The Black Kingdom

Yesterday the place to be in London for photographers was definitely the Horse Hospital, where many of London’s best photographers and others in the industry were there for the launch of Brian Griffin‘s latest book, The Black Kingdom. Published by Dew Lewis, the book – which comes from his ‘The Black Country‘, produced for and first shown at the College des Bernadins in Paris during the Photo Month there in November 2010 – and afterwards in Walsall and China.

I’d not gone there intending to take any photographs, not least because I knew the lighting was – even for the D800E – less than usable, with just a few patches of illumination in the darkness. But I’d come from covering a couple of stories earlier in the day and I had the gear with me, including a Nikon still around my neck and I lifted it up to take a picture almost on auto-pilot while talking to a couple of old friends, taking a picture of people in one of the few brighter areas at ISO3200.

Once I started it seemed to make sense to go on. One of the few redeeming features about the Stygian gloom was a fairly neutral ceiling, so to penetrate the gloom I put on the flash, pointing it up to bounce. I kept the ISO high, as the D800 isn’t that powerful, and in any case I wanted to retain as much of the ambient feeling as I could.

As usual when I don’t think about it I’d left the camera on ‘P’, never a good idea when using flash other than as a touch of fill.  P just doesn’t work with flash – and in this case meant that all the flash pictures were taken at 1/160 f10. It could have been worse.

Brian of course gave his usual sparkling performance, and the book is perhaps his best, at least to date, and kept all of us spellbound.

As usual when taking pictures in such lighting I prefer to leave the final results a little on the warm side. Although it may sometimes be possible to get truly neutral results, they just look as if they had been taken some other place.  If you were there and want to see more pictures they are on My London Diary – and if you missed it you can still see them and see how many people you can recognise, as well as laughing at my mistakes.

Not all of the people there were photographers, and there were also some other people associated with the book, including the guy who printed Brian’s work and some of those who appeared in the pictures.  I’ve not named people – other than Brian, the star of the evening – so you can guess who is who – but I don’t have a ‘tag’ feature.

I’ve not yet put June’s main page on line, so clicking on the links to that will give an error message until I get around to it. May is not yet out here. People who were present are welcome to put any of these images on blogs, but it would be nice if you let me know – contact details are on most other pages of the site – including near the top right here.


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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