March 2019 complete

April 16th, 2019

It should have been easy to finish getting My London Diary on-line for March, as minor ill-health meant I was unable to take pictures for ten days, so I covered rather fewer events. But it is increasingly a struggle to get it done.

For some years I’ve been wanting to move away from Nikon to smaller, lighter cameras which would be less tiring to carry. I’d hoped that the Fuji X cameras would do the job, but although the lenses are superb, the cameras are just not responsive enough. Over a few years and several models they improved in various ways, but they still (I’ve not tried the latest) don’t provide the confidence that when you press the shutter release they will take a picture. Sometimes the fastest way to wake them is to turn the camera off and on again, and in the second or so it takes for them to respond the picture has gone.

This month, should you care to examine the EXIF data, you can find pictures made with Nikon, Olympus and Fuji cameras. I think the Olympus can probably do almost everything I need, despite its sensor size only half that of the Nikon and the smaller file size, but I’m still evaluating the results. The camera I have is the OMD EM5II, which seems ridiculously cheap for what it offers.

Mar 2019

Freedom, justice & equality for Palestinians
Climate Protest at Barclays Bank


Kurds support hunger strikers
Fridays for Future climate protest
Brexiteers protest Betrayal
Vigil and protest for Christchurch victims


8th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution
No to Racism, No to Fascism
Remember Fukushima 8 years On
No more deaths on our streets


London Schools Climate Strike
Million Women March against male violence
Blood of Our Children – XR


Women’s Strike Red Feminist March
Camden Panoramas
Global Women’s Strike
Graffiti at Leake St
Yellow Vests applaud Kurdish protesters


Rally supports Kurdish hunger strikers
Sudanese support the non-violent uprising


Algerians say no 5th term for Bouteflika
Scrap Universal Credit
End Japanese dolphin slaughter
Black Cab Drivers blockade
Weekly climate protest
Plastics protests in London

London Images

London 1979 (5)

April 15th, 2019

Continuing the series of posts showing work taken in London in 1979 as posted to Facebook with comments an image at a time in the first half of 2018.

Previous post in London 1979 series
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London Photographs 1979 – Peter Marshall


North Acton, Ealing, 1979
19h-41: power station, railway, trucks, cooling towers,

Acton Lane Power Station was first built in 1889 by the by the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited, becoming a part of London Power Company Limited in 1924, and one of the four stations of the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority in 1925.

The old station was replaced by Acton Lane ‘B’ station with its 3 cooling towers begun in 1950. It was mostly between the west coast mainline from Euston and the Grand Union Canal with another railway line crossing along its eastern border. Several pipe bridges still cross the canal, but the coal to run the turbines came by rail rather than canal. Still in use when I took this picture, it closed in 1983. The cooling towers have gone but the site is still in use by the National Grid.

Rail enthusiasts may be able to tell me more and perhaps pinpoint the exact location from which I took this picture, which I think may have been from the bridge on Old Oak Lane, but the scene has changed considerably since 1979.


North Acton or Harlesden, Ealing/Brent, 1979
19h-44: house, works

I’ve no real recollection of the whereabouts of the fiefdom of ‘Govin the Hulk’ whose name is on the gate or fence at the right of this picture, but previous and following frames were made on the platform at Willesden Junction, and it seems as if I arrived there, took a short walk and then returned.

The careful positioning of the frame edges and retention of verticals show that it was the pattern of the image with its interlocking planes that interested me rather than the particular location or use of these buildings, which appear to be commercial rather than domestic.

I think it likely that this will have been taken on an Olympus OM camera, probably the OM1, and using the 35mm shift lens which around this time became my most-used lens. This lens had two sliding panels at its rear which enabled it to be moved horizontally or vertically relative to the camera body, enabling the film to be positioned anywhere inside the image circle – which was roughly that of a medium format 35mm lens. It was of course particularly useful with tall buildings where it would enable you to keep verticals upright while working much closer to the building, and avoiding the much of the empty area between the camera and building. It would give a similar result to taking the picture with a 24mm and then cropping much of the bottom and both sides.

Being essentially a medium format lens with a specially adapted mount, it came at medium format prices. Having long lusted after this rare and expensive beast I walked out of the station at Hull and across Ferensway to Hilton Photographic and found a secondhand one looking at me from the window. I’m not sure they really knew what it was or perhaps they doubted if anyone in Hull would want such an unusual item, but the price was very reasonable and within minutes it was mine.


Willesden Junction Station, Brent, 1979
19h-45: house, works, brent

Willesden Junction is a complicated station with upper and lower level lines and platforms, with services from London Overground, Bakerloo Line underground and National Rail. This view is of the high level line going south from the station. The bridge at left carries a footpath from the end of Station Approach to Salter St, running parallel and close to the West London Line, still an interesting walk for lovers of industrial urban chaos. The lonely looking signal box was still there last time I travelled, though probably long out of use.

Th North London line which ran from Richmond to Broad Street and was among those listed for closure by car industry propagandist Dr Beeching in 1963, and was only saved by a massive popular campaign. It was again threatened in 1970-71 and another campaign was needed to keep it running. A few years after I took this picture Broad Street station was closed (its site now the Broadgate development next to Liverpool St Station) and the Richmond service joined to the recently opened CrossTown LinkLine service from Camden Road to North Woolwich, using old redundant Southern Region stock, but serving several new stations and was renamed the North London Link.

It remained something of a secret service, thanks partly to some well-hidden stations with rather obscure names, though important to many Londoners as a way to get to work particularly in the tube-free East London areas it now served, linking them to the Underground at Highbury & Islington.

In 2006 the section between Stratford and North Woolwich was closed (later becoming part of the DLR and the Canning Town to N Woolwich section becoming part of Crossrail.) The Richmond to Stratford line was transferred to Transport for London in 2007 and is now part of the London Overground service, much improved with new trains and an increased frequency of service.

The service has always been slow, though for a couple of years from 2000-2002 there were around 5 faster services a day run by Anglia Railways from Ipswich to Basingstoke, calling only at major stations such as Willesden Junction, and providing a direct link for me from Staines. But apparently it attracted few other passengers and my occasional use failed to keep it open.

