Archive for October, 2014

A long pink scarf

Monday, October 13th, 2014

A short section of the seven mile scarf after joining

Seven miles long – and they had a bit left over. CND’s Wool Against Weapons protest on Nagasaki Day, 69 years after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, stretched all the way from the atomic bomb factory in Burghfield to the better-known site at Aldermaston, both in rural Berkshire.  Neither end is particularly easy to get to by public transport, though I have at various times walked most of the way from London to Aldermaston, (including the final Reading to Aldermaston section of the CND Aldermaston March in 2004) it didn’t seem sensible to try to cover a 7 mile long event entirely on foot.

Joining the lengths of scarf at the roadside

Hand-knitting or crocheting a scarf of this length and getting it into place clearly needed a great deal of planning and coordination. If people were knitting a 5 ft scarf you need a thousand of them for each mile and one of the major points about the protest was to get a great many people around the country – including many who for various reasons are unable or unwilling to get out on the streets – to participate. Groups around the country organised the knitting and brought the scarves joined together in rolls of around a hundred foot to centres along the route, from where they were stretched out and joined together.  Along the route there were ‘mile posts’ with small groups coordinating the event and some serving tea and coffee and snacks,  each one allocated to a different region.

Rolling out a spool of joined scarf lengths along the route

I could have got a lift to the route from the nearest rail station – Mortimer – but decided I needed to be more mobile, and the ideal way for the kind of distance and roads involved was a bicycle.  It would have been a long ride from home, but was easy to take it with me on the train to Reading, with Burghfield, where the London Region of CND was meeting a around half an hour’s ride away.

I’d planned it so I could take a relatively slow ride along the whole route, jumping off my bike wherever I saw an opportunity to take photographs, stopping at all of the mile posts to photograph what was happening there, and also between them where people were rolling out and joining up the scarf.  A bike has the great advantage that you can jump off anywhere, lean the bike against a fence or a tree or on the ground and take pictures. The route was along narrow country roads – some quite busy with traffic – and with relatively few places where it would be easy to park a car, particularly as the police were intent on keep traffic moving along the road as well as avoiding the protesters becoming roadkill.  It took me around 75 minutes to cover the 7 miles to the fence of the site at Aldermaston.

Two women were still knitting away at Aldermaston. Eventually the scarves will be turned into blankets for refugees

I’d wanted to be sure to cover as much as possible of the activities involved in the protest, and arriving at Aldermaston I was pleased to find a couple of women still knitting scarves, as well as a large display of various banners tied to the fence and to roadside trees.

‘Pom Poms not Bombs’ on the fence at Aldermaston AWE

Going back to Burghfield was considerably faster – helped by a little wind and a longish downhill stretch, but mainly by only stopping once to take a few pictures – I made it roughly three times as fast. I even sped past the turning to Burghfield, but quickly realised my mistake as there was no roadside scarf, and had to brake and turn around.

Anti-nuclear protesters from France joined in and had knitted some scarves

The event had been planned to reach its climax at 1pm exactly, and stewards were phoning anxiously to check along the route that the whole length had been joined. They got the message just in time and everyone along the route was lifting up the scarf and making a lot of noise with bells and whistles.  I’d decided to run along and take pictures of as much as I could during the few minutes they would keep this up, keeping on foot as there would be people to photograph every few yards of my way, and this worked well. Stopping to take pictures meant I only covered a little over half a mile, although I got quite exhausted from running with a heavy bag between the frequent stops to take pictures.

Dancing with the scarf where it crossed a minor side road on the route

I stopped and talked with one group who were holding the scarf at a minor road junction  – lifting it up over a car that wanted to go down the side road, and dancing around the rest of the time.  The sun was coming almost directly from behind them and their shadows were dancing with them on the road.  The strong back-lighting took a little work in Lightroom to get the results that I wanted, but there was no way I could have used flash fill with a group strung out away from the camera.

