Posts Tagged ‘photography’

London 1980 (13)

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

The 13th of the series of posts of selected black and white pictures I made in 1980 with the comments I posted more recently daily on Facebook. Larger versions of the pictures are now available on Flickr.

LIFE, Waterloo Station. 1980
26a-12: stairs, graffiti

I used often to walk past this scrawled message on my way into Waterloo Station, though I can’t remember exactly where it was, but these stairs are long since demolished or hidden away from the public. The area was dimly lit and I think I photographed it on several occasions before getting a satisfactory result.

There was a certain desperation about the lettering which looked as if it had been made quickly by someone who dipped a hand into white paint to make these marks. And I pondered on what message was intended, as I stopped to photograph it in the rather dim light.

Albert Memorial, Kensington. 1980
26i-62: monument, girls

Back in 1980 on my way to the Serpentine Galley I stopped to look at the Albert Memorial, then open to the public in much the same way at Nelson’s column still is, with tourists and their children climbing on the lower levels to have their photographs taken with the sculptures at its four corners and surrounding it.

As I was photographing a group of four girls came and climbed up on the low ledge to put their hands on the figures of the great artists – including Masaccio, Raphael, Michael Angelo and others – along the base of the memorial. This was the second of two frames I took of them.

Chelsea Bridge, Chelsea. 1980
2l-55: power station, bridge, runners, people

In December 1980 it was my turn to organise the month’s photographic outing for the small group of photographers I was involved in. Somehow my plan for a walk from Victoria to Battersea and Wandworth lacked appeal and I was the only person who turned up for it.

Taken with the Leitz 35mm f1.4 Summilux, the large circular flare patch is something of an enigma. I think it likely that the lens was well-stopped down, since I was working on ISO400 film (Ilford XP1) and the negative is quite underexposed. The low December sun has resulted in long shadows and a dramatic image, with Battersea Power Station and the people in near silhouette.

The sun was just out of picture at top right, and this negative was virtually unprintable in the darkroom

Chelsea Bridge, Chelsea. 1980
26l-56: power station, bridge,

Another picture from almost the same place, but without people and with different flare. As well as a couple of large ellipses there are also some rather vague ‘rays’ and a small black spot… The specks in the sky are birds.

One of Battersea Power Stations four chimneys was hidden behind a part of the bridge in the previous picture, but here we can see it clearly with smoke emerging. The western half of the power station was closed in 1975, but the eastern half, where smoke is emerging from the rear chimney remained in operation until 1983.

Earlier in 1980 the whole power station had been listed Grade II as there were grave concerns for the future of the building. Unfortunately listing failed to save more than the shell of the building and its roof was removed in the late 1980s. Various development schemes fell through and the building was left to rot. The listing was revised to Grade II* in 2007, and the redevelopment of the whole area began in 2012.

The four chimneys were removed by the Malaysian-owned developers in 2014 because they were heavily corroded, but have now been replaced by near identical replicas. The power station development is due for completion in 2019, providing 254 homes along with offices and retail space, with the whole 42 acre redevelopment being completed by 2025. It is part of the huge 561 acres Nine Elms development – almost 0.9 square miles.

Swan Matches, Victoria. 1980
26l-63: advert, building, street,

The Lost Property office was on Eccleston Bridge, on the corner of Bridge Place; the building is still there but the Swan Vestas advert has long been painted over and the building passed to other uses.

The foreground wall and the office building in the background are still there though the offices have been slightly updated.

Roundabout, Wandsworth. 1980
26p-32: roundabout, storage tanks,

I pass this roundabout every time I take the train into Waterloo. It was the location where Alex and his Droogs attack a tramp in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The roundabout links Trinity Road with Wandsworth Bridge.

Back in 1980 all of the riverside around here was industrial. NF graffiti were common over London. I think the tilt in this picture was deliberate, perhaps to increase a sense of unease in the scene.

Fence with NF graffiti, Wandsworth. 1980
26r-21 fence graffiti, worker

Some effort has been made to make the corrugated iron fencing more attractive by painting it in two colours. I can’t read the flyposted notices, which do appear to have a radioactive hazard symbol on them but the National Front graffiti is clear and was unfortunately common across London at this time.

I’m not sure exactly where this was taken, although the wall behind the fence is fairly distinctive, as are the steeple and flats at right. It was probably on or close to Vicarage Crescent or Lombard Rd.

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

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 – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Danny Lyon on Frank the man

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

” For all artists, there is a difference between the person and their work. “

Thus states Danny Lyon in the article ‘When Fathers Die: Remembering Robert Frank‘ on The New York Review of Books site. His piece is a very personal story of the man he lived with and worked with and who he says “brought integrity to an art riddled with compromise.”

I don’t think it makes me see any more – or less – in Frank’s pictures but I found it a fascinating read, a reminder of the very different times and lifestyle in which that work was produced.

Colour or B/W?

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

I’m trying hard to remember when I last took a black and white picture, and I think it must be more than ten years ago, though I do still have a few rolls waiting to be processed.

I spent around thirty years taking most of my pictures in black and white (though I often also worked in colour) . Many if not most of my favourite images, both my own work and that of other photographers is in black and white, but somehow I no longer feel any urge to work in black and white.

