Posts Tagged ‘black and white’

Beginning 1987

Monday, July 6th, 2020
Forge Place, Malden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1a-46_2400
Forge Place, Malden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

I’ve just begun to add black and white pictures from 1987 to a new album in Flickr, and am rediscovering quite a few pictures I had forgotten, including most of those in this post, all from the January pages of my filing sheets.

Eros, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, 1987 87-1a-55_2400
Eros, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, 1986-7

Probably that means they were taken in January 1987, though a film I loaded into the camera in December might not be finished until the following month, and I suspect that the picture of Piccadilly Circus with boarding around Eros was probably made before Christmas. Some statues get regularly boarded up.

Window with cross, Mansfield Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1b-35_2400
Mansfield Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

I’d been waiting to start this album for a few months, as I’d got fed up with using my film scanner (too slow and now with an unreliable Firewire interface), my flat bed scanner (not quite sharp enough) and a bellows and macro lens on a Nikon D810 where I couldn’t quite get even lighting across the frame. The Nikon film holder that comes with the bellows works with mounted slides which crop the frame, but try as I might I couldn’t get even lighting across the full 35mm frame.

Dove, Southampton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1b-46_2400
Dove, Southampton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

While it was fast and easy to photograph negatives, every one needed to be worked on in Lightroom and Photoshop to try and correct the lighting fall off, and I couldn’t find a way to do so automatically. I experimented with different light sources and made some slight improvements, but couldn’t solve the issue.

Stairs, Malden Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1b-52_2400
Stairs, Malden Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

I decided to buy Nikon’s more recent kit for digitising images, the ES-2, and ordered one in early March, but dealers were out of stock and I only received it a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, although not perfect, it is a great improvement in several ways. The ES-2 connects to the front of the 60mm macro lens with a short tube, and one advantage is that unlike the bellows it retains auto-focus. With the bellows I had to focus in live-view at the start of each session and then firmly lock it it place, remembering to exit live-view as this crops the image.

Generations, Geoffrey Harris, sculpture, Maitland Park Villas, Kentish Town, Camden 87-1b-62_2400
Generations, Geoffrey Harris, sculpture, Maitland Park Villas, Kentish Town, Camden 1987

But the main advantage is that the ES-2 is almost capable of giving even coverage across the whole 35mm frame and has a proper negative holder which takes a strip of up to 6 negatives, with click-stops to move from one to the next. It isn’t perfect and seems ridiculously overpriced but it is a great improvement, making the digitising of negatives easier and faster. For the moment I’m concentrating on black and white, but I think it should also make working with colour negatives much easier, and the workflow I’m using to batch process the files (more about that in a later post) should also work with them. Most images just need minor tweaks and fortunately most of my negatives from 1987 are quite clean.

Most of these pictures speak for themselves, though perhaps I should admit that the ‘cross’ is the shadow of a parking sign. You can see these and more in my album 1987 London Photos.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


London 1986 Page 10

Friday, June 12th, 2020
Institute of Chartered Accountants, Great Swan Alley, City 86-8ab-32-Edit_2400

Page 10 of London 1986 begins in the city of London, and strongly features a remarkable set of figures around the Institute of Chartered Accountants building from 1890-93 in Great Swan Alley, off Moorgate a little to the north of the Bank of England. Above its first floor windows is a long frieze of figures representing various trades and figures, some dating from the 1890s and others added in the 1930s and 1960s when the building was extended. Among them you can see Wren holding a model of St Pauls Cathedral.

Institute of Chartered Accountants, Great Swan Alley, City 86-8ab-34-Edit_2400

But apparently of more interest to me were what Pevsner describes as the “small very female termini caryatids” whose figures seemed very much at odds with my ideas both of the Victorians and of accountants and on whom I expended far to much film.

Petticoat Lane, City, Tower Hamlets86-9a-23_2400

I managed to drag myself away from the sirens of the ICA and out of the City into Petticoat Lane and the area around this, finding as well as a market a large group of Christians armed with muscial instruments.

