didn’t feel we could ignore it. We set around moving those things of value we normally keep on the floor to higher levels. Irreplaceable personal document files went on to the table, piles of valuable books on other furniture and so on. For almost a week we waited anxiously, kind of camping out around these piled up belongings, eating our meals on a small area of table left free facing them. But we were fortunate, and the water began to go down before it reached us and eventually we got another call to inform us we were out of immediate danger. The Thames is still at high levels, and it’s raining again as I write and the level has gone up a little in the past couple of days, but still, at least here, below danger level.

Riverside Path at Staines, 12 Jan 2014

We were fortunate, but others in the area less so. At night when all else was quiet lying in bed I could hear the rush of water being punped out of the basement room of a house around 50 metres away, drowning the usual background of traffic on the motorways and the engines from the airport a couple of miles distant. One particularly low area a mile or so away was flooded as usual, and we saw people wearing waders bringing out plastic bags of belongings from a house on the island. Aerial photos showed large areas of land a few miles away under water, and the newspapers had pictures of mobile home sites with a foot or two of floodwater.

Lammas Park at Staines, 12 Jan 2014

I didn’t go out to take pictures of the floods. I had other things to cover away from where I live and I didn’t think those locally were generally spectacular and didn’t relish getting wet and cold. I don’t even own a pair of wellingtons and a bicycle probably isn’t the best form of transport – its OK riding through shallow water, but in floods its hard to see kerbs and other obstacles and you tend to fall off or have to put your foot down into cold water. I sure there are many better pictures of the flooding, even from this local area – and there were many others out with cameras taking pictures as I took a little walk for exercise late on Sunday afternoon (a day off from photography) when the light was falling with the Fuji EX-1 and its 18-55mm around my neck.

Busy Saturday

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

I don’t like photo-calls. They usually end up with lots of photographers taking the same picture that someone else has thought up, and which is seldom of much interest. Like this one:

I took it with photographers to the left of me, photographers to the right of me, all taking more or less the same picture (though perhaps mainly a little wider, though that was even more boring and I couldn’t bring myself to process and publish that.)

Sometimes you can rescue something from these situations. In this image there was one person who stood out to me, looking out from a gap between the placards, and he looked to me like a man in a prison. It seemed appropriate for a protest about a man held in prisons without trial for 12 years, still in Guantanamo – more pictures and about the protest on 12 Years of Illegal Guantanámo Jail

If I was the kind of photographer who arranges and constructs images I would have moved the woman behind him (and I could easily have Photoshop-ed her out, cloning the wall behind into the space, as well as copying more placards into the areas at bottom left or right. It would have made for a neater and probably better picture. I probably could have arranged the picture rather better by asking people to move or to move their placards, setting up a more perfect view of my idea, but for me that would have taken the picture away from being news and more into publicity or advertising, a direction in which I don’t want to tread.

Setting it up for me would have been unethical, but it would also have meant that the 22 other photographers (no I didn’t really count them, but it was probably around that number) would have taken the same picture too, while perhaps I was the only photographer who saw the picture as I did. Life is full of warts after all.

But I’d already really got my picture, while the person organising the photocall, who had had the idea and got all the placards made, was getting people into position. For a few seconds only, the group in the orange suits and black hoods with their placards were arranged in a triangular formation, and there was my picture. I don’t think anyone else was in the right place to see it and take it,

I had to rush off quickly to another protest, Repeal Indian anti-Gay Law, and there nothing was happening, just people just standing around, a few with placards, but doing very little and that with no animation. I was even quite pleased when one of the protesters on seeing me arrive started to organise most of those who had placards into a group for pictures.

It didn’t make too exciting a picture, but it was better than just people standing around chatting with each other. It was a pity that the Indian flag wasn’t a little more cooperative, but there just wasn’t enough wind for it to fly.

But perhaps the better pictures were by picking a few individuals and photographing them with the posters or banners they were holding.

