Archive for June, 2019

D-Day 75 years on

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

What else could a photographer post on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy but a link to Robert Capa on D-Day, the huge series of investigations into what have since become the iconic images of the event, the 10 or 11 severely undexposed frames made by Capa in the few minutes he spent on the beach before rushing to jump on a boat and get his pictures back to England.

The project, launched 5 years ago today on the 70th anniversary of the event “combines elements of photo history, research in journalism, critical thinking, and media literacy” and the team, led by photography critic and historian A D Coleman of photojournalist J Ross Baughman, photo historian Rob McElroy and military historian Charles Herrick have provided us with a remarkably clear and detailed view of what actually happened on that day and later, in the darkroom and to the present day in creating and promulgating the legends around that handful of pictures.

Doubtless there will be articles published today that retell the invented story of the darkroom mishap, or repeat some of the other fabrications around the pictures made by Capa and others. But knowing the real story – or as much of it as can now be verified – doesn’t in any way detract from the power of the couple of truly iconic pictures.

It seems unlikely that we will ever know who was that ‘face in the surf‘ , though we can now be sure it was none of those who have most publically claimed to be him. I’m not sure we would gain were a positive identification possible – isn’t it better that it remains an ‘unknown soldier’ whose face commemorates the event?

If I didn’t have a busy day ahead of me taking pictures (nothing to do with D-Day) today would be a good time to get out those several books of Capa’s pictures on my shelves and look through them, along with some of the investigations and perhaps a glass or two of wine.

Those of you who would prefer a very much shorter and generally accurate account of the the D-Day pictures you can read Wikipedia’s ‘The Magnificent Eleven’, which also reproduces seven of the pictures.

And should you be in London before 29 September 2019 you can go and see the free exhibition Robert Capa: D-Day in 35mm at the Imperial War Museum, which includes prints of 10 of the 11 photographs taken by Capa on Omaha Beach, as well as “personal accounts and objects related to Allied soldiers who landed that fateful day. ”

North Woolwich

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

The weather and London’s transport system were both against me. I’d finished photographing the protests against outsourcing and had made my way to eat lunch. I wanted something fast and cheap, and my favourite central London Wetherspoons was ideal, and as I ate I checked my travel plans to find the Docklands Light Railway had shut down somewhere between where I was and King George V, where I’d planned to start taking some urban landscape panoramas.

Probably I should have abandoned my plans, but I pressed ahead, taking an alternative route to Woolwich Arsenal via London Bridge, thinking if need be I could walk across in the tunnel under the river. By the time I got there, the DLR at least at that end was up and running again, but it still meant I started over half an hour later than I had hoped.

It was a bright sunny day, blue sky with not a cloud in sight, and very pleasant for the time of year, but this is possibly about the worst weather possible for making good panoramic photographs. When you have an angle of view og over one and a half right angles, most images are likely to include large areas of sky. It tends to kill pictures if this is either featureless overcast or even worse simply blue. You want detail, nice clouds in a blue or grey sky. And blue sky is the worst of all, because although we generally see it as a uniform blue, as your view gets closer to the sun it gets a lot brighter, and much lighter in the picture.

I’d arranged to meet with some friends who were carrying out a protest in the early evening, and had to be back there for 5.30 pm, so my time was strictly limited. In the end I did less than half the walk I’d intended, and the second half was really the part which held the more interest for me, with the possibility of a little harmless trespass.

At some point I glanced at my watch and had to rush back to King George V for my journey back into central London. I promised myself I would come back soon and complete the walk, but three months later I’ve yet to do so, and in areas such as this things may well have changed significantly.

Some of the pictures, despite the light are not bad, but others were more just a note to myself that I need to return at a better time. As usual when making these panoramic images I work with a standard 3:2 format, intending to later crop them to around 16×9. Not everything works in panoramic format and I also took a number of pictures with a longer lens.

More pictures at North Woolwich.


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Outsourcing Unfair

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Outsourcing – putting parts of an organisation’s business out to tender to be carried out by other companies is an unfair employment practice, though unfortunately legal in the UK.

Labour Shadow Business minister Laura Pidcock

Almost always outsourcing leads to lower standards of service, the job in various ways not being done as well, cutting corners in various ways to cut the costs. It may not even actually reduce the costs of the organisation, but enables them to avoid the legal responsibilities of being an employer, while still having effective control over the hours, pay and conditions of workers.

Cutting costs means paying the workers less and working them harder, cutting conditions of service to the bone, employing extra managers to bully them into doing jobs faster. Often too, cutting safety standards, and failing to provide proper equipment to keep them safe at work.

Chris Williamson MP

Many of the workers who suffer the worst of this are migrant workers, sometimes with a poor knowledge of English and not aware of their rights under our labour laws, and companies employing them have often taken advantage of this. Changes in employment law brought in under the Tories since 2010 have made it more difficult and expensive to take employers to tribunals, and few of the older unions have taken on the task of recruiting and representing low paid workers on any major scale.

