Posts Tagged ‘towpath’

More Canal Pans

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Photographing protests and other events generally keeps me pretty busy and for some years I’ve had little time for anything else, along of course putting some of my earlier work online and writing this blog and keeping My London Diary almost up-to-date. But one project that I’ve managed to do a little work now and then on is making panoramic images of London’s canals – and I hope to use a few of these in a show next year.

My first panoramic project, back in 1992 when I bought my first panoramic camera was on the DLR extension then being built from Poplar to Beckton. Prints from this were shown at the Museum of London back then, and a few are now in their collection – and one is in the current show, Secret Rivers at the Museum of London Docklands.

I’d chosen to work in panorama (using a Japanese Widelux camera) because I thought that the essentially linear nature of the railway was particularly suited to the panoramic format, and it seems to me that the same applies to photographing the canals. I’m now working of course with digital, and the pictures I’m making don’t natively come in a panoramic format as the camera sensor is either 3:2 (with the Nikons) or 4:3 in the pictures I’ve made with the Olympus EM5 MkII.

The character of the cylindrical perspective that I’m currently working with (others are possible) means that the image curvature required to give the wide angle of view (around 145°) increases towards the top and bottom of the image, and using a 4:3 or similar format makes it more noticeable than a more normal panoramic format such as 2.5:1. So I often crop the images to a more panoramic aspect, often 1.9:1 which can give a more natural look.

Cropping the image also has another advantage. In making these images it is important to keep the camera level – aided by indicators in the viewfinder at bottom and left of the image. Doing so means that the horizon will always be a horizontal line splitting the image into two equal halves, and this can make a set of images a little monotonous. When cropping the images, it is possible to move this above or below the centre line. In days largely long past, landscape photographers used cameras with a rising or falling front to acheive the same goal, and for much of my black and white work on film I used a 35mm shift lens which could do the same.

These pictures were taken between the end of a protest in Hackney and my visit to an Open Studio event at the Chisenhale Studios in Bethnal Green to which I walked. I began the walk along the canal in one of my favourite spots where Mare St becomes Cambridge Heath Road and goes over the canal and then walked east along the Regent’s Canal towpath to the junction with the Hertford Union Canal. I had time to go a little beyond the studios before turning around and returning to leave the canal and make my way to the studios. By the time I got there the rain was beginning to come down fairly steadily and I’d walked around a mile and a half.

More pictures at Bethnal Green Canal Walk


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

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