I’d been intending to go on to Tottenham Police Station, where the family of Mark Duggan were leading a vigil a few days after the curious inquest verdict, both apparently internally contradictory and also  to deny the evidence. But it was getting a little late, and I was also worried about the facilities that the press might get, and with good reason. I didn’t go, but friends told me they were corralled into a press area rather out of the way and unable to really get good pictures – and it showed in the work. Not a good way to handle the press.

Instead, I made for the Egyptian embassy, where there were two groups of protesters for the Eyptians coming to vote in their country’s constitutional referendum. Immediately outside the embassy on the pavement were supporters of the new constitution and the deoosing of Morsi, many waving pictures of General SiSi, while opposite them across the road was a protest almost entirely composed of Muslims, with posters, banners, balloons and cards with the four-finger ‘rabiaa’ gesture, now a symbol of pro-Morsi protest, calling on Egyptians to boycott the vote.

Both sides were noisy and animated, and although it was generally fairly clear from both the gestures and the posters (or the sweatshirts) who was in which protest, I decided it was easier to separate the two groups into two stories,  Free Egypt Alliance Urge Vote Boycott and  Sisi Supporters Oppose Boycott. 

With four stories to sort out the images for and then write up, it was around midnight or after by the time I got to the text about the two Egyptian groups, and  at first I managed to write up the stories but forgot to mention why both sides were there, and had to log on to both stories later and make things clear.

Stephen Mayes Interviewed

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Image Source is a premium stock photography agency specialising in Royalty Free and Rights Managed Imagery for professional image users.”

And as such I wouldn’t have a great deal of interest in it. It rather seems to look like corporate imagery for corporates, but it does also have the Image Source blog, IMSO, which “provides insight into the images setting agendas in advertising, marketing and culture” which offers among other things “most importantly market knowledge of the wider creative landscape.”

But despite its “carefully curated publication of a wide variety of articles” some things of interest do manage to make their way through the corporate filter, including an interview with Photo Expert Stephen Mayes On Photography’s Futures.

That’s actually something he has very little to say about, as he says “Things are changing so fast and in such unpredictable ways that even a year ahead is a deep mystery.” But its still a feature worth reading and pondering. However, I’m not sure you want to know more about Snapchat which he mentions. According to Wikipedia, two thirds of its users have received images of “inappropriate poses or gestures” and it seems its main use is in sending ‘selfies’.  Unless the future of photography is just ‘sexting’, it seems unlikely that Snapchat has a great role to play in it.

Walking Photography

Friday, January 24th, 2014

On the Thames Path in Oxfordshire, April 2014

Although I do a lot of walking both as recreation (it’s sometimes enjoyable) and while photographing various events and marches, I’ve never been a ‘walking photographer’. Photographer don’t in general walk; they possibly amble, meander, explore or even dérive. And I’ve occasionally posted pictures taken  on some of my walks, including those along various sections of the Thames Path, here and on My London Diary, as well as producing a book, London Dérives.

But my subject is never really the walk itself, but the places and scenes it takes me to. I didn’t walk the Thames estuary for the exercise but because of a fascination with the area and the landscape. In recent years I’ve tended to take the Brompton and ride where this is possible, though great though this folding bike is (and one of our few remaining British manufacturing companies)  it isn’t suited to rough terrain. But where you can use it, it gets you there in a fifth of the time and with a considerable saving in energy.

I have a problem with most ‘walking photographers’ and ‘walking artists’, at least so far as their photography is concerned. Largely I find it banal or simply a dull document of their concept (which may or not itself have at least a slight interest. While I may like the idea of – for example – Richard Long‘s 1967 ‘Line Made by Walking‘, I’m not sure the photograph has anything real to add; perhaps its point is its lack of interest. You can read more about Long in a Guardian piece.

Some of the most boring large landscape photographs I’ve seen (and there is plenty of competition) were those of Hamish Fulton. I think he is an interesting artist, but not an interesting photographer. His web site Hamish Fulton – Walking Artist—– (open at your own risk) is also one of the most infuriating I’ve come across and I think I would need to be incapacitated by drink or drugs to view it for more than a few seconds, but you can get a better picture visually of his works by a Google Image Search on Hamish Fulton photography (click on ‘Images’.)