There were no passenger services from here on the West London Line to Clapham Junciton in 1979; stopped in 1940 they only restarted in 1994. Again the service has improved greatly since taken over as London Overground, with several new stations.


Tubbs Rd/Station Rd, Harlesden Brent, 1979
19h-65: street, shop

Beta Books was on Station Rd in Harlesden, though the station a few yards around the corner to the left is Willesden Junction.

I was perhaps a little slow in taking this picture of the man walking away from me, which the low level of the camera helps to give a slightly sinister cinematic feeling, enhanced by the dark printing (and unintentional underexposure.) One of my preoccupations at the time was in trying to react rapidly and instinctively to situations, and getting away – at least at times – from the careful and precise construction of some of my images. But it sometimes gets hard to distinguish between carelessness and deliberate and intentioned carelessness.

Beta Books probably appealed to me because of a mention in David Lodge’s 1975 tale of two campuses ‘Changing Places’ of the Beta Bookshop, “a favourite gathering place for radicals into which the police had lobbed so many gas grenades it was said you could tell which students in your class had bought their books there by the tears streaming down their faces”, though his was in a thinly disguised Berkeley, California, rather than Harlesden.

The partly visible shop to the right of Beta Books is ‘Orbitone’, a record shop owned by Jamaican born Sonny Roberts and the home of his Orbitone label, noted for both reggae and Nigerian music. The first Orbitone release was in 1972 and the final release in 1987 and the shop closed around that time. Roberts, who came to the UK in 1958 in his mid-twenties first worked as a carpenter but soon found he could make a better living as a DJ and then a record producer and was apparently the first Jamaican to set up and own a recording studio in the UK in 1961.

This row of shops became Brazilian in more recent years, with the book and record shop being incorporated into the ‘Brazilian Emporium’. The bookshop is now a ‘Hamburgueria & Tapiocaria’.


Tubbs Rd/Station Rd area, Harlesden, Brent, 1979
19h-66: street, shop

Wanted Urgently says the sign at the right of the small premises of Iron Steel & Metal Merchant J Bridges & Sons, somewhere not far from Willesden Junction. But I think the time was gone, despite the further injunction ‘Time to Sell Your Scrap!!!’ at the left, and it is unlikely that the time really was 3.23 as the clock behind a broken glass circle shows. The place is boarded up, part covering some of the signs, the doors padlocked.

In front stands some scrap, a broken Hotpoint machine and a bin overflowing with rubbish. I like the description ‘Iron, Steel & Metal…’ though elsewhere it has the more precise if misspelt ‘Ferous and Non Ferous Metals’.

There are also two different listings of the same telephone number, one with the Harlesden ELGar exchange and the other with the all-figure 965 which replaced it in 1966, while at right the numbers are painted over.


R Tealing Ltd, Borough Market, Southwark 1979
19i-11: doorway, barrow, market trader,

There was until recently a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, R Tealing (Covent Garden) Ltd, a private listed company operating in the New Covent Garden Market, registed in 1974, though only since 1975 under this name, and I imagine that this was a part of the same or an associated enterprise. In 1979 Borough Market was still a real vegetable market with none of the trendy foodie places which now attract tourists in their droves.

I never got there in the early morning to really see the real market at work, between around 2am and 8am, though there is the attraction of a special market licence at The Market Porter, open Mon-Fri 6.00-8.30am, one of only three remaining London pubs with an early licence.


St Mary Overie Wharf Offices, Borough Market, Southwark, 1979
19i-13: cobbles, office, street, warehouse

G L Stansall (Wholesale Grocers) Ltd was dissolved in 1981. Although the address is given as St Mary Overy Wharf I think this may have been the neighbouring premises of Stave Wharf which was across a narrow roadway.

I had visited and photographed this area in 1978 and returned as they some of the warehouses were being demolished. The brick-built warehouse at St Mary Overy’s Wharf was erected for Mr. George Doo in 1882 and was in the following year the first customer of the public hydraulic supply network set up by the wharves & Warehouse Steam Power & Hydraulic Pressure Co. (renamed the London Hydraulic Power Co. in 1884) which powered its external cranes and hoists.

Built as a granary, the lower floors became a general warehouse. The building was taken over by Cole & Carey, general wharfingers, in 1890, and they continued to use it for some years after the premises were bought by the Proprietors of Hay’s Wharf. There were various tenants from the late 1960s, and G L Stansall was the last of these, leaving behind shelving with food tins, sacks peanuts and boxes of liqueur chocolates when they quit.

Part of the roof was destroyed by fire in 1979 and all except a small section at the southwest corner demolished soon afterwards and replaced by modern structures in a similar brick but with considerably less individuality. It is a bland but not entirely out of character redevelopment which more or less retains the same streets and passages but little of the atmosphere.

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More to follow shortly

Previous post in London 1979 series

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The pictures in this series of posts are exactly those on London Photographs, where landscape format images display slightly larger. Clicking on any picture will go to the page with it on the web site.

I have included the file number and some keywords in the captions; you can order a print of any picture on this site using the file number.
Order details and prices

______________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________

Eton Wick

April 14th, 2019

Fortunately it wasn’t my bike at the bottom of the river. This was the Thames at Athens, a traditional bathing place for Eton boys at Eton Wick, a mile or so from the school. Eton Wick still seems a pretty feudal place, belonging to the school, originally set up to educate poor boys, but at some time stolen from its purpose by the wealthy – along with everything else.

And of course it isn’t far from the castle, that great symbol of the power that enabled a few to grab huge estates like Windsor Great Park. Apparently Helch is apparently a “word used to show disgust to peas and landmarks” and while the castle may look quite pretty, what it represents is certainly disgusting.

Eton Wick grew up on the western edge of the college’s land to house the workers who kept the college running, though now it is, according at least to estate agents, it is a ‘much sought after Village’. It does at least have a decent small pub, which was like walking into a time warp, and could have been in the middle of the countryside, miles from anywhere, though standing outside there are very frequent reminders that it is not far from take-off at Heathrow, as well as suffering constant traffic noise from the M4.

