Land Day

July 6th, 2018

Land Day remembers the 1976 protests by Palestinians against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli state, and this year saw the start of a whole series of protests, the ‘Great March of Return‘ which was to continue until Nakba Day, the anniversary of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and villages in 1948, on May 15th.

What shocked the world this year was not the protest by Palestinians, but the Israeli response, with snipers under orders to shoot the unarmed protesters, either to kill or to maim them with bullets which expand inside the body to maximise the damage. On this first day of carnage 17 Civilians were killed and over 750 seriously injured by live fire, with others injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.

Most of those who were shot were several hundred yards from the separation wall, and many were moving away, and shot from behind. Some had thrown stones and other missiles towards the wall or fence, but they were essentially unarmed and presented no real threat. This was the first of a whole series of protests at which such shootings took place, and among those killed here and on later occasions were journalists and medics treating casualties, who seem to have been deliberately targeted. Treating those already shot they were often static, sitting ducks.

The videos and pictures from Palestine horrified the public around the world and although some news organisations hardly showed them most of us saw them on social media. Some referred to them using terms such as “clashes”, suggesting some kin of equal contest between opposing forces, rather than describing them more accurately as what they were, a deliberate massacre.

Pressure had already been building in Israel for a law to outlaw photographing Israeli soldiers “for the sake of shaming them” after a video had shown an Israeli soldier shooting and killing a Palestinian attacker who had already been incapacitated. That the Israeli military rightly insisted on him being tried for manslaughter for and his conviction (with a light sentence of 18 months) enraged many on the Israeli right and AP reported on June 18th this year that a ministerial committee headed by Israel’s justice minister had approved the proposal for a bill that would make ‘anyone “who films, photographs or records soldiers while performing their duty, with the intent of undermining the morale of Israeli soldiers and residents” or anyone who disseminates such materials’ liable to five years in prison.’

I photographed two protests against the shootings on Saturday. The first had been planned before in support of the Land Day protests in Palestine by the Revolutionary Communist group which has for years protested against UK support for the Israeli state, and in particular about the support by British businesses, and is a part of the growing worldwide BDS movement calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. For many years they held regular protests outside Marks & Spencer‘s flagship store on Oxford Street, where they also began this protest, before moving on in a ‘rolling protest’ along Oxford St, holding short protests with an account of each company’s involvement with the Israeli state at Selfridges, which sells Israeli wines, Adidas which supports the Israel football team, Boots which sells cosmetics made in Israel and Carphone Warehouse, where I left them continuing east along Oxford St.

Later in the day I went to the emergency protest called after the news of the shooting of protesters. The Israeli embassy is a few yards down an exclusive private road where photography and protests are not allowed, and the ban is strictly enforced by the police, with protesters being kept on the main road outside. The Russian Embassy for similar reasons is based at the other end of the same street.

This larger protest (and it was still growing as I had to leave) was attended by a wider range of people, including a number of Palestinians and Jews and most of those from the earlier protest. Most were those already involved in the campaign for human rights and freedom for Palestine, but there were others who had simply been horrified by the reports and felt they had to do something.

I also felt I had to do something more than simply take photographs, and later sent off a further donation to Medical Aid for Palestinians, a charity which provides medical services for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and in the camps in Lebanon – and who are in desperate need of funds to treat those maimed by the Israeli snipers. Thanks to an emergency appeal they have recently been able to deliver limb reconstruction equipment to Gaza. Please consider giving if you are not already a donor. And Gift Aid means it is one of the few ways that our government will help Palestinians.

Land Day protest against Israeli state

Against Israeli Land Day massacre

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Yarl’s Wood 13

July 5th, 2018

This was I think my 12th visit to Yarl’s Wood, but the 13th major protest there organised by the small left-wing political group Movement For Justice.

The protests they have organised here and elsewhere have done much to bring our terrible racist immigration detention system to public attention, and have given many detainees the courage to fight against the system, knowing they are not forgotten and that others outside know what is happening and support them.  MfJ bring a powerful public address system to their protests, and those who speak are mainly former detainees – and they also give people inside a voice over mobile phone link-ups.