CND symbols and Pete Seeger’s ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’ took me back to the sixties

Back at the Burghfield base things were very much getting back into sixties mode – I’m sure they were singing ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ when I took the picture above and there were other songs and poetry readings, as well as some political speeches. I sat around for a while to recover from my run up the lane and back and after listening to CND General Secretary Kate Hudson decided I had the energy to cycle back to Reading for the train home and the lengthy editing of my pictures.

I was quite pleased with the set of pictures, taken with my usual Nikon D700 with 16-35mm and D800E with 18-105mm DX, though more for the overall view they gave of the event than for any individual images, though I had a nice set from my run after the joining up had been confirmed.  But there were one or two places where back home looking at the pictures I could clearly see I’d missed an opportunity. The most glaring was at the Aldermaston fence, where I hadn’t recorded the longest and largest banner in a single image.

I’ve got ‘What would you spend‘ in one frame and ‘you spend £100 million on?’ in another, but really getting the whole thing together would have been rather better!  If I’d taken them from the same place with the same focal length I could have joined them up, but rather better would have been to have used the 8mm fisheye to get it all in a single frame.  I was just in too much of a rush, too worried about actually making it back to Burghfield, and not realising quite how much faster my return journey would be.

Wool Against Weapons.


Marcus Garvey Centenary

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

After working and studying in London, Marcus Garvey returned to his native Jamaica in 1914 and on 1 August founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to unite all of Africa and its diaspora into “one grand racial hierarchy.”  The movement flourished when he took it to the USA and in 1920 claimed 4 million members.  August 1 had been chosen to found the organisation as it was Emancipation Day, the anniversary of the legal ending of slavery in the British Empire in 1834.

The slave trade had been banned in 1807, and two hundred years later I had photographed events commemorating this in Central London and in Kennington, Brixton and Clapham, which I described as “the spiritual and physical home of the abolition movement.”

As I wrote then, “fortunes made from slavery helped to build many of the institutions from which we still benefit, including our many of our great galleries and museums. Slavery founded many of our banks and breweries and other great industries, and made Britain a wealthy nation.” All of us in the UK – black as well as white – benefit from this legacy, even if, as I also pointed out, “the same wealthy elite that treated Africans so callously exploited the poor in Britain. My ancestors were thrown off their land and probably some were imprisoned for their religious beliefs by these same elites.”

The bottle is of African Palm Juice, traditional for libations in many West African ceremonies

Since at least 1999, some African organisations and countries have been pressing for compensation to the descendants of those who were enslaved by the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the Marcus Garvey anniversary event in Brixton was a gathering before a march to Parliament to present a claim for reparations.

Among those at the event were a number of people who recognised me and greeted me, and a few  who wanted to know why I was taking photographs – who I was working for. As usual I answered them politely, telling them I was a freelance photographer with a particular interest in London and its communities and in protests, and that my work went into agencies and could be used in newspapers, magazines and books, and almost all seemed satisfied. Except one man, in pseudo-military garb, who felt that my presence as a white man at this event wasn’t appropriate, and threatened that some people present might violently object. But others were much more welcoming and clearly happy to be photographed, some asking me to take their pictures.

I’d hoped to photograph the start of the march but things seemed to be running rather late and I had to leave to cover another event while the speeches were continuing.

Pictures and Text: Rastafari demand reparations for slave trade

Faces & Funerals

Friday, October 10th, 2014

A couple of short clips from the BBC World Service that are worth watching, both by photographers I know and whose work I admire.

The first is Derek Ridgers who talks to Dan Damon about some of the people he photographed in clubs and elsewhere which are in his book book ‘78/87 London Youth’.  Following on from this, Damon talks with Charlie Phillips about Afro-Caribbean funerals in London, with pictures from his forthcoming book ‘How Great Thou Art‘, successfully funded through Kickstarter. Photofusion in Brixton is showing this work next month – 7 November – 5 December 2014. You can see some of his other work on line at Akehurst Creative Management.