Going across Eton Wick is the huge viaduct bringing a branch line from Slough into Windsor station. Originally the main Great Western line was planned to go through Windsor, but objections by college and castle led to it being moved north to go through Slough, and Eton held up the building of the branch line for around 14 years. The brick viaduct replaced an earlier trestle viaduct in the 1860s, and although it is often said it was designed by Brunel he died before it was built. The line and the wrought iron bridge which carries the railway across the Thames was designed by Brunel.

Also crossing the fields of Eton Wick is the A322 Royal Windsor Way, a rather later structure, built in 1966; four years later the old bridge between Windsor and Eton was closed to traffic as it was cracking up, so this is now takes all the traffic between the two. We went under this where it crosses a backwater of the Thames, which meets the main river a short distance upriver, close to Athens.

I couldn’t resist taking another picture of the ‘Bathing Regulations at Atens’ taken from the 1921 ‘School Rules of the River’.

More pictures Eton Wick

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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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London 1979 (4)

April 13th, 2019

Continuing the series of posts showing work taken in London in 1979 as posted to Facebook with comments an image at a time in the first half of 2018.

Previous post in London 1979 series
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London Photographs 1979 – Peter Marshall


Wembley Stadium, Brent, 1979
19g-46: tree, sign, railing

Although I went to Wembley Stadium in 1979, I found little or nothing the the actual stadium area that interested me, making a few pictures of steps, shadows, sheds and signs, but really nothing of the actual stadium. I suspect I felt too many pictures had already been taken of it.


Palaces of Industry, British Empire Exhibition site, Wembley, Brent, 1979
19g-52: building, concrete, reinforced, derelict

I had come to Wembley to try photograph these derelict buildings which were built in 1922 and 1923 for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 -25, probably because some of them were about to be demolished shortly I’m not quite sure exactly which buildings I photographed, and although some were demolished in 1980, the last only went in 2013.

Although they had been built for the temporary exhibition, their reinforced concrete made them difficult to demolish, and they had only remained there so long because it would have been expensive to get rid of them. I think this is one of the buildings that was still standing and being renovated when I returned three years later and took some more pictures on Engineers Way.

The Empire exhibition was important in accelerating the development of the surrounding areas of north-west London, much of which soon became covered with suburban housing in the years up to the second war.

The area is I think totally unrecognisable now, with about the only remaining building being the 1934 Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena), which I think I photographed a few years later.


Palaces of Industry, British Empire Exhibition site, Wembley, Brent, 1979
19g-64: building, concrete, reinforced, derelict,

A second picture of the derelict concrete buildings, apparently left standing after the exhibition as it was too expensive to demolish them.

I think I probably took rather more than the handful of pictures in the area during this visit than have survived, and suspect that one of the films that I took may have been ruined by a camera or cassette fault or in processing. Although it is possible to lose digital images though card or hard disk problems – and to delete them by human error, digital is in many ways more reliable than film, not least because you can see some or your mistakes on the back of the camera.

In the 70s and 80s I was always short of cash, and loaded almost all the film I used into cassettes from bulk 100 ft lengths. I used a ‘daylight loader’ which mean that a short length at the end of each film was exposed in attaching it to the cassette spool, though later I learnt to do this part of the procedure in total darkness to avoid this. Re-using cassettes led to occasional problems with light leaks. Sometimes I used plastic bodied cassettes made for reloading – and these had caps which were quite easy to twist off – sometimes too easy. The metal bodies used by Ilford and most other films had ends which popped off when you squeezed the cassettes and could be re-used but could get too easy to remove with repeated use. (Kodak’s were crimped on and needed a can opener to remove and were not re-usable.)

All normal cassettes used felt light-traps on the opening where film emerged and films might be ruined by scratches if grit was caught in these from loading the camera in a dusty place, and we had to try hard to keep them clean when reloading them. Those fabric light traps were not intended for repeated use and this sometimes led to leaks. Leica used to have their own metal re-usable cassette which worked without a light trap, the with a slot opening up inside the camera, but it was hardly practical.

Processing too had its traps. Developers not stored in air-tight containers could react with oxygen in the air and become less active or even entirely useless (though normally they went brown to show this.) Some were meant to be re-used, and careful counting of the number of films developed was necessary to avoid them becoming too weak. As mentioned in a previous post I had to abandon some developers as simply too unpredictable.

One of my late friends, a professional photographer who did a number of jobs for a leading oil company magazine, was flown out by helicopter by them to photograph their North Sea Oil rigs. It was an extremely long and tiring day, and on reaching home she loaded the films into a multiple tank to develop them. After she poured the first chemical into the tank she realised she had poured in the fixer rather than developer. (Fixer is the chemical used to dissolve the undeveloped silver halides from films after development as most photographers will know.) The films were ruined, and she had to go in the next day and confess to her client. Fortunately for her, she had worked for them on many previous assignments and they appreciated her work, and they arranged another helicopter to take her out and make the pictures again. That time she made sure she got the processing right.


22 St Agnes’s Place, Kennington, Lambeth, 1979
19h-22: house, decoration,

Friends of mine lived in a council flat a few minutes walk across Kennington Park from St Agnes Place. Lambeth Council had wanted to demolish the street to extend the already large park in 1969, but the properties were squatted and the demolition stopped. The council again tried to demolish them in 1977 but the residents resisted. There was considerable national publicity and a High Court injunction stopped the demolition, and the fight led to the defeat of the Conservative Lambeth Council and the resignation of its leader.

Some properties had been demolished, but the core of the street remained, with many of the houses having been renovated by the squatters. The area had become well known for its Rastafarian community and Bob Marley stayed there several times in the 1970s. Despite some local rumours, spread by some councillors, it always seemed a safe place when I was there, and a haven for many homeless and was a lively cultural centre, though I never attended any of the many free parties there or photographed other activities. It housed a Rastafarian temple and at least in later years it was the home of pirate radio stations Wireless FM and Rasta FM.

The residents formed a housing cooperative and paid their utility bills but Lambeth Council continued to try to evict them, obtaining a possession order in 2003 but failing to enforce it when the residents put up barricades. Two years later the council came back with a High Court order, which meant they could bring in the riot police; this time the residents who had decided only to put up a token show of resistance left peacefully. Most of the street was demolished, with just one property, the Rastafarian temple, remaining for a couple of years until police raided it for drugs and the occupiers were evicted. The council had said they would come to some kind of agreement with the temple occupiers, but reneged on that promise and the demolition was completed in July 2007. The drugs trial collapsed with all defendants being found not guilty.

