More on Banners

There was a rather more exciting banner drop the next day I was up in London, and I more or less missed it, walking past the British Museum in a rush to get to the TUC for another event. I saw some police activity, with several vans, but I was late and hurrying, and didn’t bother to investigate – which was pretty stupid.

THe TUC building is just a couple of hundred yards away, and whn I got there, nothing was happening. It took me a few minutes to go inside and find that the protesters were mainly still in a morning conference session which had overrun, and I decided I really ought to go back to the museum to see what was happening there.

By the time I arrived back at the museum, things seemed more or less over. The whole area was taped off and police weren’t letting the press inside, so all I could do was to talk to some of those outside and, like them, poke a long lens through the railings.

While most press photographers tote large heavy telephoto zooms, I’m too old for such body-building exercises (or rather from me body crippling) and my telephotos are petite and slow, and the difference rather tells in situations like this. The Nikon 28.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 is beautifully small and light but optically isn’t a match ofr the heavyweight glass such as the 70-200 f2.8 at 3 or 4 times the weight and size – and even that is rather small compared to some of the heavyweight lenses particularly favoured by Canon users.

Size may make photographers feel more virile, and certainly size will matter in terms of image quality, but even my midget lens can deliver a decent result, and I took a number of pictures of the Greenpeace activists on the columns of the British Museum where they had hung 7 giant banners on the opening day of the BP-sponsored ‘Sunken Cities’ exhibition. And since there was enough light to work at around f8, I didn’t need the heavy glass that most of the others were using.

What would have been useful would have been a considerably longer lens, perhaps a 500mm or longer, to enable me to show the individual climbers , but the longest lens I have is a relatively small 70-300mm, but that only gets in my bag when I know in advance I’m likely to need it.

‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show

I didn’t have time to stay long, as I had to get back to the TUC where during the lunch break in the TUC disabled workers conference, activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Winvisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) were about to show others how to protest effectively.

They marched the short distance to the Tottenham Court Rd and blocked it to hold a short rally. Police diverted traffic away from the usually busy road and after a while came to ask them to leave. And after a while they did, because it was time for the afternoon session of the conference.

The banners with the message ‘No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts’ were rather long, and I was please to find the solution above, where the two bannerscropped, one high and one low spell out the message between them. Otherwise I would have needed to be twice as far away to get the whole message in, and of course the banners rather neatly frame the protesters.

More usually I like to work from one side, so that at least those nearest to me are in the picture at a sensible size. I’ve never understood why so many photographers want to work from dead centre – and there is often quite a lot of competition to get that centre spot. Usually it seems to me to be the most boring place to be.

No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts


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

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