Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

London in Lockdown – Chris Dorley-Brown

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Many photographers have been busy with various projects taking advantage of the unique situations created by the Covid-19 lockdown, but the most impressive set of images I’ve come across so far are the hauntingly empty cityscapes by Chris Dorley-Brown which are featured in an article with the over-lengthy title ‘Chris Dorley-Brown’s photographs of London during lockdown are “terrifying and exciting in equal measure”’ on web site It’s Nice That.

These images of well-known locations from meticulously researched locations were all taken on weekdays, between the hours of midday and 2 PM and in the article Dorley-Brown says that they took him “about an hour each“. There are just a few people visible, mainly in the distance in some of the images, but they do convey an incredible feeling of emptiness and I imagine it took some time to exactly fine the best position and sometimes to wait for the few wanderers around the city to move into less conspicuous positions, and sometimes for the light.

There is something of a contrast between these and one of Dorley-Brown‘s earlier projects, The Corners, on his web site with other works, where he very effectively made use of multiple exposures to overpopulate the streets of East London in unreal but fascinating tableaux vivants.

Thanks to another photographer, Paul Baldesare, for drawing my attention to this article.


Photographers who have been able to keep working during the lockdown may be interested in a competition with free entry and a £1000 prize on the theme of ‘My New World‘:

The World as we knew it six months ago has been changing dramatically. Many people’s lives were put on hold, some endured hardship and loss, some had to reinvent themselves and perhaps have been working harder than before. There have been important social movements and appreciation of inevitability that we all facing a New World.  

This competition aims to collectively record the experience of people in the United Kingdom during and post lockdown reflecting new challenges and aspirations, bravery, kindness, love, sadness and humour. 

Launching Anna Steinhouse Photography Award

Entries – one image per person – are invited through Instagram until midnight Wednesday the 19th of August 2020. You can find full details of submission, terms and conditions at the link above

Shepperton Ride

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
River Thames, Church Square, Shepperton

June 4th I took it easy again on my ten-mile ride, forcing myself to stop and take pictures here and there. Of course the stopping and starting does actually add to the amount of energy expended and I find it hard to actually waste the effort I’ve made by braking, so the places I stop are sometimes more determined by where I need to slow down for other reasons.

Laleham

I’d changed my route slightly to go along a little of the River Thames towpath through Laleham village. I don’t like cycling along this bit of the towpath much, partly because its often quite busy with walkers, but mainly because the loose chippings on the actual path are a nuisance. Years ago, as a teacher hurrying along here on my way to an early morning in-service training meeting at the Runnymede Centre in Chertsey a stone flew up and into my chain, snapping the fairly chunky aluminium arm of my Campagnolo rear derailleur. I couldn’t ride the bike but rushed home pushing it, and picked up my wife’s bike to ride to the session. Fortunately I’d left home early to enjoy the bike ride, and ended up only a few minutes late. But I had to buy a new derailleur, opting for a rather cheaper model that seemed to work just as well.

This time I took the path in a leisurely fashion, keeping as far as possible to a narrow hardened mud area to one side of the chippings to arrive at the parking area where I stopped to take a photograph before proceeding.

One of many unfilled gravel pits in Spelthorne
Chertsey Lock and Chertsey Bridge

The narrow path soon becomes a metalled road, which would provide a pleasant ride beside the river to Chertsey Lock and Chertsey Bridge, though marred by the traffic humps and the occasional rather dangerous pothole.

The house where Zane died

Just before the bridge is the house where during the 2014 floods a tragic release from landfill of deadly hydrogen cyanide killed a seven-year-old and paralysed his father. Zane Gbangbola’s parents have continued the campaign to get the truth about the incident since.

Chertsey Lock

At the bridge I turned left towards Shepperton, along a busier road with a road surface curiously resistant to bicycle tires.

House, Dockett Eddy Lane
Pharoah’s Island can only be accessed by boat
Shepperton Ferry – not currently operating.

It was a pleasure to turn off down Docket Eddy Lane which leads back down to the river, and past the houses on the riverside and on Pharoah’s Island to Shepperton Lock and the ferry.

I turned off the route into Church Square and went down to the garden by the riverside, to find a pair of fancy ducks with a small group of chicks. I switched to my longer lens so as not to disturb them while taking pictures.