You can see a large collection of work by Derek Ridgers on his web site, with the archive there containing most of the pictures, and his blog containing some interesting and often amusing posts about his experiences while making the pictures.



Stowage Now

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

I was going to meet a couple of friends for lunch in Greenwich today and stopped off in Deptford to photograph some of the areas I photographed back in the 1980s, including the scenes in yesterdays post Stowage, Deptford.

It was hardly possible to recognise the area which has almost completely changed. Apart from an Electricity sub-station on Stowage itself, about the only buildings left standing are a couple of pubs on Creek Road.

And sadly, one of them, The Hoy, open as a pub for a couple of hundred years,  now appears to be a trendy café, though I had neither time nor inclination to examine it more closely.

To the south of Creek Road there are still just a few of the old industrial properties, but they are now behind hoardings and the yards between them and the river a dense overgrown wilderness, doubtless soon to be replaced by flats.

Mostly the area is tall slabs with a lot of glass, and down the alleyway between them you can just see the Laban building.

Images in this post are panoramic with a roughly 146 degree horizontal angle of view, taken on the Nikon D800E.  They have an aspect ratio of roughly 1.5:1, and normally I make use of this to provide the equivalent of using a rising or falling front by cropping the image to around 1.9:1, but here I’ve used them without cropping.

With such a wide angle of view, on sunny days the sky varies considerably in brightness across the frame, and at times the sun is actually inside the frame.  With the bottom image, I made the exposure as the woman walked into the frame. Afterwards I moved slightly to put the front of the lens in the shade of the lamppost which is on the right edge of the image, but by then the woman had moved out of sight.

Quite a few of the panoramas I make start with a reaction to the scene like this, which I then try and re-make more carefully, particularly getting the camera more accurately level. With the D800E you can display visible markers at the centre of the right hand viewfinder edge and the bottom centre which show lines when the camera is tilted and a small triangle when the camera is level. Getting both to show a triangle can sometimes be difficult, but unless the camera is level both side to side and front to back it’s hard to get a straight and level horizon.

When I catch up with things, my full set of pictures from Deptford and Greenwich today will appear on My London Diary.

Stowage, Deptford

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

There is still a short section of street called ‘Stowage‘ in Deptford today, running east from Deptford Green, and a couple of buildings remain on it from when I walked along it in the 1980s, but the whole character of the area has changed, and I think most of my pictures from it were taken in what is now a private street on a new estate and is called Clarence St.

Then, Stowage ran from the the side of The Hoy pub in Creek Road, and turning into it was as close to entering hell as most of us would like to go.  Certainly you took your life into your hands walking past unsafe piles of scrapped cars and other metal and junk, and your ears were assailed by the banging and hacking of metal from all sides.  You had to keep a keen eye on where you were walking to avoid slipping in patches of thick filthy oil and tripping over scattered junk.

It was also an area where anyone with a camera aroused  suspicion, if not outright hostility. If you were lucky people just asked accusingly “You from the council?”, but there were others who made rather more direct threats. it was an area where there were dodgy deals, stolen cars and other things going on that it wasn’t healthy to poke your nose into. Most of the time I kept my Olympus OM1 under my jacket as I walked along.

On the other side of Creek Road too, in Copperas St, running along by Deptford Creek there were also some similar scenes, if rather less intense than in Stowage. Unfortunately in those days before digital cameras and GPS there is no record on these images of exactly where they were taken, except for the clues in the images themselves and their position in the contact sheet, and any notes the photographer made.

I was never too good at notes, and except for the broad details I recorded on the contact sheets and the pictures themselves there is little to go on. In later years I marked up my contact sheets more carefully, with street names, Grid References and occasional notes, but back in 1982 and 1984 when these images were made I hadn’t got around to this.

The whole area is rather different now, with new housing on most of it, and the scrap yards and breakers long gone. Copperas St is now the site of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and where the Deptford Power Station was a two bed flat will set you back half a million.