Guildhall, Exhibition hall, Magistrates' court, Offices, Richard Gilbert Scott, 65 Basinghall Street, City 86-9b-14_2400

Later I returned to the City for more pictures, including some of one of my favourite modern buildings in the city, the Exhibition hall, Magistrates’ court and Offices by Richard Gilbert Scott at 65 Basinghall Street with its wonderful concrete roofs.

Highwalk, Wood St, City 86-9d-41_2400

The city’s Highwalks also attracted my attention, part of a post-war vision of separating pedestrians from traffic by visionary architects who perhaps failed to appreciate the tremendous residue of street-level development that anchored people to the ground. It worked for areas that had been largely obliterated by bombing, particularly the Barbican, but could never become sufficiently comprehensive elsewhere across the city to make sense. It did however provide photographers with some useful elevated viewpoints.

City Mill Lock, Bow Back Rivers, Stratford, Newham  86-9f-26_2400

At the end of the page are a few pictures from Bromley-by-Bow and Stratford back rivers, including some of the near derelict lock linking the City Mill River and St Thomas’s Creek with the tidal Waterworks River. I think this lock dated from the 1930s when the City Mill River was enlarged and other work done as a part of a flood relief plan for the area (and also to give work to the unemployed.) Because the Waterworks River was then tidal, the water level in it could be either above or below that in the City Mill river and there are two pairs of gates at this end of the lock. These were replaced by modern gates a few years ago, but a new lock was built at Three Mills as a part of the Olympic redevelopment, which probably makes the double gate redundant.

Page 10 of London 1986

Southwark & City – 1986 page 9

Monday, June 8th, 2020
Tower Bridge, River Thames, pier, Hays Wharf, Southwark 86-8z-21-Edit_2400


Page 9 of my album London 1986, black and white pictures taken of the city that year, begins briefly on familiar ground in Southwark, close to the OXO tower, before going on to Clerkenwell and Finsbury. Because of my rather odd filing system the two areas interweave before I return to Southwark and Bermondsey.

Laystall Street, Clerkenwell, Camden 86-8x-32-Edit_2400
A plaque above a hairdresser’s shop commemorates Guiseppe Mazzini, founder of Young Italy, a secret society formed to promote Italian unification. He lived in London at various times between 1840 and his death in 1872 to escape arrest on the continent.
Tower Bridge, River Thames, Hays Wharf, Southwark 86-8z-22-Edit_2400

I crossed Tower Bridge briefly and returned south of the river. The riverfront between Tower Bridge and Southwark Crown Court , opened in 1983, has changed completely since I took these pictures, though many of the pictures away from the river have altered relatively little – the George Inn was last rebuilt in after a fire in 1677.

Hays Wharf, Pickle Herring St, Southwark 86-8z-41-Edit_2400
Pickle Herring St, Southwark  86-8z-55-Edit_2400

Later I went to the City, wandering the area around Bank and towards the Tower with page 9 ending with a second picture of Pepys on Seething Lane.

Lombard St, City  86-8aa-21-Edit_2400

The City is also an area where many older buildings have been preserved, despite some notable losses, though most date from the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, and most that I photographed are still recognisable. But the environment has been altered and many are now somewhat overwhelmed by gigantic towers.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


More London 1986

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

The pictures on page 6 of my 1986 London Photographs were all taken in the City of London or close to its edges in Tower Hamlets and Finsbury and include a few of its better known buildings but are mainly less well-known streets and aspects that caught my attention.

P & O, St Botolph St, City 86-7o-45_2400

There is still a Beaufort House on St Botolph St, but it isn’t the same building. This one, dating from the 1950s with a nautical feel, was built as offices for the P & O shipping company. As I turned the corner and it hove into site it always gave me the impression of a huge liner with many deck levels that had somehow been marooned in the city.

