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Memories

#107 Home to Wales – September 2020

Before I start my new travelog around a Covid London on network Rail (spontaneously entitled ‘theendoftheline #02’), I thought I’d use my recent trip home to Wales to rekindle my story telling. And in a way, it still fits ‘theendoftheline’ theme for two reasons:

  • My home town of Aberystwyth is the end of the line for three railway stations, but more importantly…
  • This was an emotional return to scatter my mother’s ashes in her hometown. So in a way it was a different ‘endoftheline’, poignant and solemn but yet a happy occasion. 

Abergavenny

I start my journey in the foothills of three mountains: The Blorange; The Skirrid and The Sugar Loaf. Mam’s home for the last 10 years, so it seems fitting to start my journey here. This is a small market town, promoted as a Gateway to Wales and sits on the confluence of two rivers: The Usk, and of course the Gavenny.

For those unfamiliar with the Welsh language, place names starting with ‘Aber’ represent the ‘mouth of the river’ so Abergavenny becomes the mouth of the river Gavenny – simple really. And whilst I’m on a bit of a Welsh teaching kick, here’s another one: a place name starting with ‘Llan’ means a church followed by the name of the saint. Don’t forget though the saint’s name will also be in Welsh so their translation into English may not be obvious.

The town, as with everywhere at the moment, is challenged by the need to ensure shopping and visiting is safe to do so, and consequently there are fewer people about. Either because local amenities are closed, or because some shops have decided not to reopen; the effect is noticeable. Nevertheless this is a very clean and well cared for town which prides itself with its local heritage and its renowned international food festival.

old fashioned street lamp outside the main entrance to the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny

I return to Abergavenny at the end of my tour to Wales, and pay a visit to the Sugarloaf Vineyards. As its name suggests, it’s on the foothills of the Sugar Loaf mountain, where Welsh wines have been produced for a number of years. The view from their recently built dining area is spectacular, and on an autumnal afternoon, you can enjoy this view of The Blorange whilst listening to the babbling brook that runs alongside the vineyard. This was a perfect end to a perfect visit to Wales.

a cheese platter and a glass of red wine with The Blorange in the background

Places we visited

Westonbirt Arboretum: I know! I know, not in Wales, but we did visit here whilst staying in Abergavenny. Just a short hop back into England over the old (original) Severn Bridge. This is my preferred route over the Severn instead of going over the recently renamed Prince of Wales Bridge, because you have an excellent view up and down the estuary, and no two journeys over the bridge are the same: the scenery changing with the tides and time of day.

two visitors walking across a high rise bridge through the woodlands at Westonbirt Arboretum

Booking is required ahead of visiting, but that’s the new normal now in order to control the flow and number of visitors. Managed by Forestry England since 1956, the National Arboretum was originally created over 200 years ago by the wealthy Victorian landowner, Robert Holford; an ambitious man with a passion for the natural world!

two autumnal reddish leaves amid the green leaves yet to change

With over 600 acres of woodland, it’s impossible to enjoy all the arboretum has to offer in one visit. Indeed, even if you could, you’d want to return during the changing seasons to see nature’s beauty at its best.

peeling rusting bark on an acer 'Acer Griseum' in Westonbirt Arboretum
peeling rusting bark on an acer ‘Acer Griseum’ in Westonbirt Arboretum

We visit with family, and as is my want, with camera in hand, I’m often trailing behind their steady walking pace. This is because I’ll have found some interesting natural occurrences that I want to capture in the best possible way. Maybe I should write a separate feature of my visit here as I have many gloriously coloured woodland shots to share.

small fruit from an unknown plant

It’s difficult to choose, and that’s always my dilemma when I select my ‘Picture of the Day’. Sometimes the picture selects itself, and other times I ponder over a short selection and decide which one best represents my memories of the day.

a felled tree with a mystical design carved on its trunk
the supporting legs of the treetop walkway

Tredegar House & Park: The house is managed by the National Trust, and as members, subject to booking, we had free access to the house and it’s ground. Although the house is currently closed whilst safe arrangements to reopen it are being considered, the grounds and surrounding buildings are well worth a visit. As indeed are the surrounding parkland and lake which are managed by the local council.

a low ground shot of the front of Tredegar House

The House’s history is steeped in early Welsh politics, the industrial age and the class divide between the landed gentry and its tenants. But later in the 19th Century, this changed with land being given away and a more lenient rent position for the tenants.