Over the past ten years or so, new grass roots worker-led unions have taken up the challenge of representing low-paid workers – many of whom are outsourced – along with a few branches of the major unions, and a few campaigning unions such as the Baker’s union. They have called for all workers to be paid a true living wage – in London the London Living Wage – and for conditions of service – sick pay, holiday pay pensions etc – on a similar basis to those enjoyed by higher paid workers.

Petros and Claudia from United Voices of the World

On Feb 26, coordinated strike action was being taken by outsourced workers at the Ministry of Justice, Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of London, organised together by the two grass roots unions, the United Voices of the World (UVW) and the Independent Workers Union (IWGB) and by the PCS branch from the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

It was also the day of a High Court challenge by the IWGB to extend the legal rights of 3.3 million outsourced workers by bringing the concept of ‘joint-employer’ status, long accepted in the US, to English law. Unfortunately the court, in a decision announced later, rejected the union’s case, though the fight continues, and the Labour Party have promised to put an end to the unfair employment practice of outsourcing when in government.

The day had started early for the protesters, with a picket at the University of London and a protest outside the court. I met with them after they had marched on to Parliament Square and then continued to protests at BEIS and the Ministry of Justice.

Rally for an end to Outsourcing
Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS
Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Windsor & Eton

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

I suppose this isn’t everybody’s idea of a picture of Windsor Castle, but it does rather amuse me, and I was rather brought up with Noddy, who I now realise was at times terribly racist. Noddy was created by Enid Blyton when I was only four, and her last book about him was published in the year I went to university, though since then he has been kept more or less alive on TV and through what is still a best-selling franchise. Mr Golly, who serviced Noddy’s little car seems to have disappeared in the 1990s, and the Gollies who stole Noddy’s car and the song book strongly featuring the n-word are no longer mentioned. It was in the mid 1960s that the racist, classist and xenophobic nature of her books first came under attack. And Windsor Castle is a little less prominent than that Pisan tower.

Eton is of course at the very heart of our English class system, and was appropriated by the wealthy from the school founded by Guliemus De Wayneflete for the education of poor boys – as the plaque records.

Much of Eton revolves around the school, and perhaps the most obvious signs of that, other than the school buildings themselves are the tailors shops, though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually buying anything in them.

Eton is a ridiculously wealthy and privileged place, though the school does offer some scholarships to gifted poor children, and we were once encouraged by his primary headmaster to put our elder son forward for one. I don’t think he would have survived, either the preparatory school that scholarship boys start at to repair some of the ravages of the state system and certainly not the school itself.

As you walk back towards Windsor, sanity does start to return and there is at least one decent pub where we lunched before returning over the pedestrianised bridge to Windsor, itself a curious place under the shadow of royalty and the military, and also a town full of tourists.

The swans were massing where tourists feed them, across the Thames from the Eton College boat house. I walked to the bus stop to return to the real world.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Bank refuses Venezuela its gold

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

It’s always difficult for photographers when events more or less repeat themselves, and this was the third protest I’d covered in just a few weeks about the US attempt to engineer a regime change in Venezuela, and the second outside the Bank of England, with many of the same people taking part, and it was all too easy to produce more or less the same images. As the great Yogi Berra said, ” It’s deja vu all over again”, though he also said ” I never said most of the things I said.”

Ken Livingstone was also a figure with a second coming, having run the Greater London Council and begun to bring the capital up to date in the 1980s, his success so enraged Margaret Thatcher that she abolished the council and sold off its palatial headquarters just downstream across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament.

Livingstone returned as elected mayor of the new Greater London Authority after 14 years in which London had largely stagnated, acheiving office despite determined opposition from Thatcher’s successor (following the brief interregnum of John Major), Tony Blair. Although Livingstone was the choice of Labour members and affiliates, the votes of Blairite MPs, MEPS and GLA candidates made Frank Dobson the Labour candidate, and Livingstone stood as an Independent. In the first round of voting he came out on top, with three times the vote of the official Labour candidate who was eliminated, and was elected in the second round with a vote of almost 58% .

Four years later, Livingstone was re-admitted to the Labour Party and re-elected as London’s Mayor. Despite two largely successful terms in office, he lost the 2008 mayoral election to Boris Johnson, who set out to establish himself as London’s worst mayor despite often rapturous media coverage.

Of course Livingstone was not the only speaker, but he was the major speaker at the event. He had been in the crowd at the previous protest outside the Bank of England, but this time he spoke, reminding us of his relationship with the former President of Venezuela and the contribution made by Venezuela to enable him to provide half-price bus fares for lone parents, sick and disabled Londoners. Recently after an earlier protest calling for the Bank of England to return Venezuela’s gold I wrote more on Livingstone with some pictures I’ve taken.

Stop Trump’s Venezuela gold & oil grab


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images