Shortly after I took this and the other pictures on Page 6 it was demolished, with construction starting later in the year and completed in 1988 to an overblown postmodern design by RHWL Architects, a “distinctive office building” which many find hideous. In 2016 Amazon took around 47,000 square ft of its space in one of the largest office deals of that year.

Wentworth St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets86-7q-64_2400

While many of these buildings are still there, often they have changed a little. Permutt Fashion Stores are no longer there at 11 Wentworth St in Petticoat Lane market, which is now ‘Queen of Textile’s’ with a rather curious apostrophe but without the advertising on the upper floors – though the rectangle above the first floor window with the name C PERMUTT when I took my picture is still there, but empty. A Permutt’s at number 13 is now a nameless Dry Cleaners and Tailors. The café at No. 9 is still a café and looks very similar but is now called Simply Tasty rather than being named for the Italian city of Vernasca, though it still appears to offer home-cooked food at reasonable prices.

Searching for more about A Permutt on the web reveals little other than that in 1934 there were bankruptcy proceedings at Carey St against an Abraham Permutt, trading as A Permutt & Co, a timber merchant in nearby Brick Lane. I don’t know if there was any connection with the A Permutt whose shop was in Wentworth St.

Nat West Tower, Tower 42, City86-7p-31_2400

The NatWest Tower is still there, though now longer called that, now known as Tower 42. Completed in 1980, it was the first skyscraper in the City, and still one of its taller buildings at 600ft. It has 47 floors, with 42 of them cantilevered out from a central core, and was renamed Tower 42 in 1995. The tower was extensively damaged by the IRA bomb in Bishopsgate in 1993 and required several years of work and after the refurb NatWest decided to sell it rather than move back in.

The picture shows two of the cantilevered sections. There are several walkways around the base of the building but all are private property and after I had taken several pictures I was approached by a very polite security officer who told me that photography was not permitted, showing me exactly where the boundary of the property was on the pavement and saying I could take as many pictures as I liked from there.

Worship St, Finsbury, Islington  86-7q-32_2400

Although much of the area has been destroyed, this fine row of properties on Worship St remains. The street was once called Hog Lane and there are at least two suggestions for the name change. One says it got its new name from a merchant tailor, John Worshop, who owned several acres of land in the area, while others suggest it was because the first houses on the street were built with stone from the old church of St Mary Islington.

This row of artisans workshops with living accommodation above replaced older slum properties on the site, possibly dating from before 1680. The area was owned from around 1740 by the Gillum Family and in 1862 Lieutenant-Colonel William Gillum commissioned leading Arts and Crafts architect Phillip Webb in 1862 to design this block as affordable properties for craftsmen in line with the ideas of honest handwork advanced by Webb and his colleague and friend William Morris. At the right of the row you can just see the V-shaped porch over a water fountain he incorporated into the design.

Finsbury Dairy, Sun St, Finsbury, Islington 86-7q-43_2400

13 Sun Street is now a part of the One Crown Place development which claims to have retained “the elegant row of Georgian terraces on Sun Street” as a boutique hotel and members’ club. It will perhaps have kept some elements of the facade, but I doubt if the diary will be recognisable. The whole length of the terrace which had been boarded up for years was covered with scaffolding in 2018.

Some London Dairies actually had cows in their backyards, but I think this one seems unlikely to have done so. More likely the milk would have come in churns from farms in the countryside, perhaps to the nearby Liverpool St station, on early morning milk trains.

Great St Thomas Apostle, City 86-7r-23_2400

Close to Mansion House station at the bottom of Garlick Hill is Skinners Lane. Skinners and their trade were important in London and the Worshipful Company of Skinners who have a hall in Dowgate Hill were one of the 12 great livery companies, getting their charter from Edward III in 1327. Back in 1986 there were still a number of fur companies still trading in the area, particularly in Great St Thomas Apostle, including Montreal Furs, just a few doors down from Queen St. Presumably its name indicates it was trading in fur skins from Canada, where trappers still operate cruelly supplying companies such as Canada Goose.

