More at Wood St

Theresa May was just one of those protesting with the cleaners at Wood St on the 38th day of their strike at the CBRE City offices occupied by Schroders and J P Morgan, apparently by now the longest strike on record in the City. Or at least one of the protesters wearing a Theresa May mask. And support for the striking cleaners in the United Voices of the World union was growing, with groups from Unite the Resistance, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, the IWGB, Class War and others at the event. If not really Theresa May.

With campaigns that continue for such a long time, it’s difficult to keep coming up with different pictures and not get into a rut. Having some new people present helps, and also finding different viewpoints. And sometimes rather different things happen.

I try hard to find a different view, but not just something different for the sake of it, something that makes sense. A woman on a bicycle taking part in the protest provides a possibility, and I was fortunate that she chose to stop and briefly hold up a poster as the marchers behind her halted briefly on their way to the CBRE Offices.

One of the reasons I like to use different lenses is to add some variety to the images, but it’s also vital that they give you different ways to work. With the 16mm fisheye I am able to get very close to the protesters, giving a very different viewpoint. I was certainly in touching distance of the woman wearing the red IWGB flag.

Cleaner Victor Ramirez is a very powerful and emotional speaker – though my Spanish isn’t up to following much of what he says – but the speeches are normally translated by one of the other union members. I wanted to express something of his intensity and it seemed appropriate to use a big close up using a telephoto to do this – you can see 2 other pictures of him from the series on My London Diary.

They were taken with the 28-200mm, used at full frame on the D810, at a focal length of 112 mm, with exposure at ISO 800 of 1/250 at f8. I’m not sure whether it would have been better to use a smaller aperture to try and get the placard legible, but you can read the message in many of the other images, and the out of focus background makes Victor stand out more strongly. I don’t often make great use of ‘differential focus’ and usually like to have everything sharp. I’m certainly not the kind of photographer who worries much about the ‘bokeh’ of lenses, but I think the out of focus areas look OK in this image.

I was pleased though that f8 gave me sufficient depth of field to render both Victor’s hand, face and ears sharply.  I’m sure I will have focused on his eyes.

Solidarity for Wood St cleaners


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