Five Year Growth

Someone asked me yesterday if the only thing I photographed was protests. It was a genuine query, because she had seen me working at every protest she had attended in recent months, but my answer was “not quite”. But I went on to say that there were just so many protests at the moment that they had more or less forced everything else out of my diary – and out of My London Diary.  I used to cover a rather wider range of events.

It’s perhaps partly the election coming on, though I don’t really see a huge decrease in the activity of protesters after May 7, whichever party or parties form our new government. The policies that are behind what seems to be a growing resentment and militancy were many of them begun by Labour although the screw has certainly been tightened by the Conservative-LibDem coalition government. To mix a metaphor, Labour might release a little of the pressure, but it still looks to me as if growing inequality is stoking up a boiler on its way to bursting point.

Other photographers occasionally ask me how I find out about all the protests I cover, but really it isn’t a problem. My problem is more about choosing which of the many going on to decide to attend. Yesterday there were half a dozen things in various parts of London I knew about (and some I only heard about after the event) but I only got to one. And the pressure of work is such that I’ve been getting over-tired, not getting enough sleep and finding that I have to stop work after a few hours -at times I begin to feel my age.

It’s been a few days longer than usual since my last post here, mainly because I’ve been out working every day, and its likely to happen again. Today I’m able to sit here writing this because I didn’t manage to finish yesterday’s work at the computer, simply falling asleep as I tried to write, eventually dragging myself off to bed. So this morning I had work to finish and also still needed to rest. Otherwise there were a couple of protests in the centre of London and another following on from yesterday’s protests in Brixton I might be photographing. But I need a day off. Perhaps when I’ve finished writing this I’ll go for a quiet walk, taking as usual a camera with me, but probably not making and photographs.

X-Pro1, 10-24mm, 20mm

Sometimes I still do manage to photograph things that are really a day off from protests, and there was one such at the end of Febraury, when I went to a party to celebrate five years of Grow Heathrow. I’d first visited the site very briefly shortly after it had opened, just a short walk from an extremely small plot of land I had become a “beneficial owner” of at Heathrow Airplot in Sipson as a part of the campaign against a ‘third runway’ for Heathrow, and had returned for a couple more visits over the years.  Every time I went I thought it would be my last visit, with court cases and evictions always looming, and it was something of a surprise to find they were still there and active after 5 years.

X-T1, 10-20, 10mm

I’d thought a little about taking photographs, and decided it would be an ideal occasion to use the Fuji cameras, taking with me both the Fuji X-T1 and X-Pro1 bodies. I had four lenses, the 10-24mm and 18-55mm zooms, the 18mm f2 and the Samyang 8mm fisheye, though I didn’t use this. I’d taken the 18mm in case I had to work in low light, though it only has a one stop advantage over the 18-55 zoom at the same focal length. It’s also a nicely light and compact lens which is handy to have on a body hung around my neck when travelling, and my favourite focal length, but in the end I only made a few images with it. Eleven out of just over four hundred. Most used was the 18-55mm (266) with just over half as many (142) on the 10-24mm.

X-Pro1, 18-55mm, 55mm

I like the optical viewfinder of the X-Pro1, but ended up taking more pictures with it using the electronic viewfinder and the 10-24 zoom, and wishing that I had two X-T1 bodies. One thing I did miss was a longer lens than the 18-55mm, particularly when photographing the panellists at a discussion where I could not move in closer. I’ve rather got used to using the 18-105mm on the Nikon, and if I ever decide to use the Fujis seriously would certainly buy something longer, perhaps the 18-135mm.

X-T1, 18-55mm, 37.4mm

I had the usual battery problems – I got through four in the four hours I was there, and occasionally the focus was just a little slow, but otherwise things worked fine. I’m getting used to using the exposure compensation dials, though moving the focus point around is still a little tricky. The X-T1 viewfinder is really good in low light too.

There was a huge advantage in using the Fujis in quiet conditions close to other people in that I could take as many pictures as I liked without being a distraction. I often feel intrusive when photographing with the Nikons, although I know the shutter sound is louder to me than to other people, it is still loud enough to be annoying. Almost as annoying as a Canon :-)  though less so than a cannon. With the X-T1 you can use the electronic shutter and all there is to hear is a slight whir as the lens focusses. Usually I leave the shutter in mechanical mode, which is pretty quiet, but does give you some feedback that you have taken a picture. Sometimes I found myself having to review an image to be sure I had really pressed the button.

X-Pro1, 10-24mm, 17.4mm

It was a pleasant afternoon, and good to meet a few old friends as well. Of course you can read more about Grow Heathrow and see more pictures on My London Diary in Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday.


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 taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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