Archive for February, 2020

XR Youth International

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

I had hurried back to central London to photograph an event in Trafalgar Square by Extinction Rebellion Youth International  but I had no idea what they intended to do, and I walked a couple of times around the square and saw no sign of them.

It isn’t unusual to find an event that has been posted on the Internet but doesn’t actually take place. People sometimes have an idea, set up an event on Facebook or some other listing site, then either forget about it or give up when they have failed to persuade anyone else to join them and don’t bother to post that it isn’t happening. And sometimes dates or times or locations are changed and unless you check you will be at the wrong place or at the wrong time. And some organisations can be relied on almost always to turn up late.

So I’d more or less given up on XR Youth and was thinking about photographing a couple of other things I’d seen on my way to the square when I saw a group walking into the middle of the square, some of them holding posters and I walked across and began taking pictures

They formed a large circle in the centre of the square and then sat down in silence facing outwards. And that appeared to be it, though someone did at some point make a short statement. I walked around the circle and took pictures. Some had face paint, quite a few had small XR symbols on their clothes or faces and one held up an XR flag. It seemed a very low-key protest and certainly attracted relatively little attention from the tourists who were wandering around.

There was a certain element of defiance in it. The bylaws actually prohibit protests in Trafalgar Square unless they have prior permission, but this one apparently went unnoticed by the ‘Heritage Wardens’ whose role is to enforce the regulations. They probably thought it was just another group of tourists sitting down to eat their sandwiches. Perhaps their photographs and mine, published on the web, are more important in gaining attention than the event itself.

As a static protest it would not have been illegal on the North Terrace up the steps in front of the National Gallery, which is still legally a part of the public highway, though a part that has now been pedestrianised for some years.

But rather curiously the rest of the square is the property of the Greater London authority, with bylaws set by the Mayor of London. It’s actually an offence to take photographs there, though tourists are seldom if ever prevented from doing so. And an outcry by my union and other bodies representing news photographers means that those of us with Press cards are allowed to use our cameras.

More at XR Youth International.


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.


Ducks in the mud

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Duck races have become a popular fund-raising event, and we have had them at Staines where I live, with ducks released into the River Colne which flows fast onto its final descent into the Thames where the race ends by the Riverside Gardens. Kayakers on the Thames ensure that no ducks escape to add to the plastic pollution on the river. People, groups and families pay for a duck with their number on and the race generates a little excitement (and perhaps some minor gambling) as well as raising money for charity.

The duck race on Bow Creek, organised by people from Cody Dock was rather more ambitious, if not foolhardy. Water flows in with the tide and then out, with the river flow from the Lea being a relatively small component of the total. And approaching slack water, when the ducks were thrown into the river from the bridge at Twelvetrees Crescent, the current is rather slow with just a shallow depth of water with probably deeper mud along its sides.

The plastic ducks moved slowly in the stream, and made considerable sideways movement due to a slight breeze from the west, sitting as they do largely above water, their necks and bodies acting as a sail and with no keel to restrain their leewards drift towards the mud bank below the Leaway along the east side of the creek. Perhaps had there been a strong northerly it could have worked, but the prevailing wind is from the west.

Two canoes had come upriver to supervise the event, and had grounded on a small sandbank a couple of hundred yards downstream. A figure emerged from one of them and began wading up the creek towards the stranded ducks carrying a paddle, and as he became closer I recognised him as Simon from Cody Dock.

Simon began to use the paddle to flick the ducks back into the stream, working from front to back of the line. But by the time he got to the last duck (and there were a great many of them) the first were back on the mud again. I watched for a few minutes as the ducks made slow progress down river but by the time they had made perhaps a hundred yards from the start with around a thousand still to go I had to leave as I wanted to be at other events in the centre of London.

Walking along the Leaway towards Cody Dock I went past several small groups of people waiting for the ducks to arrive, and in front of the dock along the finish line were two catchers standing in the water waiting to declare the winners and to fish them all from the water with a canoe beyond to stop any escaping. It seemed unlikely that any would reach them before the tide turned and took them back up towards Stratford. But I didn’t wait around to see what happened, and although you can read the publicity for the Duck Race on the Cody Dock web site, I don’t think there is any mention of what actually happened – perhaps the next newsletter will tell us.

More pictures: Cody Dock Duck Race .


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.


Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane

Thursday, February 27th, 2020
Bow Creek from Twelvetrees Crescent bridge

When I was busy photographing London as urban landscape in the 1980s and 90s little of the area to the east of Bow Creek was accessible, occupied by a gas works, a power station and a large private industrial estate and it was more or less a no-go area for photographers.

Iron Mountain

Around ten years ago, the riverside walk on the east bank south from Twelvetrees Crescent was reopend as ‘The Fatwalk’ but there were several problems. One was the name, and I proposed back then it be renamed as ‘The Bow Creek Trail‘. My suggestion wasn’t taken up (perhaps those guys just don’t read ‘My London Diary’ or ‘Re:PHOTO’) but around 2016 it was renamed and is now ‘The Leaway’, which is just slightly silly and geographically imprecise. And when we walk it we hope our course will not shift a little sideways and deposit us in the mud or deep water of the creek.

A sculpture on ‘The Line’

Back in 2010 when I first used it the main problem was that it was a dead end. You could (and I did) go south for around 5/8ths of a mile but you then simply had to turn around and come back. I was on my Brompton, so I didn’t much mind, but had I been walking I would have been annoyed.

Cody Dock

Things have improved a little at both ends of this short stretch. Cody Dock has opened at the south end, allowing the exit I took today with a fairly short walk to Star Lane DLR station, which opened in 2011. The adventurous could swing themselves around the fence at the south of Cody Dock onto what looks like a perfectly good path beyond, and possibly make their way out through the Electra Business Park as a longer route to Star Lane, but there is still no access to the creek bank between the business park and the East India Dock Road.

From Star Lane DLR

Going north from Twelvetrees Crescent is now easier, with new steps from the bridge there leading down to the path beside the Lea Navigation, which previously needed an unpleasant detour. You can keep on walking beside the Lea from here to Hertford.

More pictures and text: Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane


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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Boycott Puma

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Back in 1924 the two Dassler brothers founded a shoe factory in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, the first company in the world to specialise in sports footwear, working together until 1948 when they decided to split the company into two, forming Adidas and Puma, becoming bitter rivals, both still based in Herzogenaurach and producing sports and leisure footwear and clothing. Adidas is now the second largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, and Puma is number three.

Puma sponsors many athletes and clubs in different sports around the world, including Manchester City. InMinds Islamic human rights group protest outside the Puma Carnaby Street store because they say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

The protesters say these settlements constitute a war crime under international law and 215 Palestinian sports clubs have asked Puma to respect human rights and cut its ties with the IFA. Puma has failed to do so.

Inminds supports the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people and campaigns for people to oppose the cruel treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state and by some Israeli citizens, particularly those from some of the settlements who attack Palestinians. It points out the different treatment of Palestinians which amount to an Apartheid system. One of the banners reminds people that on average Israel imprisons a Palestinian child every 12 hours and kills one every 60 hours, and it destroys a Palestinian home every 9 hours. Another poster points to the 221 Palestinian prisoners who have been killed in Israeli jails, either by torture or medical neglect.

Many of those passing the protest were shocked to hear these statistics and others on the leaflets that were handed out, and some stopped to take photographs with the protesters. One man stopped briefly to shout insults at the protesters, and similar protests have often been opposed by Zionist protesters, at times violently as video taken by the group and posted online shows.

A similar protest here in October 2018 came under attack by two well-known anti-Palestinian activists, who in June 2019 pleaded guilty to charges of harassment and threatening behaviour after the prosecution agreed to drop more serious charges of assault. As well as fining one and imposing a community curfew on the other, Hendon Magistrates Court imposed an “indefinite” restraining order on both, barring them from coming within ten metres of three of the pro-Palestinian activists.  

Inminds take pains to avoid anti-Semitic attitudes and comments in their posters and literature and their protests often include Jewish supporters, but they robustly support the human rights of Palestinians and oppose the oppressive restraints of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

A few more pictures at Carnaby St Puma Boycott.


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.


Global Climate Strike in Whitehall

Monday, February 24th, 2020

I arrived back in central London to find Climate Strike protesters sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police threatening them with arrest, with several people being led away to waiting police vans.

There weren’t a huge number of protesters around, but soon they were joined by a large crowd of mainly school students who had marched up from Parliament Square.

Seeing a line of police across Whitehall they turned right down Horseguards Ave, going up Whitehall Court into Whitehall Place. Police formed a line across the road at the junction with Northumberland Ave and the students sat down on the road.

