Archive for November, 2017

Hull Photos: 13/10/17 – 19/10/17

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Another weekly digest of the pictures I’m putting up every day on my Hull Photos web site where you can see a new picture every day. I also post them on my Facebook page, along with the short texts shown here, which are not yet included on the web site.

Comments and corrections are welcome either here or on Facebook, and will help me to get the finished texts which will eventually go on Hull Photos. Hull photos is divided into a number of sections, and the picture captions end with the name of the section that image has been placed in. Clicking any of the images will take you to it in that section of the site where you may find related images.

12th October 2017

A young man smiles as I take a picture of him sitting on his horse-drawn cart on Bridlington Avenue in front of the works of Rose Downs and Thompson Ltd.

I’ve written earlier about Rose Downs and Thompson Ltd, iron-founders and manufacturers of oil mill and hydraulic machinery, and their pioneering work in the UK building their listed 1900 factory extension (not in this picture) and the bridge on Cleveland St using the Hennebique ‘ferro-concrete’ system.

85-5i-21: Rag and Bone man, Bridlington Av, 1985 – Beverley Rd

13th October 2017

Shakespeare TV and Electronics was the place to go to buy a reconditioned TV, or for repairs, and they advertised their shop at 177 Springbank with the front of a TV on the fascia board.

This and the adjoining shop had some fancy decoration around their first floor windows, though a redundant strip of angle iron didn’t add to the effect. The shop is now a multicultral food store.

85-5i-41: Shakespeare TV and Electronics, Springbank, 1985 – Springbank

14th October 2017

Myrtle Villas, off Springbank roughly opposite Stanley St, was surely one of Hull’s shortest terraces, with only two houses on each side. But it did have its own Hull telephone box.

The houses across the end were being demolished when I took this picture, and the terrace now looks less enclosed and leads to further properties. The discount store on the right is now ‘Grab A Bargain’ and on the left is ‘Urban Trendz’. There is still a phone box, though I might have to wait a long time to see anyone using it, while back in the 1980s queues were not unusual.

85-5i-42: Myrtle Villas, Springbank, 1985 – Springbank

15th October 2017

Demolition was happening on a large scale in the area between Springbank and Beverley Rd and I took seven pictures. This image is unusual in that the demolition has cut through a long stretch of tightly packed houses and has left what appears to be a massive pile of bricks – and at bottom left a pile of old newspapers with the ‘Property Guide’ at the top.

85-5i-46: Demolition, Springbank area, 1985 – Springbank

16th October 2017

The decoration on the side of a former fire-station in Hall St now has a Hull Heritage Blue plaque stating it to have been the home of the Hull Volunteer Fire Brigade. There two wider doorways, slightly differing in size, one perhaps for the fire engine, and the other for the hroses that would have pulled it. That on the left is decorated with three horses heads and the other with images of three fire captains in their helmets, one at each side of the arch and the third on the keystone. The right hand arch also has a decorative pattern in the brickwork of the arch and small windows across the doors.

I made two exposures on this occasion, one showing the whole of the right hand gate and two of the horses heads on the left, and the second moving in closer to show just one of the horses and a man apparently looking up slightly towards it.

There was no plaque when I took my pictures, but it looked as if the building had been recently painted with the decorative figures picked out in white, slightly carelessly as there is some paint on the brickwork around. It looks as if the paintwork was a pale colour when I took these pictures, perhaps cream; later they were painted maroon and in 2008 repainted a dark blue.

85-5i-54: Hull Volunteer Fire Brigade building, Hall St, 1985 – Springbank

17th October 2017

The empty open box on the wall has a hook which probably once held a lifebelt and a cast-iron covered structure projects out over the riverside pathway and overhangs the river above a covered barge. The river seems full of vessels, but the only easily identifiable one is the barge Poem 21.

In the background across the river is Clarence Mill and the former Trinity House buoy shed. On the large heaps of sand at the wharf at right is the tiny figure of a man with a shovel, apparently facing an immense task.

The picture is taken from the end of Bishop Lane Staith and the Grade II listed building here is Ellerman’s Building, 38b High St, converted into flats in 2000. Out of site on the west side of the building is a stone with ‘G G M 1655’ which was retained from a former building on the site when this warehouse was rebuilt around 1800.

