Posts Tagged ‘flash’

From the Royals

Monday, July 13th, 2020

I find to my surprise that it is very nearly seven years since I self-published my book ‘The Deserted Royals‘ and wrote a little about it here. Some of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen the rather wider range of pictures from that project made back in 1984 that I’m currently posting daily as my ‘story’ there, though I find Facebook particularly adept in hiding those posts I’d like to see and instead feeding me cats and celebs.

The ‘Royals’ in question are of course the Royal Docks, and most of my work was on the Royal Albert and King George V Docks in North Woolwich, by then part of the London Borough of Newham. I’d tried to photograph them from publicly accessible locations (with the usual mild bit of trespassing) but had found this very limiting, and wrote to the Port of London Authority who still owned these two docks, requesting permission to photograph them from the inside. Rather to my surprise they replied and granted me the access I’d requested. A similar letter to the owners of the Royal Victoria Dock went unanswered.

As well as the daily release on Facebook I will shortly be adding these pictures, along with others I took of London in 1984 to my Flickr album London 1984. At the moment it has pictures I took earlier in the year, including some from the West India Docks. I decided at the start of this year to put pictures on Flickr at a relatively high resolution and high quality and to trust any commercial users to respect my copyright and contact me to pay for usage. Although it’s almost certainly over-idealistic, I don’t think I’m likely to lose any significant income. I’ve used these larger images in this post and if you right click and open them in a new tab you can see them larger than in the post.

Here are a few of the pictures I’ve recently posted on Facebook, along with the usually short texts which accompany them, beginning below with an introductory picture and ending with today’s picture, about which I wrote a little more than usual.


South Quay, King George V Dock, Newham 1984
84-7c-21.
I had obtained permission from the PLA to photograph inside the dock area they owned – the King George V and Royal Albert Docks two docks on two days, and made my first visit in July. The security men in the gate house were clearly surprised that anyone should want to come and take pictures, but not very interested in what I did. Once inside there was no security presence and I could wander freely on the south quay of the King George V dock and on the central peninsula between the two docks, though their was no access to the north side of Albert Dock.
I was not supposed to enter any of the buildings, which could be unsafe, but I did take a number of pictures through windows and doorways, and later did cautiously enter some of the smaller buildings that seemed safe. On my first visit I exposed around ten rolls of black and white film – 360 exposures as well as some colour transparencies over around six or seven hours of work.
Iason and Ion are the two ships which could be seen in the distance in some pictures posted earlier, at the west end of the north quay of the King George V dock. To the left is the dry or graving dock at the west end of the dock, full of water.

King George V Dock, Newham 1984
84-7e-63.
A bollard and a more substantial shed on the land between the two docks, now the runway for London City Airport, looking roughly east. The row of cranes is along the north side of the King George V Dock.

Office curtain, King George V Dock, Royal Albert Dock, Newham 1984
84-7l-53.
This was one of the few pictures, possibly the only picture, where I used flash to capture the curtain blowing in the wind and to balance the light inside the office with that outside. It was quite a pretty curtain, a landscape with trees and something of a Japanese feel, but it was the wall-paper that attracted me more with its groups of small fishing boats in front of a shore with what was probably meant to be a fortress but looked to me more like a cement works like those further down the Thames.
Obviously the scene outside the window with its cranes was vital to the picture, and balancing the light levels inside and outside was no simple matter. Nowadays modern cameras do this kind of thing automatically but back then it involved calculations using distance and the flash guide number, careful exposure measurements through the window and a great deal of luck. It was made more difficult by the slow flash sync speed of all SLR cameras of the time, limited by their focal plane shutters, in this case to 1/60th of a second. I think it was the first time I’d tried to do anything like this, though I had read about it in photographic magazines and I only took a single frame, so it was definitely a case of beginner’s luck

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.


Vigil mourns deaths on our streets

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

It is appalling that we have so many people homeless and living on the streets in what is still one of the richer countries of the world. And even more appalling that so many of them are there as a direct result of government policies. While Labour didn’t have a great record on dealing with homelessness, since the Tories came to power (at first with the support of the Lib-Dems) in 2010, the numbers of those sleeping rough have increased dramatically as a result of benefit sanctions and changes to benefits, in particular the introduction of Universal Credit, which has led to a remarkable number of people being evicted from their homes, unable to pay the rent.

