Archive for October, 2019

Back to the Canal

Monday, October 14th, 2019

I hadn’t meant to take pictures of the Regent’s Canal on June 1st, but I found myself in Dalston with an hour or two to spare before I wanted to be in Cavendish Square. It was around lunchtime thought the canal towpath would be a pleasant place to sit down and eat my sandwiches in the sun.

It was a Saturday and the towpath was quite busy with both walkers and cyclists and I walked around a little before finding a well placed unoccupied place to sit, taking a few pictures as I did so. Things have changed pretty drastically since I first walked and photographed along here almost 40 years ago.

I’d chosen a good place to sit too, with some shade, as the sun was rather hot, but also with an interesting view of the canal and of the people and boats passing, and I paused in my lunch several times to pick up my camera and make another exposure – there are six pictures on line all taken from within a few feet from my seat – including the one immediately above.

After finishing my lunch I still had time to walk a little further east along the towpath, rather hoping that I might chance across a convenient local pub for a quick drink, but I was out of luck in Haggerston and had to make do with water from the bottle in my bag.

The area north of the canal here always used to seem one of the more remote parts of London, one I saw from the train coming in from Dalston Junction to Broad Street, a largely elevated stretch of line with no stations (those at Haggerston and Shoreditch were closed in 1940. ) But now parts of that line have been reopened as part of the London Overground, and I was able to catch a train from the new Haggerston station to Highbury and Islington and the Victoria Line.

Most of these images would benefit from cropping to a more panoramic format, which I usually do. You can see more at Canal Panoramas.


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.

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.


London Images – May 2019

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

While travelling around London I often see things that interest me and if practicable I try to photograph them. Often these are cityscapes or particular buildings, and some of the pictures are more like entries in my notebook of areas or scenes that might be worth further investigation rather than any real attempt at a definitive image. But those which I think are worth looking at I collect in a folder for each month, linked at the bottom of that month’s page of My London Diary.

Many images don’t make the page because of technical problems. If I’m on a train or bus it is now seldom possible to photograph other than through a window, and too often these have dirt on the outside or scratches on the inner surface. Reflections are also a problem particularly in the outer pane of sealed double glazing; I do have a large floppy silicone ‘Ultimate Lens Hood’ which eliminates these, but it is too big to easily fit in my camera bag and so I never have it with me when I need it – though perhaps one day I will start a project making use of it, or cut it down to a more usable size. But for normal use it is overkill – and perhaps a penultimate lens hood would be preferable? Because of reflections, when working through windows it’s almost alway preferable to work with the front of the lens as close to the glass as practicable.

There are some pictures where you can see reflections, particularly in sky areas. I could probably remove these in Photoshop, but so far I haven’t bothered. And of course often I’m travelling on foot where there are no such problems.

Buses stop often in traffic, and occasionally at bus stops, but seldom in exactly the place you want to photograph from, but the upper deck of our double-deckers is often a splendid vantage point. Some vibrate considerably and a fast shutter speed becomes essential even when the bus is stopped. When photographing from moving trains or buses, any delay between pressing the shutter release and actual exposure can mean missing the subject, and setting manual focus in advance cuts out any delay due to focussing.

There are some places I travel past almost every day when I go to work in London, and these include one of the largest developments in recent years at Nine Elms and Vauxhall. I started taking pictures here while the US Embassy was being built; soon it will only be visible through narrow gaps between other buildings,

Among older buildings I photographed in May was the Still & Star pub in Aldgate, one of many closed pubs in London, a rare example of a small ‘slum pub’ converted from an exisiting house or shop in 1820 and continuing in the trade until 2nd October 2017. Developers wanted to knock it down, and there was a great outcry, with CAMRA, the Victorian Society and others campaigning to keep it open. They suceeded in stopping redevelopment by getting it recognised as an Asset of Community Value – and the freehold owners 4C Hotels (2) Ltd lost their legal appeal against this in November 2017 – but the pub remains closed.