Back on my bike I rode up Shepperton High St, turning left at the top to go over the M3. It’s always just a little of a struggle up this bridge, perhaps because its usually against the wind and very open, but there is a long downhill stretch after it, with little need to pedal until just before the next traffic lights. I kept on and was soon cycling through Laleham on the road and up towards Staines, over some more resistant road surface and some really poor cracks and holes at the roundabout by the pub I still think of as the Lucan Arms, though it has changed its name several times since Lord Lucan went missing. Nowadays he could easily disappear through a Surrey pothole.


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.


Showing faces II

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

For a rather wider discussion of the issues involved in photographing protests and showing the faces of those taking part, you may like to read On Ethics, The First Amendment, and Photographing Protestors’ Faces by Allen Murabayashi.

It is of course in some respects a very US-centric article, talking about Trump and about the constitution. But I think it makes some of the reasons for the disagreements over the issue clear, and is worth reading.

Murabayashi gives his own opinion in two short paragraphs as the end of the piece:

To me, the real discussion shouldn’t be about the blurring or obscuring of faces, nor gaining consent of a subject. These are tactical choices, and in the U.S. there is simply no expectation of privacy in a public setting.

Instead, we ought to continue to consider how photography is used to portray others (particularly the vulnerable), and whether an image truly advances a story or simply acts as a signifier for the photo we should have taken.

Op cit

The link in the last sentence is to another piece by Murabayashi, The Photographic Phases of Depicting COVID-19, which is also an interesting read.


Black Lives Matter

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Staines, Surrey, UK. 4th June 2020.

I won’t be going to today’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest at London’s US Embassy though I would like to be there, both to show my support and also to take photographs, and it would be an easy journey for me.

The health risks of attending, though not huge, are greater for me than for most or all those who will be there, as if I were to be infected my life would be at greater risk both because of my age and because I have diabetes. I’m fortunate not to have great problems with diabetes, and I think I lived with it for over 30 years before it was diagnosed as a contributory factor to my heart attack in 2003, and now insulin and a careful diet usually keep it well under control, but it does mean my immune system isn’t too great.

The risks would be quite low. According to one of our leading epidemiologists speaking on the radio yesterday, about 1 in 700 people currently has Covid-19 and is infectious, although they may not be showing any symptoms. The proportion who are infectious in the protest crowd is likely to be rather smaller, as those who do have symptoms will almost certainly stay away. The protest will be taking place outside in a very open area, which will cut down the chance of infection.

The chance of being infected depends on various things. You reduce it by physical distance from an infected person – so if people at protests are able to keep that 2m away from people not in their own social group that helps greatly. If people who have the virus are wearing even simple home-made face masks that greatly reduces their spreading of the virus.

Protesters ‘Take the Knee’ at the side of Staines Town Hall.

Being a photographer is slightly more complicated. In the nature of things you have to move around and thus have a greater chance of coming close to one of that very small number of infected persons present. The moving around also cuts down your chance of always keeping that 2m distance. If you are, like me, someone who likes to get close to those you are photographing, you would be advised to change your way of working, moving perhaps to longer focal lengths. And you would certainly be advised to wear an effective mask when working. Moving around does have the advantage of decreasing the time you are close to any individual, which will also reduce the chance of infection.

The main danger to protesters will almost certainly come from policing. The police seem consistently to fail to observe social distancing and fail to wear face masks, so putting the public at risk. But also they often try to herd protesters into smaller areas where social distancing may be impossible, often to try to keep traffic flowing.

A silent die-in for 8 minutes 46 seconds in the Two Rivers shopping park in the centre of Staines, the time Floyd was restrained by a police officer.

It was probably unwise for me to leave home on Friday to cover a Black Lives Matter protest which I could hear from my window in Staines, particularly as I rushed out unprepared, forgetting to pick up my face mask. Of course I tried to keep at a suitable distance but there were moments when this wasn’t practicable. It was a rather smaller protest, with perhaps a couple of hundred people, not all of whom were wearing face masks either. Rather more of my pictures than usual were made with a short telephoto lens, with my wide-angle used largely for wider views in an attempt to preserve social distance.


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.


