Archive for October, 2019

Zionists protest Al Quds March

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

In yesterday’s post I ended by saying that I ended up feeling more welcome – and perhaps more comfortable – photographing the Zionists who had come to oppose the Al Quds Day march than the march itself.

This definitely was not because I agreed with their views, and it was extremely unusual. At other events I’ve been shouted at, sworn at, threatened, subjected to rude gestures and have been condemned on-line as an “anti-semitic photographer”. Something completely untrue – as are most of the accusations made against Labour Party members – including many Jews – of anti-semitism.

There are a small number – sometimes two and seldom in double figures – of people who occasionally turn up to try and disrupt protests calling for freedom and justice for Palestinians. Some were present on this occasion, but with a rather larger number of others, perhaps around 50 at a more official rally at Downing St and a few fewer who came to the meeting point of the Al Quds Day march outside the Home Office, and halted the march for a few minutes shortly after its start before police kept them moving slowly some distance in front of it.

Among this more militant group were several well-known members of extreme right organisations including Tommy Robinson’s personal bodyguard Danny Thomas, while the official rally, as well as being organised by the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation was supported by the far-Right Sussex Friends of Israel and the Israel Advocacy Movement, both organisations with members who have demonstrated to the EDL.

But they were in a good mood after what had been for them something of a success, managing to briefly halt the march, and bringing out larger numbers than before. There were quite a few photographers taking pictures and they were keen to have their protest recorded. I wondered whether I should give them any publicity, but in the end filed a few pictures and published some on My London Diary.


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.


Al Quds march

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

The Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march is always a contentious event in London, and one that I often find difficult to photograph, and I had my problems this year.

Of course many of those who protest regularly for freedom for Palestine know me as I photograph many of their protests – as you can see on My London Diary.

Some of those who have organised the Al Quds day marches over the years also now recognise me and are friendly, but it is an event that does meet with a lot of opposition by some Zionist groups and where many of those attending are rather wary about being photographed. So I found myself several times being stopped by people asking who I was taking pictures for and some trying to prevent me photographing.

As regular readers will know, I like to take pictures close to those I’m photographing, though I don’t particularly like the kind of distortion you can see in the hand of the organiser above, taken with the lens on the Fuji set at 11mm – 16.5mm full-frame equivalent. I’ve long felt that the ideal photographic distance is one where you can reach out and touch the person you are photographing, as if you were talking with them, though sometimes a little greater distance is necessary.

Of course there are times when you do have to stand further back. There was a giant Palestinian flag between me and the Neturei Karta ultra-orthodox Jews when I made the picture showing their recipe for a peaceful end to the bloodshed in Palestine. There the distance was a necessity.

And there are pictures that need a longer focal length to isolate the subject, as in this picture, made with the remarkable 18-150mm on the Olympus E-M5MarkII at 135mm (270mm equivalent.) Long lenses certainly do have their photographic uses, and this one comes in an incredibly small and light package.

I’m not sure I will go to photograph this event next year, despite my support for the Palestinians and my hope that one day they will gain justice and be able to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, to make good the neglected second part of the Balfour declaration that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”  I’ll continue to photograph other pro-Palestinian events in London, but this one was just too much aggravation. I ended up feeling more welcome photographing the Zionists opposing the event.

UVW Hotel Visit

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Hotels are big business particularly in London, and its a highly profitable business particularly because it relies on exploiting low paid workers. The United Voices of the World is not the only union that takes up their cause, but it does so more directly than the larger unions, who have not had great success in either organising among the low paid often migrant workers the sector relies on, or at representing them.

Part of the reason for the greater militancy shown by the UVW is the reluctance of managements to engage with the union. Many hotels are run by organisations that are essentially anti-union and often prepared to flout even the weak laws on unions which we have, and to employ contractors who fail to implement even the minimum legal standards for wages, terms and conditions to provide their services.

