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Themes #05 – The Natural World

My fifth and last post reflecting on my Themed portfolio. This one focusses on the Natural World and all things related I’ve enjoyed during my ‘endoftheline’ travels.

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Welcome to this my fifth and final blog in my Theme series where I set out the reasons behind my recent selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about ‘The Natural World’, a look at the diversity of living things and the environment in and around London. I’ve categorised my pictures into groups: Creatures, Vegetation, The Thames, Waterways, Skyscapes, Night Time and Reflections. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope you agree, but feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to have any other suggestions?

Creatures – Feline Hungry

a cat ready to pounce from under a car staring intensly at something nearby

Birds dominated this category, from ducks, swans and even parakeets that have now naturalised themselves in London. Oh yeah, and one spider, but thought better of using that one in case there are too many readers with arachnophobia.
Come to that, I now hope there’s not too many readers with ailurophobia too.

Brick Lane is normally a hive of activity, full of onlookers enjoying the plethora of curry houses, or browsing the markets for bargains or memorabilia. But today is not one of those days, despite it being lunch time.

But this one resident was certainly on its look out for lunch. So was its intense concentration on what it was looking at (I didn’t see as I was concentrating on the cat), s/he didn’t bat an eyelid as I neared and crouched down to capture this. The cat is half under a parked car, and I’m half taking up the pavement, so the chance of any disturbance was high. But regardless, we were both resolved to see out our quest.

I didn’t wait to find out whether the cat caught anything as I was happy that I’d captured this shot. Maybe I should have?

  • Location: Brick Lane, East London
  • Date/Time: Friday July 12th 2019 at 12.29 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 5mm; Film Speed – ISO500

Vegetation – Tree Lined Shadows

a blck and white shadowy silhouette of rows of young trees

There’s a square of planted trees in Royal Victoria Square which have grown somewhat since originally planted. If you look at Google Maps Street View, there’s some evidence they are used as sheltered parking as some of the photos posted there have cars hidden between them.

There’s no such distraction today, in fact, it’s a bitterly cold winter’s morning with a crisp sharp sun which casts a harsh shadow through the trees. And it’s this effect that caught my eye. I waited for some onlookers to walk through so as to capture the scene uninterrupted and added a harsh black and white filter to accentuate the light and dark shading.

The solitary crow, slightly off centre/right, adds an extra little ‘still life’ quality to the final image

  • Location: Royal Victoria Square, Royal Docks, London
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 28th 2020 at 10.45 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 63mm; Film Speed – ISO200

The Thames – No Access to The Thames Barrier

a long distance view of the Thames Barrier through a spiky and wired barrier in the foreground

Peer through the metal railings, just on the water line, and you can just make out two of The Thames Barrier pontoons.

This is at the end of a walkway just west of the Woolwich Ferry North Terminal, and it’s where I encountered a couple of fishermen who were sitting besides a chained anchor sculpture. They were not in the mood to chat, so I walked on.

This is taken in black and white with some saturation to emphasise the contrast between the black railings, and rippling sun on the water. The railings clearly designed to discourage any attempt to climb over into the adjacent industrial park, but nevertheless it did make for an excellent study in light and shade.

  • Location: Footpath off Henley Road and Pier Road, North Woolwich
  • Date/Time: Monday September 2nd 2019 at 3.26 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ16; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 23mm; Film Speed – ISO400

Waterways – Paddington Basin

a night time view of the Thames Basin with high rise offices on either side of the water and their lights and those from moored barges reflect on the still water

This was a return visit to Paddington with the intention of capturing some night scenes. Thankfully I was suitably wrapped up as in the early spring night it had turned bitterly cold.
It was an evening for black and white photography, and it ended up being a very successful one too.

I’m very pleased with the outcome here as I was also test driving a new lightweight mini tripod. I don’t think I’d have successfully captured this long exposure shot otherwise which, combined with a narrow aperture and wide angle, creates a stunning view of this setting.

