Posts Tagged ‘cross section’

TQ30

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
Shop, Brixton Hill, Brixton, 1991TQ3074-001

Back in 1986 I began a serious attempt to photograph London. Serious but not entirely credible I set out the photograph the whole of the city. Of course I never thought I could photograph everything, but set out a number of principles or themes that would govern my project, or rather a series of projects that I continued to work on for the next ten or 15 years.

Streatham High Rd, 1990 TQ3071-002

The larger part of this work was in black and white, and concentrated on buildings and streets, the physical infrastructure of London, with the goal of photographing every built structure I thought significant, as well as representatives of the typical across the city. You can see a little of this on Flickr in the album 1986 London Photographs, which contains over 1300 photographs, perhaps a third of those I took in the first six or seven months of the project.

Heads & Dummy, Shop,Streatham High Rd, Streatham, 1990TQ3072-010

In colour I was largely concerned with a more intimate level, or how individuals arranged their surroundings and how this reflected their differing social and cultural values. Some of the more obvious reflections of this came in small businesses with the face they displayed toward the public, particularly in shop windows and interiors, which feature strongly in this work.

Bedford Rd, Clapham, 1992 TQ3075-025

The previous year I had abandoned colour transparency and moved to working with colour negative film which provided much greater flexibility. For some years this was entirely trade-processed, and to cut costs (I had a young family to support) I used cheap processing companies aimed for the amateur market. Technically these were rather variable (even from the same company) and the prints I received back, usually 6×4″ ‘enprints’, were extremely variable in quality.

Shop, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, 1989 TQ3077-005

As the stack of fat envelopes containing the negative strips and prints grew I wondered how to make some order of them, and came up with the idea of a traverse of the city with pictures filed together representing a number of ‘vertical’ north-south 1km wide strips of London based around the National Grid.

Cafe, Plato Rd, Brixton, 1989 TQ3077-009

Prints from negatives that interested me were then filed in a series of A4 files, labelled with the first 4 digits of the six figure grid reference which I had begun to mark on the prints. The pictures in this post are all from ‘TQ30’, and the 1km wide strip starts at Streatham and goes north from there. I started scrap book style, pasting the prints onto cartridge paper, but soon moved to using plastic file pages which held four prints on each side, arranging the prints roughly in order of their ‘northings’ in kilometre squares.

From these albums – a longish row of A4 files on my shelves – I was able to select images that were worth printing larger, keeping costs down by printing and processing in my own home darkroom. I’d discovered that Fuji colour paper not only gave cleaner looking prints but enabled the kind of dodging and burning that I’d become used to in black and white without the unwelcome colour shifts of other papers. I’ve had one set of prints from a show in the mid-80s framed on the wall beside the stairs since that show. They are out of direct sun and 35 years later show little of no sign of fading.

Bicycle, Shop, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, 1989 TQ3078-005

I began putting images from this project on Flickr several months ago, and at the start tried to replicate the layout of the albums – and the vagaries of the prints in terms of colour balance, exposure, saturation etc. Having done several 1km strips like this I’ve decided it doesn’t really work to well, and although I’m still scanning the prints in their sheets of four have separated them into individual images – still roughly in the same order – for TQ30. And while some of the defects of those trade-processed prints are still evident (and occasionally rather a lot of dust on the plastic sleeves) I’ve tried to improve the colour balance etc where necessary. But they are still showing enprints enlarged on screen and this makes some problems more visible.

So far I’ve put just over 100 prints into the album TQ30, from Streatham to Westminster, with another 250 or more to follow, taking the ‘slice’ north to Hornsey. You can view them 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.


Scanning London

Monday, March 30th, 2020
TQ1985

A few months back I was lying prone inside a giant metal tube on a flat bed which moved me slowly backwards as successive slices across my body were scanned for the purposes of research, and the CT scan reminded me of a project on London which I began in the 1980s.

Nowadays we are all familiar with the idea of geotagging and some cameras can add geotags to the Exif date as you photograph, while gadgets can be fixed onto other cameras to add the data. Smartphones do the same, as they always track you position. The web site https://www.geograph.org.uk Geograph was set up in 2005 to “collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland” and so far 13,114 contributors have submitted 6,397,064 images covering 280,384 of the 1km grid squares, still leaving around 15% should you wish to strike new ground.

TQ2083

I’ve occasionally added geotags to my own landscape pictures in Lightroom, using a free little phone app by one of my sons, ‘Easy GPS Logger’ which records GPS location and time data to a file. You load this into LR along with the pictures, match up any one of them with a particular place on a map and LR then uses the file to add the information to the other pictures. There are only two problems – remembering to turn on the logger at the start of your walk, and secondly to turn it off when you finish!

TQ1982

Back in 1986, the only way to add location data to your photographs was by hand, using a map to find the grid reference. Of course you had to know where you were to do so. I had the idea of doing a series of South to North cross-sections of London based on the Eastings and Northings of the National Grid using colour negative film.

Rather than attempting a series of south-north walks, I simply took a camera with colour negative film on more normal walks while I was photographing London in black and white, then sent the films for processing and printing 6×4″ enprints. When these came back from processing I’d sort out those I wanted to keep and use a map to find the grid references and add these and the date with a technical pen along the lower edge of the print. The date meant (at least in theory) I could find the negatives in my files.

TQ1683

At first I glued the prints onto card sheets to file them under the grid reference in a set of A4 files, but this soon became tedious and I bought filing sheets which held 8 prints, four on each side. Each of the kilometre grid squares had its own filing sheet, and some soon had several, with the series expanding to fill around a dozen A4 files. Each file holds around 50 double-sided sheets and so could hold around 400 prints, though many sheets are not full, so the project probably has around 3,000 or 4,000 prints.

TQ1978

Of course what was more important were the scenes I chose to photograph. I carried in my wallet a reminder of things I was interested in photographing (an idea picked up from reading a list made by Walker Evans), in a small zipped pocket together with a folded £20 note for emergencies. Of course colour was important, not just for itself, but as an illustration of how and why colour was used, and I had a great interest in representations of people and things, in ethnic differences and in the evolution and fashion of colour.

I can’t remember exactly when I ended the project, though it certainly continued well into the 1990s. But at some point I stopped sending colour negative film to be processed and began developing it myself, and producing enprints wasn’t really an option. Instead I made 8×10″ contact prints and worked from these, producing very many fewer but larger prints.

TQ2080

Over the years I’ve probably published or shown only around a hundred of these pictures, the largest group from 1986-90 in the book dummy and web site ‘Café Ideal, Cool Blondes, and Paradise

As with my black and white images of London, this is a body of work which I think has a great deal of historical interest as well as some photographic interest and it would be good to see it in some permanent museum or similar collection rather than simply gathering dust on my shelves.


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

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