John Pfahl (1939-2020)

Monday, May 25th, 2020

I was interested to read the appreciation of the work of John Pfahl by photographer, photo critic and historian Bruno Chalifour published by A D Coleman as a guest post on his Photocritic International web site, not just for the information it gives about Pfahl who died in April, a victim of Covid-19, and his work but also for its insight into some of the political aspects of photography and photographic history.

Although I’ve been aware of the work of John Pfahl more or less since I first started my serious interest in photography in the 1970s when I think I first came across his work in the pages of one of the US magazines, probably Popular Photography, he wasn’t a photographer who particularly inspired me, perhaps because I found his work a little academic. So although I have books with his pictures in, particularly Sally Euclaire’s ‘ The New Color Photography’ (1981). I didn’t buy a copy of his Altered Landscapes also published that same year by The Friends of Photography, and have failed to acquire any of his later publications.

Chalifour talks about the “Rochester camp of photography“, to which Pfahl belonged, being in opposition to the MoMa school around its curator from 1962-91 John Szarkowski: “Szarkowski — still echoed nowadays by non-rigorous if not lazy art critics, curators, photo historians and researchers — did not consider that there was any serious color fine-art photography before the William Eggleston show he mounted there in 1976.” But Pfahl studied on the “first graduate-level program in color photography in America” gaining his MA at Syracuse University in 1968.

Of course there was serious colour photography even before that, including by a number of European photographers (who certainly didn’t count either in New York or Rochester.) But it was still true for most of us at the time that real photography was black and white, and while there were books largely for amateurs on colour photography, my own real training in the medium came from Johannes Itten‘s The Art of Color, published in 1961 based on his teaching at the Bauhaus, a copy of which I found in the 70s in my local library (many years before the cuts.)

Chalifour also mentions another Rochester linked problem, in that “Most of Pfahl’s work until the 1990s was printed on Ektacolor paper” and is thus showing signs of fading. The George Eastman Museum apparently has two sets of his major series, one for display, research and exhibition, and the other kept in the dark in cold storage. Kodak’s colour materials were notoriously fugitive, and having read the research many of us switched to Fuji in the 1980s. Some of his work was printed by the expensive but much more stable dye-transfer process. Pfahl was also an early adopter of digital printing, using the Iris/Giclée process for projects in the 1990s.


As I go through my own old slides, produced from around 1970 to 1985, I’m painfully aware of the limitations of older colour processes, with many images faded beyond repair and others requiring time-consuming restoration and much digital tidying to remove ingrained spots and mould. Fortunately images taken on Kodachrome have survived well, but Kodak’s card mounts are a problem, producing stray fibres and dust around the edges as well as masking too much of the image. I should put them in proper mounts before re-photographing them but it takes too long. Fortunately much of the pictures towards the end of this period before I switched to colour negative were made on Fuji films.


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


Super supermarket pictures

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Photographer Dougie Wallace who I’ve mentioned here before for work including his pictures of shoppers outside Harrods has a fine portfolio on LensCulture, Adapting to Covid-19 in London’s Supermarkets.

Rather more sympathetic to his subjects than in some of his work, Wallace’s pictures show a remarkable degree of intimacy to the shoppers and supermarket workers he photographs. It’s hard to believe that some were not taken at rather less than the regulation 2m Covid separation.

In the text he is recorded talking about some of the problems in making pictures under lockdown, and as still “struggling with the professional hazard of holding a camera close to the face while trying not to touch one’s face and remembering to regularly sanitize hands and equipment to protect against the invisible enemy.”

It is remarkable work made under challenging conditions. Wallace worked with the small, fast and light Olympus EM1 Mark 3, a Micro Four Thirds camera. I’ve not used this latest top of the range model, but very much liked the similar mid-range Olympus OMD M5 MkII which cost me less than a quarter of the price. Olympus back in film days were always the nicest cameras to use – I still have two OM4 bodies – and that superior user experience is still there in their digital models.

There are very few occasions when one really needs the larger sensor of a full-frame camera – perhaps copying negatives and slides. Working in very low light too; though wide aperture lenses and image stabilisation go some way to bridge the gap, they don’t help when you need depth of field and are photographing moving subjects.