You can still see its rather finely decorated shopfront, now a part of Wagamama.

There are 100 pictures on Page 6 of my Flickr Album 1986 London Photographs


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


More from Page 5

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

The previous post Page 5 of my London 1986 pictures looked at some from Hoxton and Islington and there were many more in the album that in my post, including a number form Shoreditch. Later in July I returned to Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse and the West India Docks with a few other images from Greenwich, Finsbury and the City.

New Crane Wharf, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-7i-23_2400
New Crane Wharf, Wapping
Gun Wharves, Wapping,  Tower Hamlets         86-7i-32  Thames foreshore, Wapping High St, W 86-7i-31_2400
Gun Wharves, Wapping
Rotherhithe from Wapping, Tower Hamlets v 86-7i-35_2400
Rotherhithe from Wapping
Limehouse Dock entrance, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-46_2400
Limehouse Dock entrance
Limehouse Dock, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-51_2400
Limehouse Dock
West India Dock, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets  86-7k-65_2400
West India Docks

These are just a few of my favourite pictures from the 100 on page 5 of my Flickr album of pictures I made in London in 1986. Clicking on any image will take you to a larger version on Flickr.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Page 3

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

I hope it will not disappoint anyone that this is only a post about the third page of my pictures from 1986 on Flickr! Though rather more than usual for me at that time do include people, I think all of them are fully dressed.

All of the pictures on this page are from the East End – Bethnal Green, Stepney, Globe Town, Mile End, Whitechapel, Old Ford, and I think a few in Hackney, though when walking the streets it isn’t always clear which area or even which borough you are in, though the street signs often tell you this. Nearly all of these pictures were taken in Tower Hamlets in June 1986.

104 Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets 104 Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets86-6b-52_2400

I stopped to talk to this man fairly early on a Sunday morning, when he was sitting quite happily on the steps of a house, which I think was empty and derelict, though it did have an empty milk bottle on it, as well as his larger bottle of what I think was cider. He had taken his shoes off and it was a pleasantly warm morning and we had a short chat before I asked if he minded if I took his picture. I think he was actually quite pleased to be photographed, and I was pleased to take his picture, though I would have photographed the house without him.

Sima Tandoori, Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets 86-6b-34_2400

I was photographing this shopfront too when these two young men came out from inside to be in the picture too – and they do improve it, adding a little asymmetry. I think I may have gone back a few weeks later and posted a copy of the picture through the door, as I often did when I’d photographed people, but I’m not sure. If not, perhaps they will see it now on Flickr.

Globe International Autos, Cephas St, Globe Town, Tower Hamlets 86-6e-63_2400

Another business I photographed on several occasions was ‘Globe International Autos!’, whose frontage had some extensive painting, and again I was asked to take their picture by two men working there. There are four pictures of the business on this page, two at times when it was closed.

Print workers march to Wapping, Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets 86-6b-63_2400

Back in the 1980s I wasn’t photographing protests, or at least only those which I was taking part in against racism, South African apartheid and nuclear weapons. I didn’t go to Wapping to photograph the year long “Wapping dispute” by print workers after Murdoch moved printing from Fleet St to a new factory there, ending ‘hot-metal’ printing and replacing it by new computer-based offset litho. Murdoch sacked around 6000 printers after the union refused to accept redundancy for 90% of the workers with flexible working, a no-strike clause, the adoption of new technology and the end of the closed shop.

Although Murdoch had been both devious and brutal, I’d known some in the print and something of the “Spanish Practices” that were apparently widespread in Fleet St. While as a trade unionist (and at the time a trade union rep) I supported the workers who had been extremely badly treated it was clear that change was inevitable.

Bishops Way, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6g-66_2400

A rather more upbeat picture was I think of workers enjoying a lunch-break kick-about in an alley just off the Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green.