Just two of the original 3-storey and basement terrace houses remain on the street, still joined to four smaller terraced properties of a similar age on one side,. Further down the street where the properties I photographed were are some newer properties, with more building still taking place. The site of the Rastafarian temple was at one time marked by some decorative paint on the railings, but I think these have now been painted over by the council, but the street no longer runs along quite the same route as it did.


The 12 Tribes of Israel, St Agnes’s Place, Kennington, Lambeth, 1979
19h-23: house, decoration,

The houses at 28-34 St Agnes Place were occupied by different groups from the Rastafari community for over 30 years. A thriving hub for the Rastafari community it became recognised as the Rasta International Headquarters.

First squatted in 1969, the remaining premises were closed after a police drugs raid in 2007, where the police made several arrests, but all were found not guilty as the case against them collapsed in court. Some people said that the drugs raid came after a dispute between residents that led to some giving false stories that crack cocaine dealing was taking place. Cannabis use plays an important role in Ratafarian religious ceremonies, used to enhance spirituality and promote unity. They interpret various Biblical references to the ‘herb of the field’, the ‘herb of the land’ and ‘The tree of life’ as meaning ganja (marijuana) and regard the prohibition of its use as an attempt by Babylon to impose an improper restriction on people’s religious freedom. Not all Rastas use ganja, and many condemn its irresponsible use simply to get high.

For those of you who don’t have your Bible at your side, Genesis 49 is where Jacob brings together his sons before his death and blesses them, giving instructions for his funeral, and in verse 28 in the King James version reads:

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.


Symbols, St Agnes’s Place, Kennington, Lambeth, 1979
19h-24: house, decoration,

It’s a shame that this photograph was not taken in colour, and much as I loved black and white photography and its ability to abstract, to render light and shade, express through form and line with a clarity that usually evades colour photographs, I often think that black and white was something of an aberration, an artifact resulting from the scientific basis of photography. If the efforts of Talbot and Daguerre had resulted in colour images, would anyone ever have bothered to invent black and white photography?

There were people in the 1840s who claimed to produce colour images – and did, but any relationship between the colours in their images and those of the subject was purely accidental, the colours being random freaks of chemistry and physics. Since all early photographic processes were only sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum, producing realistic colour was impossible. Though prints could be and were made in almost every colour though were seldom if ever black and white. Hand-colouring too dates back to the early years of photography, and particularly with the aid of computer technology can look very realistic, but is never authentic.

You can of course convert colour images to black and white, and there have been a few occasions when I have done so, realising at the time of taking or afterwards that a particular image would be stronger in b/w. Back in the darkroom days there was even special panchromatic printing paper made for the purpose, as normal black and white photographic paper is only sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum; printing from colour negatives on it needed lengthy exposures and gave rather odd tonal results.

Once we could scan negatives or transparencies it became much easier, and various software emerged, often as Photoshop plugins, which could make the conversion to black and white resemble more closely the tonalities of b/w film. With digital cameras it became simpler still, and with my Fuji cameras I can now – should I want to – actually view the world in black and white as I take pictures, with the Acros film simulation providing me with a truly filmic view and enabling me to digitally apply yellow, red or green filters.

Under extreme low light conditions or when my finger twiddling has led accidentally to seven stops of underexposure I’ve occasionally had to convert to b/w to get usable images, but otherwise it’s not a feature I’ve yet taken advantage of. And I find it intensely annoying when some younger photographers who have never learnt to use b/w convert their colour images in the hope that it somehow makes them more seriously documentary.

The Star of David would I think almost certainly have looked better in colour, and also those stripes and the door frame.


Writing by window, St Agnes’s Place, Kennington, Lambeth, 1979
19h-25: house, decoration, writing,

There was a great deal of writing on the walls here, and much of it – as in this picture – is misogynistic. It’s perhaps best that you can read only a little in this small reproduction, though enough is legible to get the general drift and of course it is clear on the larger original.

One of the more polite texts about women reads ‘Blessed is the man who can terrorise a woman with a look’, but there are also other subjects. One that rather appeals to me states ‘If there was anything in the world worth having – I would not want it’.


Doorway, St Agnes’s Place, Kennington, Lambeth, 1979
19h-34: house, decoration, writing, Rastafarian,

A wider view of the doorway to 28 St Agnes’s Place, the Rastafarian temple and Rasta International Headquarters (which included three houses, 24-28.)

As so often I ask myself why I did not take more pictures of the street, which I often walked through.

______________________________________________________
More to follow shortly

Previous post in London 1979 series

______________________________________________________

The pictures in this series of posts are exactly those on London Photographs, where landscape format images display slightly larger. Clicking on any picture will go to the page with it on the web site.

I have included the file number and some keywords in the captions; you can order a print of any picture on this site using the file number.
Order details and prices

______________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________

World Press Photo 2019 scandal

April 12th, 2019

Once again there is controversy around the World Press Photo awards the 2019 results of which were announced yesterday. As well as seeing the results you can also read the press release, and the winning images are also in the newspapers.

The controversy surrounds some of the work of Marco Gualazzini, winner of the Environment, stories category for his ‘The Lake Chad crisis’.  The complaint made by ‘duckrabbit’, Benjamin Chesterton, is not to be about this particular set of pictures but about the his behaviour and attitude as a photographer, and about how this is encouraged by World Press Photo. As duckrabbit writes in And the award for World Press Photo predator goes to …:

My problem with Gualazzini winning is that he’s a liar and a cheat. Don’t take my word for it. Last year he was kicked out of the KL photo awards for exactly those reasons. And yet just a few months later he’s been awarded two of the top prizes in world photography. Photojournalism is an industry that rewards racist stereotypes delivered by cheats.

In a long and detailed article he goes on to give examples of the irresponsible (and sometimes apparently illegal) way that Gualazzini has behaved towards the people that he photographs, including Indian rape and sexual abuse survivors who he identifies and in at least one case has fabricated a completely misleading story about.