More at London Images


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

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.

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.

Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

Friday, October 11th, 2019

This short section of the Capital Ring is one of my favourites, or at least goes though some of my favourite areas, as this was the first time I’ve actually walked the whole section as a continous walk. It’s also one of the shorter sections of the London walk, which makes it rather easier for me now that my legs aren’t as young as they used to be.

Walkers too often have a distance fetish, where the purpose of the walk becomes a matter of getting as many miles (or kilometres) as possible under your feet, heading from A to B without deviation or even stopping to enjoy the points in-between. I’m more of a wanderer and an explorer, happy to go where the mood or interest takes me. And if you look at the pictures you will find that we didn’t entirely stick to the published route.

I spent around 20 years wandering around London in this way with a camera (or two), walking with a starting point and sometimes a few likely points of interest marked on a photocopied page of the A-Z, wandering until I felt tired or time was up, then finding a bus stop or station – never far away in London – to make my way home. It’s a practice that is celebrated in my self-published ‘London Dérives‘, images from 1975-83, still available from Blurb as a PDF or expensive hard copy – or direct from me.

Some of these pictures were more like coming across old friends, locations that I’d photographed perhaps thirty or more years ago, while there were other parts of the route that I’ve walked many times over the years. Perhaps some of them are more pictures of loss than records of the present, taken because of what was there before rather than what is there now.

Around 1983 I made an unsuccessful attempt to get funding for a photographic project on the River Lea and the Lea Navigation, submitting a small portfolio of pictures I had already made of the area and a brief description, along with a letter of support from a well-respected photographer I knew and a CV in which the major (in fact the only significant) entry was a large exhibition in a provincial art gallery – much also now in another self-published book and web site.

At the time I was naive in the ways of the small elite controlling awards in the UK and failed to realise that the support of a leading member of the London Salon was the kiss of death. I didn’t make any further applications for funding and until 2003 the only official support I got for photographs came from the Arts Council poetry funds, payment for a portfolio and pictures in several issues of a magazine.

I went ahead and completed the project without financial support – fortunately a full-time teaching post giving me both enough to live on and relatively long holidays as well as weekends – even though during term I was putting in an average 60 hours a week into teaching, preparation and marking. Another self-published book, Before the Olympics, contains many of the pictures from this as well as later work, and more can be seen on my River Lea web site.


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

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.

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.


Brick Lane

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

I took one look when Paul Trevor began to speak at the launch of his new book Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane‘ last night, and decided against trying to take pictures in the dimly lit bar. Then a few seconds later I walked across to where I’d left my camera bag with friends and took out the Olympus OMD EM5II and thought “eff it, I might as well give it a try“.

I knew I’d set the camera earlier in the day on ISO AUTO, with a maximum ISO of 5000, but since I only had the 14-150mm f4-5.6 on the camera (28-300 equiv) it wasn’t really fast enough. Though since it was underexposing by a stop or two, the pictures were really taken at ISO10-20,000.

I’d been at the back of the room when the presentation began, and couldn’t easily get much closer, and there was a long table with drinks on it in my way. I’d put the camera on Shutter Priority, and set the shutter speed to 1/40th. The good news is that although I had to work at focal lengths between the equivalent of 60mm and 150mm, none of the images show any camera shake – the in-body stabilisation seems very effective.

The bad news is that with this lens autofocus is poor in such low light, with a lot of hunting at the longer focal lengths. Paul is a pretty mobile speaker – I think in part a nervous gesture as like many photographers he isn’t really happy speaking in public, and the camera could just not keep him in focus. I had to wait until it managed to focus and take a picture sharply before it lost sharpness again.

A second piece of bad news, I think evident even in these small pictures, is that the image quality is not great. I’m sure the Nikon D810 would have done rather better under these conditions. Working in normal daylight there isn’t a very noticeable difference.