So though the story told by a former active member of how she had been treated appalled me (though I realised I was only hearing it from one side) my overwhelming thought was that it was important that, whatever else, the campaign to close down these shameful prisons should go on.  The story didn’t actually surprise me – and some of what were presented as revelations were common knowledge, though some of the more personal aspects seem disgraceful. But much of it was exactly what might be expected of small left wing groups.

I’m not a member and would not consider joining such a group, or larger groups such as the SWP (which have also had their share of not dissimilar controversies.) I’ve always thought of myself as part of a much broader left movement, willing to support various campaigns I sympathise with, while still maintaining a professional distance and adhering to documentary and journalistic standards of integrity.

Perhaps some good has come out of the controversy, in that other groups have now also taken up the organising of protests against Yarl’s Wood, which before had been largely left to the MfJ. So far they seem to be on a much smaller scale but hopefully a larger movement will eventually grow. At the March protest they worked separately but alongside the MfJ, but since there has been at least one separate event. MfJ’s next protest there is on July 21st.

The most important of the other organisations is I think ‘Detained Voices‘ which publishes the messages of the women inside the prison. After the March 24 protest one of them began her comment with “We want to thank all the protesters who were here today, and I hope we made our presence felt even though we are oppressed.”

I tried hard to take pictures of the women inside Yarl’s Wood (and there are a few men too in the family units. Only a small proportion of them are able to reach the windows visible from the field where the protests take place, though others in the prison will hear the protests.  Outside we can hear them shouting through the narrow gaps the windows open and see them waving and holding up signs.

Photographing the women at the windows presents several problems. Obviously you need a long lens, and something a little longer than I have would help. Most of these were taken with a Nikon 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.0-5.6, but working in DX mode which effectively makes it a 105-450mm, and most are at the 300mm end. Even then the windows only occupy about a third of the width of the frame, and some images are fairly severely cropped.  Obviously you need a fast shutter speed to avoid shake, and typically these were taken at 1/500s or faster. The aperture also matters, although there is little depth in the subject, but stopping down a stop from maximum aperture to f8 certainly helps to tighten the lens performance. To get those kind of exposure values I needed to work at around ISO 1000, not a problem with the NIkon D750, where this is hard to tell from base ISO.

A faster lens would help here, as you have to take almost all pictures through a mesh fence, and a wider aperture would put this more out of focus and so less noticeable. But a significantly faster 300mm would be large, heavy and expensive. The fence is also a rather better target for autofocus than the windows, and almost all these pictures were taken using manual focus.

The protesters pose another problem. They have come to shout and wave banners and placards at the women inside the prison, and in doing so often make it difficult to get a clear view of the women at the windows. It’s also difficult to get good images that show both the protesters on the rise and the women at the windows because you see the protesters from the back when trying to do so.

And of course I also want to photograph the protesters as well as the prisoners. You can see some of the results on My London Diary at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood.  And a couple of days earlier I had photographed a protest in solidarity with their hunger strike by people outside the Home Office: Support for Yarls Wood strikers.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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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Opera Performance

July 4th, 2018

I wasn’t expecting to go in side the Royal Opera House when I met a small group of members of the cleaner’s union CAIWU a short distance away on Bow Street, but when a few of them walked in I followed. And although I didn’t get to sing I did manage to take quite a few pictures before security led the few protesters outside, as they were too busy dealing with the noisy protesters to take much notice of me.

The foyer of the Royal Opera is a place of dim lighting, and even at ISO 12800 it really wasn’t enough. I don’t like to use flash in these situations as it draws attention to me and makes it more likely I will get thrown out. Flash is also a problem when people – like the security guys here – are wearing reflective clothing which results in large amounts of light coming back from the reflective strips. There was quite a lot of movement so I wanted a shutter speed of at least 1/125th second.

Faster lenses might help a little – my 18-35mm f3.5-f4.5 is a little pathetic in this department, but in situations like this you also need a reasonable depth of field, which generally makes larger apertures unsuitable even at the wider end.

I had expected a rather more leisurely start to the protest, which was around the sixth on successive nights at the Opera House in a concentrated campaign against the victimisation of six CAIWU members for their trade union activities. I’d assumed that security would have expected the protest and locked the doors as we arrived and that the protest would be on the pavement outside.

