Secular and Sacred

Fortunately the weather began to clear up soon after I left Lewisham, catching the train back to London Bridge and then the tube to Westminster. And although I was too late to photograph the 6th annual Secular Europe Campaign march, I was there in time for the rally opposite Downing St.

Visually the most noticeable thing were the paper hats worn by some of those taking part, in the shape of a bishop’s mitre with the number 26 on them. The point was perhaps made more clearly in a placard.

Though my favourite poster, as a regular morning listener to the ‘Today’ programme on my radio alarm, was one saying ‘Thought for the day; can we have one?’.

Although my alarm is set for much earlier, it’s nearly always ‘Thought for the Day’ which actually drives me out of bed, and I seldom hear all of this three minute interlude in the programme, though there are just a few that make me stop and listen before I rush to the bathroom. Some of them – or what I hear – strike me as pretty secular in any case, as is most of the rest of the programme, and if what I’m hearing from the speakers as I take some pictures is representative of what their ‘Thoughts for the Day’ might be, I’d be in real danger of going back to sleep.

I left the Secular Europe Protest sooner than I needed, as there seemed little chance of good pictures and a certainty of getting rather bored. I’ve no love of the established church, and certainly in favour of secularism so far as our laws are concerned, but can’t get worked up about Bishops in the House of Lords, who generally seem to do at least as good a job as the rest of that unelected body. Tackling class and elitism and the entrenched power of a small minority seem far more important issues and being anti-religious as those I heard seemed to be seems rather a matter of ‘bashing the bishop’. An activity that of course has its place.

I wandered slowly to my next appointment, arriving early, and having to wait a very long time outside Westminster Cathedral as the web page for the event had misled me about the time that the Maltese would emerge from their celebratory mass for the Malta Day Procession procession to make their way carrying the rather hefty statue of the Bambina  to the Sacred Heart Chapel of Ease in Horseferry Road.

I’m not a fan of the Catholic Church, though it is a very mixed organisation, parts of which seem not to have move on since the Spanish Inquisition, while others are organising some of the more radical movements in South America. Perhaps too I still bear a personal grudge against the Maltese branch of the church, since my earliest girl friend was Maltese, her uncle a bishop. When he heard she was going out with a non-Catholic she was immediately shipped back from England to Gozo. It was a very long time ago, and I think I’ve got over it!

But while I don’t share their religion, visually the event was far more interesting. I particularly liked the view of the statue being carried out of the cathedral door.

And in its peculiar way, Westminster Cathedral is a quite splendid building which makes a good background.

I had a few technical problems, partly I think because I got a little distracted with someone talking to me. I’m generally not very sociable and need to concentrate on the job when I’m making pictures and being interrupted a lot really does put me off my stride. So a few exposures were way out – probably because of all the black cloaks and those strange hoods worn by the girls. Possibly I had the camera on ‘spot’ metering, which is fine and precise so long as you pick the right spot, but can be disastrous if you are not thinking.

Image before crop and manual processing

And for the final few frames I managed to knock the lens hood on the 16-35mm slightly out of position, getting a little total vignetting at top right and bottom left. Small enough to be easily missed in the viewfinder, but annoying, though in this case fairly easily dealt with.

Image after crop and manual processing

But its a shame that Nikon didn’t design a better bayonet fitting for their lens hoods and make them slightly more rigid. Most days when I’m out taking pictures I find myself bending down at some point to retrieve a lens hood that has self-detached.


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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Image after crop and processing

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