But the Olympus scores on noise. I’ve not bothered to use the silent shutter mode (which comes with some problems) but the mechanical shutter is one of the quietest I’ve use, hardly noticeable in most situations. The D750 and D810 aren’t particularly noisy cameras, but the shutter sound does become noticeable in quiet locations.

If you’ve not already bought the book, I suggest you waste no time in doing so. As it states on the Hoxton Mini Press web site:

‘Paul Trevor, one of the great unsung heroes of British documentary photography, spent many years during the 70s and 80s capturing life on Brick Lane, London’s most iconic East End street. Published here for the very first time, these images, full of humour, grit, love and surprise, capture a vibrant time before the area went through dramatic social change.’

As I commented on the publication of Paul Trevor’s ‘Like you’ve never been away‘ a couple of years ago:

‘I’ve always regarded Paul Trevor as the most interesting of the whole batch of British photographers who became known in the mid 1970s at exactly the time I was myself coming to photography, and there were some other impressive talents, some of whom are very much better known. Some were rather better at self-publicity.’

It was a well-attended launch and it was good to meet a few old friends there, including some I don’t see too often, including of course Paul himself, but after his speech I didn’t stay long, but walked out into Brick Lane, fortified by a couple of glasses of red wine and still with my camera around my neck. It was a little brighter on the street, and as I walked down to Aldgate East underground I took a few pictures. Nothing of any significance but I think they give a good idea of how Brick Lane has changed since Paul Trevor made his pictures here. A few more will appear on My London Diary, probably in a month or so.


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

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.

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.


Photographers Walk

Monday, October 7th, 2019

There is something about walking with other photographers that inhibits the making of photographs. The best companion when you are taking pictures are your thoughts.

I often see invitations to walks led by other photographers or group photographic walks, and back when I was still starting in photography I used to go out with a group of other photographers and we would take pictures.

That was useful, partly because I got taken to places I would not otherwise have been, sunset at Stonehenge, the South Wales Valleys, the Isle of Portland, deserted coastline in Kent and Essex and more, but mainly because we would meet up later and rip each other’s pictures to pieces in no-holds barred critical sessions.

But we were pretty independent guys who would usually walk in different directions and not as a group. We travelled together but seldom worked together and I can’t recall the others getting in my way or I in theirs. We had different ways of working and different interests.

Of course there are times when you need companions. Places photographers wouldn’t get to or wouldn’t dare to go without a fixer. But that isn’t the kind of photography I do. There are no ‘no-go’ areas in London, though quite a lot I’d avoid at some times of night.

But the walk I went on with a few others at the end of August wasn’t like this, and although my companions were photographers it was more a social event. And to be honest, more of a pub crawl, though on this occasion we did manage to walk quite a long way before meeting our first Wetherspoons.

Even then, we only rushed to get there because the rain started. Which may be why I didn’t take any more pictures after that. But by the time we got there I had made a remarkable number of exposures for me on a photographers’ walk.

A few more pictures: City and Spitalfields walk

August 2019 on My London Diary

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

It has taken me a long time to complete putting my work from August on-line. Partly because I had a week’s holiday at the start of September. But while I covered quite a number of protests in August – and they all take time to put onto the web, I also found time to continue with one of my other projects with panoramic images, which take me rather longer to prepare.

Most of the pictures of protests are available for editorial use from Alamy, where the easiest way to find them is probably in my pages there. The latest images there are on the first page of many. Other pictures can be obtained direct from me.

August 2019

Students March to Defend Democracy
Defend democracy, Stop the Coup
Staines Moor
Solidarity with Polish LGBTQ+ community

Anti-fascists outnumber Protest for ‘Tommy’
Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal
Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In
Charing Cross to Greenwich
Official Animal Rights March 2019
Stand with Hong Kong & opposition
XR Rebel Rising March to the Common

Stand up to LGBT+ Hate Crime Kiss-In
Justice for Marikana – 7 years on
Stand with Kashmir

Kashmir Indian Independence Day Protest
Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Kurdistan
Kashmiris protest in Trafalgar Square
Vegans Protest Diary Farming
Kashmiris protest at India House

City & Thames
SODEM at the Cabinet Office
Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered
Legalise Personal Light Electric Vehicles
‘Free Tommy’ protest

Anti-Racists march against the far right
LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers
North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames
DLR – Bank to London City Airport


Afrikans demand reparations

London Images


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

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.

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.


Youth Strike for Climate

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Youth Strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s protests, has injected a remarkable energy into the campaigning against what seems the inevitable climate disaster we are heading towards.

Most of those taking part in the protests on Fridays in London are taking time off from school to do so, sometimes with approval and even encouragement from teachers, but often despite threats and sanctions. Along with them are some students from FE and HE, but it does seem to be school students who are leading these protests.

And while schools may not approve, I think that many of the posters and placards show that the campaign is stimulating a great deal of activity in art departments across the area.

Of course as they say, it is their future which is at stake, their future lives that are at risk, while most politicians and those in charge of financial institutions and businesses in the rich world are likely to die before the worst effects of climate change begin to bite. Schoolkids don’t have a vote and feel that those who do are not thinking about the future of the young, and generally I think they are right.

Of course we are a part of the rich on this planet (despite homelessness and the other avoidable aspects of our increasing inequality); people in parts of the majority world are already in some places dying because of the effects of global heating, while here in the richer countries we are still ruled by smug wealth keeping getting richer with business as usual, and climate deniers who reject the science.

Theirs is a generation already feeling cheated by Brexit (whether we get either the current bad deal or a no deal) and by government cuts and longer term policies that have removed funding from education.

Protests like this one, and those by Extinction Rebellion, do have some effect in raising awareness and combating the lies still too frequent in the media. More people are beginning to think about how their own personal choices – over food, holiday travel and more – effect the environment but there still needs to be far more, not just at the personal level but also a giant cultural shift as well as political actions both here and across the world. We need as some of the posters and placards state, ‘System Change not Climate Change.’

More about the actual protest at Youth Strike for Climate.


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.

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.


Canary Wharf

Friday, October 4th, 2019

I was going to the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands that evening and since it was a nice afternoon decided to leave early and take a walk around Canary Wharf on my way there. And again when I left I took a few pictures on my way to the station.

It’s quite a while since I’ve seriously gone there to take photographs, though occasionally I’ve walked through parts of it on my way elsewhere, taking the Jubilee Line from Waterloo and walking to nearby places or changing to the DLR.

I hadn’t seriously intended to take photographs, but I did have a camera with me, though only the Olympus OMD E5II with a tiny 17mm f2.8 pancake lens – a 34mm equivalent. I’d recently got this secondhand (it seemed so cheap I couldn’t pass it by) and was interested to see how well it performed. It makes the camera almost pocketable.

I read a review which promised high levels of chromatic aberration and barrel distortion, and thought that these would probably not be important for most of my photography. But trying them out at Canary Wharf they might be a problem.

Of course they were not, as you can see from some of these pictures (and the others on My London Diary in the post Canary Wharf. Both are lens faults which software can handle well, and it is hard to find much evidence of either in the results. If I open the RAW files in Photoshop, clicking the ‘Lens Correction’ icon in the Camera Raw dialogue tells me “This raw file contains a built-in lens profile for correcting distortion and chromatic aberration. The profile has already been applied automatically to this image”.

But then I looked at the RAW files, and they seemed fine too, with no hint of barrel distortion and the same small amount of colour fringing, not normally noticeable. I think my viewer software will actually be looking not a the raw data but at a jpeg incorporated into the RAW file, which I think means that any correction needed has been done in the camera. A few clicks on the web and I find that Micro-4/3 images are auto-corrected according to the stored lens profile (lens firmware) and a review on Optical Limits which shows the effect. As they say, barrel distortion “is only rarely noticeable in field conditions.”

The reviews also say the lens isn’t that sharp, at least when viewing large prints, but even examining these pictures at 1:1 on screen the sharpness in both centre and corners seems acceptable. There may be some uses for which it isn’t sharp enough, but I think it’s good enough for most of us. If anything it is the actual file size of the camera (4608×3456 pixels with the EM5II) that will be a problem for really large prints, not the lens.

Canary Wharf

London Church Walk

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Most years unless I’ve some more pressing committment I’ve accompanied my wife as she takes part in a sponsored walk around London churches in support of Christian Aid.

Walking around the City is always interesting, and although I’ve been in most of the churches before, most years there is something new to see. Many of London’s churches are open at times during the week, often hosting lunchtime concerts, others are usually locked.

The walk isn’t of huge length, but it takes quite a time, especially if you want to look carefully at those churches you get inside – some of the checkpoints are a table outside a locked building. Other churches offer tea and cakes and it gets difficult to complete the circuit in the time allowed; this year I was disappointed that we arrived at the Temple Church just as it was closing.

Most of the churches in the city were built around the same time, after the Great Fire of 1666, and usually the architect was Wren, but although they share some characteristics there are significant differences.

But of course the City has many interesting secular buildings as well as its churches, both ancient and modern, and I photographed a few of these as we walked by.

More pictures: City Churches Christian Aid Walk


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.

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.


Tamils remember Mullivaikkal massacre

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The British colonised Ceylon and in the nineteenth century it was a major source of coffee grown on British owned plantations. When the coffee crops began to fail, efforts were made to replace coffee by tea plants and seeds from Assam in India. Although at first this was unsuccessful, by the end of the nineteenth century tea had replaced coffee as the major export crop.

Sri Lankan Tamils had lived in parts of the island since at least around the 2nd century BC, but the tea plantations imported Indian Tamils to the hill areas in large numbers. Following independence in 1948, the Sinhalese-led government deported large numbers of the Indian Tamils and also made life difficult for the Sri Lankan Tamils, severely limiting employment opportunies, suppressing their culture and encouraging anti-Tamil riots, leading to the start of a civil war in 1983.

One-third of Sri Lankan Tamils now live outside Sri Lanka, the largest group, around 300,000, being in Canada.  There are thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 British Tamils living in the UK, the figures vague as Tamil was not one of the ethnic groups listed in the UK census, though people could write it in.

Over 70,000 Tamils are thought to have been killed in the earlier phases of the Sri Lankan Civil war, but it came to a particularly disastrous and bloody end in 2009, on a small strip of land at Mullivaikkal, where 40,000 Tamils, around half of them civilians, are thought to have been killed, mainly by shelling by Sri Lankan government forces in what they had designated as a ‘no-fire’ zone, but some by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The numbers are highly disputed, with huge variations between government and Tamil sources, but there is no doubt that it was a massacre on a terrible scale. According to the Tamil Guardian:”

After providing an initial death toll of 40,000, the UN found evidence suggesting that 70,000 were killed. Local census records indicate that at least 146,679 people are unaccounted for and presumed to have been killed during the Sri Lankan military offensive.

May 18th, the date on which this protest took place is widely marked as Mullivaikkal Genocide Remembrance Day

The protest I photographed included some graphic re-enactments of shooting (though only with crude wooden guns) and many people with bandages and fake blood, giving plenty of photographic opportunities. And unsurprisingly, feeling run high. Tamils want Sri Lanka to face prosecutions by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and a referendum in Sri Lanka to lead to the setting up of an independent state, Tamil Eelam.

More on the protest: 10 Years since Mullivaikkal massacre
A week earlier I photographed a group of Tamils at Downing Strike begining a week of hunger strike for their demands:
Tamil Genocide Hunger Strike


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.

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.