"Woman and Fish", Frank Dobson, Cambridge Heath Road, Globe Town, Tower Hamlets 86-6e-43_2400

And the closest I came to a ‘Page 3’ picture were a couple of images of Frank Dobson’s “Woman and Fish” on the Cambridge Heath Road in Globe Town. The sculpture had been placed in Frank Dobson Square at the junction with Cephas St on the edge of the Cleveland Estate. Dobson (1886 – 1963) was born and worked extensively in London and the square to commemorate him was made by the London County Council the year he died, with the sculpture at its centre, one of several versions he made in 1951 (another rather uglier one is in Delapre Gardens, Northampton.)

Originally it was a fountain, with water emerging from the moth of the fish, but it was vandalised in 1977 and restored without water. It was restored again after various further vandalisations in 1979 and 1983 and had to be removed completely when restoration was impossible in 2002. A bronze replica by Antonio Lopez Reche in 2006 is now in Millwall Park, Isle of Dogs.

Unfortunately much of Dobson’s work remaining in his studio at the time of his death was destroyed by his widow because of its erotic content, but one of his finest works, London Pride is outside the National Theatre in London.

June 1986

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

I had a busy month in June 1986. Of course there was the teaching, though by that time of year my A Level students were busy sitting exams, which took some of the pressure off for me, though there were the practical exams. And of course exam invigilation, a time of extreme boredom.

At home there will have been strawberries to pick and other little jobs around house and garden, as well as two young boys to help looking after. And sometimes I would take one or both of them out for long walks with me, as I went out taking pictures at the weekends, mainly in that month in Tower Hamlets, occasionally straying into Hackney.

During that month I made over 500 exposures on black and white film, seldom taking more than one exposure of each scene, and perhaps half that number in colour. It was around this time that I started seriously to produce some kind of comprehensive document of the fabric of London which I had been photographing in a less concentrated and asystematic fashion since 1973.

What had previously been largely dérives from a particular starting point now became carefully planned, with research in books on the city and poring over maps. Where previously it might have been the delightful whimsy of Geoffrey Fletcher that lead me to picturesque corners, this was now replaced by the duller encylopaedic prose of writers such as Harold Clunn, whose 1951 ‘The Face of London’ revised his earlier work to take account of wartime losses and attempted to be a complete guide to Greater London from his fifty years of perambulations.

Of course I seldom stuck to those carefully made plans, often being diverted by the lure of the streets, but I did begin making notebooks of where I walked, noting down street names and important details, marking up where I had walked on street maps (many of which have now fallen to pieces.)

After developing the films I would as usual make contact sheets, but I would then mark these up with Indian ink in a Rotring pen (and small writing I now often need a loupe to read) with street names and map references. In later years the A-Z came with the National Grid superimposed and my contacts included grid references too.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and sometimes I got street names wrong, and my writing and abbreviations are not always legible. I’ve now put around 140 of the pictures from June 1986 into my Flickr album ‘1986 London Photographs‘, almost all of them with at least a street name to identify the location. It took a few days to make and retouch the digital files, and once I had done that, over a day’s work to confirm the locations where possible using Google Street View. Some areas of course changed completely between 1986 and the earliest information from Street View – usually 2008, making it impossible in a few cases to be completely sure of where images were taken.

All of the images on Flickr have a longest side of 2400 pixels, four times the size of those in this post (- and landscape images only display at 75% unless you double click to open them.) Although I’m happy for people to share them and use them with proper attribution on personal blogs and non-commercial personal web sites, in student essays etc, they remain copyright, and a licence from me is required for any commercial or editorial use.

You can view the complete album 1986 London Photographs, but June’s pictures start here. Pictures for later in 1986 will follow shortly.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


London 1986 on Flickr

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

I’ve just uploaded the first tranche of 112 of my black and white pictures from 1986 on to Flickr. These are some of the pictures I took in the first four months of the year.