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


NHS Fundraising Sale

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

I don’t normally publish press releases, but here an exception:

James Hyman Gallery announces the launch of a special fundraising sale.

All profits will go to support the National Health Service.I know that at this time of international crisis, the last thing on people’s minds is looking at art, let alone buying it. In my case, one of my daughter’s has coronavirus (thankfully mildly) and we are under quarantine and waiting to see if we also catch it. All being well my wife, Claire, will return to her job as a surgeon in a major NHS hospital next week.

Unfortunately, NHS Hospital staff, on the front line in the treatment of patients with Covid-19, are still working without the proper PPE (personal protective equipment), and there remains a shortage of testing kits and ventilators.

As everyone pulls together I have been thinking what I can do as an art dealer. I feel very helpless. What I have done is put together a selection of works by some of the major photographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and will donate all profits to the National Health Service.

It would be wonderful if you could take a look and let me know if anything is of interest to you.

http://www.jameshymangallery.com/exhibitions/2682/press/special-fundraising-sale-for-the-national-health-service

Although some of the pictures are at least of some interest to me, the prices are a little out of my league. But wealthier readers of this blog (if there are any) might be interested. Regular readers will also know that I think the fetishisation of of the photographic print rather misses the point of our medium and its infinite possibility of reproduction.

As I’ve pointed out here before, if you want an Atget to hang on your wall you can have one at little or no cost, and it will quite likely be a rather better print than you can buy from an art dealer. The one hanging in my front room certainly is. And I’ve certainly printed better Walker Evans prints than were made of his work back in the 1930s.

But this is a generous response to the crisis, and I hope it that some will buy and enjoy these pictures, mainly but not all photographs, quite a few of which are images I’ve not seen before.

At least one other dealer has made a similar response, with New York based dealer and gallery owner Hans P Kraus Jr putting up a sale of prints by Early British Photographers, with 10% of the sales revenue going to support New York healthcare workers. The works for sale include some by Talbot himself, as well as Hill & Adamson, Anna Atkins, Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton and others. The print which attracts me most is a later reproduction of Hill & Adamson’s ‘The Bird Cage (the Misses Watson)’, a carbon print made by Jessie Bertram in 1916.

Both these sales were featured in posts by Michael Pritchard in the blog on the British photographic history web site.


Solidarity with Rojava

Monday, April 6th, 2020

While we may feel cooped up in isolation in the UK, and are mourning the deaths of several thousand from COVID-19, the situation for many around the world is far worse. Particularly at risk are the people of Rojava in North-East Syria, mainly Kurds, at risk both from Turkish invasion forces and from the virus.

Kurds are the largest minority community in Turkey as well as being widespread across the northern parts of Iran, Iraq and Syria. They were promised an independent state at the end of the First World War, but that promise was denied when the boundaries of modern Turkey were defined in 1923.

Since 1923 Turkey has attempted a programme to eliminate Kurdish culture and identity, at times with massive military campaigns as well as repressive legislation. The Kurds, around 20% of the population, have fought back the opposition led since the 1980s by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK led by Abdullah Öcalan who has been in jail in Turkey since 1999.

In recent years Turkey has been aggressively attacking Kurds outside Turkey and in early 2018 they invaded Afrin canton in northern Syria, part of the territory where Kurds with other minority ethnic groups had established a de-facto autonomous region of Rojava, with a constitution based on decentralisation, gender equality, direct democracy and guaranteeing ethnic minority rights and religious freedom.

Kurdish forces in the People’s Protection Units, the men of the YPG and the women of the YPJ, were the most effective force in fighting the ISIS in Syria, with the help of US air support. But Turkey is second only the the US in military strength in NATO, and has benefited greatly from NATO support and arms supply, and were able to take Afrin from these lightly armed Kurdish forces. Many Kurds were forced out of the area, which had been overwhelmingly Kurdish and they are now a relatively small minority.

President Trump’s announcement of a US withdrawal from Syria gave Turkey’s President Erdogan a green light to continue his country’s invasion of Rojava, and left the Kurds there no alternative but to call on the Syrian government for support, a move which in the longer term seems likely to end their autonomy.

