Posts Tagged ‘Brick Lane’

Back to 1986: Page 4

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Broadway Bakeries, Brougham Rd, Benjamin Close, Broadway Market, Hackney 86-6m-35_2400
Borough Market

Returning to my London pictures for 1986, and to page 4 of my Flickr album 1986 London Photographs.

The Oval, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6m-65_2400
The Oval, Bethnal Green

1986 was the year I began to photograph London in depth, and the album reflects this, with 1370 black and white photographs, a fraction of the number I took that year. The hundred on page 4 are from the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and include pictures from Dalston, Shoreditch, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Whitechapel and other parts east of the city. There is just the odd image from elsewhere in London.

War Memorial, Cyprus St, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets86-6o-31_2400
Cyprus St, Bethnal Green

Unlike in some earlier years the routes for my walks around the area were carefully planned, with research from a number of published sources, though information was much less readily available than now before the days of the world wide web. Of course I didn’t always stick to my planned routes, but I did carry a notebook to write down where I actually went and even sometimes some details of what I was photographing.

Hessell St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
Hessel St, Whitechapel

One of my major resources was of course maps, both new and old, not just for the streets but also for the other information included on them. Some marked industrial areas in brown, most showed churches and public buildings and some gave names of various features. The invaluable series of reprints of old 1:2500 OS maps was begun by Alan Godfrey in 1983, but few were available in 1986. I now have a very large collection.

Kingsland Basin, Regent's Canal, Hackney 86-7c-26_2400
Kingsland Basin

My aim was to not to walk along every street (as the woman who produced the London A-Z was sometimes said to have done) but at least to look down nearly all of them, and to photograph all buildings of interest as well as other things I found on my journeys. Later when I had bought a scanner I produced enlarged versions of the A-Z pages, printing them on a black and white laser printer and used highlighter pen after I came home to mark where I had walked. These both showed me any areas I had missed and helped me, together with the notebooks, to mark on the contact sheets where the pictures were taken.

Nuttal St, Hackney 86-7c-36_2400
Nuttal St, Hackney

I mostly travelled by train or underground so often several walks started from a particular station, and perhaps along the same streets close to them. There were also some areas that particularly interested me, either for simple visual reasons or because they were obviously changing, to which I returned.

I’ve posted some of the pictures on this page previously on >Re:PHOTO and I’ve tried to find others to put on this post. You can see all of the pictures – 100 on page 4 – on Flickr – where you can view them larger than on here – by clicking on the link or the image below.

Russia Lane, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6l-66_2400

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.


1986 Complete – Page 2

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Varden St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5d-11_2400

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the second of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Fashion St, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4r-16_2400

Several things come out strongly to me as I look through these pictures, mostly taken around Brick Lane and other areas of Whitechapel. One of the major themes that has run through much of my photography is the writing on the wall, whether graffiti or signs and posters. Language is such an important aspect of our social interactions and its inclusion in these images makes them into a record of how people lived and thought.

Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-5a-01_2400

In 1984 London was rapidly becoming the multicultural city we now know, though of course it had been so on a lesser scale for many years if not centuries. Spitalfields where some of these pictures were made had long been a home for new communities moving to London and there was still abundant evidence of its Jewish population as well as the Bangladeshis who had by then largely replaced them.

Commercial Rd, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5c-64_2400

Housing, then as now, was an important issue in London in particular, and some of these pictures reflect this and other issues such as racism. Although I think some of these pictures are well-composed and even attractive compositionally, I’ve always considered the formal aspects – line, shape, tone, texture, form etc to be the means to communicate a message rather than an end in themselves. I aimed to make photography that had something to say and said it well rather than to produce well composed, attractive or even striking or popular images.

Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-5h-66_2400

There are another 95 pictures on the second page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


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Brick Lane

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

I took one look when Paul Trevor began to speak at the launch of his new book Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane‘ last night, and decided against trying to take pictures in the dimly lit bar. Then a few seconds later I walked across to where I’d left my camera bag with friends and took out the Olympus OMD EM5II and thought “eff it, I might as well give it a try“.

I knew I’d set the camera earlier in the day on ISO AUTO, with a maximum ISO of 5000, but since I only had the 14-150mm f4-5.6 on the camera (28-300 equiv) it wasn’t really fast enough. Though since it was underexposing by a stop or two, the pictures were really taken at ISO10-20,000.

I’d been at the back of the room when the presentation began, and couldn’t easily get much closer, and there was a long table with drinks on it in my way. I’d put the camera on Shutter Priority, and set the shutter speed to 1/40th. The good news is that although I had to work at focal lengths between the equivalent of 60mm and 150mm, none of the images show any camera shake – the in-body stabilisation seems very effective.

The bad news is that with this lens autofocus is poor in such low light, with a lot of hunting at the longer focal lengths. Paul is a pretty mobile speaker – I think in part a nervous gesture as like many photographers he isn’t really happy speaking in public, and the camera could just not keep him in focus. I had to wait until it managed to focus and take a picture sharply before it lost sharpness again.

A second piece of bad news, I think evident even in these small pictures, is that the image quality is not great. I’m sure the Nikon D810 would have done rather better under these conditions. Working in normal daylight there isn’t a very noticeable difference.

But the Olympus scores on noise. I’ve not bothered to use the silent shutter mode (which comes with some problems) but the mechanical shutter is one of the quietest I’ve use, hardly noticeable in most situations. The D750 and D810 aren’t particularly noisy cameras, but the shutter sound does become noticeable in quiet locations.

If you’ve not already bought the book, I suggest you waste no time in doing so. As it states on the Hoxton Mini Press web site:

‘Paul Trevor, one of the great unsung heroes of British documentary photography, spent many years during the 70s and 80s capturing life on Brick Lane, London’s most iconic East End street. Published here for the very first time, these images, full of humour, grit, love and surprise, capture a vibrant time before the area went through dramatic social change.’

As I commented on the publication of Paul Trevor’s ‘Like you’ve never been away‘ a couple of years ago:

‘I’ve always regarded Paul Trevor as the most interesting of the whole batch of British photographers who became known in the mid 1970s at exactly the time I was myself coming to photography, and there were some other impressive talents, some of whom are very much better known. Some were rather better at self-publicity.’

It was a well-attended launch and it was good to meet a few old friends there, including some I don’t see too often, including of course Paul himself, but after his speech I didn’t stay long, but walked out into Brick Lane, fortified by a couple of glasses of red wine and still with my camera around my neck. It was a little brighter on the street, and as I walked down to Aldgate East underground I took a few pictures. Nothing of any significance but I think they give a good idea of how Brick Lane has changed since Paul Trevor made his pictures here. A few more will appear on My London Diary, probably in a month or so.


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

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.