Posts Tagged ‘lockdown’

Lockdown, Legend and Value

Monday, July 20th, 2020

I have to admit that during the lockdown I have become very much centred around my own work and interests. Not feeling able to get out an meet other people and not being able to travel to my favourite areas have cut me off not just physically but also mentally from much of my outside involvements.

Because of my age and medical condition I don’t yet feel able to re-engage with the world in anything like the old ways, though I have made three short trips on public transport and visited when necessary several shops, of course suitably masked. And I am still in daily contact with many friends on Facebook as well as rather fewer through phone calls and online events,

But I still feel very withdrawn from many areas, and in particular from the world of photography. With very few exceptions I just can’t get interested in the various lockdown projects and online magazines and shows that have sprung onto the web. This morning I realised that it’s almost three weeks since I last went through the long list of web sites and blogs, many photographic, that I usually skim through every few days for items of interest or controversy and that in the past have often led me to express my thoughts on this blog.

It took quite a while to skim through hundreds if not thousands of articles and posts, though for most a quick glimpse or even the headline was enough for me to move on. There were just a few that interested me enough to stop and read more, and just a few to the very end. Military historian Charles Herrick in a 3 part post on A D Coleman’s Photocritic International comprehensively demolishes another of the confabulations about D-Day photographs, the legend of the duffel bag full of film from the beaches being dropped and lost at sea during transfer to a ship. As usual there are also other posts on the site of interest.

Joerg Colberg too almost always has something worth reading, and in normal times I would probably have wanted to add my pennyworth to his piece The Print, the book, the screen. I can’t bring my mind to it, but here is one sentence which might encourage you to read and think about it and the value of any photograph:

“In the world of photography, the value is almost entirely based on commerce and on a generally unspoken and widely shared sense of elitism.”

As someone who has never been a part of that elite I can only agree, though I think there are other communities outside that of commercial art dealers and the associated museums of the art photography world that value photographs. But as Colberg makes clear, he is focusing on art photography ‘When you see the word “photography”, you will always want to add “art” in front of it.’

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that there were so many of the other photographs and articles I looked at briefly and felt entirely superfluous; ephemeral, inconsequential and with little to say.

But one particular feature from the British Journal of Photography, published around a week ago did attract me, Marigold Warner‘s article ‘Hackney in the 80s: Recovering a forgotten archive of working-class life’ about the 2016 rediscover in the basement of the Rio Cinema in Dalston, established as a community non-profit arts centre in 1979, which in 1982 set up a radical photography project for local unemployed people, teaching them to use a camera and sending them out to photograph the local communities. Their pictures were put together as newsreels and screened as a part of the cinema programmes, before the commercial ads.

Unfortunately the Kickstarter fund-raising for the production of a book of these pictures finished on the same day as the BJP published the story, but by then over £32,000 had been donated to finance it and it will appear in November – you can pre-order ‘The Rio Cinema Archive‘ now from Isola Press for £25.

It seems good value; in my scale of things, the value of these pictures is rather greater than at least most of what sells for high prices in expensive galleries.

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 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

Slowing Down

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
The Old Town Hall, Staines – given away and now being converted to flats

Tuesday

Two lycra-clad cyclists were chatting nonchalantly as they came up beside me on the road coming into Laleham this morning and I heard them for a few seconds until they swept apparently effortlessly past me. Perhaps I sped up just a little, though I was already going as fast as I could comfortably, and I was just a little discomforted as I saw them take the same route as I was intending to travel, down Ferry Lane and Thames Side, though they were only perhaps 50 yards ahead as I made the right turn behind them.

They weren’t actually going a great deal faster than me, and they were still in sight by the time we reached Chertsey Lock, over a mile and a half after they had passed me, perhaps just 300 yards ahead, but it was their apparent ease that upset me a little, as I was more or less at full stretch.

I lost them then, as they went right and I went left, continuing to push myself on my morning 10 mile exercise ride. It was a warm morning with little wind, ideal for cycling, and as I made my way through Littleton and Charlton, glances at my watch confirmed that I had a good chance of meeting my target time for the ride of 40 minutes. It was after all only 15 miles per hour.