To the side of the main house, the stables are a magnificent building and walking through you get a sense of the owner’s love and passion for their horses, and their history in tragic war time circumstances. The scale needs to be seen to understand how much the owners cared for their horses.

a black and white image of light emerging through four windows at the end of the stables at Tredegar House

Equally, the enclosed gardens give a strong sense of calmness and seclusion with a few carefully planted trees providing opportunities for quiet contemplation.

a black and white image of a solitary figure under the canopy of a well established tree in the grounds of Tredegar House

The surrounding park, once part of the landed estate of Tredegar House, consists of several prominent features within its 90 acre surroundings. Noticeably are the giant redwood trees (Sequoioideae) that skirt one side of the bird-filled lake and it’s boathouse. It was nice and reassuring to see that where large groups had gathered, they did so in a socially distant manner.

a black and white image of the boathouse in Tredegar Park with it's reflection on the lake's surface

Cross Hands: en route to Aberystwyth, down the M4 and A48 to Carmarthen. And then up a well trodden twisted route that I’ve journeyed many many times over the years. I stop briefly at what is a relatively small village, now largely by-passed. But in my childhood days, it was a frequent stopping point to visit my father’s family.

I have fond memories as a child of meeting great aunts and their extended families here in my grandmother’s birthplace. She was one of 9 children, and although some died very young, relations would always come out and greet us with open hearts, open arms and a kitchen full of cake…

The purpose of stopping here was to visit my grandmother’s grave. She died in 1988, and each time I drove through the village, I always felt a pang of guilt for not stopping by to remember her. So I decided to change that today.

the path leading up to Tabor Chapel in Cross Hands

The village looks pretty much the same, although houses have been renovated and modernised. The ‘family’ home is no longer part of the family, and is itself being refurbished. But there remains one unchanged building: Tabor Baptist Chapel – my grandmother’s final resting place, interred with her husband who died some 47 years earlier.

my grandparent's headstone: John Thomas and Priscilla May

Aberystwyth

Ah! My home from birth until I left at 29. The place where I grew up, free from parental constraints; free to wander and explore in the days when this was considered normal. The only caveat was from mam…’if you’re going out, be home by tea time!’… A pleasure I was able to pass on to my children when we returned frequently, and I’m pleased that they have the same fond memories of the town as I do.

a hazy cloud swept sky overhead Aberystwyth beach with the pier in view

A town that became popular during the Victorian era as the railway arrived which brought visitors in abundance from the Midlands. And now a University Town that has captivated most of those who have studied here.

the 'old college' building on the seafront in Aberystwyth with Constitution Hill in the background

There are many popular and enjoyable things to do, such as: a walk up Constitution HIll – the home of the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway, a  funicular railway that gives unprecedented views of the coast (the first of three ends of the lines); a walk up Pen Dinas, a Hill Fort overlooking the sea; walking the 1.5 mile long promenade (prom) from the harbour (now reclassified as a marina) in the south to ‘kicking the bar’ in the north. And let’s not forget the castle ruins, where as a child, I spent many a happy hour playing hide and seek.

a collection of lobster pots stacked on top of each other at Aberystwyth Marina

My return home this time was partly a personal visit to reacquaint with school friends with whom I’d been conversing throughout lockdown via Zoom. The restrictions in Wales meant we had to meet outside, with suitable socially distant precautions in place.

a beautiful early autumn sunset over the sea at Aberystwyth

I have to admit the weekly chats have been a helpful distraction during the height of lockdown as they gave a sense of purpose and a focus each week; not to mention the opportunity to relive shared memories – and how interesting when we pool our individual recollections, it makes for a far more colourful and complete story of our day to day lives as children, teenagers and young adults.

So as I spent a few days in my hometown, I couldn’t resist wandering around with my ‘endoftheline’ camera in tow and selecting a few memories to share with you.

a brightly blue coloured house in Vulcan Street, Aberystwyth

The town’s main station which serves as the end destination for the Cambrian Coast Line is now a little dilapidated, but a walk through it’s remaining platform and rustic ironmongery helps you appreciate its historic charm.

a long shot of Aberystwyth station's name sign

The town’s railway line had partly survived the Beeching cuts in the early 1960’s, and calls for it’s full closure in the late 20th Century due to declining travellers. But for many a holiday maker and student, it’s a lifeline that now sees trains fit to burst. Such is the line’s popularity that a new station, just east of the town in Bow Street is being built to encourage commuters to travel into town from outlying areas.

