Posts Tagged ‘Soho’

Against Hate Crime

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

I’d caught a train that should have got me to London in good time to meet the Stand Up to LBGTQ+ Hate Crime protesters outside the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, chosen because of the nail bomb attack on this gay pub by a Nazi supported in 1999 that murdered three people and injured many more. It was the second in a series of protests to combat the nearly 150% increase in anti-LGBT hate crime in the UK between 2014 and 2018. The campaigners say we should all be able to walk the streets without fear. 

But the South West Railway had other ideas, and my train made several unplanned stops on its journey into Waterloo, arriving around 40 minutes late – over double the normal journey time. It’s hard to understand quite why South West Railway has such a poor record of time-keeping. They use fairly recent rolling stock with automatice doors that cut down calling times at stations by perhaps a minute at each stop. The trains have better acceleration than the older units and I think faster maximum speeds. They cheat by shutting the doors 30 or 45 seconds before the train time – so you may miss the 17.38 unless you are actually there by 17.37:30 – unless it is running late. And most years they manage to add a minute or so to scheduled running time. Back when I first moved to where I now live, the ‘fast’ trains used to get to London in under 30 minutes; now they take 35, an unremarkable speed of 33.6 mph. They are even slower at weekends.

I ran from the station to the bus stop, and fortunately didn’t have long to wait, though buses are now always slow in evening rush hour traffic, though still usually faster than walking over anything but the shortest distance. But I’d known roughly how long it would take and had allowed for that in planning my journey. I ran from the bus stop down Old Compton St, annoyed at having missed the start of the event but hoping I could still find them on their march.

Fortunately they had begun a few minutes later than planned, and I caught them just a few yards from the start of the march, though I was too out of breath to take many pictures immediately. But I was able to go with them on their march through Soho, where they attracted considerable support from many on the streets outside the clubs and bars.

The light was going down noticeably as they marched, though it was still 25 minutes before sunset when they reached Trafalgar Square. But some Soho streets are quite narrow and the light can be low. Trafalgar Square is wide open and there was more light. I was working with the Olympus E-M5II on auto ISO and it wasn’t long before it was sometimes reaching the maximum I’d set of ISO 6400. The results at this setting were noticeably noiser than at ISO3200, but at this and lower ISOs the camera was a pretty good match to the Fuji XT1, which started the evening at ISO 1600 but I later switched to ISO 3200. With a wideangle 10-24mm on this camera I didn’t need to go higher.

Trafalgar Square had been chosen for the end of the march partly because it was the scene of the murder of Ian Baynham in a homophobic attack almost exactly 10 years earlier, but also because it is a public place with a long record of protests. Protests in the main area of the square now require the permission of the Mayor of London, but the North Terrace in front of the National Gallery, though pedestrianised, still counts as the public highway and protests such as this are allowed.

More at Against LGBTQ Hate Crime


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Shot in Soho

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

It’s a while since I’ve been to the Photographers’ Gallery, which once used to be a regular place to call. I was a member for many years, probably more than 30, and used to attend most of the openings there, as well as dropping in occasionally when I was in town, perhaps to have a coffee, lock and the pictures and browse in the bookshop, as well as attend some of the lectures and workshops that took place there.

Back in the old days the gallery had an extensive library, mostly I think donated by photographers and run by volunteers, and it was a good place to visit and study books that were no longer available or too expensive to buy.

Back in the 1980s I was a member of a photographers group that had regular meetings there mainly looking at work that others had brought in, and some well-known photographers would drop in and show a portfolio and comment on our work. It was a part of the gallery’s education programme that that was needed for their charity status, but one that their education officer found hard to handle, and was very pleased to be able to drop in 1987.

I also worked at one time with a group set up to produce educational material there, getting some time release from the college where I was working. I’m not sure that we ever produced any material but it was interesting and fun to do.

There was a different atmosphere to the place in the old days. I used to go to the bookshop or café not just to look at books and drink coffee but for intelligent conversation about photography both with staff and other users. This just doesn’t seem to happen any more.

In those days the gallery was in Great Newport St, just a short walk from where I often find myself with some spare time in Trafalgar Square. Nowadays I tend to go into the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery instead. Since 2009 The Photographers’ Gallery is now a little further to go in Ramillies St, but mostly I gave up going because so many shows there held little interest for me.

I continued being a member for some years, even though I only went very occasionally until one year the cost of membership increased significantly for me and others of advanced years when they removed concessionary membership rates. Of course I could have afforded it, though I’m not rich, but the jump in cost made me think whether it was worth it.

What got me thinking about this was an on-line post on the British Journal of Photography web site. Again I was a BJP subscriber for many years, when it was a weekly trade journal and as well as publishing some well-written reviews of equipment and exhibitions had a useful listing of exhibitions. Then the BJP was an essential guide to what was happening in photography in the UK, but at some point it morphed into a monthly doing what other photo magazines already did, often better, and sometimes mainly featuring work which was of little interest to me. There seemed little point in continuing my subscription.

Of course it does still publish some interesting articles on good work, and the article I read on the web site by Marigold Warner, Anders Peterson on Soho, Cafe Lehmitz, and intention is a fine example. 18 images by Peterson are in the show ‘ Shot in Soho‘, along with work by William Klein and several others at the Photographers Gallery, London until 09 February 2019 (more pictures, some rather boring on the press release) and I will be finding time to go along and see the show, probably after 17.00 when entry is free. Usually the gallery closes at 18.00 but stays open until 20.00 on Thursdays.