It was when I came to the busy A308 Staines Road West that things really began to go pear-shaped. Rather than ride along the road I decided to take the safer shared foot and cycle path on its north side. It starts along pavements, with a few nuisance side-roads which crazily have right of way and then becomes a fairly narrow path with a surface disrupted by tree roots. I had to slow down, changing down two gears, and even then it was heavy and uncomfortable going. Then came a combination of bumps and a large jolt shook my pannier off its rack and I had to stop to fix it back on.

I stopped and found I was pretty well exhausted. What should have been a simple job of lifting the pannier back on eluded me, it slipping out of my hands. After around a minute of struggling I thought I had it fixed and rode off – but when I got home found I had only got one of the two supports on the rack. I struggled on, but when my target time came still had a little over a mile to ride.

I was deflated and could hardly bring myself to go on. That last mile or so was hard going although I took it at around half my normal pace, finishing the ride in 49 minutes. When I got home I collapsed into an armchair and could do little for the next half hour or so. Twelve hours later I’m still feeling tired from the ride.

I don’t intend to give up the rides but I think I have to become rather more realistic about my capabilities. Back in the day I’d reckon on three minutes per mile, but roads were smoother then and I was younger and fitter and on a lighter and faster bike, with lightweight alloy wheels and tubular tires – and around three stone less of rider to carry. Those two riders who passed me were probably each 50 years younger than me – and probably hadn’t had a heart attack and weren’t insulin dependent.

So tomorrow when I take the bike out for another ten, I’ll be happy to get home in around an hour – perhaps a little longer if I stop off a few times to take pictures – and leave targets to the young and fit.

Wraysbury River

Wednesday

Today it was three or four degrees cooler as I left home around 9am for one of the easier and possibly slightly shorter 10 mile rides on my list of nine routes. I made a point of stopping a number of times to take a few photographs to illustrate this post.

Wraysbury River and M25

This was a largely traffic-free route – a back road to nowhere, a bridleway, a minor road, a wide shared path beside a road, with just a short section at each end close to home through normal suburban traffic. But what really makes it an easy ride is the road surfaces. Non-cyclists just don’t realise what a difference this makes. Our road network was largely built for cyclists and back in my youth we had road-rollers (and even the occasional steam roller among them) which smoothed the road when it was relaid. Whoever decided to do away with these and just chuck on tar and gravel and let the traffic bed it down was certainly not a cyclist. These rough road surfaces just mean a little more road noise for drivers, but need noticeably more effort to cycle on – and along with the extra potholes and road waves tire our wrists and keep our eyes looking down at the road rather than enjoying the view.

Wraysbury River

After yesterday’s ride I took things easy, not pushing things but going at a comfortable rate. On the long roadside shared path down from Stanwell Moor between the reservoirs, now gloriously smooth, I couldn’t resist, changed up a gear and really flew, but otherwise took it easy.

Mill, River Colne, Stanwell Moor

There were just a few drops of rain as I approached home. I’d done my daily exercise and was sweating a bit, but wasn’t exhausted. The ten miles are fairly nominal, and this one may be a little shorter than yesterday, but despite being much more relaxed and making several short stops I’d taken three minutes less.


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.


Another cycling problem

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

My cycling for exercise continues, but not entirely without incident. I had a day off from exercise on Saturday, when the furthest I went was to walk to the bottom of our garden, perhaps around 30 yards. I got more exercise from the twenty or thirty times a day I walk up and down the stairs, though its only 13 steps.

Staines Reservoir South

Sunday I did get on a bike, for a leisurely ride with Linda, mainly along cycle paths and bridleways. We locked our bikes at the bottom of a footpath that leads up the side of one of the Staines Reservoirs to the path between them. It’s apparently a top bird-watching site, but all we’ve ever seen there is the occasional duck and gull. There was a small bird sitting on a post too far away to identify but possibly a pied wagtail, common around here.