The final of the three stations, adjacent to the main line, is the narrow gauge Vale of Rheidol Railway which travels to and from the remote village of Devil’s Bridge. A ride on this railway offers a beautifully scenic view of the river Rheidol valley and an opportunity to explore the waterfalls in Devil’s Bridge. Sadly, the service is currently closed due to Covid restrictions.

a black and white image of the 'Vale of Rheidol Railway' station's roof

Over the years I have seen the town encourage responsible bathing through the inauguration of the Aberystwyth Surf Life Saving Club in the early 1960’s. In fact I had several school friends who were involved in its development in the mid 1970’s and it was pleasing to see that it is still going strong today.

members of the Aberystwyth Seal Life Saving Club practicing on beach

The prom is the jewel in the town’s crown as it’s a natural gathering point for everyone. And I recall, particularly on Bank Holidays, the prom would be littered with motorbikes and their enthusiastic bikers who had journeyed out for the day to enjoy the sea air. This wasn’t to everyone’s taste as bikers had a rather dark reputation in the 1960’s and 70’s. But I’m pleased the town has embraced their arrival by providing a dedicated parking area for them on the prom. It’s quite a spectacle when the cordoned area is crammed with all makes and types of bikes.

a variety of motorbikes parked up on the promenade at Aberystwyth

As a child, I spent most summer holidays on the beach. Whilst it was an easy and cheap pastime, it was nevertheless a happy time; always shared with family who’d stay with us for the holidays, and school friends who’d join ‘our crowd’ under the prom wall overlooking the north bay. My uncle would spend hours and hours on the rocky outcrops as the tide uncovered their barnacle riddled ridges and share with us his skills at netting prawns, catching edible crabs and the occasional lobster. Tea time was always a delight when we would have the day’s fresh catch served up.

a sea view over Bath House rocks on Aberystwyth Beach's north shore

…oh timeless memories…

Picture of the Day

The river Rheidol at a discrete location near Capel Bangor

But the main purpose of my return home was to share memories of mam’s life with cousins who joined us to spread her ashes on a secluded part of a local river. This is the river Rheidol at a quiet and isolated spot near Capel Bangor, and it is Mam’s final resting place.

Why here? When my father, a keen fisherman, died over 18 years ago, we decided it would be fitting to return him to the river he once fished. We laughed at the time as one of his sayings to our children, his grandchildren would be ‘when I was living in China…’ as a preamble to a story to entertain them with. Of course he had never been to China, but we thought this could be the start of his new journey to get there.

My brother and I agreed that it would be fitting to reunite our parents here…

Social Media

Why not visit my Instagram page to see some other selected pictures of Aberystwyth

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Memories Themes

From Memories to Themes

Reflecting on my Memories

There we have it: over the past 81 days I’ve posted each of my Pictures of the Day with a weekly bulletin summarising the previous week’s pictures. I’ve published all these through my social media sites: on Twitter; Facebook; Instagram and LinkedIn.

A bright yellow lock against a fades white shed door. I have adopted this as my avatar across my social media sites

I’ll write another blog about how this has helped me reach out to more interested people, but for now and for each and every one of you… THANK YOU for your continued interest and support.

I hope you have enjoyed reliving my Pictures of the Day during the last 81 days of Covid-19 lockdown? It has certainly helped me through some challenging days, but I know that having the routine and focus to see this through has afforded me a unique opportunity to review and reflect on the last two years of travelling.

Covid-19 Lockdown

Much as we would all like life to return to ‘normal’, I take the view that we will remain under different restrictions for some time to come until widespread confidence is restored with the removal of ‘social distancing’. An expression that currently means different things to different people in different parts of the country; and equally for those who respect or believe there is reason not to respect the guidelines.

A crowd at a pop up food market wiaiting for their lunch. They are all looking down at their mobile phones

For me, I will continue to avoid unnecessary travelling as much as possible, and consequently my plans to begin Part 2 of the end of the line travels will remain on hold. I admit I do miss my wanderings around London, so for now I intend to restrict my travels to walking around my local community and immediate surroundings, as I have a yearning to pick up my camera and carry on finding interesting stories to share. So watch out…

Memories to Themes

However, I’ve still been keeping myself busy. Some of you will have seen my video in which I share my ‘Picture of the Day’ book. This is a draft to help me visualise what the published version could look like. I had three copies printed which have been shared with my immediate family, however should anyone like a copy, do please get in touch

In the meantime, I continue to explore my best publishing options; so if anyone out there has any suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve also been busy over the last month reviewing my portfolio of almost 5,000 pictures, which I’ve now categorised. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work as I had no fixed plan in mind; but I let the pictures guide me.