These pictures are among those in the next book in my London Docklands series, the fifth, which will cover Deptford and Greenwich and possibly along to Woolwich, though I still have quite a lot of work to do on the images. Typically, retouching the scans takes about half an hour per image, which slows down the production.

Previous volumes from the series (as well as my other books) are still available on Blurb, either as soft-cover books or PDF:

London Docklands 1   City to Blackwall 1978-84
London Docklands 2   The Deserted Royals
London Docklands 3   Southwark & Bermondsey
London Docklands 4   Rotherhithe & Surrey Docks: 1975-1985

Those with an address in the UK can order printed copies direct from me at a reduced price of £25.00 post free for volumes 1 & 2 and £28 for volumes 3 & 4 post free – most titles are usually in stock. But as always I recommend the PDF versions from Blurb at just at under a fiver.


40 Years

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The first time I wrote about Nicholas Nixon‘s series ‘The Brown Sisters‘ I think was when the project with an annual photograph of the four of them – one the photographer’s wife –  had been going for 25 years. At the start of this month the New York Times published the 40th in the series at the bottom of an article in the magazine, 40 Portraits in 40 Years, written by Susan Minot.  In November 2014, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, MoMA, is holding a show of the 40 images and publishing the book, The Brown Sisters: Forty Years.

It seems to me to be remarkable enough that the five people concerned, Heather, Mimi, Bebe, Laurie (always shown in that order, left to right) and the photographer, have actually managed to get together every year for a photograph since the first in 1975, certainly not something we could have managed in my own family. The photographer was born in 1947 and so is now 66 or 67, and the sisters must be not that different in age. And remarkable too that it should have resulted in a series of such quality (though I find a few a little weak compared to the others.)  There are links to more of the pictures in a recent post here about a series of annual self-portraits by Lucy Hilmer, which she began the year before Nixon’s Brown Sisters.

I first became aware of Nixon’s work when he was included in an exhibition in 1975 at George Eastman House curated by William Jenkins called “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” I didn’t get to Rochester to see the show, but I read about it and saw pictures from it in magazines and books, as well as a couple of years later attending a workshop with one of the other photographers involved, Lewis Balz, who talked about  and showed work by those in the show and others working in a similar vein. A few years later I bought a small publication, Nicholas Nixon, Photographs From One Year (Untitled 31); the year was in 1981-2, and the book came out in 1983. Some of the pictures from the book are in the MoMA collection (organised by date – start here – but not all images here from 1981-2 are in the book.)  The title and format of the book reflected Nixon’s desire to deliberately set himself different goals for each year of his work.

The 39 plates in that book are finely reproduced more or less actual size from Nixon’s 8×10″ contact prints, and it is a superb set of pictures of people in and around their homes in some of the less affluent districts of American cities, with an introduction written by photographer Robert Adams. Inside my copy are some brief notes made for when I was talking about the work to students, including this about the apparent relation between Nixon and the groups of people he was photographing:

They are not the ‘subject’ but with him part of the act of photographing. And it is an act which does not simply restate the beauty and sensuousness of natural light correctly pictured, but respects and affirms those within its frame.

Copies of this thin book, 48 pages in all, are still available for from around £3 second-hand (a fraction of what it cost me, as the cover price of $16.00 would have meant it was on sale for £16 or more here), and it is well worth buying, even though postage may double the cost.  It may well appreciate shortly, as one dealer is already asking over £50 for a copy.

Bad Advice

Monday, October 6th, 2014

F-Stop Lounge isn’t one of the photography sites I read regularly, though it does sometimes have interesting articles. As its name suggests it is somewhat technically oriented and also a slightly clubby kind of place. The aim of its founders was to create “a site that inspires to bring the photographers of the world together” and the site contains “an array of inspirational photographs, insightful real world reviews, detailed tutorials and helpful hints & tips about photography.” I’m not sure why, but there is something about that which makes me want to run a mile.