But I’m pleased to read a post by Colin Pantall, Photography and Walking: Do they Go Together which looks at the work of Paul Gaffney and Michal Iwanowski shortly to go on show at Ffotogallery in Wales (at Turner House in Penarth.) The show with works by both photographers runs from 7 February – 8 March 2014.

The dozen pictures in ‘We Make the Path by Walking‘ on Irish photographer Paul Gaffney‘s web site are certainly of interest, and Clear of People is one of several interesting projects on Michal Iwanowski‘s web site. Born in Poland in 1977,  he has lived and worked in Cardiff since 2001 and as well as freelancing he teaches photography at Ffotogallery in Cardiff.

Photojournalism Ethics

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Two stories in the news today relate to photographic ethics. The first seems clear-cut. AP have issued a statement AP severs ties with photographer who altered work about their decision to break all ties with freelance photographer Narciso Contreras who apparently owned up to them that he had removed the video camera of another photographer he was working with from the corner of a dramatic picture of a Syrian fighter he had sent them last September.

Mexican freelance Contreras “was one of five AP journalists who shared in the Pulitzer awarded last April for breaking news photography, cited by judges for “producing memorable images under extreme hazard” and saluted by AP’s VP and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon for their bravery and skill. AP say they have examined all the 494 pictures by him that they have handled and this is the only one that has been altered, but they are still removing all of his work from their publicly available archive.

In their release, they quote Contreras as stating: “I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera … I feel ashamed about that” and he goes on to say that he was working under extreme pressure, and that this was the only time he had done such a thing.

Although one can sympathise with Contreras, I’ve often given my opinion that integrity is paramount in photojournalism and news reporting. Without it our work has no credibility.  It is harsh treatment for what appears to be a single slip, but inevitable for AP to take such decisive action. Though I do feel that people who say that the AP should hand back that Pulitzer are just being silly.

Other cameras getting in the way and messing up our best pictures is an everyday hazard for those of us who photograph news and events. Sometimes we can crop them out, other times burn down to make them less obtrusive, both acceptable, but cloning them out clearly breaks the link between reality and image. The particular camera here seems to have been simply lying on the ground, but often it is the cameras of other photographers using them who get in our way – and our cameras may well be in their pictures too. But still photographers usually try to cooperate with others in taking photographs to avoid such clashes as far as possible. (Videographers are often more of a problem because of their different requirements – which I realise, but some working for particular major media outlets do appear to feel they have a divine right to get in everyone’s way and have sometimes to be politely reminded this is not the case !)

Politica y Sociedad in The First Photo Won a Prize; The Second Made a Controversy Explode look at a pair of photographs taken at the same time of a 14 year old Haitian girl killed by the police for looting a store of two plastic chairs and a framed picture. One, a superbly composed but highly worked on image by photographer Paul Hansen won the Swedish Picture of the Year Award 2011.

The other is far more prosaic, taken from one side gives a much clearer view of the location, and shows the dead girl with a group of photographers in a line taking her picture. It isn’t a great picture and unlikely to win awards, but one that provokes thought.

Hansen’s is almost an abstraction from the event, perhaps more like Andrew Wyeth might have painted the scene than a photograph. The second photograph is by Nathan Weber, and on his web site you can watch his video about the death of Fabienne, which includes several striking and rather more realistic images of the dead girl, as well as putting the images into their context.

Politica y Sociedad comment: “The debate that is arising in Sweden revolves around the question, “Would Sweden have donated less for disaster relief if that photo had not been published?” Or “Would fewer resources and professionals have been sent?”

But I think there should also be a debate about the aestheticisation of reality in the post-production of images like Hansen’s. To me it loses authenticity by the excessive and over-dramatic interpretation, something which as has been pointed out, seems to make everything like a film poster. Let’s see things as life.

Charles Harbutt

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

One of the daily posts I receive from L’Oeil de la Photographie (The Eye of Photography) was about Charles Harbutt and brought back to me some warm memories of a workshop of his I attended around 15 years ago at Duckspool. It had been a workshop with Harbutt back in the 1970s at Paul Hill’s The Photographers’ Place in Derbyshire which had changed the life of Peter Goldfield, leading him to found Duckspool, and as I wrote (sadly on the occasion of Peter’s death in 2009) “perhaps had I met him 20 years earlier it would have changed my life too.