Aid agencies have over the past year or so had to look hard at the activities of aid workers, with various scandals emerging.  Oxfam in particular lost confidence of many supporters when details emerged about the actions of some of its workers paying women for sex after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. What I think these revelations by duckrabbit tell us is that charities, including ActionAid and AVSI who provided access for Gualazzini to the vulnerable people he photographed in India and the Congo need to take very much greater care and responsibility for the way in which photographers work and how they use the pictures they take.

Duckrabbit makes a detailed and convincing case obviously based on considerable research, against Gualazzini, but I think he is to some extent just an example. Often looking at those large panels in the touring WPP shows I’ve felt a certain unease about the kind of attitudes the pictures show, often wondered about how some of those people in them would feel about being exposed in the way they are. Often wondered about the view that some of these largely Western big names in photography largely funded by a capitalist often very right-wing press give us of the majority world.

It’s something that makes the work of Shahidul Alam and others in agencies like Drik and Majority World and organisations such as Pathshala so important.

Vedanta loses appeal to prevent prosecution

April 11th, 2019

Back in January I photographed Foil Vedanta campaigners outside the Supreme Court in Parliament Square where British mining company Vedanta was appealing High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that 1,826 polluted farmers from Zambia can have their case against the company and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines heard in the UK.

Vedanta are a British mining company, and were forced to delist themselves from the London Stock Exchange at the start of October 2018 after pressure from politicians and activists following the Thoothukudi massacre in Tamil Nadu in May 2018, where 13 protesters were killed and dozens injured.

Grassroots activism on a large scale has managed to shut down Vedanta’s operations in Goa, Tuticorin and Niyamgiri and Foil Vedanta last September released a daming report ‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ with a comprehensive account of the company’s crimes in all of its operations, and of the City of London’s total failure to regulate Vedanta, or any other criminal mining company and revealing the vast scale of tax evasion and money laundering. Earlier Foil Vedanta had exposed the illegal activities of the company’s subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia, where Vedanta actually boasted about their illegal tax avoidance and they have campaigned over the pollution of the Kafue River, supporting the farmers in their legal action against the company.

The Supreme Court appeal concerned the attempt by Zambian farmers against Konkola Copper Mines, which they want to pursue in the UK courts. Vedanta appealed against the case being heard in the UK as KCM is a Zambian company, but the HIgh COurt in May 2016 and Court of Appeal October 2017 both ruled that Vedanta is responsible for the activities of its subsidiary and since Vedanta is a British company can be taken to court here. So Vedanta took the case to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, 10th April 2019, the Supreme Court gave its judgement, again dismissing Vedanta’s case. This is not only good news for the Zambian farmers, but also sets as precedent as the first reported case in which a parent company will have have been held to owe a duty of care to a person other than an employee of the subsidiary who has been adversely affected by the operation of the subsidiary.

The Zambian farmers who claim KCM have polluted the River Kafue since 2004 with excessive levels of copper, cobalt and manganese, causing sickness and deaths, damage to property and loss of income can now take their case in the UK courts. But this decision is also important for all communities affected by the crimes of UK multinationals who have hitherto been denied justice in British courts.

More pictures: Vedanta Zambian pollution appeal

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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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London 1979 (3)

April 10th, 2019

Continuing the series of posts showing work taken in London in 1979 as posted to Facebook with comments an image at a time in the first half of 2018.

Previous post in London 1979 series
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London Photographs 1979 – Peter Marshall


Vauxhall City Farm, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1979
18u-64: house, city farm, fence,

This was the original entrance in St Oswald’s Place and was replaced by a new building in 2015. I think the street was fairly narrow and for once the tilt of the camera was deliberate.


Hymn and goat, Vauxhall City Farm, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1979
18u-65: house, city farm, fence,

The farm had been tidied up since my visit ten months earlier – even the goat looks better groomed. The ‘HYMN’ was still there on the wall.

The contact sheet tells me that I took this and the previous image on 27th January, working with my Olympus OM1 and even details the development (D76 diluted 1:1 9 mins) which seems fairly short. The film was Kodak Safety film 5063 better known as Kodak TRI-X Pan Film.

Many photographers, particularly amateur photographers, using film spent long years experimenting with different developers, times and dilutions and exposure ratings, particularly those who got caught up in worshipping Ansel Adams and his Zone System. I dabbled a little, though you could only be a true aficionado if you used sheet film and exposed and developed each exposure separately depending on the lighting conditions. But using 35mm there were some compromises, particularly if a film was exposed under different lighting conditions and perhaps over several days or weeks. But many of us learnt to base exposures on shadow detail (using spot metering when time allowed) and tried to develop for the highlights. When the Olympus OM4 came out in 1983 it’s metering system made placing the shadows rather easier.

Different developers had different effects on film too, and different dilutions altered these. Some gave finer grain by dissolving some of the image, while others gave increased sharpness by edge effects (acutance.) Some enabled you to increase developing times while increasing the density of the darker areas of the negative less than others, enabling you to ‘push’ films, exposing them at higher film speed settings on camera or meter.

Developers varied from the bog-standard neat D76 favoured in the deep tanks in many professional darkrooms and regularly replenished as film after film went through to esoteric magic formulae sold in ampoules opened and diluted immediately before single use. Over the years I used quite a range of them, making some up myself from the ‘raw chemicals’, and publications such as the British Journal of Photography Annual used to have a selection of photographic formulae in their end pages.

My various experiments taught me several things, particularly that some developers were more reliable than others. One I used for some time enabled me to rate Tri-X at ASA2000, under-exposing over two stops, and produce prints from 35mm that led one club judge to comment that “it’s good to see that some ‘workers’ are still using medium format”. But I gave it up as sometimes films would come out with densities too low to be printable for no apparent reason. D76 was dependable, diluting it with equal amounts of water for single use solved any problems of deterioration with infrequent use, and also gave a slight increase in sharpness by reducing its solvent effect, and bought in bulk it was cheap.

Later I more or less standardised development, and much of my later black and white photography was in any case using chromogenic films developed in the standard C41 developer.