Having said that, there are some interesting features on the site. I enjoyed reading Mathew Maddock’s Fujifilm X-T1 Real World Review, a totally non-technical account of how he feels about the camera after using it for some months which in large parts reflects my own feeling about the camera which I’ve been using on and off for a while. I’ve just come back from a long weekend where it was the only camera I took, and although I had four lenses with me, the recently acquired (secondhand) 20mm f2.0 was the only one I used, though once or twice I did consider changing to the 14mm.  Quiet, discreet, fast focus, great viewfinder I particularly enjoyed using it in a crowded room after a wedding and in the reception that followed – and using the EVF is even better than using a Leica viewfinder.

Much better too than the fixed lens Fuji X100, nice though that is, but now rather redundant for me, along with the X-Pro1 – really time I got around to selling these. But still not quite a replacement for the Nikons so far as covering action is concerned. And while the X-T1 is great in low light for static subjects, when you need to use flash the Nikon flash system wins convincingly.  It also wins for using flash fill, though those large Nikon lenses mean that the built-in flashes on the D700 and D800 are generally unusable, needing a shoe-mounted flash. I’ve yet to remember to take the small accessory flash for the X-T1 with me to see how well that works in practice, but the low max synch speed of 1/180 would rather limit its usefulness. And given the way the Fujis all eat batteries, running a flash as well from them doesn’t seem a good idea. So for the X-T1 I’ve been adding the fill where needed in Lightroom.

But the article that took me from Petapixel to F-Stop Lounge was Some Of The Worst Photography Advice We’ve Ever Heard, a list of 16 pieces of poor advice often given by people to those starting out in photography. There are two of them that relate to the last paragraph,

  • Your cameras built in flash is perfectly fine, you don’t need an external flash
  • You can just Photoshop it later.

Built-in flash can be very useful, particularly for fill, but of course you can do so much more with a good external flash and the right camera. And while Photoshop (or Lightroom) can often save the day it’s always better if you can get it right in camera.

Mostly they are very bad advice, although there are one or two points that might be worth taking:

  • Always use a filter on the front of your lens.

I’d add to that, make sure it is just a UV filter. And of course there are a few lenses that can’t take a filter. I used a Sigma 12-24mm F5.6 that had a bulbous front element  which prevented filter use – and after a few years cost close to £300 when the front element needed to be replaced. Neither the Nikon 10.5mm or 16mm fisheyes can take a filter either. But whenever a lens that can take one it’s generally a very good idea to use one. While in theory it may marginally take the edge off the lens performance, you are unlikely to notice it, but if you actually use your cameras it probably won’t be long before you will be pleased as you replace a scratched or shattered filter for a few quid rather than face an expensive repair. Nikon make a very nice 14-24mm f/2.8G lens, but two things stopped me buying it. One was simply the weight – almost a kilogram – and the other that you couldn’t put a filter on it.

The list is quite interesting in a way, though some things are just crazy – the kind of rules that will guarantee boring pictures. Perhaps the penultimate on the list, ‘Just point and click’ , isn’t a bad idea for those starting taking photographs, so long as you then look at the results and then learn from them. Probably better than listening to advice from other people, however well-intentioned.

Black Square Portraits

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

On Wired you can see 23 portraits made by Anastasia Taylor-Lind who spent most of February in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev. Noting that “There were more photojournalists than protesters on the barricades of Independence Square” she decided whe had to do something different, and eventually decided to make posed portraits of some of those involved in the protest, men in their makeshift armour and women carrying flowers. The Wired page tells the story and also links to the Instagram movies she made of her Hassleblad and Bronica viewfinder images while setting up these portraits, and which gave a more or less instant preview of her work.

It took her a while to get things sorted out, and it was only after a trip back from London that she brought with her a folding frame to hold the black muslin background that works so well in the pictures – a selection from the 96 in her book ‘Maidan—Portraits from the Black Square’ , a limited edition of 750 copies. You can see her at work on a video on the Gost site, and signed copies of the book are available from the photographers own web site. If you are not already familiar with her her work, it is certainly worth visiting the site and looking through the stories on line there, each interesting  in its own way.