I’d come across Harbutt in the 1970s, but only through the pages of his book ‘Travelog’, published in 1974 which very much reflects his attitude to photography that he expressed in a lecture you can read in Visura Magazine. The Unconcerned Photographer, delivered in 1970 when he was President of Magnum Photos. It’s perhaps a curious co-incidence that in it he twice quotes from and comments on his Magnum colleage Leonard Freed, the only other photographer whose workshop at Duckspool I attended.

In the article on L’Oeil de la Photographie, Harbutt says how the The Image Gallery Redux show which is at Howard Greenberg’s gallery in New York until Feb 15th 2014 reminds him of his early years in photography, as it includes a picture taken when he was only 17 and “three pictures from a migrant farm workers story I did for a magazine called Jubilee where I worked when I got out of college in 1956.” He tells the story of that job in Cuba, and its a good story that I won’t spoil here when you can read it in his own words.

The best place to see Harbutt’s work online is Visura Magazine, where you can find a slide show of his photographs and a number of articles.

Another article from the same day The Image Gallery Redux 1959-1962 gives some more information about the show, which features work by Harbutt and 21 other photographers, including Duane Michals, Saul Leiter, Sid Grossman, Charles Pratt, David Vestal and Garry Winogrand, who all showed work at the pioneering New York gallery opened by photographer Larry Siegel.  The Howard Greenberg Gallery web site was suffering from ‘technical difficulties’ as I write, but you can still download the PDF of the Image Gallery from the show with thumbnails and titles to see what those of us who are not in New York are missing.

If like me you value the work of L’Oeil de la Photographie you can sign up for its regular daily e-mails and also donate to keep their work going.

Incisive not Decisive?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

As a young man I was very flattered when someone who I knew to be knowledgeable about photography came up to me at an exhibition and compared my work on show to that of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Not that I would ever claim to be in the same league, but it was good to be flattered.

Cartier-Bresson was at the time about the only photographer known by name, at least to an educated public, in the UK, and even those who couldn’t have brought his name to their lips would probably have recognised some of his pictures. To be a photographer at least for the general public was to strive to emulate him, though by that time I was one of a tiny minority who had got to know the work of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand and others.

There were few photographic books on the shelves in libraries or in any but truly specialised book shops (and London had the best of these in the Creative Camera bookshop in Doughty St, to which I made regular pilgrimage.) Cartier-Bresson’s 1952 ‘Images à la sauvette‘, published in the USA as ‘The Decisive Moment‘ still defined photography some twenty years later, a kind of photographic gold standard.

As often pointed out, the ‘decisive moment’ is perhaps a poor replacement suggesting something rather more static than the French, more literally translated as ‘Images on the run’, replacing its slanginess with formality, taking it away the streets and illegal activities and into polite and rather stuffy discourse.

Here is a quote from an article I published on Cartier-Bresson in 1999 (though based on earlier lecture notes):

It was however his next book, Images a la Sauvette, better known by the title chosen by its American publishers, The Decisive Moment that put his photography and ideas to a world-wide public. The French title uses the term for illegal street trading and could perhaps be translated as ‘Images on the Run’ or ‘Stolen Images’ and perhaps more accurately reflects the dynamism of Cartier-Bresson’s better work than the more static suggestion of the ‘decisive moment’ which has however become indelibly linked with his photography.

I’ve never owned the book ‘The Decisive Moment’ (by the time I came to photography it was long out of print and rather expensive), though I had it on ‘permanent loan’ for some years from the library of the school where I worked in the 1970s, and rather regret being honest enough to return it. It’s still perhaps the best single book of his work, although there have been many others.

You can read an interesting discussion of the ‘Decisive Moment‘ in a long article by writer, photographer and psychology professor John Suler, a chapter from his book Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche, which to my surprise includes a different quotation from my article above (though I have absolutely no connection to the Catholic High School in San Diego on which this short essay is still available.)