I also think the shot is elevated by the stillness of the basin water as it helps to accentuate the clean lines created by the reflections from the moored barges and street lighting.

  • Location: Looking east from Paddington Basin Footbridge into Paddington Basin at night
  • Date/Time: Wednesday April 10th 2019 at 8.47 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ14; Shutter Speed – 8s; Focal Length – 32mm; Film Speed – ISO800

Skyscapes – A Winter’s Sun

a shot gazing into a wintry sun with a victorian lamp providing the only point of reference

The sky has featured quite prominently in my photography during my travels. They’re mostly long shot cloudscapes, thundery skies or airplane vapour trails. But regardless of their pedigree, the London backdrop always makes for interesting pictures.
The setting here is a wintry January morning with a thin hazy cloud transforming the sun into an opaque ball. I’ve walked along the Thames Path north shore from Hammersmith to Fulham, passing the football ground before exploring Fulham Palace – well worth a visit.

It’s lunch time, so I’m not surprised at the number of joggers and serious runners there are around. Where the path is wide enough it’s OK, but they seem to have little regard for other walkers when the footpath narrows into almost one way traffic. 

The shot, taken straight into the sun creates an almost evening feel, and I positioned myself to frame the sun within the crosshair vapour trail and Victorian esque faux street lamp. The end result has the appearance of retaining the Victroian spirit I think.

  • Location: Thames Path, north shore between Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 29th 2019 at 12.51 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ14; Shutter Speed – 1/1000; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Night Time – Peabody by Night

a five storey block of flats at night time and in black and white. The doors are lit up and the shot has an interesting symmetry

This is one of London’s social housing estates managed by the Peabody Trust. This is in Roscoe Street, just off Whitecross Street in EC1 and I believe it had recently been redeveloped.
This picture fits a number of other categories: architecture/residential, architecture/windows & doors and The Arts & Design/Patterns & Symbols.

But here it is in NIght Time. I was up in London walking around the Barbican Centre and surrounding areas one evening, and I saw this view which was too good to pass by. The estate is accessed through a footpath between two parts of Roscoe Street with a large car park in front, so its frontage is uninterrupted, making it easy to position myself in a central spot to take this wide angle shot.

There’s enough brightness from the collection of door lights to have taken this without the need for a tripod; and it’s symmetry and black and white presentation made this an ideal candidate for this category.

  • Location: Peabody Estate, Roscoe Street, EC1
  • Date/Time: Thursday December 5th 2019 at 4.17 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 32mm; Film Speed – ISO6400

My final themed picture and I’m pleased this one ends my review of two years of travelling.
It had been raining hard when I was in Finchley Central and as the rain cleared, I started wandering off the main street – Ballards Lane and found myself in a discreet housing estate in Dorset Mews. Not somewhere you’d find unless like me you explore hidden corners.
This is a view from the end of the Mews back into Ballards Lane through the locked gates that once were the entrance to Newton Wright Limited 

Reflections – Newton Wright Ltd

an old works gated entrance for 'Newton Wright Limited' taken in black and white and a reflection captured in a still puddle in the foreground

My final themed picture, and I’m pleased this one ends my review of two years of travelling.

It had been raining hard when I was in Finchley Central and as the rain cleared, I started wandering off the main street – Ballards Lane, and I found myself in a discreet housing estate in Dorset Mews. Not somewhere you’d find unless like me you explore hidden corners.

This is a view from the end of the Mews looking into Ballards Lane through the locked gates that once were the entrance to Newton Wright Limited 

This is all that remains of the factory that once made x-ray equipment and scientific instruments and stretched as far back as 30 houses behind Ballards Lane.

The reflection jumped out at me as I reached this point, but I had to take a few shots before this one as there was a slight breeze that rippled the puddle and obscured the reflection. But it was well worth the wait to capture this mirror image of a recently forgotten historical memory.

  • Location: BallardsLane (opening into Dorset Mews, Finchley Central
  • Date/Time: Tuesday September 24th 2019 at 2.12 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 45mm; Film Speed – ISO800

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