Turkey is now using the coronavirus to threaten Kurds in Turkish prisons for political reasons – including many journalists, excluding them from its plans to release them with other prisoners because of the pandemic. They are also refusing to refer prisoners with COVID-19 symptoms for medical treatment.

For the 4 million inhabitants of North and East Syria, including 600,000 refugees the situation is also dire. The World Health Organisation refuses to support the area directly and little comes to them through the Assad regime. There are no WHO test kits or test machines and only 35 intensive care beds and 40 ventilators.

More pictures from October’s protest: Solidarity with Rojava – Kurdish Syria


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.


Strength in Grief

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

With so much bad news around I hesitate to write about a funeral, but in October Extinction Rebellion held their ‘Strength in Grief’ rally at Marble Arch to express their profound grief at the extinction of species taking place due to global warming and which threatens the future of human life, and followed this with a funeral procession along Oxford St.

We are now facing another great threat to human life, one we are all personally threatened with, and many of us are at particular risk from, some because they are having to work closely with people suffering from coronavirus, others because they are particularly likely to die should they catch it. As someone in the high risk category, though not with governmental ‘extremely vulnerable’ status I’m worried and also isolating myself as much as possible.

The XR rally and march took place on the anniversary of Colombus landing in South America, truly a black day for the population of that continent, bringing disease and exploitation. While some celebrate Columbus Day, for many others the 31st October is the Day of Indigenous Resistance, and a number of the speakers reminded us of this. Climate Change has already killed many in the Global South.

While in the UK the lack of preparation has been a matter of government policy, part of their programme to run down and sell off the NHS through the back door to private health companies and their more general cuts to public services and local authority spending, for many countries it is impoverishment through centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has left them unable to cope with the current pandemic.

The UK is one of the world’s richest nations – thanks in large part to our imperial past which fed our economy and fertilised the inventiveness of which we can still be proud. I grew up in the immediate post-war period when the experience of the war had led to the realisation that we had to work together as a society. From that came secondary education for all, the NHS and the whole welfare state. I hope COVID-19 will have the same galvanising effect as we can’t afford to go back to ‘business as usual’. The world needs to wake up and ‘Face Up to the Problem’. I hope I’ll still be around to see it starting to happen; at least I’ve not yet had a letter from my doctor with a DNR form, though it could still come.

More pictures at XR Strength in Grief Procession.


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.


Luminous Lint

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

One of the messages that arrived recently in my inbox was from Alan Griffiths of Luminous Lint, a perhaps strangely named web site which has a great deal of information on the history of photography and is certainly the best site of its type.

For those with time on their hands due to self-isolation over COVID-19, and particularly for students whose colleges have close down, Alan has very generously made this subscription site free for the next month or so – and will review the situation then.

Take a look, and if you find the site interesting then please consider taking out a subscription if you can afford it. Sites such as LL take a great deal of work and it is only the income from subscriptions that make it possible. Here are the details of the offer from his e-mail :

While we all go through the turmoil of COVID-19 we each have to do what we can.

It is important for all students to have access to high quality materials on photohistory as universities, schools and libraries around the world close down so I’ve opened up Luminous-Lint.

You can login to www.luminous-lint.com for free with the email address spring@lumlint.com and the password “spring” all in lowercase. You can login here.

This will be available until 18 April 2020 and then I will take another look at the situation.

I would ask the following of you:

1. If you see any errors or have something to add let me know. I’m always at alan@luminous-lint.com

2. Subscribe if you can afford it as it allows me to provide services to those who can’t.

Other than that – have an interesting time exploring and I wish you, your family and friends all the best,


My own sites, including My London Diary, London Photos, Hull Photos, The River Lea and London’s Industrial Heritage (see below) and a few other smaller sites you can find links to on this site remain free all the time.

I’m able to provide them without charge thanks to a relatively small pension from some years of teaching and a largely abstemious lifestyle :-) as well as the occasional sale of prints or images for editorial use, but small Paypal donations, as the text I often append to these posts suggest, are always welcome. And you can also help by sharing these posts or other work on my sites on social media.

As well as those web sites, you can also find over a thousand rather higher resolution versions of my images on my Flickr account – and I hope soon to add a few thousand more. I’m happy to share these images – and for you to share them with your friends – but they are all copyright and a licence is required for any commercial or editorial use.

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.