85-5j-21: Riverside path and loading bay, Old Harbour, 1985 – River Hull

18th October 2017

Kingston Supply Services was on Lime St on part of the site which is now a 24 hour car park next to L A Hall Roofing Contractors and Merchants. The building was demolished around 2010. The peeling sign once offered – among other indecipherable things – Pullovers, Blouses and Denim.

Some years earlier there had been a board a few yards down the street for Hull Ships Stores and this building may have been a part of this.

85-5j-31: Kingston Supply Services, Lime St, 1985 – River Hull

19th October 2017

At left are the buildings of Associated Tyre Specialists, still present with a frontage to Great Union St, now occupied by Adams Fast Food Supplies. Beyond them the buildings of Clarence Mill; those on this side of Drypool Bridge still standing and occupied by Shotwell, with the larger complex behind with ‘Clarence Flour Mills’ on its side sadly (and insanely) destroyed. The tanks and other objects blocking the riverside path are in front of the Union Dry Dock and at the right of the picture is the entrance to another dry dock, with a large shed of the Yorkshire Dry Dock Company to its right, between it and the former Queen’s dock entrance.

Burcom Sand, named after a sandbank in the Humber estuary between Grimsby and Sunk Island was a grab hopper dredger built in 1954 by Cook, Welton & Gemmell at Beverley which worked extensively for the British Transport Docks Board around the Hull docks in the 1960s and 70s. Later, like the Kenfig I also photographed here, she was owned by Dave Cook of Hull and used for jobs like removing old jetties. She was apparently fixed at the bow to piles at low tide with a wire hawser and pulled them up and out as she rose with the tide. She was broken up across the Humber at New Holland in March 1994.

85-5j-33: Burcom Sand moored above Drypool Bridge, 1985 – River Hull

You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.

Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.

A Walk in the Park

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

What do you do if you come to London to photograph an event that finishes around 11am and then want to photograph another that doesn’t start until 3pm? On International Worker’s Memorial Day (April 28th) I decided to go for a walk in the park. The former Olympic Park, now called the QEII Park.

The International Worker’s Memorial Day commemoration in London is one I try to go to every year, though I don’t think it’s a particularly good event to photograph, either financially or artistically. Safety at work is an important issue, and I used at one time to be a safety officer at my workplace. People often joke about health and safety, but we have seen legislation that has made all workplaces safer, though some right-wing politicians want to sweep it away as ‘red tape’, and this and the previous government have sadly greatly weakened the enforcement of regulations. Of course sometimes regulations get misinterpreted and used as a pretext for things that clearly were not intended, but much more often they are flouted because companies know they can get away with it.

It wasn’t my first visit to the park – I’d gone shortly after it was reopened to the public, and made another short visit more recently on my way to a protest in Stratford, and the weather wasn’t ideal for making the kind of wide panoramic images I intended. With such a wide expanse of sky in many of the pictures its often useful to have some interesting clouds in a blue sky; sunlight tends to brighten the mood as well as increase the light levels, but it’s best to have plenty of cloud both to get rid of huge expanses of empty blue sky and also to reduce the local contrast with shadow areas being illuminated from the clouds.

It wasn’t too bad. Although there wasn’t – until I was getting ready to leave – even the smallest patch of blue sky for those sailor’s trousers at least the clouds had some definition – and there was not the problem of avoiding getting the sun in picture, which can be tricky on sunny days with a roughly 145 degree angle of view. And though we mainly see blue skies as a nice even blue, film or sensor is very sensitive to the increase in illumination.

I’d hoped that almost 5 years after the Olympics the park might have matured, and was rather disappointed. It doesn’t really look like it will become much of a park in my lifetime, if ever. And while it was good to find that they are still intending to replace Carpenters Lock, it does seem to be taking rather a long time.

It was my first visit to the northern extremes of the site, and I also made use of the new foot bridge across the Lea Navigation to make my way to Hackney Wick station to catch a train back to Stratford and then the tube into central London to photograph a vigil in solidarity with the over 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails taking part in a hunger strike.

Palestinian Prisoners Hunger Strike vigil
Olympic Park Update
International Workers’s Memorial Day


When Buddha Looks Away

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

When Buddha Looks Away is a set of powerful photographs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh from Drik Images, the leading photo agency in South Asia, set up in response to the stereotyped portrayals of our world by the western media, a platform for media practitioners in the global south.