You can also watch the 18 minute film nade in 1973 , Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment in which the man himself talks about his work (in English) to a background of some of his best pictures.

But though I admire much of his work, I’ve never really found Cartier-Bresson’s metaphor productive (and it perhaps isn’t one that informs a great deal of his own published work.) And I also don’t share his view that documentary is boring; for me it is at the heart of photography.

When I think about how I work with a camera the image that comes to mind is that of a scalpel, attempting to cut a significant moment out of space and time. I don’t of course mean that I stand there confronting the subject camera in hand and think of myself carving out a picture, but there is something accurate and precise that I strive for in framing and composition and timing – and a delight in using instruments that do the job cleanly and well – like the Leica and Nikon – rather than blunter tools. Its a determination to try to be incisive.

There’s a tautness about a good photograph, and a focus, a wholeness, something that you look at and see as a picture rather than wondering why ever the photographer chose that particular place and time to press the shutter. I may hope I will produce decisive pictures, but the activity that lead to them is incisive.

New Panoramas

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Sunday 5th January, the day before Epiphany, I was going to the première of the film Epiphany in the middle of the afternoon, and since the sun was out I made myself a pack of sandwiches and set off with my camera bag to test out using the D700 and D800E to make some panoramas.

The film was showing at the Cinema Museum, close to the Elephant, a short bus ride from the Thames at Vauxhall, and I’d planned to walk along the Thames Path from Putney towards there. South West Trains had other ideas with its Sunday engineering works – which often play minor havoc with my plans – and there were no trains via Putney, so I decided to do the walk rather less conveniently in the opposite direction.

I took my first panorama in rather a hurry, as a group of runners arrived on the Thames path by Vauxhall bridge only seconds after me, and I had the 16mm on the D700 as they came past. The result has a rather tame angle of view of around 95 degrees horizontal, and an aspect ratio of 1.8:1, only a little more than the normal 35mm frame of 1.5:1.

A few yards along I stopped to make the next picture, this time using the 12-24mm Sigma zoom at 12mm, giving a rather wider 112 degree horizontal view. It seemed to be beginning to work as I wanted a panorama to work.

Next I tried the Nikon 16mm full-frame fisheye, and this gave me an view of almost 140 degrees, and was fine, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the aspect ratio. Working with film cameras like the Hasselblad X-Pan or Horizon I’ve got used to working with aspect ratios around 2.4 :1, and this was only 1.85:1.

Image above cropped to 2.3:1 ratio

Perhaps I could regard the image as having been made to allow a virtual rising or falling front, letting me crop to something nearer the ratio I was used to working with.

Cropping has another advantage too, perhaps less obvious in this image than in some others. Although the equirectangular projection that I’ve decided to standardize on (you can’t sensibly use the more photographically normal rectilinear perspective for angles of view much above 90 degrees) keeps verticals upright and avoids the extreme stretching that extreme wide rectilinear views suffer from at the edges, it has the effect of increasing curvature of other straight lines away from the horizon. The curvature is greater as they get further from the centre of the image, and so is less apparent in the cropped version.

In Thames Path Panoramas you can see some further examples of panoramas, mainly with angles of view of around 110 or 140 degrees. I’ve included among them a few pairs of images made with both angles from the same or a very nearly the same viewpoint. But in most cases I preferred the wider view and have used just that. It’s an interesting walk, at least along most of the way, as I think you can see from the pictures I made later, and if the trains are running (they weren’t) you can get one back from Wandsworth Town or walk on to Putney.

The D800E (and D800) has a very useful feature for those who want to make panoramas, with its built-in virtual horizon. Usually my inability to hold a camera level isn’t a great handicap – and easily corrected in Lightroom where necessary, but it becomes much more important in making panoramas.

The travel problems meant I didn’t get quite as far as I hoped – not quite to the area I was actually most interested in revisiting – but in any case the weather was deteriorating, and the bright morning had changed to a wet an sullen afternoon before I saw my bus coming and ran a couple of hundred yards to beat it to the stop, thanks to some traffic lights, and made the film in time.