They had a few short speeches and chanted slogans for some time here, with the police trying for some reason to get them to get up and move. I couldn’t see why the police wanted them to move, as there is little traffic along this road and it was rather effectively keeping the students out of the way, but when the police began indicating they would make arrests, the crowd got up and moved away – to go back to Whitehall, a much more important route and sit down there to continue to block traffic.

By now I’d had enough of wandering around Whitehall, and it was looking likely that little more would take place, so I decided to leave them and go to another protest elsewhere.

More pictures: Global Climate Strike Protest continues

Brian Harris – Independent Photographer

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Recently published on Brian Harris’s Photoshelter portfolio is a remarkable series of around 80 pages of his images from the Independent Newspaper for which he worked for 14 years, from its start in 1986 to 1999.

The Independent was unusual as a newspaper in several ways, not least for what was in this country an unusual prominence it gave to good photography both in the magazine and newspaper. Of course other newspapers and magazines have published a great deal of good photography over the years, but much too that is at best mediocre.

It’s something that has got worse since the impact of digital photography and the ‘breaking news’ mentality which this has fostered. What matters now for the papers and on-line news sites is not that pictures are good, but that they are the first to reach the picture editor (though from some that get publish there are some publications that no longer appear to have a picture editor.)

There is I think a good argument that the last 30 or so years of the twentieth century was a golden age for newspaper photography, and Harris is one of those photographers in this country who made it so.

You can see more of Harris’s work on the Photoshelter pages, and his Brianharrisphotographer’s Blog and in 2016 he published a book, And Then The Prime Minister Hit Me…. Unfortunately because of the unusual lay-flat binding and other aspects which necessitated considerable manual labour (mainly by women) this is rather an expensive volume.


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


Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Groups were meeting around London on Earth Day to take part in the Global Climate Strike, and I went to two of them which I could travel to reasonably quickly by tube.

People were gathering outside the London College of Communication, part of the University of the Arts London, where a group had obviously been busy making Climate Strike posters.

A group left to march to Southwark Council offices on Tooley St to join up with workers there and were then planning to go on to join protesters in Westminster. I left the marchers as they went past the tube station to make my way to a rally in Windrush Square, Brixton.

Teachers had brought pupils and parents to a rally in Windrush Square and I arrived in time for the last quarter hour of so, including a short address by one of the local MPs as well as by some of the children and others.

I left as the rally ended and the organisers began to get everyone ready to take the tube to Westminster and join the protests there, making my own way to central London ahead of them.

More pictures at Elephant & Brixton Global Climate 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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Earth Day

Friday, February 21st, 2020

There was a huge turnout for the Global Climate Strike on Earth Day, with many organised groups from schools attending, and an incredible range of hand-made posters.

Way down Millbank there was a lorry where speakers and groups were performing, but the street was so crowded it was hard to get through to it. At one point I went down a side street and made my way forward a block to reach the front.

Once I’d photographed the people at the front of the crowd I slowly made my way back through the crowd, photographing groups of people with placards. The crowd was tightly packed and I often had to squeeze through, but people moved to let me through, sometimes even before I had asked. Getting enough space between me and those I wanted to photograph was however often difficult. Most of these pictures were made with the Fuji XT1 and the Fuji 10-24mm zoom, mainly at or close to its widest setting, equivalent to 15mm on full-frame.

Eventually I was free of the close-packed crowd, but there were still a large number of protesters in front of Parliament and in Parliament Square.

Although the main rally was in the morning, other groups were also meeting in London, some coming to Westminster later, and I left to photograph some of these.

Global Climate Strike Rally


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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Hackney Housing

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

I took a short walk in Hackney before the protest outside the town hall to remind me exactly where Marian Court was, just behind the rather empty ‘fashion village’, an implant into the area with government money, £1.5m of Boris Johnson’s regeneration funding after the 2011 riots. It seems if anything to have been an expensive way to prove that gentrification isn’t an effective way to combat racist policing with a shoot to kill policy, and has failed to generate the promised jobs.

Marian Court appears to have been a well-designed small estate built for the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney in the late 1950s. It was built to the standards of the time and was in need of modernisation, and had been allowed to deteroriate. But as on many other council estates, rather than investing in the relatively modest cost of the necessary refurbishment, the council decided on an expensive scheme involving total demolition and the building of roughly twice as many housing units on the site by private developers, with a large proportion for sale at high market prices and others also at high prices as ‘affordable’ or shared ownership properties. Reports say that despite the roughly doubling of the number of units there will be 40% less social housing than at present.

The replacement flats in such schemes are almost always built to lower space standards than the existing properties, and demolition and rebuild involves an enormous environmental impact. Given our current problems with global warming and the impending threat of human extinction unless we take urgent actions to avoid this, demolition of existing buildings such as this should now be a rare last resort.

The human impact is of course also huge, with the estate being emptied. Those in social housing will have been offered rehousing, but usually in far less convenient places than this, targeted in part because of its central location and close transport links, and also probably with less security of tenure and higher rents. Leaseholders typically get compensation at far less than the cost of a similar property in the same area – or the new properties.

Schemes such as this effectively lead to social cleansing, despite the promises often made (but seldom kept) by local councils about residents being able to stay in the area or move back into the redeveloped properties. Those on low incomes are forced to move to the peripheries of the borough, to outlying borough or sometimes well outside London, away from jobs, schools, friends and other links in the community.

The protest at Hackney Town Hall, organised by East End Sisters Uncut and London Renters Union was over the failure by Hackney Council to provide suitable rehousing for two families remaining in Marian Court, both of whom attended and spoke at the event, and who seem to have been victimised because they particular housing needs and have stood up for their rights. You can see more about both of them and their issues with the council at Hackney don’t victimise housing activists.

And a few pictures of the area including Marian Court in Hackney


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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – 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.


Sitting on a goldmine?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Though film is now long dead for serious photography, the past few years have seen an upsurge in film sales, driven by young people who want to have fun taking pictures. And although I don’t see much point if any if you are going to have your films trade processed and then scanned, I can see how people can get a great deal of satisfaction about developing film and darkroom printing, which still has its particular magic that enthralled me around 50 years ago.

Like the youth of today, back in the 1980s and 90s, I became interested in archaic photographic processes, going heavily into what then became known as ‘alternative processes’. Partly my interest was in learning more about the historic processes used by some of the early photographers whose work I admired, but it was also in the aesthetic possibilites offered by cyanotype, kallitype, platinum and palladium, gum bichromate et al.

My interest was shared by a number of friends, one of whom became a well-known figure in the world of alternative photography, organising international conferences and making soemthing of a living running workshops and selling prints. But eventually I realised that my interests were more in the making of images to say something about the world and that the conventional processes, which were just beginning to embrace digital photography and printing. And I found that I could make prints which seemed to me just as expressive using an inkjet printer (and Piezography inks) as I had acheived with salt printing or platinum and with much more control.

When digital first began to dominate photography around ten years ago, film cameras were redundant and secondhand prices slumped. But apparently with a new young generation wanting to shoot film they are now in great demand. The video by NBC Left Field, ‘Why We Still Love Film: Analog Photography in the Digital Age‘ includes  some footage of a secondhand camera shop with cameras now being sold for silly prices. The man at K&M Camera in New York in the film says demand now exceeds supply and offers smiling customers cameras at prices that seem to have an extra zero on them. Those like me, who couldn’t bear to sell their old film cameras at knock down prices, may now find they are sitting on a goldmine.

Unfortunately for me, a quick check online of the UK secondhand camera market tells me that UK prices as yet don’t reflect those in New York, so we can either sit tight and hope they will catch up in time, or take a heavy suitcase full to the States. Though looking at those UK listings of cameras which all seem to be in at least ‘good’ if not ‘excellent++’ condition I do wonder how ‘knackered–‘ might affect the price.

It’s certainly a good thing that using film forces people to think about taking photographs rather than just keep pushing the button. Most of us who grew up on film probably still do that anyway with digital, though it has made some differences.

Long ago I remember looking at the contact sheets made by a Magnum photographer, working with 35mm film. Most of his sheets of 36 exposures only really contained perhaps two pictures, working around the subject until he was satisfied that he had probably done the best he could. Where possible (sometimes there is only a fleeting chance and it is gone) I work the same way with digital, but can now take more frames and take them in a considerably shorter time and have a higher chance of getting the scene exactly as I want it.

But it’s perhaps a good time to sort out all those old cameras and put them up for sale. And perhaps we shouldn’t leave it too long. As one of the photographers on the film in what was perhaps its most interesting contribution points out that the film renaissance is likely to be of relatively short duration because of its environmental impacts.


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