Class War and Poor Doors

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Class War, led by Ian Bone (centre) arrive at One Commercial St for the protest

It’s hard to describe ‘Class War‘, a loose organisation now registered as a political party, and planning to contest at least twenty or thirty constituencies in the 2015 General Election.  Recent campaigns they have got behind include one for Independence for South Norwood, carried out at the same time as the Scottish Independence Campaign, with hustings and a vote where the electorate were given three alternatives, to stay as part of the London Borough of Croydon, to apply for South Norwood to join with an independent Scotland or to be completely independent.  Unfortunately the Scots didn’t make it, and so South Norwood’s plans had to be abandoned too :-).

Currently too, they are fighting the by-election caused by Tory MP Mark Reckless’s defection to UKIP, with a campaign poster ‘The Working Class needs YOU!’ and the bottom line ‘Vote Holly Smith Because all the other candidates are scum!’ (There are also other posters calling Reckless a ‘toff’ and a ‘wanker’. As Ian Bone comments: “educated at Marlborough College and did PPE at Oxford……… well well…… ..aint he just the toff to represent the working class of Strood?”)

The poster reprints a notorious cover from the ‘Class War’ newspaper in the 1980s

Although Class War should not always (or often if ever) be taken literally, and deliberately try to outrage and poke fun, they often point up serious problems. Britain is still in many respects a class-dominated society, run by the rich for the rich, and those rich are getting relatively richer year by year.

Here is what their web site says about the series of ‘Poor Doors’ protests they began in London at the end of July and have continued every Wednesday since.

London is facing gentrification forcing working people out of their home boroughs as prices rise. Added to the problems of the bedroom tax, inflation, rent rises and pay cuts, working class communities are being dismantled. Social segregation is seeing people being priced out of their own areas. Nowhere is this more stark than in developments using Poor Doors. These developments provide social housing within developments with luxury flats but whilst the rich get a concierge, gyms and other services social housing tenants have no services, separate lifts and an entrance down an ally or round the back.

Class War have been protesting such a development on Wednesday evenings at 1 Commercial Street, which is just next to Aldgate East tube station. We now call on all trade unionists to join us on Wednesday with banners and placards to show solidarity with working people on the fringes of The City. Together we can highlight the injustice of social segregation and widening inequality. Please come down and spread the word.

It’s hard to argue with the first three sentences, something we see happening across London, and something no political party has come up with any policies that would have any real effect (nor for that matter have Class War, and their proposed 50% mansion tax is hardly feasible.)  Labour-run councils are actually in the thick of making it happen, just as the other boroughs are. Newham, 100% Labour run, is one of the worse offenders – as the Focus E15 Mums and the Carpenters Estate scandal have pointed out.

Like most new blocks of flats being built in London, most of the flats here are owned by overseas investors, with a rise in value of around 35% expected in the next three or four years. This location is particularly desirable as an investment because it is on the edge of the city but also because investors will benefit from the huge public investment in Crossrail, with a station within spitting distance – private speculators benefiting hugely from public expenditure. Probably like most such investment properties many of the flats will be empty all or most of the year, although some are let out to short-term visitors to London.

The building manager tries to close the ‘rich door’ than the protesters have held open so the protest can be heard inside

I’ve been following the series of protests with interest, going along most weeks, taking pictures and reporting. This – and the Focus Mums protests a couple of miles down the road – might just be the start of a change in the way we think and act over class and income inequality. Just as we’ve seen UK Uncut protests move the whole issue of tax evasion into the open to where it has now become – at least in part –  Tory party policy. Certainly something has to change in how London works and how it houses the low paid workers that keep it running. Perhaps these protests might just be one of the front lines of the class war that we need. And as well as being addressing a serious point, the protests are often rather amusing.