Regent Lion Filling Station, Coptic St, Camden, 1979
19c-16: house, petrol, filling station, Islington

Rising at the top of the picture is the unmistakable tower of St George’s Bloomsbury, but I had long forgotten the exact location of the Regent Lion Filling Station. I took it as the first of four frames before getting to St Chad’s St in the area to the south of King’s Cross, and I had long thought this picture must have been near there.

But I had walked some distance with the Leica M2 around my neck, and that this picture was taken on Coptic St, just to the south of the British Museum. Though the petrol pumps and the building above them have long gone, the building at the right edge of the picture is still recognisable on the corner of Museum St and Bloomsbury Way.

The company was incorporated in 1955 and appears to have been dissolved some time in the 1990s. The Regent trademark had a long history in petrol outlets, beginning with Burt Boulton & Haywood, a small independent distributor who had a wharf and chemical works at Prince Regent’s Wharf which is now the Thames Barrier Park. They were bought up by Trinidad Leaseholds in 1930, and post war they merged with Texaco and later Caltex, reverting to Texaco in 1967, who discontinued the use of the brand name for most of the outlets, though it was revived for special uses in 2004. The Regent Oil Company were also on Canvey Island and the site changed its name to Texaco at some point but is now closed.

Regent were one of several companies who sold road maps under their name from the 1930s to the mid 1960s, though later these were sold as Texaco or Chevron (another Texaco brand).


Hotel, St Chad’s St, Kings Cross, Camden, 1979
19d-15: house, hotel, cars

Little visibly has changed from when I took the picture, though parking is now more restricted and there are cycle lanes along St Chad’s St. The hotels have gone up a little in the world (and rather more in price) and look rather better cared for. The hotel sign is still there, but repainted with different text.

At the time this was London’s most celebrated red-light district, and a short walk away is Holy Cross, Cromer St, occupied by the English Collective of Prostitutes for 12 days in 1982 in a protest against intimidation and false arrests of prostitutes on the streets of the area by police under the 1959 Street Offences Act. Police were reported to be demanding free sex, demanding money, assaulting or beating up women and colluding with pimps to extract more money from the women.

The area – the Battle Bridge estate – went down in the world quickly after it was developed in the 1820s and 30s, with drunkenness and vagrancy common by the 1840s. When Kings Cross, Euston and St Pancras Station were built they brought in more people and more vice, both customers and prostitutes, some of whom were alleged in later years to commute to the area on ‘Have It Away Day’ tickets.

It was the arrival of drugs that really brought the area down, adding syringes to the local street detritus and fuelling both prostitution and petty crime by those desperate to feed their habits. Fast food too began to litter the streets, and in the 70s the area was probably at its lowest.

There were also huge development plans for the areas around Kings Cross, and later I became involved for several years with the King’s Cross Railway Lands Group, an independent community organisation that campaigned for 25 years until 2013 to “make sure that the people who live, work or study in the King’s Cross area are involved and benefit from its re-development.”


The White Shop, Whidborne St, Kings Cross, Camden, 1979
19d-21: shop, school, mural,


The White Shop, Whidborne St, Kings Cross, Camden, 1979
19d-24: workshop,

Whidborne St is a small street which links Argyle St which was part of the Battle Bridge estate of the 1830s to Cromer St in the area just south of St Pancras and Kings Cross stations, and this end of it north of Argyle Walk is something of a relic from the mid-nineteenth century, left when the slums of the Cromer St area were redeveloped by the East End Dwellings Company in the 1890s, some of whose tenements are at the left of the frame. The street it thought to have got its name from one of the directors of this company.

The White Shop at 6 Whidborne St is said to have been at one time the house of the headmistress of the Argyle Primary School which is at the right of the picture, though its small size and plain design makes it look more like a caretaker’s house. Two school entrances (not now in use) at the left of the shop are still present. The school was built as Manchester Street School (this part of Argyle St was known as Manchester St until some time in the early 20th century) in 1880 and later had links with Mary Ward and the 1897 Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place which provided after-school activities for poor children until their parents left work.

The White Shop became a butcher’s shop “belonging to a Mr William Johnson” and when I photographed it in 1979 was still selling frozen foods and ‘Quality Meat’. It was converted into 2 flats in the 1990s, but later reverted to a single dwelling and plans for a rear extension and a mansard roof extension were passed in 2014. The conversion looks neat but the roof is rather out of character with the plain stock brick Victorian original.

Opposite, behind me as I took this picture was the Duke of Wellington public house, its address originally 33 Manchester St which became 5 Whidborne Street WC1. It has now become the Irish themed McGlynn’s.


Whidborne St, Kings Cross, Camden, 1979
19d-22: workshop,

A man in a white shirt stands leaning his back against the first floor window of a small block-shaped building on Whidborne St, one of two similar blocks (the other is wider) with a narrow yard behind the brick wall between them. Both have wide doors to the street, either to admit a hand cart or on the other block a horse-drawn vehicle.

I think these were all premises of C E Norris & Sons, and across the top of the building at the south end of the yard (which I think I may have photographed in colour, but can’t currently find the slide) was the slightly misleading text:

C.E. NORRIS & SONS LTD
OFFICES – 73/5 KENTON ST. W.C.1
PHONE – TER. 4577

Kenton St is a short walk away, off Tavistock Place on the other side of Judd St, and the offices were separate from this complex which I assume was the builder’s yard for the private registered company, incorporated in 1932. Members of the Norris family appear to have resigned from the business in 1991 and it applied for and was granted voluntary striking off in 2001, but was restored in 2013 though it does not seem to have submitted returns or accounts to Companies House.

The properties are probably late Victorian and today seem little changed except in use. The street sign is Whidborne St, WC, and thus comes from before the introduction of sub-districts as a wartime measure to increase efficiency in 1917.


River Thames and Westminster Bridge, Westminster from temporary Hungerford Bridge, Westminster, 1979
19f-13: river, bridge, houses of parliament, offices,

This view is now one that we can see any day, but back in 1979 it was unusual, usually only glimpsed between the girders of Hungerford Bridge as your train rolled in or out of Charing Cross station. The Hungerford footbridge was only on the downstream side of the railway bridge, but in 1979 repairs were needed and it was closed and a temporary bridge built hanging to its upstream edge.

