Cleaning Issues

© 2012, Peter Marshall

This picture makes clear one of the main problems I faced (literally) in photographing the Cleaners at Société Générale for another evening of noisy protest.

The strong low early-evening sun at just after 5pm in September was coming straight at me as I took this image. I’ve tried to hide it behind one of the flags in the centre of the picture, but the thin red material of the IWGB flag is far from opaque, and doesn’t really make a good lighting ‘flag’. At protests I often find placards very useful (although people often seem to move them ‘out of the way’ at the last second as you go to take a picture. )

Of course I could move in closer and point my camera in a different direction, as I did for the closer view of two of the men in the demonstration.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

But here too there are problems. The sun is still shining on the flags and these are now powerful red light sources. Their effect depends very much on their position relative to the faces – in this picture their is a very strong red light on the nearer figure and little on none on the further man.

Added to that there is still a huge lighting contrast between sunlit areas such as the side of the hand and fingers holding the flag and most of the rest of the image which is in shade.

Flash can a did help a bit in many if not most of the pictures that I took, but it isn’t enough to eliminate either the colour or the contrast effect. A little playing with the colour balance can make the colour effect less disturbing, but it is a real visible effect and so I wouldn’t want to eliminate it if I could. If the exposure is kept low enough not to completely burn out the highlights it is possible to burn them in a little to give visible density.

© 2012, Peter MarshallHere the red light from the sun shining through the flag creates a clearly visible border across the face. But at least the position of the flag in the image makes clear why it is there. I’ve actualy made it a little less obvious by lightening the shadow area on the face.

There were two other problems that I faced. There was just too much red, bright red. A little red is fine, although digital cameras tend to have problems in reproducing it, but I think a lot makes pictures difficult. And finally, much as I like the cleaners and support their fight, I have photographed them rather a lot and it’s difficult to find something new.

Cleaners at Société Générale Again

I think I’ve not done too badly. Except for the red, which is unavoidable and fortunately appropriate for the IWGB. So I’m stuck with it unless the cleaners decide to change to a different union again.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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

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