“These photographs, powerful as they are, show the visible pain. The torment, the insecurity, the fear, the burning inside, the sense of eternal loss, remain undocumented. “

On and Off Photography

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Back in the late 1970s when there seemed to many of us that their was a least a glimmer of a photography culture emerging in the UK that might support serious photographers, thanks to the efforts of Creative Camera, the Arts Council  and a few people in education, particularly in the Midlands, including Paul Hill and Ray Moore, we suffered a huge academic land grab which more or less snuffed out that fledgling. Creative Camera degenerated, the Arts Council altered course and many photographers were relegated to obscurity.

Photography was largely sacrificed on the altar of academic respectability, becoming subservient to the word, being relegated to what many saw as its rightful subservience in our logocentric culture. You want a degree you’ve got to read learn a secret language to read deliberately obscured texts and write pretentious essays, never mind the pictures.

The flagship of this enterprise was a curious work, On Photography by Susan Sontag, which came at the top of every degree course reading list. My own copy of this 1977 best-seller soon got into a sorry state from being thrown down at its more ridiculous sentences, its margins annotated with my explosions at her ignorance and misunderstandings, her half-digested regurgitations from earlier sources.

It did make rather a good television programme, which I had recorded and watched several times, and felt to be far superior to the book, not least because in it her thoughts became tied to actual examples, the particular rather than the generalisation.  And perhaps because of the work of a better editor than at her publisher and the more limited canvas available.

It was a book that spawned more books, but never provoked any photography of significance, that led to a whole school of academia that treats photographs as just an abbreviated list of the objects and events they depict, largely dismissing the aspects that make photography an vital and visual medium.

We no longer simply looked at photographs, no longer experienced them, but in that oh so reductive usage, we ‘read’ them. Not that reading photographs can’t give us valuable insights – and it was always a part of looking at them – but it is only a partial exercise, and the visual, expressive, aesthetic aspects were generally dismissed as unworthy of study.

On Photography is a book that should only appear on reading lists for students with a health warning, and one of the best health warnings is provided by an article recently resurrected by A D Coleman, Susan Sontag: Off Photography, originally written by him in 1979 but not published until 1998. In his introduction to this republication, Coleman notes:

Sontag subsequently acknowledged that photography was not her real subject and had simply served her as a convenient whipping boy, and — in Regarding the Pain of Others (2003) — she eventually retracted most of what she’d had to say in her original diatribe.

Regarding the Pain of Others is certainly a far better book about photography, and the photography of war in particular, but I don’t recall ever seeing it on the reading lists for photography students. Perhaps it should be, replacing her ‘On Photography‘.


LSE sprayed with chalk

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

The t-shirt for sale in the university shop at the LSE, pointed out to me by Lisa McKenzie, then an academic working at the LSE and who can be seen photographing the shop window, seemed to be a rather too accurate reflection of the current priorities of the institution, with its message ‘£$€‘ , though perhaps these days it should also somehow include ¥ and .

I was at the LSE for a protest by students and workers in the ‘Life Not Money’ campaign  who were calling on the LSE to change from what they say is thirty years of growing neglect, cruelty and outright corporate greed towards workers and staff at the school to something beautiful and life affirming. In particular the contrasted the high salary of the director – said to be around £500,000 a year  – with that of the lowest paid workers such as the cleaners who are paid less than the London Living Wage and have unpaid breaks and are bullied and treated as second-class citizens.

While the cleaners’ trade union, the UVW, has been taking action with a series of demonstrations and strikes, Life Not Money have decided a more effective method is to use more colorful direct action with the deliberate intention to get some of their supporters arrested. It’s an approach that does seem to have worked in other disputes.

I was a little aggrieved that after having been invited to photograph the event I was left photographing what was an action intended to divert the LSE security while the actual direct action of writing and drawing on the wall of one of the university buildings in nearby Houghton St actually took place. Perhaps this was just an oversight, but by the time I got there, the writing was already on the wall:

‘Cut Directors Pay Boost Workers Pay We All Know it Makes Sense’

and those who had done it were sitting quietly having a party and waiting patiently to be arrested.

It wasn’t real paint that had been used, but spray chalk, and there was no actual damage to the wall, just to the image of the LSE and the pride of its security team who had failed to stop it.  The protesters had even brought along damp sponges and offered to remove the writing but security and police were not prepared to allow them to do so.  It’s hard to see that writing on a wall with chalk that can easily be removed with a damp cloth could be seen by a court as ‘criminal damage’ – which the LSE alleged and police arrested the writer for.