In 1986 I made around 5500 exposures on black and white film, the great majority of them being photographs taken on the streets of London, concentrating on the fabric of the city – the buildings and shop fronts in particular. At the same time I was also taking colour film, with a greater focus on shops and window displays.

A few of those black and white exposures were taken outside London on holidays and visits to family and friends, and rather more on a project in the industrial areas beside the Thames in Kent from Dartford to Cliffe.

Most motifs were taken with a single frame, carefully thought out and executed much as if I was using a large format camera, rather than the 35mmm Olympus fitted with a shift lens which I used for most of these images. A few received a second exposure, perhaps to concentrate on detail or where I could see an alternative approach and even more rarely I became excited enough to take more.

The almost a thousand images which will eventually be in this album represent about a quarter or a third of this work – the images I now find more interesting. Some of the scans have minor technical problems that annoy me but are probably not apparent to most viewers. Most were made while I was learning to use a DSLR to photograph negatives.

Although I had been walking around London with a camera since 1973 it was really in 1986 that I made a serious start on photographing the city as a whole, much as I had previously concentrated on various areas of docklands. Photographically I was inspired by the work of Eugène Atget in Paris, recording the old city he saw disappearing, but also by the encyclopedic work of Pevsner and his co-workers in ‘The Buildings of England‘, the original series of which were published between 1951-74. These both inspired and infuriated me by their omissions and the sometimes crass judgements and in particular what seemed to be a disdain for the vernacular, the commercial and the industrial. I decided my own view would be more comprehensive and I would photograph any building I found significant or interesting as well as exemplars of the typical.

Later I would often go into the library at the National Building Record, then in Saville Row, and while waiting for my appointment pull one of their London files from the shelves and leaf through its contents. For most areas it was church after church after church, occasionally enlivened by some ancient house or stately home. Perhaps the odd old pub, but little else to reflect where the ordinary people of London lived, worked or shopped. A few of my images helped to widen their collection, much of the older work in which I was told was donated by Church of England clergy with time on their hands and the money to indulge in photography as a hobby.

I had of course set myself an impossible task, and I realised this from the start, but made it even more so by widening my view in later years to take in the whole of Greater London. I kept at work for almost 15 years, by which time I had covered most of those areas that particularly interested me. But it had also become clear to me that times had changed and in particular that technology was changing.

I had already made use of the web to put some of my work online – in my Buildings of London website first put online in 1996 (with later revisions but never brought up to date as I decided it was impossible to scale it up) and this continued with London’s Industrial Heritage in 1999. The images on these sites reflect the But by 2000 it was clear to me that the impact of digital photography would lead to the city becoming on-line as a whole in a new way that made the continuance of my project redundant.

Google brought this to fruition with the launch of Street View in 2007, though I think it only came to London in 2008. When you view an area on this now, you can probably see it as it was some time in the last year, but, if you are fortunate, can also go back to various other views taken as far back as 2008. But for those relatively few areas and buildings in my pictures you may be able to go back to 1986. Much of London has changed dramatically since then.

Richmond Ave, Islington 86-2d-42_2400

You can watch them here, but its better to go to Flickr and watch them at a larger size.


Brighton 1983

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Here’s one I made earlier. I’d forgotten completely about this image, taken on a family trip to Brighton, but came across it in my archive on hard disk when I was looking for something else a few days ago, and thought it looked interesting.

But I was busy with other things and didn’t make a note of the file name, and when I decided I would share the picture I couldn’t find it. I spent an hour late last night looking through folder after folder of images. It didn’t fit any of the categories I have, and I went to bed annoyed with myself for not being able to find it.

I spent another half hour this morning. If only when I scanned images back in 2012 I had added some metadata. I’d thought a little more about when I’d taken the image, and thought it was almost certainly when we had two young German girls staying with us, some time in the early 1980s. I couldn’t exactly remember the year, but it was easy to track down some of the pictures I’d taken of them playing with my own children.