Eventually the police arrive and talk to the protesters, asking them to keep away from the door

Class War’s use of my pictures freely without payment also raise some issues about copyright, but I’m relaxed about this, although wanting to insist that I retain copyright. Class War have little or no money, and these pictures would not exist without their actions and their cooperation.  And although I’m not a member of the party (I’m not sure if anyone other than those who registered it as a political party are), its leader Ian Bone has promised me that I’ll become their official photographer when he moves into 10 Downing St :-)

The ‘rich door’ is on the main road and  gives onto a wide space with comfortable seating, a 24 hour staffed reception desk and the building managers office.  The ‘poor door’ is towards the end of the narrow and rather smelly alley shown above with no proper lighting visible. I was told there was usually rubbish on the street. The poor door opens onto an uninviting long, narrow and empty corridor with just several rows of post boxes on otherwise bare walls, and a notice telling all entering they are on CCTV (though most such cameras are never on.)

More at Class War – Rich Door, Poor Door.


End Gaza Invasion

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Nikon D800E, 18-105mm DX, 75mm

The last Saturday in July saw London’s largest demonstration for some time, against the Israeli invasion of Gaza. I don’t know how many people there were taking part in it, far too many for me to make a reliable estimate, although I did walk from the front to the back of the march as it was leaving from close to the Israeli embassy.

Following the meeting between photographers from the London Photographers Branch of the NUJ and people at Stop the War, who were the march organisers which I mentioned in Gaza Stop the War, there were considerably better arrangements for the press at the opening rally in Kensington High St, and we were able to work far more sensibly, though outside this press area the crowds obviously made things difficult.

Nikon D800E, 18-105mm DX, 21mm

Things were still just a little tricky with access to the actual platform – which obviously does need proper control – but eventually after waiting five minutes or so I was allowed up to take the couple of pictures of the crowds which I’d decided I wanted. But I resented wasting five minutes of my time for no good reason when I could have done it in ten seconds. Not that I mind waiting, but that five minutes would have been spent getting other pictures than might have been better for me and for the cause.

Nikon D700, 16-35mm FX, 16mm

At the head of the march too there were still the usual problems, with photographers having to snatch images from outside a large and heavily stewarded ‘box’ in front of the main banner.  It would be less of a problem if it was half as long, but Stop the War miss out by not allowing photographers proper access for a few minutes at the start of the march, and also at key sites where the march halted – for example outside Downing St.

I walked over half a mile with the front of the march, trying to get decent pictures, but then gave up and worked my way back to the end of the march, sometimes waiting for people to walk past me, sometimes walking backwards inside the march, sometimes going on but slowly making my way back to the start point just over half an hour after the start of the march. By then I’d probably covered about two miles to get nowhere, walking and running backwards and forwards and it was hot and I was tired.  I wanted to be in Whitehall, three miles away when the front of the march arrived there, so I took the Underground to Westminster and walked up Whitehall, stopping for ten minutes or so to photograph a vigil opposite Downing St by ‘Stolen Children of the UK’, families whose children have been taken away from them by the secretive  family courts.

Nikon D700, 16-35mm FX, 16mm

As I was talking, I heard shouting from Trafalgar Square, and rushed to meet the front-runners of the Gaza march – now well ahead of the main banner – just as they turned into Whitehall for the final half mile.  Five minutes later came the ‘box’ of stewards and the main banner, and I took a picture from above the box, standing on the plinth of one of the statues in Whitehall, before infiltrating behind the main banner and photographing inside the march.

Nikon D700, 16-35mm FX, 16mm

As we came into Parliament Square, one of the stewards whose arm I was leaning against told me to go past her and take pictures and for the last couple of hundred yards I was able to photograph the front of the march with the Houses of Parliament behind them and I was able to work more freely for a minute or so.

During the rally that followed there was also a good area from which the press could work and I photographed  a number of speakers before heat and exhaustion became too much for me and I left for home.

Israeli Embassy rally – End Gaza Invasion
End Gaza Invasion March to Parliament
Stop the Massacre in Gaza Rally