Increasingly arrest and a period of often up to 18 hours in police custody – they like to release people in the early hours of the morning when little or no public transport is running – is being used as a minor punishment by police for offences where there would be little chance of securing an actual conviction, and where often no charges are made. And in some cases police release people on bail with conditions intended to prevent further protests, such as banning them from the area where they were arrested, often for several months, though this appears to be unenforceable. And property, sometimes including clothing, may be taken as ‘evidence’ for cases that stand little or no chance of coming to court – and is sometimes lost by police.  It seems to be a little procedural bullying which has no basis in law, and for which some have managed to receive compensation.

In this case the police didn’t seem unduly worried about the apparent crime, and they kept the four perpetrators waiting for over an hour before they arrived to arrest them – and I’d almost given up waiting and gone to catch my train home.

Among the allegations from cleaners employed by Noonan for the LSE on the posters that students posted:

“Women have to sleep with management to get extra hours. The whole thing is corrupt. And supervisors attack the women and are not even disciplined … LSE know about this. And LSE doesn’t give a damn so long as the work is covered and they don’t have to think about it.”

“Worst thing of all is the situation with illegal immigrants working here … half their wages went back to management. They don’t have to pay them the minimum wage and they can’t complain because they are illegals. When there was a check management told all the illegals not to come in on that day.”

These are the crimes that police should be investigating, not protesters chalking on walls.

More at: LSE decorated against inequality & corruption


Remember Paris

Friday, November 10th, 2017

I’m not exactly sure why I’ve stopped going to Paris Photo. The last time I was there was five years ago in 2012; I’ve not even visited the city since, though I used to go there fairly often outside of Paris Photo. It is only a short journey on the Eurostar, and a comfortable one, so much better than air travel, and although there is still something of a hassle to go through customs and security, there is rather less wasted time.

Though I loved going to Paris, and there was always something interesting to see in Paris Photo, there was also an awful lot of walking around the show, and a great deal of what seemed to me worthless photography, mainly printed huge and with truly stratospheric price tags. Much of it appearing in the same galleries year after year (though sometimes they were different pictures that looked the same.) And even the work that was truly worth seeing was often still on show the following year and again the next time.

Although at first I went three years running, I soon decided every other year was enough, and chose those years when there was also a great deal of photography on offer outside of Paris Photo, with seemingly the whole city given over to le Mois de la Photo and le Mois de la Photo-OFF. But for 2017, the artistic director of le Mois de la photo, François Hébel decided to rename it le Mois de la photo du Grand Paris and to hold it in April rather than November – and the fringe also took place then.

April would have been a better month to go to Paris, likely to have better weather and certain to have more daylight, but I wasn’t organised enough to make it this year. It would be great to go, particularly for the Photo-OFF, which is a far more inclusive event. At Paris Photo if you are not a wealthy collector or a well-known photographer or curator you are something of an outsider and a second-class citizen, and a few of the dealers certainly it too clear. While at the various openings and events of the Photo-OFF, photographers (and others) are welcome, though my largely forgotten schoolboy French does sometimes make communication difficult. At Paris Photo the language is money, ruled by the dollar in American English.

I’ve sometimes made a small effort to brush up my French, but largely rely on the services of Linda to go to events outside of Paris Photo, though one year I did go on my own, and found it just a little difficult at times. And on my last visit in 2012, she came with me to all of the six openings I attended and was also invaluable on the one parcours guidée we managed ot fit in, which took us to eight venues of the Photo-OFF, at most of which there were talks by the photographer or gallery owner about the work. She also came with me to almost half of the other shows I saw that week – I think the total was over 80, but still had some time off to go to other things without me. There would have been a few more but for a nasty stomach upset towards the end of our stay which rather curtailed my activities.

You can read more about that trip – and see some of the pictures I took in our six days there – on My London Diary. The pictures on this post are from my 2006 trip to Paris Photo and you can see more on my Paris Photos site.

But don’t worry if you, like me, don’t make it to Paris Photo this year. You can see the best of it on-line at various sites, including LensCulture, which has Your Guide to Paris Photo and links to more about it.


Hull Photos: 6/10/17 – 12/10/17

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Another week of pictures added to my Hull Photos site – one per pay throughout Hull’s year as 2017 UK City of Culture. You can follow these daily on Facebook – and of course on the Hull Photos site, though the comments do not appear there – I hope to get comments and corrections to them before adding them. Your comments are welcome here or on Facebook.