I had my D750 on a strap around my neck, but the D810 was still inside my camera bag with a longer zoom in place. Once inside I decided the situation and low light made there little point in stopping to take it out, though had their been time in advance to think I might have taken it out and changed to the 16mm f2.8 fisheye, often a useful lens at close quarters and with remarkable depth of field.

As I viewed the pictures later on my computer I was pretty despondent. The colour quality of most of those taken in the foyer was abysmal, with darker areas exhibiting a nasty purple cast and a blotchiness. I’d taken just a few with flash that were usable, and managed to get a couple looking not too bad. The rest I converted to black and white.

It’s the colour that goes first with excessive under-exposure, and by converting to black and white you can work at least a couple of stops faster. But I don’t like converting images taken thinking in colour to black and white – either my own or those by other photographers. But here it was necessary.

Outside on the pavement, alhough it was getting dark, things were much better.

More pictures: Cleaners protest at Royal Opera House.
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Against Racism

July 3rd, 2018

Writing today with the temperature around 30 degrees in the shade, my shirt sticking to my body and wondering if it is worth leaving the keyboard for a while and get another glass of ice-cold water it’s had to remember just how cold it was back in March. The several thousand who turned up to march on UN Anti Racism Day ignored apocalyptic weather forecasts, an amber weather warning, a temperature around zero with the occasional snowflake and a chilling east wind. And we froze.

Portland Place, outside Broadcasting House has become a popular starting point for many protests. Partly to point out what seems to many campaigners to be a peculiar reluctance on the part of the BBC to report protests in the UK, particularly those that might embarrass the government. And a protest against racism should embarrass the current government, with its ‘hostile environment’ towards refugees and other migrants and clearly discriminatory policies in other areas, Though to be fair it doesn’t only discriminate on grounds of race, but is has an equal opportunities discrimination policy that also extends to class, disability, women, etc.

Britain has changed enormously in my lifetime, and the arrival of many workers from the Commonwealth in particular has greatly enriched us, both by doing many of the vital low paid jobs we all depend on  but also because of the cultural enrichment provided by their differing traditions. Many when they came in the past were citizens with the right to settle here, but increasingly racist immigration acts have changed that, reaching the state where the Home Office under Theresa May has been caught carrying out illegal deportations and destroying records that give some the right to remain.

The Windrush generation – and there children – are only the tip of an ugly iceberg, with many thousands being affected. But government racism has also extended to more traditional groups who have lived in this country far longer, travellers and Roma. Much of their harassment comes from local government, often failing to meet the limited responsibilities they have to provide sites, and employing licensed thugs to turn travellers off land – including at times land the travellers actually own.

Some areas of discrimination have changed for the better. Catholics and non-conformists are now seldom subject to discrimination on the grounds of their religion at least in mainland UK. And Jews too now escape official disbarment, though some Tories and extreme right neo-Nazi inspired groups still keep up the anti-semitic hate, though many have now transferred they evil bile towards Muslims. And while caste discrimination is illegal in India (although it flourishes under the current right-wing Hindu regime), here in the UK wealthy Tory-supporting Hindus have so far blocked attempts to make it illegal here.

Many wars around the world remain racial wars, including that between Turkey and the Kurds, with Turkey doing its best at least throughout the last century to eliminate the Kurdish people and culture. On the protest Kurds were calling for an end to the attacks by Turkey and Islamic militants fighting on their behalf to take control of Afrin, with the aim of removing the majority Kurdish population.

Militarily the Turkish army is far superior, thanks largely to its NATO friends including the UK who have helped make it the strongest force in the area, and with the aid of its former ISIS and Al Qaeda allies victory in the area seemed inevitable, though it may only be the start of a prolonged guerilla struggle.

As the Kurds arrived opposite Downing St, a misguided police office removed the cones and tape across the middle of Whitehall that had guided the marchers away from Downing St, and it was taken as a signal for them to make a rush towards its gates. These were of course well-protected, with barriers and police offices – and behind them several armed police, but the situation certainly became chaotic.