London’s skyline has changed considerably since 1979, particularly with new tall blocks along the riverside, but most of the buildings here are still present, though the cold store at Nine Elms has been replaced by other, even taller buildings.


River Thames and Westminster Bridge, Westminster from temporary Hungerford Bridge, Westminster, 1979
19f-14: river, bridge, houses of parliament, offices,

A second picture, taken closer to the South Bank, shows the Embankment well before the London Eye. County Hall, then still occupied by the GLC, faced the Houses of Parliament across the river, a few years before Margaret Thatcher’s fit of pique put London’s government into disarray which the city has still not quite recovered from.

The boats moored in the river include the Chay Blyth, named after the first person to sail single-handed, non-stop westwards around the world in 1971, and now described as “one of the more traditional passenger boats operating on the Thames” but then relatively new, having been built in 1972 by Thomas W Hughan & Co Ltd at Point Wharf Greenwich, part of Delta Wharf just to the north of Victoria Deep Water Wharf. They built quite a few small vessels over the years, including many barges and apparently also the replica 1890’s Mississippi stern-wheeled Paddle Steamer Elizabethan. The company was dissolved in 1985.

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More to follow shortly

Previous post in London 1979 series

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The pictures in this series of posts are exactly those on London Photographs, where landscape format images display slightly larger. Clicking on any picture will go to the page with it on the web site.

I have included the file number and some keywords in the captions; you can order a print of any picture on this site using the file number.
Order details and prices

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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

________________________________________________________

London 1979 (2)

April 9th, 2019

Continuing the series of posts showing work taken in London in 1979 as posted to Facebook with comments an image at a time in the first half of 2018.

Previous post in London 1979 series
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London Photographs 1979 – Peter Marshall


River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1979
18s-54: richmond, river, trees, boat

Another picture from the same walk in Twickenham, with branches and their reflections combining to form a screen through which we appear to see the river and the moored boats at the top of the picture. Its an image which plays with space in a way that interested me, and which I still find difficult to resolve.

Hammerton’s ferry across the Thames to Ham still runs from a jetty not far from where I made this picture in Orleans Gardens.


River Thames flooding at Twickenham, Richmond, 1979
18s-63: richmond, river thames, flood, pub, pub sign, White Swan, dog

Earlier on that same walk we had passed the beer garden of the White Swan, usually on the river bank but now a part of it, and this is another of the several pictures I took there, opposite the end of Eel Pie Island, where a boat is moored. Although I think much of the flood water was probably from melting snow, you can still see snow on the ground across on the other bank of the Thames.

The river here is still tidal, and flooding at high spring tides isn’t unusual. I took a number of frames here, of which I think this is probably the best.


Twickenham Ferry, River Thames flooding at Twickenham, Richmond, 1979
18s-65: river thames, flooding, ferry, road sign, boy, boat


Twickenham Ferry, River Thames flooding at Twickenham, Richmond, 1979
18s-66: river thames, flooding, ferry, road sign, boat

There have been several ferries at Twickenham, the subject over the years of great rivalry and court cases. The oldest record is of Dysart’s Ferry, licensed by the family which owned Ham House, known to have been in existence in 1652 when it was prohibited from running after sunset by the Privy Council, but thought to be much older, dating from the reign of King John

The Dysart family managed to close down rivals which opened up until 1908, when the Earl of Dysart lost a court case against Hammertons ferry, in a case that went the whole way up to the House of Lords. Victory for the ‘The Ferry to Fairyland‘ was commemorated in song, one of a number written about Twickenham’s ferries. The rivals continued in operation until around 1970 when the old ferry, which had been sold to a private operator when the National Trust took over Ham House ceased operation, again at least in part over a long legal battle, this time over its use of the slipway. There was a long legal battle and the owners of the property at left put up the signs on their fence ‘This Slipway Is Private Property’. I don’t know what the outcome of the court cases was, though I think the public (and ferry) had used the slipway for many years, but of course the appropriation of the commons for private use has always been one of the basic aims of our legal system. The old Twickenham ferry was the one I went across as a child to visit Ham House, rowed I am fairly sure by the man who appears in a fine photograph on the Historic England site, and it ran from this slipway close to the White Swan.

Hammertons ferry, which runs from a jetty around a quarter mile downstream still operates during the summer and at winter weekends, and has an active Facebook page which includes interesting posts, pictures and videos about the river and the tides, which still trap many careless drivers parking in the area. This ferry is still a good way to visit Ham House though now a little closer to St Margarets than Twickenham station and with a few yards to walk on the opposite bank.


Denise Artistic Florist, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1979
18u-12: shop, florist,

I can’t place the exact location of ‘Denise Artistic Florist’, though the few frames immediately prior were taken inside an empty area on the Thames immediately east of Vauxhall Bridge. Four years later that site as bought by developer Regalian. Terry Farrell won a competition to develop it, and his architectural folly was bought by Margaret Thatcher as the HQ for the Secret Intelligence Service MI6. Apparently we only see half the building which has huge facilities underground – and possibly even a secret passage to Westminster.

It seems odd to have such a flamboyant front for our secret intelligence service, and I rather feel it would have been better to have kept something like Denise as a front, with our agents emerging carrying bunches of flowers.

But if anyone bought the Freehold Premises which were for sale from Douglas Young and Company, I suspect it was to knock them down and build something new.


River wall, River Thames, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1979
18u-24: riverside

This was the derelict site next to Vauxhall Bridge now occupied by MI6, but then a playground for kids, and with some evidence of adult nocturnal activity scattered liberally around. At right is Camelford House, designed by TP Bennett and built in 1960 for the General Post Office’s Telecommunications regional head office. Both it and the neighbouring Tintagel House built at the same time for the Metropolitan Police are among the better examples of their time, though that isn’t saying a lot. Camelford House now houses a wide variety of organisations.

The concrete river wall was to the slipway which still exists and down which the London ‘Duck’ tours by amphibious vehicles enter and leave the river until the service was stopped to build the super-sewer project.