6th October 2017

Rix tanker Beldale H, here backing further into the Drypool Basin entrance swinging area. Small tankers such as this transferred oil for large vessels in the King George V dock or other ports along the Humber Estuary or through Goole.

Beldale H, a 300 ton estuary and inland waterway barge was built by Harkers in Knottingley in 1959 and was later renamed Rix Osprey. Rix is a family firm begun by Captain Robert Rix; born on a farm in Norfolk in 1841, he ran away to sea when he was 10, later becoming a captain and setting up a shipbuilding company on the Tees in Newcastle in 1873. Ten years later he moved with his wife and seven children to Hull, where he continued to work for the firm until the day before his death in 1925. The firm developed to have wide interests in trade of lamp oil from Russia and later oil for tractors, heating etc, as well as shipping timber in and caravans out of Hull, agricultural distribution, haulage and more. As well as the Rix Petroleum site with a wharf on the River Hull and storage across Wincolmlee, from 1977 to 2012 they also owned Hepworth Shipyard Ltd at Paull a few miles down the Humber north bank.

The best-known member of the family, Brian Rix (1924-2016) noted for having trouble keeping his trousers up on stage, but also a notable campaigner on learning disability both before and after entering the House of Lords was a grandson of Robert Rix. Knighted for services to charity in 1986 he became a life peer in 1992.

85-5h-35: Beldale H at Drypool entrance swinging area, 1985 – River Hull

5th October 2017

By 1985, this shop had abandoned its earlier Royal Wedding window display I had photographed in 1981 and was back to basics – 4 toilet rolls for 52 p and cans of soft drinks.

85-5h-41: Shop window display, Church St, 1985 – East Hull

7th October 2017

Somewhere on – or just off – the Holderness Rd was a used car dealer with this peeling message on a window.

85-5h-53: Cars and Vans Bought for Cash, Holderness Rd, 1985 – East Hull

8th October 2017

Just a few yards down a street leading off from Holderness Rd was an unusual display of rectangles – empty notices, blocked windows and doors, some bricked up and ventilation. And just one message: “Victory to the miners”. Their strike had ended in defeat two months earlier

85-5h-54: Victory to the miners, Holderness Rd, 1985 – East Hull

9th October 2017

This rather unusual complex of interlocking buildings were on Church St, on the south side of the road just to the west of end of the road at the junction with Naylor’s Row/Marvel St and Strawberry St.

The site is just to the west of Paling Joiners, roughly opposite East St and I think the larger building at the back of the picture is possibly still there, perhaps with some alteration (or replaced by a similar building), though the rest has gone, and a thick hedge obscures the view.

The white building in the distance is the Kingston Arms, though rather closer to me just out of picture is The Blacksmith’s Arms, now closed and put up for auction last year as “a fantastic development opportunity.”

85-5h-55: Industrial site, Holderness Rd area, 1985 – East Hull

10th October 2017

Hull had many windmills in earlier years and around 30 are listed within the city boundary on Wikipedia, though most were demolished before the start of the 20th century. This mill appears twice on the list there and is, so far as I’m aware, the only one that remains in Hull, as The Mill public house on Holderness Rd, opposite East Park. There are of course quite a few in the surrounding area, including one at Skidby, said to be the last working mill in East Yorkshire.

This mill was restored in the late 20th century and is a Grade II listed building, as too is the public house, The Mill, adjoining it. It now has a cap and sails.

The mill had been disused for many years. A 1928 photograph shows it in a similar condition to my picture with a large advert for the Hull Daily Mail painted on it and a board for the business premises of W Lockwood in front of it. It could be the same board as was there when I took my picture but the name had change and now ended in OWEN with telephone number 783516. The remains of several advertising messages are dimly visible, one perhaps for a brand of Stout, and in front of the image are a number of blank headstones in what was presumably the yard of an monumental mason.

85-5h-64: Windmill, Holderness Rd – East Hull

11th October 2017

Carr St, off Scott St, was demolished to provide further parking for the Maizecor mill on Wincolmlee, although a downturn in business probably meant it was never needed. The building at right is the Scott Street Methodist Chapel of 1804, from around 1910 the printing works of Mason & Jackson Ltd, and at the centre of the image, along what had once been Marsh St were the buildings of the Sculcoates Relief Office.