It still wasn’t easy to recognise this image from the small thumbnail in File Explorer’s ‘Large Icons’ mode, which was on its side and rather low in contrast, and I wasn’t sure I had found it until I double-clicked to load it into FastPictureViewer Pro and see it full-screen.

I wasn’t surprised to find that I hadn’t retouched the scan and there were as usual quite a few blemishes, particularly noticeable in the sky area. Usually I retouch images on a second computer which has a small Wacom Graphire pad and stylus, and is still on Windows 7 – I can’t get this old pad to work on Windows 10. I couldn’t be bothered to switch to that machine for a single image, so I did the retouching using a mouse. It made me realise why I normally use the Wacom pad.

Then I saved the image, resized it to post online (the original is roughly one hundred times the number of pixels), converted to 8 bit sRGB and made the mistake of saving it again over the original file. Fortunately on a drive connected to the other machine I had a backup. So I had to start that machine to restore the original file, and before I did so used the stylus and pad to do a slightly better and rather easier retouch.

Back in 1983 we were of course working with film, and when I took this picture I couldn’t be sure I had caught the moment. It surprises me now that this was the only frame I took, but of course I was on Brighton Palace Pier with a group of people most of whom were more interested in ice creams and silly hats than taking pictures, and some were probably pulling at my arms as I stopped to make this exposure with my Olympus OM1 on Ilford FP4.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Bruno Barbey

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Bruno Barbey, a French photographer born in Morocco in 1941, has photographed around the world over the years, and is one of the few Magnum photographers who deserve to be better known. Not that the others are bad photographers, but rather that they are everyday names, at least in the world of photography.

I was reminded of Barbey by a Facebook post by photographer Antonio Olmos (who also deserves to be better known) of a group of pictures taken in Poland in the early 1980s, when Barbey spent 8 months living in a camper van and working there despite strict surveillance by the communist state, because “Poland was the page in history that was being written and it was the memory of an ancestral society on the verge of disappearing”.

Barbey studied photogrpahy in Switzerland in 1959-60 and first went to Magnum in 1964. He served as their vice president for Europe in 1978/1979 and as President of Magnum International from 1992 to 1995. He is now a contributor and you can see a great deal of his work on their site.

In an excellent short video made for Paris Photo he talks about his life and work and some of his pictures.

I hadn’t been aware until I watched this of the various similarities between his views on photography and mine, though in other respects we are so different (for one thing I hate travel and he has spent his life going around the world.) In part it is a generational thing, though I only really got started in photography around fifteen years later than he did.

He speaks of beginning photography with a Leica M2, a camera I bought back in my early years in photography in 1977, though by then my copy was something of an antique, and of course he was working as we almost alll did, in black and white. He learnt to work quickly and unobtrusively, moving close into situations with a 21mm lens, and saying “I never ask permission to take photographs … except for portraits”, using the depth of field of the ultra-wide angle to avoid the need to focus.

In that early work – like most photojournalists of the era – he worked entirely by natural light, and says at the time he really didn’t understand flash, when for example he was covering the events in Paris in ’68. Of course then flash outside the studio was crude and somewhat unpredictable, usually with flash bulbs, though electronic flashes were coming into wider use and largely replacing these. I still remember the first occasion on which I spent several minutes working out how to use fill-flash back in the 1980s, something modern cameras and flashes perform automatically (and at much faster shutter speeds.) And if he was then still using that Leica M2, it’s X-sync speed of 1/50th was more than a little limiting.

On the video he also talks about the difference between working with film for magazines in colour – that meant Kodachrome, a film I could seldom afford – in the old days, when after taking pictures you had to send off the film for processing and while travelling he might not see the images until weeks or months later, and today’s immediate digital photography, when instead of having a good dinner in the evening you might be up to the early hours working in front of a computer. It’s something I find it hard to adapt to, refusing to file without properly editing my pictures on a large screen, though often having that good dinner and a glass or two before finishing the edit.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr