Archive for April, 2020

FotoNostrum

Monday, April 20th, 2020

Welcome to a new free online photography magazine, FotoNostrum, published by FotoNostrum Gallery in Barcelona and their parent company The Worldwide Photography Gala Awards.

This is to be published fortnightly:

“The issue zero of this magazine that we’re presenting to you today is proof of what can and should be done to keep our social contact alive, to work for the future, to be able to improve our skills and showcase the work of our fellow photographers. When it seems that we’re lost in confinement, we propose to find each other in our magazine.”

The magazine is to be supported by advertising and donations which are solicited.

The first issue, Issue 0, is certainly well-produced and I wish it well, though I have to say it’s contents don’t particularly appeal to me, with a lead feature on Helmut Newton, a photographer whose work I’ve always found problematic. If you like his certainly very professional but extremely mannered highly commercial soft porn, you will probably also find some other work in the issue of interest. But it isn’t my thing. I’ve nothing against pictures of the nude, male or female, but other photographers, including some in this issue, have done it so much better. There is an element of falsity and sadism that doesn’t attract me and certainly fails to excite.

The only portfolio I found of interest was by Michael Knapstein, an American documentary photographer something in the tradition of Walker Evans. But I hope that having got Newton and some of the others off their chest they will find more interesting work for their next fortnightly issue.


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


Regents Canal 200

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

For various reasons it took rather longer than expected to build the Regent’s Canal around the north of London, joining the Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm to the River Thames at Limehouse, but the full length was finally opened in 1820, two hundred years ago this year.

Having realised this anniversary was approaching, early in 2019 I began a series of pictures to celebrate it, and had been intending to present these in a small show I was to have along with an artist friend, Hilary Rosen, at the Street Gallery in University College Hospital London.

The show was to have opened on 19th March this year, but a few days before we realised that it would be impossible because of the Coronavirus pandemic. We had to cancel the opening, but then it became clear to us that it would not be sensible to invite people to go to a hospital to look at an exhibition, and told the gallery that it had to be postponed. A few days later, the government realised they had to do something too, and on March 23 imposed the lockdown.

I’d picked just a dozen images for this show, but had taken hundreds if not thousands in preparation. I’d had the pictures printed and had spent a day mounting and framing them on the Sunday before the show was to start, but simply had to take them back up into my loft rather than to be hung at the gallery.

In making my selection I’d obviously wanted to show what I thought were the best images, but also to show work along the length of the canal from its start at Little Venice to its end at Regent’s Canal Dock (now Limehouse Dock marina.) My preliminary selection included several images from some of the more interesting areas, as well as a few from other places that didn’t make the final cut.

Rather than go back and make a new selection for an on-line presentation I’ve decided to simply put the 42 from my preliminary selection on-line, and to do so on Flickr, where they are displayed at a higher resolution than on Facebook or my own web site (where I think most or all have already appeared at smaller size.)

The images appear in two different aspect ratios, though they all have more or less the same horizontal angle of view, roughly equivalent to the full human binocular field of clear vision. Some are cropped at top and bottom, enabling me to move the horizon away from the centre line and to avoid the more extreme curvature at the edges which the necessary non-rectilinear perspective needed for such extreme angles of view dictates.

You can see them at Regents Canal 200 on Flickr.

C-type prints from the exhibition were to be on sale unframed and printed with images 42×22 cm or 36×24 cm (and a white border) at £200. For this online show they can be ordered direct from 6me at half this price, £100, including postage and packing to the UK. Overseas orders will cost a little more.


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

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.

XR Defy Police Ban

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

XR’s response to the illegal police ban on protests came the following day, when protesters crowded into Trafalgar Square to defend civil liberties and the right to protest.

Extinction Rebellion had called the protest after London Police ruled that even two people standing anywhere in London advocating action on climate change is an illegal assembly, and Monday’s Queen’s speech lacked any response to the Climate & Ecological Emergency.

Trafalgar Square soon became very full, and too crowded to be able to move around to take photographs. Fortunately I’d realised this was happening and had moved to a position on the steps only a few yards away from the microphone before the speeches began. But there were people sitting and standing in my line of sight, and I had to stretch and contort myself to get a clear view – and was almost certainly getting in the line of sight of others to do so.

And there were a whole string of speakers ready to speak out in defence of the right to protest – and put themselves at risk of arrest for doing so, along with the several thousand other protesters. Police did issue a number of warnings to people, but I saw no arrests actually in Trafalgar Square. Among the speakers was George Monbiot, and I’ve just found out that my spell checker decided he should be called George Moonlit when I wrote the account for October’s My London Diary (now corrected.)

I photographed most of the speakers, and XR’s red-robed mimes, who made their way through the crowd and came and stood rather conveniently behind me, but I was in pain from having to squat in an odd position to get my pictures and had to move back shortly before the protest ended and sit down for a rest.

George Monbiot had come to the protest determined to be arrested and carrying a notice announcing his deliberate breach of the Section 14 order, and invited people to join him and sit down in Whitehall after the protest. Quite a few went with him and police made a number of arrests,including him and a Green Party mayor who had come in his full regalia.

It was a long protest and I took many pictures – you can see more of them and read more about the protest at XR defies protest ban.


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

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.


Police impose unlawful ban

Friday, April 17th, 2020
Police remove a man who sat down on the crossing

After a week of protests by Extinction Rebellion in London, the police and their political masters decided they had had enough, and announced a London-wide ban on protests by XR across London, invoking Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

A man shows his passport at the police checkpoint on Lambeth Bridge

XR immediately accused the police of abusing the law and denying freedom of speech and questioned the legality of the police ban, beginning a legal challenge. Firstly that Section 14 was intended to allow police to manage protest and not to ban it and secondly that it could not be applied to XR’s ‘Autumn Rebellion’ as this was not a ‘public assembly’ in the terms laid down in the Act.

Police escort a JCB on its way to destroy the XR camp at Vauxhall

The order was imposed on 14 October, but the law works relatively slowly and it was only on 6 November that the High Court made an unequivocal judgement that the Met had acted unlawfully.

A police officer watches as Sian Berry speaks and MEPs Gina Dowding & Molly Scott Cato hold posters

Lord Justice Sedley observed:

“In a free society all must be able to hold and articulate views, especially views with which many disagree. Free speech is a hollow concept if one is only able to express “approved” or majoritarian views. It is the intolerant, the instinctively authoritarian, who shout down or worse suppress views with which they disagree”

It appears to have become standard procedure for police to make up and enforce their own versions of the law and to make arrests, often with no real possibility of any charge ever being brought. Sometimes their intent is clearly to impose bail conditions to restrict people’s activity for prolonged periods of time, and at times it simply seems a form of harassment, holding people for perhaps ten or twelve hours before releasing them in the middle of the night miles from their homes often without proper clothing and their possessions retained as ‘evidence’.

I hope the hundreds of protesters arrested for breach of this unlawful ban are pursuing their claims for false imprisonment, which could cost the Met millions, though of course that only means us taxpayers picking up the bill for the Bill.

XR protesters came to defy the ban on protests

After a slow start to the XR ‘No Food No Future‘ protest outside MI5 on Millbank where police restricted the movements of many not involved in the protest as well as searching activists and making an arrest I left to photograph a protest by politicians, mainly from the Green Party against the unreasonable ban on protest and freedom of speech. Although there were several hundred people in the square defying the ban, police made no arrests, perhaps because of the involvement of a number of MEPs and other politicians.

Protest defends freedom of speech
XR No Food No Future protest


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

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.


Land Of My Fathers

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Well, not quite, but our family do have strong Welsh connections. The only grandparent I ever knew was a small woman dressed in black who sat in a corner of the parlour beside the coal fire, with its permanent kettle on the hob, and if she spoke at all it was at least with a strong Welsh accent, though she had a quiet voice and I was never certain it was in English.

She had a name, Eliza, though she died before I knew her as anything other than Gran’ma, and was born in Llansantffraed, Radnorshire in 1865 where her family farmed. Llan-Santfraid Yn Elvael is a few miles from Builth Wells, one of quite a few places named after St Ffraid the Nun, better known outside Wales as St Brigit, including another in Radnorshire, Llansantffraid Cwmmwd Deuddwr (aka Cwmtoyddwr.) Her family farmed at Llan-gyfrwys, or Llangoveris, not far from Hundred House and every Christmas my father or uncle would go up to Paddington Station to collect a bird sent up for the family table, a duck or a goose, which around 20 of us, my aunts, uncle, father, mother and cousins would sit around the table to eat, though I insisted on eating only the chipolatas, not liking the rather greasy birds.

As a young woman she had been sent up to London to work in a family business, a Welsh dairy near Mount Pleasant, on the Gray’s Inn Road, and I imagine Fredrick Marshall, a young tradesman around her age who had moved into London from Cheshunt came into the shop as a customer, and they were married at Highgate Road, later moving to set up home in Hounslow were he set up a small cart-making business and she running a small shop and bearing five girls and two boys, one my father.

One of those girls married a Welsh man who I think she met when she was sent to Wales to look after an elderly relative there, and they had a home at Aberedw, a few miles south of Builth where her husband was a river warden on the Wye. I spent several summers in their house as a small child, probably when my mother was in hospital and I think we often ate salmon.

Back then we travelled to Aberedw by train (the line closed at the end of 1962) and there were several possible routes, though trains were infrequent on all. Trains from Hereford or Cardiff I think took us to Three Cocks Junction where we changed for Aberedw. When I last went to Aberedw by train in the late 1950s you had to tell the guard when boarding that you wanted to alight there, and to catch the train from there you stood on the platform and waved frantically at the driver.

The most exciting route was to come up through the valleys from Cardiff through Merthyr Tydfil (though I don’t remember the details, and I think there was probably another change involved) but the scenery with mountains, colleries and factories was rather more impressive than the lusher fields of Hay and Hereford.

I can’t now exactly remember how my trip to Merthyr came about, but I think I probably managed to persuade several friends from a small group of photographers that it would be a great place to go at that time, within a day or two of the announcement by the National Coal Board of the closure of more than 20 pits that led to the Miners’ Strike. It was clear that this was the end of an era for industry in South Wales, and was a part of Thatcher’s plan to end manufacturing and turn the UK into a service economy – which I had been documenting with a series of pictures of closed factories around London.

I think I was the only one of the four who didn’t have a car, but the four of us drove down I think together in Terry King, who had organised a couple of nights at a guest house and read up a little on the area.

I’ve just put a album with many of the pictures I took on this trip onto Flickr, where you can browse all of them at high resolution. Most are from Trehafod around the Lewis Merthyr colliery and from Cwmaman, as well as Dowlais and Cefn Coed. As always I’m happy for images to be shared on social media but retain copyright, and a licence is needed for any commercial or editorial use.

Wales 1984 – Views from the valleys

After taking these pictures I made some attempt to get funding to return and do more work in the area, but without success.


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

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.


Magnum Turning Points

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Lensculture’s selection of images from Magnum Photos, each with a personal story is an interesting collection, though I have to say that there are a few I find distinctly unimpressive among them. Even photographers good enough to have their work distributed by Magnum don’t always take great images.

I’m sorry (not really) that I’ve posted this link too late for you to take advantage of Magnum’s Square Print Sale, which offered these and others as “archival-quality prints, signed by the photographers or estate-stamped by the estates, are available for just $100.” You can see them much better on screen, and in most cases rather better in books than in the small prints on offer, more or less postcards. You pay for the signature or stamp. There are better ways to support photography and spend your money.

There are some truly great images among those featured here – and Magnum photographers have certainly taken many more. It’s worth also reading what the photographers have written, sometimes more interesting than the pictures.

And after reading these, do spend some time looking at the Lensculture site, always packed with interesting photography.


Enforced Disappearance

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

A post by Shahidul Alam, The journalist who got too close, reminded me of the dangers faced by journalists and photographers in some countries of the world, and in Bangladesh in particular, where extra-judicial killings and ‘disappearances’ are now common, despite government protestations there that they show ‘zero tolerance’ to extra-judicial killings, or torture and death in custody.

Alam writes:

On March 10, 2020, the Bangladesh police registered a case against photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol and 31 others under the country’s draconian Digital Security Act for publishing ‘false, offensive and defamatory’ information on Facebook. He has not been seen since.

You can read more about his case at Amnesty International who have released a video showing CCTV footage of unidentified men interfering with his motorbike outside the offices of his Bangla daily Dainik Pokkhokal for which he was both editor and photojournalist shortly before he left the office and rode away on the evening of 10 March 2020. He has not been seen since. Police filed a new case against him three hours after he was last seen.

You can see a few photographs by Shafiqul Islam Kajol on the Majority World agency web site. His disappearance took place after he and 31 others were accused of publishing “false, offensive and defamatory” information on Facebook. He had been publishing about sex scandals by members of the ruling party. He had previously been badly injured in several attacks when covering their political rallies.


78- Issei Suda

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Regular readers of this blog will know about my interest in and admiration for the work of Japanese photographer Issei Suda, and remember the post I wrote about him, Issei Suda (1940-2019) shortly after his death last year with some links to his work and writing about it.

A couple of days ago I came across a post on the British Journal of Photography online site, Issei Suda: 78 unseen photographs, which tells the story of how Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi, co-founder and director of Paris-based publishing house Chose Commune, wrote to Suda for the first time in January 2019 to ask about a new publication of his work. He was keen to cooperate, but sadly he died before she visited later in the year – but he had set aside a box of unpublished pictures for his widow to show her when she visited.

The book ’78’ presents 78 of these previously unpublished photographs taken between 1971 and 1983, typical of his work with its strangely unusual views of ordinary people and situations. It was only when she got back to Paris that Poimboeuf-Koizumi realised that the number of pictures she had selected for the book, 78, was also the age at which Suda had died.

You can see more pictures from the book on the Chose Commune web site, and it looks to be a finely produced work and a fine tribute to one of Japan’s most interesting photographers who received far less attention in the west than others whose work is rather more controversial and perhaps less intimate.

It’s a book I’m unlikely to buy myself as it is a little expensive at 55€ and I already have an earlier book of his work and a house with overflowing shelves and far too many books in it. But if you haven’t already met and lived with his work this is certainly worth considering.


Easter Pictures

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

Easter is of course the major Christian festival of the year, but here in the UK is seldom one that lends itself to photography. There are rather more public events around Good Friday, some of which I have photographed over the years, but we have never had the kind of large-scale Easter Parades like that in New York and some other cities overseas.

Easter Sunday in Richmond Park, 2010

So Easter has usually been a rather quiet time for me, sometimes with an outdoor almost-dawn service and perhaps a long walk later in the day or on Easter Monday. This year for obvious reasons it will be a little quieter than normal, though perhaps I will take my allowed daily exercise with a walk or bike ride.

Pat Arrowsmith

Two exceptions to my normal pattern in have both involved visits to Aldermaston with CND. In 2004 I began on Good Friday in Trafalgar Square, where there was a ‘No New Nukes‘ rally, with speakers including Tony Benn, Jenny Jones, Pat Arrowsmith, Jeremy Corbyn and many more.

The march proper began at Hyde Park, with around 2,500 people beginning the first leg, and I started with them, but soon gave up, leaving them at Kensington High St station to come home and file pictures while they made their way towards Slough.

I had a day off on the Saturday as my son was visiting us and we went on a family walk in the lower Lea Valley – and I forgot to put any pictures from this on my web site.

Pat Arrowsmith on the march

On Easter Sunday I got on my bike and rushed to Maidenhead where I locked my machine up and met the marchers who were arriving after an early morning start from Slough. There were now only several hundred walking the full distance, and they took a brief break for tea and coffee and then continued on their way towards that evening’s stop at Reading. I walked with them for the next few miles until their lunch stop, and photographed them from a footbridge over the road as they walked on towards Reading. I had a rather long walk back to Maidenhead for my bicycle and then the ride home.

On Monday I was feeling tired and rather than the heavy camera bag with the Nikon D100 and a film camera I took just a small knapsack with a water bottle and a lightweight Canon Digital Ixus 400, all of 222g. This took only 4Mp jpeg files, though at 2272×1704 these were not hugely smaller than the 3024×2008 of the Nikon. It had a useful zoom range, equivalent to 36-108mm, but the autofocus was sometimes rather slow, giving a highly unpredictable shutter lag. I sometimes found I had given up and moved the camera away from the subject by the time it fired.

The results were generally quite acceptable, and could produce an excellent A4 print, with the jpegs which were generally bright and sharp, often looking rather better than some from the larger Nikon files taken using RAW. In 2004 RAW conversion software was at times rather primitive and probably I was even less skilled at using it.

I took the train to Reading, along with my wife and one of our sons, and we walked the 12 miles or so to Aldermaston where I photographed the rally and then walked at least halfway around the perimeter fence of the large site. Fortunately we then got a lift to the station for a train back to Reading.

In 2018 it was the 60th anniversary of the first Aldermaston March, and on Easter Sunday I joined the crowds there for a rally. As well as calling for the UK to abandon its ridiculously expensive and totally useless nuclear weapons (our so-called deterrent) it also had something to celebrate – A UN treaty banning nuclear weapons which was finalised in 2017 and had then been signed by 122 nations.

This time I put my bike on the train to Reading and enjoyed a pleasant country ride in good weather to the rally and then back from Aldermaston.


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

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.


1986 Complete – Page 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

Commercial St, Tower Hamlets 86-2d-51_2400

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the first of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Of course the 1370 pictures in the album are not all I took that year, but perhaps about a quarter or a fifth. Quite a lot more than I would have selected or shown back in 1986, but the content has aged well, even if sometimes the actual physical negatives have deteriorated. Images that might have seemed a little mundane when I first saw them on the contact sheets have often gained considerably in interest as historical records.

There is a little redundancy in those 1370, and I’ve sometimes included several pictures of the same subject, where I’ve tried different ways to approach it. But the great majority of subjects were treated to only a single frame.

Crosby Row, Southwark 86-4f-11_2400

Many of those not included still have interest and value as historical records, but preparing them to go on line is tedious and time-consuming, particular as some need quite extensive digital retouching after the ‘scanning’ stage – mostly done by photographing the negatives with a Nikon D810 and Nikon 60mm macro lens. Some of my negatives were damaged by minute insects in search of gelatine, leaving their track as they chewed their way across them and depositing their frass and occasional body parts and complete restoration isn’t always possible.

Reuter, Royal Exchange, City 86-4l-66_2400

I’ve also been having problems in getting even lighting at the negative edges. This isn’t a problem with mounted slides, where the image is cropped, but I want the whole image, and possibly the problem is with light diffusing from the clear film edges. But it does mean every frame needs correction in Photoshop – rather like the little bit of edge-burning we used to do under the enlarger.

Courtenay Square, Kennington, Lambeth 86-4q-45_2400

I was working on a number of themes at the time and as well as recording buildings that interested me was particularly interest in sculptures, shopfronts, shop window displays and trees in the city. The first page of pictures on Flickr (100 images) includes work mainly from Southwark, the City of London and Spitalfields.

Brick Lane area, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4p-55_2400

I took very few pictures of people at this time, partly because I was rather shy, but more that I had been affected by some feelings being strongly expressed by some at the time about privacy and arguments that it was wrong to photograph people without first seeking their permission. I was never convinced by these, but they were off-putting, and I was sometimes shouted at when taking pictures. Perhaps more importantly I wanted to direct attention to the things being photographed, and was aware that people almost always steal the frame.

There are another 95 pictures on the first page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


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

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.