The story of this chapel and the failure of attempts to get it listed in the 1990s are told by Paul Gibson and the buildings were all demolished in 2001. The extended lorry park this provided was always more or less empty when I went past.

85-5i-14: Carr St, 1985 – River Hull

12th October 2017

A young man smiles as I take a picture of him sitting on his horse-drawn cart on Bridlington Avenue in front of the works of Rose Downs and Thompson Ltd.

I’ve written earlier about Rose Downs and Thompson Ltd, iron-founders and manufacturers of oil mill and hydraulic machinery, and their pioneering work in the UK building their listed 1900 factory extension (not in this picture) and the bridge on Cleveland St using the Hennebique ‘ferro-concrete’ system.

85-5i-21: Rag and Bone man, Bridlington Ave, 1985 – Beverley Rd

You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.

Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.

f8 and Be There, plus …

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

f8 and Be There‘ is a famous quote attributed to ‘Weegee‘, the New York press photographer Arthur Fellig whose brutal flash-lit exposures documented the seedier side of the city’s life and crime in the middle years of the last century, and is often quoted as the maxim for photojournalists and street photographers.

Weegee got to many crime scenes before the police, not because he used a Ouija board as the nickname implied, but at first because he hung around in the Manhattan Police Headquarters and watched the teletype, rushing out to take photographs when a crime report came in. He started without any police permit, but from 1938 because he was the first journalist to get permission to have a police-band short-wave radio, which he kept in the boot of his car along with portable darkroom facilities. He would get to the location, rush in with his 4×5″ Speed Graphic camera and bulb flash, take a picture, develop and print the sheet film, stamp the back with ‘Credit Photo by the Famous Weegee’ and have it at the newspaper or agency hours before other photographers.

Despite the quote, Weegee seldom if ever worked at f8. You needed greater depth of field for his work, and he would generally have his camera set at f16, with the focus at 10 ft and the shutter speed of 1/200th, probably the fastest speed to synch the flash bulbs with the lens he used. It worked, and he didn’t have to think about technique, just get in the right place and press the button.

Of course not everything needed to be done at such a rush, and despite the impression of naked emergency given by the flash and the often slightly dynamic framing, as with other newspaper photographers many of his pictures were posed. He was a photographer who knew what he wanted and made sure he got it.

Photojournalist‘ is an overused term in photography, as too is ‘street photography‘and I don’t think Weegee was either, but essentially a news photographer. His work was certainly effective and his simplified technique worked well.

Much of the time many professional photographers now use the ‘P’ setting on cameras, often derided as for amateurs and newbies (including by me in years long past.) It generally works well and enables you to concentrate on framing and content and let the camera get the exposure more or less right. And should you need a faster shutter speed or greater depth of field a control dial is there under your finger or thumb to give it – and automatically adjust the other exposure parameters (these days we can use shutter, aperture and ISO) to retain correct exposure in P* mode. Though should you be using flash (other than for fill), S seems to be a better choice, at least with Nikons.

‘f8’ simply means the technical side of making an image, not the literal aperture, though I often do work at f8, though in winter more often at f4, or whatever the maximum aperture of my lens is, stopping down one or two stops if light allows – or for greater depth.

‘Be There’ is of course a sine qua non, but it isn’t sufficient. To make good pictures you have to be in the right position – sometimes with almost millimetric precision, with the right lens and the right framing. Often there will be dozens of photographers at an event, but only one will get a great image. Even good photographers take plenty of pictures that are marketable without being of any great merit, and many feel that if they get paid that’s all that matters. It’s one area where I find myself in agreement with Ofstead; when taking pictures, ‘satisfactory‘ isn’t good enough.

But ‘f8 and Be There’ still isn’t enough, though it may make for the financially successful newspaper photographer – so long as they can also get the pictures in before the next photographer. Perhaps the word I’d choose to add is ‘attitude‘. It’s what you need to have to know which is the right place, the right framing and the right moment, even if you may not always be able to catch it (for that you usually need a little luck as well.) Unless you have a point of view how can you know how to express it through your pictures?

Though it may well not help you financially. When Kertesz went to the USA in 1936 attracted by an offer from the Keystone agency, the editors complained his images “speak too much” and they soon parted company. In his pictures Kertesz said he interpreted “what I feel in a given moment, not what I see, but what I feel.”