Spot the bird – possibly a duck

We cycled on and took a path to Stanwell Moor, returning to Staines along the bridleway which leads down beside the King George VI reservoir, rather bumpy for cycling but usually deserted, though for some reason we met several largish family groups walking back from Staines Moor. People do go there to paddle in the River Colne in hot weather.

Wraysbury River and M25

Monday I again went to Stanwell Moor, but taking the rather better bridleway beside the M25. It gets a little narrow after a small Thames Water site beside the Wraysbury River, and I put on a face mask for this and the next section where its seldom possible to keep proper distancing when passing others – though there were very few I passed going in either direction. It’s difficult to know why the river is called the Wraysbury River (or Wyrardisbury River) as it doesn’t go to Wraysbury; a stream from it does flow to join the Colne Brook which does – or why locals have always called it the Wraysbury River rather then the River Wraysbury – which Google maps confounds by changing between the two at the Staines By-pass, but the many streams of the lower Colne are altogether something of a mystery.) I made a short diversion at Leylands Lane walking along a narrow footpath that leads to a weir on one of the at least 3 streams of the River Colne here, then retracing my steps to Horton Road to go past the former mill on the main stream there before continuing on to Stanwell Moor Road to return to Staines along the now resurfaced cycle path. What used to be an often painful ride with concrete blocks not quite meeting every few yards jolting the buttocks is now smooth tarmac and a pleasure to ride.

River Colne, Horton Road, Stanwell Moor

Tuesday I decided it was time to face a proper hill again, rather than just the odd railway and motorway bridge we have in our part of Middlesex, and made my way up Egham Hill and Middle Hill to Englefield Green. This time I changed to my smaller chainwheel before the ascent (I’ve learnt it takes a little nudge from my heel to actually get it to move), and while I didn’t find the hill easy arrived at the point I gave up last week feeling much healthier. But I was very much panting for breath, far more than normal. Though I’ve fortunately not had real breathing problems, whatever virus I’d had and still haven’t completely shaken off has clearly left me with some reduction in lung function, and I needed to take a few minutes to get my breath back before continuing on the gentle rise.

Cemetery, Englefield Green

Once at the top it was a really pleasant ride through the village, stopping briefly to take a couple of photographs at the cemetery, then again as I went downhill past Royal Holloway College, and I was really enjoying the ride along the shady undulating road towards Virginia Water when disaster struck. Finding a steeper than expected short section of road I pulled rather enthusiastically back on my gear lever to change down, and shuddered to a halt with a loud grating sound. There is a stop on the rear dérailleur which should have prevented the chain going too far, but somehow it had jumped over the largest sprocket into a narrow gap between that and the spokes and was jammed solid.

Great Fosters

I pulled the bike to the side of the road and found an old glove I carry for dealing with chains, and tried to pull the chain out. It wouldn’t budge. I pulled and pulled – nothing. After several minutes I carried the bike across the road to where there was a pavement and continued. I was feeling pretty desperate; not only could I not ride the bike in this state, but I couldn’t even wheel it – I would have to carry it to move it. I tried harder, now using both hands and not caring about getting oil on me, and took the chain off the chainwheel so there was more to get a handle on. I could now try from both ends of the jam. Finally I got one link out, pushing it away from the wheel as well as pulling, and was encouraged. I thought I could help it a little by turning the wheel, and kept on. Eventually another link came free. I tried harder from the other end of the jam and got another link free, but it was still stuck almost a third of the way round inside the sprocket. I kept trying and finally several links from the other end came free, but there were still two or three firmly stuck. They had to shift I thought, and used all of my weight to jerk the chain out and finally it yielded. It had taken me 20 minutes to free it.

I carefully rerouted the chain to its correct position and set off, taking things easily in case there was any more damage, but it seems to be OK and I got home without any problems though half an hour later than planned – and needing to wash myself and my trousers to get the oil off. I checked the gear setting carefully before my next ride.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s ride was uneventful.


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.