My wife volunteers to work part time in a food bank in a relatively affluent area, where before 2010 there was no need for food banks, and the great majuority of the people who are referred to them as needing assistance need it because of the deliberate failures and actions of the benefits system.

‘One death is one too many’ was the clear message on one of the banners – and on its reverse were the names of around a hundred people who had died as a result of benefit cuts – a very small sample of the many thousands who have met premature death – academic studies suggest over 100,000 since 2010.

The protest was organised by a number of groups who help people in desperate circumstances on our streets, providing food and where they can shelter – despite the response of some local councils wh have passed by-laws to criminalise giving people food on the streets. I think anyone with any humanity should be angry about what is happening here.

Nikon

Strictly from a photographic viewpoint, I was interested to see how my recently purchased Olympus E-M5MarkII compared with the Nikon D810 working in low light. Despite being on a major street, the light on the pavement is fairly low. The Nikon has a full-frame sensor while the Olympus is a Micro Four Thirds system camera, with a sensor area roughly a quarter of the size. It also has a rather smaller pixel count.

Olympus

The difference in the images taken at ISO6400 is noticeable when viewed at full size, and still apparent when I view them at roughly A4 size. But the Olympus still produces usable images, far better than I could have obtained using film. And as the grain of my Tri-X images seldom if ever bothered me, neither does the slight tooth of these digital images. But perhaps I prefer the Nikon colour, though as is clear in the top image (Nikon, no flash) there are several light sources of different colour temperatures in the frame.

I don’t like to use flash at events like this, as it seems rather intrusive, and it’s too easy to lose the atmosphere of the candle light, but I did feel I needed to take as least some pictures using flash, and as I had the Nikon SB800 with me, used this for some pictures with the Nikon D810. I think I got the light balance about right in most of them and you can see the difference the flash makes from this pair of pictures both taken at 1/40th, f5.6, ISO 6,400, -0.3EV

More on the protest and more pictures: No more deaths on our streets


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And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Catalan evening

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

It was around a quarter past five by the time the Catalan protest got going on the steps around Eros, and in mid-February this was sunset, though it seemed rather darker than this suggests. Of course with the amount of street lighting and lights in shop windows and traffic it never really gets dark, but the contrast between the brightness of the advertising display on one side of Piccadilly Circus and the opposite side of the monument was pretty huge, and the protesters seemed to be in very deep shadow,

Using the Nikon D750 and D810, with both set to ISO 6400 allowed me exposures of around 1/125 at f5.6 without flash, though these were deliberately underexposed by a stop or so to keep something of a night look.

I didn’t have any fast lenses with me – and don’t own anything faster than f2.8 for the Nikons, finding them too heavy to carry and unsuited to most of the work I do where wide apertures mean the depth of field is too limited, though there are times when a fast telephoto would certainly help. But apart from the cost of the lenses I’d probably find myself needing the services of an osteopath. Although the Nikon lenses are remarkably good wide-open, when possible I like to stop down just a little, and most of these were taken at 1/2 to one stop down from the variable maximum.

I used flash for about half of these pictures, with a Nikon SB800 in the hot-shoe, but still worked at ISO 3200 to avoid getting people looking like cardboard cutouts in front of a black background, making sure that areas too far away to benefit from the flash were still getting enough exposure from ambient light. Although normally I work with the cameras on the ‘P’ setting (but often altering the selected shutter speed) Nikon’s flash system doesn’t really work with this, and when using flash I switch to aperture or shutter priority or sometimes full manual.

Flash on camera is always a problem where important parts of the subject are at different distances from the camera, and sometimes I make use of the fall-off of flash away from the centre, angling the flash head away from the closer parts of the subject. But inevitably some, often considerable, burning and dodging is needed when processing the images. Even in those taken without flash the lighting was pretty uneven and some correction was needed. If I can tell which of the images was taken with flash and which without except by looking at the EXIF data I don’t think I’ve got it right.

More at Against political trial of Catalan leaders


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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images