You can see some of the best of last year’s press photography in London now at the Royal Festival Hall, where the 2017 World Press Photo Exhibition is on show – free to view – until 20th November 2017.

Scientists for Science

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

It’s hardly a surprise that scientists are in favour of science. What is surprising is that so many people – and those with most power and responsibility including our political establishments here and in the US seem not to be. Our BBC, largely the voice of the establishment, maintains its pretence of impartiality by giving climate denying lunatics like Lord Lawson the same or greater prominence as climate scientists, and Facebook and the web are full of miracle cures for cancer.

Rather than listen to the experts, to those whose ideas are based on science, we distrust them. It seems likely to be our civilisation’s undoing in the not to distant future. I’m fairly sure our planet will outlast my lifetime (at least if people keep Trump away from that red button) but far from convinced for my grandchildren’s future.

Part of the problem is that many things that have little or no scientific basis set themselves out as science – and a prime area is of course economics, which seems to apply mathematics to derive results which are simply reflections of the premises of whichever school is involved.

Science isn’t really like that, though perhaps sometimes in minor details it can be mere speculation. The most basic necessity of any scientific theory is that it could be proved to be wrong and can survive such attempts. It’s good to be able to prove things are right, but necessary to be possible to prove them false.

Our particular culture in Britain has been one based on an education in the Classics and on the primacy of the word. In the beginning was the word, and for the rest of the way too, with numbers and playing with real stuff being relegated to the rude mechanicals. And we’ve shut them away in labs where they have done remarkably well, perhaps at least in part because they are away from the distractions of talking to the rest of us.

What can one make of a protest in which placards read ‘Do I have large P-value? Cos I feel Insignificant’ or ‘dT=α.ln(C1/C0)’? I have a couple of science degrees and had some idea about the first but had to go and ask about the second.

Scientists march for Science
Scientists Rally for Science

Save Latin Village

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Our system of local authorities is a mess. But worse than that it has largely become dysfunctional, often working against the interests of the population it is meant to serve. We seem to have lost the local pride that led to the great municipal developments of the late Victorian era, and which one still sees across the Channel, and councils seem to have morphed into businesses serving their own ends.

The Latin Village which has grown up around Seven Sisters Indoor Market is a thriving and vibrant community, a community asset that any local council should admire and encourage, and be proud of. But Haringey Council want to destroy it.

The block stands on a prime site on top of Seven Sisters Underground Station and on the area’s major road. So the council want to make property developers rich by replacing it with expensive flats and chain stores, profiting investors at the expense of the community. It’s something that you might expect of some sleazy and corrupt administration in a country with a bent administration, and that is exactly what it is, though the council runs under the Labour label. Italian anti-mafia expert Roberto Saviano recently called the UK ‘the most corrupt place on Earth‘, and we have a legal, political and law enforcement system that has developed over the years to protect ruling class interests and the corrupt financial system that powers the City.

It has been a long fight by the community against the council, and back in 2008 they gained the support of the then London Mayor Boris Johnson, who forced the council to think again. They did and came back with the same answer – knock it down, destroy the community and replace it by a bland block with housing for the wealthy and chain shops just like those on any other high rent high street. And big profits for their friends the property developers.

It was a lively afternoon, with speeches and music and dancing. I took a few minutes to go inside the Indoor Market, which I’ve only walked past on the outside before, and was amazed. So many people, so many shops, so much life. But I didn’t want to miss what was happening outside, so I didn’t stop to take pictures, meaning perhaps to go back later, though I’ve not yet done so, though I have since seen some good images and video by others.

The main event of the afternoon was to form a human chain around the block, and while the chain didn’t quite link up all the way round it did get to be around 300 metres long, and had people really stretched out it would have made it. I followed it around and then walked the missing 80 metres along West Green Road, where the line of shops would have made it a little difficult back to the Tottenham High Rd where the chain had begun.

People were still there, still holding out their hands to the next in line, and the afternoon sun was putting their shadows onto the pavement. These looked like those strings of paper men we used to make by folding paper and cutting out the shapes attached by their arms and hang as chains.

The fiesta was still continuing when I left for home, with more music scheduled into the evening. It’s places like the Latin Market and others also under threat from councils and developers that make London a great place to live in – and which London’s mainly Labour councils seem hell-bent on sterilising.

More pictures: Human Chain at Latin Village