Closed shop awaiting demolition, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1979
18u-32: shop, demolition, Millett’s, newsagent,

Millett’s Newsagent & Tobacconist was at 111 Tyers St Vauxhall close to the Lambeth City Farm.

Kenneth Cecil Millett had owned a number of businesses, including the “Wash Me Clean” Launderette at 1, Jonothan Street, SE11 a newsagents at 11-13 Stratton Ground, SW1, and newagents and tobacconists like this also at 20 Vauxhall Street, SE11, 50 Trinity Road, SW17, 7 Wilcase Road, SW8, 342 Kennington Lane, SE11 and 44-46 Wood Street, Kingston-upon-Thames (also an off-licence) but in 1976 filed for receivership.

The shop on the corner of St Ostwald’s Place, has now been replaced by a modern 4-storey block of unusual design.


Closed shop awaiting auction, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1979
18u-33: shop, J C Norton, shoe repairs,

J C Norton’s for High Class Boot & Shoe Repairs was at 119-121 Tyers Place, close to the Vauxhall City Farm.

I don’t know how much the shop raised at auction, but rather to my surprise my original caption suggesting demoliton was over-pessimistic and the building is still there, though not too easy to recognise following extensive rebuilding and extension.

The building has different first floor windows, and extra story, and the ground floor frontage has changed, with the door in the different place. The house is at a slight bend in the street and retains the horizontal bands at the top of the wall above the first floor, with the second floor being set back behind this parapet.

More to follow shortly

Previous post in London 1979 series

______________________________________________________

The pictures in this series of posts are exactly those on London Photographs, where landscape format images display slightly larger. Clicking on any picture will go to the page with it on the web site.

I have included the file number and some keywords in the captions; you can order a print of any picture on this site using the file number.
Order details and prices

 

______________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________

Don’t Forget Guantanamo

April 8th, 2019

17 years ago, on 11th January 2002, the first prisoners were illegally brought from various secret US torture sites around the world to an illegal prison in a US base on Cuba, Guantanamo Bay. Most years since then there have been protests in the UK on the anniversary of this shameful camp, and in 2019 this took place in Trafalgar Square. As well as this annual event, there are also regular protest vigils both at the embassy and outside parliament.

All of the detainees with a UK connection have been released from this torture camp, none of them ever charged or convicted of any offence. Like almost all of those held and taken to Guantanamo they were not terrorists, but innocent men who were unlucky enough to have been caught up as foreigners in the wrong place, when the US were offering a bounty for anyone delivered to them as a ‘terrorist’. Over 85% of those transferred out of the camp during the Obama administration were found by the US authorities to not even have been suspected of engaging in any terrorist activity.

Because there are no longer any ‘Brits’ of any sort there, Guantanamo has more or less disappedared from our news, but it is still there, holding around 40 men. Around half of them there is little or no evidence against, and many of the rest nothing that would hold up in a proper court of law, but all have been held and routinely tortired for over 10 years.

Obama had promised to close Guantanamo, but didn’t keep his word, though the numbers held their reduced significantly while he was president. A total of 780 men have been held there, and during the Bush years around 500 of them were released. Obama released 242, a large proportion of those still held, but around 40 were left when Trump took over.

Since Trump became president, only one prisoner has left Guantanamo, Ahmed al-Darbi who pleaded guilty to being an al-Qaida member in 2014 and was transferred to serve the rest of a prison sentence in jail in Saudi Arabia in May 2018. Before that the last detainee had left on the final full day of the Obama administration, 19th January 2017. Trump has actually promised to put more men in Guantanamo, but has not yet done so.

It’s important that Guantanamo and the remaining detainees be remembered, and that pressure is put on Trump to continue the programme of releases. Of the 40 inside, five were already cleared for release during the Obama administration. But it isn’t easy to keep GUantanamo in the news, and not easy to produce fresh images that would help in this.

Vigil marks 17 years of Guantanamo torture
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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

________________________________________________________

EU Copyright for the Internet

April 7th, 2019

I’m glad that someone has read the EU’s latest set of amendments recently approved by the European Parliament on the proposals on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market, because, quite frankly I find it quite impossible going. Should you wish to try it is available online here. The press release is more understandable.

Of course we have no idea at the moment whether we will be in or out of the EU  in a week’s time , or in a year’s time or the two years within which the proposals will be implemented by EU member governments. And quite possibly even if we do get out of the EU, our government will still implement some or all of the proposals.

One change that I personally would welcome, though it will have no effect on living photographers come in Article 14, which is actually reasonably clear about the status of reproductions of works of visual art in the public domain.  When I wrote a whole series of articles about nineteenth and early 20th century photography some years ago, it was always annoying not to be able to use illustrations of photographs that were in the public domain, but which various bodies claimed copyright.

The proposed change – or rather clarification – has been welcomed by Art Historian, as Art History News makes clear, though of course unless or until it becomes incorporated into UK law, organisations such as the National Gallery and The Tate and other museums will probably continue to claim copyright and charge fees despite their European counterparts having abandoned the practice.

Copyright was originally intended to protect those who produced ‘artistic’ works, and effectively outlaws the argument that there can be a new copyright in a photograph of an exisiting work or art which is in the public domain – here it is in Article 14:

Member States shall provide that, when the term of protection of a work of visual art has expired, any material resulting from an act of reproduction of that work is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material resulting from that act of reproduction is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation.

The rest of the document seems to have generally received a cautious welcome from photographers and photographer’s groups, as you can see on the European Federation of Journalists site. For a more euphoric view see The famous Copyright Directive explained and how it can save photography and journalism, and it’s also worth looking at Wikipedia’s reservations in ‘We do not support the EU Copyright Directive in its current form. Here’s why you shouldn’t either’.

Of course for working photographers the major problem is not in the actual law on copyright, but in enforcing it. It takes some work to identify unauthorised usage of images – and few agencies who are happy to take a large slice from images currently take any proactive role in trying to reclaim what could be a significant source of income for them.

There are companies which offer such services, but while these may be viable for photographers who produce a relatively small number of highly popular images, the fees that they charge suggest to me that they have little faith in their own ability to identify abuse and recover payments. And while some photographers have done very well out of doing so, I think many of use have found it time-consuming and with little return.