It would of course be easy to do so. A simple click of a mouse would convert the images taken in any of my digital cameras from colour to monochrome, but it’s something I dislike doing. Occasionally I’ve carried out this conversion, in the past using specialised Photoshop plugins (though now Lightroom has some good monochrome profiles built in) but generally only when my colour pictures are going to be reproduced in black and white – when I prefer to make my own conversions rather than leave it to others.

When I made the mistake of buying a Leica M8, there were some occasions where the colour was simply so wrong as to be unusable (though I spent hours trying to put it right with various software programs) and the only way to use pictures were as black and white. And while it was a lousy colour camera, it was actually pretty good as a black and white camera and perhaps I should have kept it for that. Later of course Leica did produce a monochrome model.

With mirrorless cameras you can even view the world in black and white, which might be an interesting way to work, though I’ve yet to try it for more than one or two test exposures. But generally I’m rather averse to converting images taken in colour into black and white and think most people who do so produce work that is unconvincing. You have to think differently to make good monochrome images, try to think tone instead of colour, and pay greater attention to shape, line and form.

I just spent ten minutes or so looking through some of the more interesting pictures I took earlier this year, looking for images that might possibly have worked in black and white, and coming to the conclusion that colour was essential for almost all. For this post I’ve picked a couple that I thought might work as well or better in black and white and made the conversion. I’ll let you judge – and please feel free to comment if you have a strong preference.

I was prompted to write this post by reading one on PetaPixel, What Shooting Film Taught Me About Black-and-White Photos by Ellie Cotton – I think it looks better on her own web site. I actually think all of the pictures in that article look better in colour, though a couple convert reasonably to black and white.

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 – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

Steiglitz Key Set

Saturday, June 8th, 2019


Back in 2002, the US National Gallery of Art published the massive two-volume ‘Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set – Volume I & II: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs‘ by Sarah Greenough, 1012 pages lavishly printed and weighing over 18 lbs, presenting the complete set of 1,642 photographs of his work, selected after his death in 1946 by his wife, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe who devoted three years of her life to sorting out the best examples of each of the finished and mounted prints in his possession when he died.

O’Keeffe presented the bulk of this work to the NGA in 1949, adding most of the rest, including well over 300 portraits of herself in 1980 which had previously only been on loan. There are several versions of many of the works, sometimes in different media and in some cases quite differently cropped and sometimes made over many years.

The book was a truly fine publication, heavily subsidised by generous donors, but in many respects the recent online presentation is preferable. Certainly the search facility is a great addition, as is the ability to zoom in on pictures, particularly for those of us whose eyesight is a little less sharp than it once was. And you can mark several pictures to compare them together on screen.

Those large and heavy paper volumes are also just a little difficult to handle, while the on-line presentation is excellent, enabling you to page easily through the pictures in order should you wish to, zooming in to them or scrolling down on the page to read more about them (they make use of the open source IIPMooViewer – you can read more about this should you be interested in a case study about the NGA on the IIPImage site.) The site seems to work remarkable quickly on my internet connection and you can also download the pages as PDFs should you wish to do so.

Of course the quality of reproduction of the online version will depend on the device you view this on, and your phone may not display them quite as well as a large calibrated monitor. But even more than the book, this is an enormous and fascinating work of scholarship.

Stieglitz remains one of the most important figures in the history of our medium, a major player as a photographer both in pictorialism and the move away from this to modernism and straight photography, as a photographer and also as an editor and curator. He was a prime mover in establishing photography as art and promoted the work of a number of photographers and painters through Camera Work magazine and his galleries, though it was only quite a few years after his death that an art market for photography came into being. He sold very few of his own images, and most of those in museum collections came like those at the NGA, from donations either by himself orafter his death by O’Keefe.

Despite the superiority of the online version, there is still something about the print version which I prefer, and it can still be bought on Amazon and elsewhere, with both new and secondhand copies on offer, but at a price. The cheapest I found in a very brief search, including shipping to the UK is around £170, though some dealers are asking up to £600. When I bought my copy I think I paid less than some are now charging for shipping.

Lens Ends

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Sad news to hear that the New York Times Lens blog is to end at the end of this month, May 2019. You can read more about it on PDN News. The closure, described by the NYT as a “hiatus” for an indefinite period means the end of one of the more thoughtful and innovative blogs about our medium after around ten years, with a number of posts by James Estrin and his co-editors that I’ve mentioned here – though not as many as I might.

Meaghan Looram, NYT director of photography, says it is time to rethink and “give serious thought to how to better position Lens for the future.” I suspect that means a dumbing down and an end to contributions by people with any great love or knowledge of photography, though I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

Lens has been more than just another photography blog. As PDN points out it has promoted many emerging photographers as well as highlighting work from earlier eras that has often been overlooked or under-appreciated. And importantly, as it states “Lens is one of the few photo blogs to pay the photographers whose work it features.”

That’s an important point, not just because many photographers need the money – it’s very tough for many, particularly young photographers to make a living, but because so many others seem to assume that photographers can live on ‘exposure’. But exposure won’t pay the bills. Are the journalists, the printers and others involved in publications and campaigns working for free? When anyone asks me if they can use my pictures without payment I have a simple question to whoever is asking – ‘Are you being paid for your work? ‘

Of course my suspicions about Lens are based on my own experience with the NYT, who bought a company I worked for and ruined it because the bean counters were determined to aim at the lowest common denominator and forced out those of us who wanted to write intelligently. By the time they sold it on it had lost most of its financial value and virtually all of its credibility.