Eventually police and march stewards brought them under some sort of control, with some moving on to the stage on which a rally had already begun, but others simply standing around in the middle of Whitehall. It was still biting cold, and the majority of marchers quickly drifted away to make their journeys home. I held out for the first four or five speakers, but then joined them. It was far too cold to stand around.

March Against Racism

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Oh Jeremy Bentham!

July 2nd, 2018

Would Jeremy Bentham f**k with our Pensions? !!NO!!” is perhaps not the most widely understood of all placards, but it did amuse me.  Though I’ve never studied at University College, UCL, of which he was one of the founders in 1826, his principle of  utilitarianism, that the “greatest happiness of the greatest number is the only right and proper end of government” is perhaps an earlier version of ‘for the many, not for the few‘, and UCL from the start admitted students of any race, class or religion, with women on equal terms with men.


Jeremy Bentham in 2014

Bentham (1748-1832) himself left his body to medical science but also specified it should be preserved, and since 1850 it has sat on his own chair dressed in his clothes in a glass-fronted cupboard in UCL’s South Cloisters, where you can visit him to pay your respects ever Mon-Fri from 9am to 6pm.

The occasion for the placard was a march through London by several thousand London Region UCU members and supporters, including many students. c


Socratics against tuition fees

University staff and students see the dispute not just as an argument about pensions, but about the increasing turning of university education into a simple business proposition, with cost-cutting by the use of  cheap labour from part-time workers, graduate student and others on zero hours contracts.


The Provost is an Ontological Turn Off

For Universities UK, the important thing is not the pursuit of knowledge and the maintenence of learning communities dedicated to this end but simply the accountants’ bottom line. For UUK and the Government, what matters is not the pursuit of the common good, that ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’ but the contribution to the gross domestic product and to the profits of those of few individuals of ‘high net worth’ who are major donors to the Conservative Party and related to many of those holding power.


‘Students Not Consumers – Fouc Ault this Pensions Nonsense’

Of course many of the posters and placards were rather less ivory tower – and you can see a rather wider range in the pictures at University teachers march for pensions.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhahttp://re-photo.co.uk/wp-admin/post.php?post=8561&action=trash&_wpnonce=79feb11f70ps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Chiswick House and Gardens

June 30th, 2018

I’m not sure that the London Borough of Hounslow’s tourist industry needs encouragement, though despite having one of the world’s busiest airports (and if our current government gets its way having managed to pass a vote on its expansion, one that will certainly be, despite all promises, busier, noisier and more polluting if an extra runway actually gets build) on its doorstep it doesn’t seem to be a major tourist attraction. Most are only too keen to get away from the LB Hounslow as fast as they can, by tube, taxi or expensive train.

But there certainly are parts worth a visit. Some houses – Chiswick House, Syon and Osterley and areas of housing; a splendid piece of riverside, a few interesting small museums including Hogarth’s House. And quite a few parks with points of interest, the finest of which is perhaps the grounds of Chiswick House. And these gardens are free to visit, open all the year round.

I grew up a few miles away and visited the gardens here a few time when young, brought by my father, a keen gardener, who always carried a pair of scissors in his pocket to take the occasional cutting when no-one was looking, and when near home, some seeds of the decorative giant thistle echinops to scatter in any likely looking bare patch of ground because they were so good for the bees he kept.

Then I think the gardens were overgrown, and the giant conservatory dilapidated, but both have now been much restores. The huge greenhouse – which people always said was built by Joseph Paxton of Chatworth and Crystal Palace fame (he was a gardener and not a footballer) but wasn’t – was really built by mistake. It was built in 1812-13 to the designs of Samuel Ware and was then the longest ever, at 2 feet over a 100 yards. The 6th Duke of Devonshire was then owner of the house and ordered it to put his camellia collection in. These plants, which grow wild in much of south-east Asia, became a great craze at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries, selling for high prices and making fortunes for some nurseries.  Some have survived from back then and are now very rare.

I suspect my father took a few cuttings as usual, and there may still today be some from here surviving in some of the gardens in Hounslow he looked after, though the better of these are now long covered with flats.