I can’t comment with any certainty on the details of the individual case that led UVW members and supporters (including some IWGB members) to protest in the foyer of the Hilton Doubletrees Hotel close to Marble Arch. The union claimed that one of their members who had worked there for six months had been paid illegally at less than the minimum wage and was owed a large amount by the cleaning contractor.

Having got no satisfaction by contacting the hotel management and the cleaning contractor, the UVW had decided that some more direct action was called for, and around twenty of them walked into the hotel foyer and began to make their demands along with a great deal of shouting as well as loud music and dancing, demanding to talk to the hotel manager and the manager of the contract cleaning firm. 

Police eventually arrived and I was impressed that the officers tried to get the two sides to talk about the dispute. Unlike on many other occasions they actually listened to what the union had to say rather than simply try to clear them out with threats of arrest. By the time I left the protesters were still in the foyer and waiting for a representative from the contracting firm on her way to meet with them.

I don’t know how the dispute was finally settled – or even if it has yet been or whether the union is now pursuing legal action – but this was a good example of how the UVW is prepared to support its members. There are employers who rely on exploiting individuals, particularly migrant workers who are often ignorant of their rights and sometimes have a limited command of English to argue for themselves. The UVW educates them and speaks for them in meetings with employers, at employment tribunals and, if necessary, on the street at workplaces and has a remarkable record of successes through solidarity.

More pictures at Cleaners at Hilton Doubletree Hotel .


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.


UVW celebrate victory

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

The United Voices of the World had been planning to protest in support of the cleaners at Chanel in the West End who had held a strike ballot, and were planning to strike for the London Living Wage, but instead were meeting to celebrate the successful negotiation of the deal with the employers.

£10.55 an hour is the minimum that is calculated to be needed for workers to live in London, rather than the minimum wage that the government dishonestly calls a living wage, and which many low-paid workers are still paid in London.

Migrant workers in small grass-roots unions like the UVW have gained a living wage for many of their members in London, managing to unionise workers where the large established unions have – with a few honourable local branch exceptions – largely failed. One of the reasons for failure is language, with many of our low-paid migrant workers being speakers of Spanish or other languages and often with a limited grasp of English.

Unions like the UVW work in both Spanish and English, and also put on classes in English (and sometimes other subjects) for their members, many of whom have qualifications and experience in the countries they come from which they are unable to gain employment from here.

The UVW is one of several such small unions active in London, including CAIWU and the IWGB, and members of one often support others on their picket lines and protests. There is often support too from branches of some of the major unions such as RMT and Unison and Unite Community and other groups including Class War.

There are a few more pictures at UVW celebrate LLW at Chanel .


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.

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.




A River Full of Stories

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

I’m pleased to have some of my pictures included in ‘A River Full of Stories‘ , a large hardback of around 200 pages recently published by Rich & Lou Duffy Howard in Hull. It’s an unusual title in several ways, and comes from their online project of the same name, a follow-up to their Open Bridges (which I wrote about here) which was a part of Hull’s 2017 year as UK City of Culture.

The book launch took place a little over a week ago, though I’m sorry I was unable to attend as I was at a weekend meeting elsewhere.

I have a small portfolio with 6 pages of my work, all reproduced well and to a good size on the roughly 10×11″ pages, as well as three other large reproductions in the main body of the book.

The book is packed with interesting photography, both historical and contemporary of Hull and its river, and the presentation is one only made possible by considerable sponsorship attracted to the project acheived by Rich and Lou Duffy-Howard who curated and edited it both online and in print.

You can of course read about it in the Hull Daily Mail (though I don’t get a mention) and there is an exhibition about both projects in the centre of Hull at the Hull Maritime Museum in Queen Victoria Square until the end of 2019.

The book is unusual in that it is not for sale, but contributors were given a free copy along with every library in Hull and the East Riding. However you can still buy the Café Royal Book  The River Hull 1977–85 which has most of the pictures in it – if on a rather smaller scale and less expensively reproduced. My other Café Royal Book on Hull, The Streets of Hull 1979–85 is also still available. And you can see many more pictures on my Hull web site in the links below.


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.

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