It was probably the high prices that made people want to molly-coddle them, or perhaps just ignorance. They grow in their native soils in greater extremes of weather than we see in England, and just a few days earlier I had seen one in a front garden not far from our home with its flowers covered by snow. Though conservatories like this one would have been pleasant places to sit and walk and view your collection of plants, so perhaps the roof and heating were more for the benefit of people rather than plants.

And if you are not a gardener and wouldn’t know a camellia from a chrysanthemum, you will almost certainly have some familiarity with the drink made from the dried leaves of one variety of camellia. We call it ‘tea’.

The rest of the gardens were really the start of a new movement in garden design, the first “natural” garden in what became known as the ‘English Landscape Movement’, designed by William Kent for Lord Burlington, who also had the house built to his own designed, aided by Kent and copying the work from various Italian buildings, particularly those of Palladio.  The house was built in 1726-9 but work went on with gardens for some years. Although the gardens may be natural they contain many unnatural features of classical origin, the house and gardens representing Burlington’s attempt to create a Roman villa situated in a symbolic Roman garden.

Photographers will of course recognise them as they featured in several fine pictures by Bill Brandt, and of course many other photographers including Edwin Smith.  I’ve made a few pictures there in the past, but make no claims for these hurried snaps taken on a dull and wet day on an outing with others who were keen to get back to the car.

Both house and gardens are worth a visit, and the gardens and conservatory have been well restored (doubtless thanks to idiots buying lottery tickets.) There is a charge of entry to the house which is run by English Heritage, but the gardens are free. There is also a newly opened restaurant in which we had lunch, but I’d recommend a riverside walk from here to one of the Hammersmith pubs for a proper meal. You could also visit (on a Thursday or Saturday aftenoon) the small William Morris Society museum on Hammersmith Mall, and if sufficiently organised to book in advance, take the fascinating guided tour of Emery Walker’s house in Hammersmith Terrace.

Chiswick House Gardens

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Fukushima 7th Anniversary

June 29th, 2018

Remember Fukushima.  The disaster began seven years ago, but it is still happening, and will go on for many years . Radioactive materials are still escaping from the  melted down cores of the three reactors damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged reactors, with the water needed to keep the No 1 plant core cool still releasing around 2 billion becquerels a day – although the bequerel is a very small unit, still a substantial amount. Recent research by the University of Manchester has also shown the surrounding area up to several kilometres from the plant to be contaminated with micro-particles containing radioactive uranium. Different isotopes have widely differing decay rates, but the clean up will certainly take hundreds if not thousands of years.

In a sane world, we would have delayed any introduction of power generation from nuclear fission until the problems of nuclear disaster and nuclear waste had been properly investigated, but in the real world people saw the promise without letting the unsolved problems deter them, though TEPCO’s choice to build their nuclear power station in an earthquake zone was surely a gamble too far. And clearly no sane person would ever suggest we make or use nuclear weapons – and only one rogue country has so far used them. Japan had plenty of evidence from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the the dangers of nuclear catastrophe

When photographing protests I look for pictures that as well as concentrating on the people taking part also show clearly the 5 W’s (and the H) as promulgated long ago by Aristotle – Wikipedia gives a quotation from St Thomas Aquinas:

“For in acts we must take note of who did it, by what aids or instruments he did it (with), what he did, where he did it, why he did it, how and when he did it.”

The photograph at the top of this post uses the fine poster for the event which has a precis of the what  of the occasion and why those taking part are doing so. In the second image I’ve included the brass plate of the Japanese embassy along with the two Japanese Buddhist monks taking part in the event.

Other pictures show the long banner listing some of the major nuclear catastrophes – Windscale 1957, Three Mile Island 1979, Chernobyl 1986 and Fukushima 2011  (two further major incidents at a nuclear weapons plant on the Techa River in Russia, including the 1957 Kyshtym disaster were hushed up by Russia.) 

Passing Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly I was intrigued by the window displays featuring various teapots, one of which I thought perhaps looking a little like the overheated core of a reactor, and I photographed it with one protester who comes to protests with her own hand-embroidered placards which often attract photographers walking past.  She is a woman who used many years ago to work with my wife and I often go and have a few words with her when I see her at protests, but I kept to my normal practice of not posing people when I’m photographing events. I’m there to record events not create them and simply stood in the right place to take the picture as she walked past.

But of course you have to create pictures, by making use of what the event has to offer. I’ve photographed Bruce Kent on many occasions (not always as he would have liked, but never unkindly) and on My London Diary you can see some closer views as he spoke. But in the tightly-cropped head and shoulders view he could be speaking anywhere about anything.

While in the picture above only those familiar with Westminster will recognise the plinth on which he is standing in Old Palace Yard, the radioactivity symbol makes fairly clear the nature of the event, and assuming you can read back to front that it is about Fukushima. The figure in the yellow suit beside him perhaps helps, and certainly draws the eye to the speaker (though perhaps the yellow arm and leg on the point of a toe do give an impression of boredom).

Of course I didn’t set this up – or I might have found some way to get the flag the right way around. There was quite a breeze, and the flag was fluttering fairly wildly and while it might have been easier to get someone to hold it still in the correct position with a hand out of frame I didn’t do so. Nor did I ask the person holding at right out of frame to keep the bamboo pole still and at the same angle, though it would have made life easier.

Partly I didn’t do either of these things as it would go against my idea and training of not manipulating the news, but also because I remain convinced of the value of chance and accident which often make my images rather more exciting than any limited ideas I might have about making pictures.

Rather a lot more to see on My London Diary at Remember Fukushima, 7th Anniversary.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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The World comes to London

June 28th, 2018

I’m not a great traveller, as I’ve often noted here. Though I have occasionally been lured away by the delights of Paris and Hull as well as a few trips further afield, London still has so much to offer. And people come here from all around the world, not just as tourists (though sometimes it does seem most of the world’s population is cluttering our streets) but to live and also to protest about events back in their natal countries.

After the Million Women Rise march (with a strong migrant contribution) I found a large block of people standing in neat rows in Parliament Square in one of a number of protests called around the world by the South Korean based NGO The Association of Victims of Coercive Conversion Programmes (AVCCP) called after the death of a Korean girl, Jo In Gu, allegedly suffocated by her parents for refusing to take part in a religious conversion programme. Those taking part were certainly not all Koreans, but came from various countries and faiths, including Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians and varied musical traditions, including a Scotsman with kilt and pipes.

I hadn’t actually come to photograph the AVCCP protest but the Sri Lankan Tamils who were protesting opposite Downing St against the continuing attacks by Buddhist mobs in Muslim neighbourhoods around Kandy which have destroyed shops, restaurants and a mosque. They say the Sri Lankan government, which has declared a state of emergency and closed down much of social media, does not take effective action against attacks on minorities and accuse police and soldiers for failing to try to stop the attacks. They see what is happening as part of a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing by the government.

Back in Parliament Square another protest was taking place, with Kurds arriving to protest against the Turkish attacks on Afrin. They want the British government to take action and end its support of Turkey who has been the major supporter of ISIS and who is using former ISIS and al-Qaeda forces in its attack on Afrin, where the local authority reports that 220 civilians have been killed and 600 injured. Unfortunately the British government supports Turkey, turning a blind eye to all its (and President Erdogan’s) faults because it sees it as an important NATO ally in opposing an increasingly threatening Russia. Meanwhile of course Turkey is increasingly making overtures to Russia which has established itself as a major player in the area through its support of the Syrian regime.

The Tamils left Downing St to march to the Sri Lankan Embassy, but another protest was now taking place, part of the annual Tibet Freedom March in London commemorating the Tibetan National Uprising of 1959, 59 years since a huge mass of 300,000 Tibetans prevented the Chinese Army from abducting the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. A few days later, after his palace came under artillery fire, he escaped with his ministers making the 14 day journey across the Himalayas to India while the outnumbered and poorly equipped Tibetan Army fought off the Chinese.

At Downing St there were some short speeches and a rather Tibetan long prayer as well as the singing of the National Anthem before those attending, mainly Tibetans or of Tibetan origin but with quite a few Western supporters set off to march to a protest at the Chinese Embassy, but I left them to go in the other direction and make my way home.

Protest forcible religious conversions
Sri Lankans protest Buddhist violence
Against attacks on Afrin
London March for Freedom for Tibet

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : 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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Million Women Rise 2018

June 27th, 2018

Like so much more in London, the annual ‘Million Women Rise‘ march against violence against women is greatly enhanced by presence of many from our migrant communities, such as the Latino feminists in the picture above.  It takes place in central London on the closed Saturday to International Women’s Day.


2008

I first came across the event and photographed it and its founder Sabrina Qureshi (below) in March 2008, which was I think the first mass march, though the numbers then were about 2-3,000 and seem to have remained roughly constant since then – and most years I think I have taken at least a few pictures. Looking back at the two here from 2008 I can also see how much raw processing software has improved over the last 10 years; Lightroom was then in version 1.4, and many of us were still smarting at the loss of the then superior Rawshooter when Adobe bought up Pixmantec. I’m still unsure how much the acquisition was for the technology or simply to remove a better competitor, but it took a few more versions for Lightroom to really catch up – and perhaps only now does it really enable us to do a better job, though, as in the top picture here it is rather easy to overdo the colour saturation.


Sabrina Quereshi, 2008

Although I had no problems on that occasion (and later allowed the organisation to use some of my pictures), being a women-only march has sometimes caused some difficulties in covering the event, with a few over-zealous stewards some years who have objected to men being anywhere near the event.  Although some years there have been some of the women’s groups who have insisted that their male comrades march with them – leading to some fierce arguments – I’m happy to stay on the sidelines during the march (and have never tried to attend the rally) despite this often making my normal photographic close approach impossible.  So you will see in the pictures from these events rather fewer extreme wide-angle views and rather more work with the telephoto.

This year things seemed a little less rigid than some earlier occasions (and I did see a few men actually marching) and there were just a few occasions when I put at least one foot on the roadway to take pictures during the march without getting attacked. But generally, since I know that it is important for some of those on the march that it is a women-only space, I keep well out of it. Things are a little less defined before the march starts, when marchers in any case spill over onto the pavement.

Of course it isn’t just Britain’s migrant communities on the march, but looking at my pictures it is surprising to me what a great proportion they make up, though my pictures may well not reflect the march as a whole. As a photographer I’m obviously attracted to the more visual of the protesters and the more interesting of the posters and placards.

There are other individuals and groups that stood out for me, including these women from Mother World.

Million Women Rise

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David Goldblatt (1930-2018)

June 26th, 2018

One of the first photographic books I bought was ‘On The Mines’ by David Goldblatt and Nadine Gordimer, published in 1973 in Cape Town, and I think purchased from Creative Camera’s bookroom in Doughty St, which played an important role in my own development as a photographer. Unlike many books, I still have that first edition hardback, and can still find it and am sitting looking at one of Goldblatt’s best-known pictures on its back dust-jacket, “Boss Boy”, taken in 1966 and from the essay ‘The Witwatersrand: a time and tailings’ with Gordimer’s text and Goldblatt’s pictures and captions which is the first of three parts of the book – which continues with his ‘Shaftsinking‘ and ‘Mining Men‘.

So far I’ve read five obituaries of Goldblatt, though doubtless many more will be published, and I may even look out a dust off a short piece I wrote about him perhaps 20 years ago, though probably not, as certainly others knew him far better and probably wrote more perceptively about his work. Of course, back when I was growing up we all knew about apartheid and condemned it – and as a teenager I remember acting a part in a play about it, and later joining the Anti-Apartheid Movement and going on marches and protests.

But Goldblatt’s photographs, often very calm and carefully composed like that superbly framed ‘Boss Boy, the tips of the folding rule in his top pocket a fraction from the tope of the frame and his presentation ‘Zobo watch presented by the company for his safe working at the bottom edge, and on his left arm the company’s three star rank ‘Boss Boy’ metal badge touching the right edge of the picture, along with the texts strikingly brought home the realities of living under the Apartheid regime.

The five articles I’ve so far read are in the New York Times, The Daily Maverick  and Mail and Guardian from Zambia,  Al Jazeera and The Guardian.