I tried not to be too prescriptive with this, and it was evident early on that many pictures suited many categories – this was easily resolved. I use Google Photos to store all my pictures and by creating a new album for each category, I was able to label pictures into more than one album…and so my portfolio began to grow and take shape.

I now have 34 categorised albums collated into 5 major themes. So over the next 34 days, I’d like to continue sharing my favourite themed picture and use this as an opportunity to share some pictures which missed out on being printed before. 

A screen shot of part of my Google Photo album collection. This one has 24 icons aech representing a themed collection

It was a bit daunting deciding how to select one picture from a collection of up to 300, but nevertheless I set about this methodically. Firstly I reduced each collection down to my top 10-15 applying one of a number of criteria: Is it an obvious fit? Do I like it’s photographic quality? Does it tell a good story? Does it have an overall artistic style?

I then made my final selection based on which picture captured all four qualities. There was of course an override category – if I just simply like it.

So here’s to the next 34 days where you can help me decide if I’ve chosen well. Again, I’ll post a picture each day with a weekly summary setting out my reasons for their selection.

Introducing my Themes

The themes are a personal reflection on how I see the world and life. Some may not agree with my interpretation, but isn’t that what makes life interesting?

A gent waiting at the top of an escalator ar Heathrow airport looking away from the camera. IN the backgrouns, there's a poster of a police woman with a welcoming outstretched arm in the gent's direction.

…and here they are! So please look out for my daily posts, and if you find them of interest, I’d be delighted if you would share my story with others.

  • Themes – Social: People; Food & Drink; Sport; Religion; Retail; Remembering; Neglect & AntiSocial
  • Themes – Travel: Trains; Road Vehicles; Boats; Air Carriers; Bridges & Tunnels; Walkways; Platforms
  • Themes – Architecture: Residential; Industrial; Stations; Commercial; Windows & Doors; Station Fixtures & Fittings; Street Furniture
  • Themes – The Arts & Design: Sculptures & Statues; Street Signs; Patterns & Symbols; Station Names; The Arts; Entertainment
  • Themes – The Natural World: Creatures; Vegetation; The Thames; Waterways; Skyscapes; Night Time; Reflections
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Memories

Memories No 12 – from Battersea Power Station to Barking Riverside

My twelfth and final blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the Northern, Overground and Tfl Rail lines in February and March 2020 just before the Coronavirus lockdown is announced

This final portfolio celebrates unfinished dreams. These Tfl stations are still under construction and not originally expected to open until 2021. Although who knows how the Coronavirus lockdown will impact their commissioning date.

But for now, see what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for the final blog in this series.

#78: Battersea Power Station – ‘Talking Heads’

two large sculpted ebony black heads facing each other with an array of lights pusating over their faces

11/02/2020 – Today’s picture is taken in the piazza on Riverside Walk just west of Battersea Power Station – this is called ‘Talking Heads’. This one is part of a study of each of the two heads which I took at intervals to create an animation showing the different facial expressions.

This selection, with both heads in shot, helps to set the scene. The heads are in metallic black, and the white LED’s help to complement the effect. So I’ve added a black and white filter to this shot to show it off at its best

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 125mm; Film Speed – ISO400; Google Photo Filter – Vogue

#79: Abbey Wood – ‘The Enigmatic Woman’

an artwork head portrait of an attractive girl with long wavy hair

18/02/2020 – This is one of two striking graffiti/murals on the wall opposite the station lift entrance in Gayton Road. The original is in colour, but to be honest, the colour palette is marginal as the majority of the artwork is in black and white. So I’ve applied a Vogue black and white filter to emphasise the quality of this bold piece. The detail is fine and the eyes follow you, which provides a somewhat evocative feature.

And interestingly, if you look closely, the work has other graffiti etched across the cheeks too.

The artist ‘astek-London’ has signed his presence and he’s clearly keen to promote his work, so go and have a look at his Instagram page for other examples of his skills and talent.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 54mm; Film Speed – ISO125; Google Photo Filter – Vogue

#80: NOW Gallery, North Greenwich – ‘Colour by Numbers’

a view into a mass of numbers hanging from the ceiling. the numbers are delicately arranged so that they are allingned and coloured

05/03/2020 – Ah! A difficult choice as most of the pictures I took are of numbers, from the Slices of Time exhibition by Emmanuelle Moureaux. I think this one reflects the mood of the piece best for me as it portrays the colour palette, symmetry and precise intricacy in one shot.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO2500; Google Photo Filter – Blush

#81: Barking Riverside – ‘Bricks & Mortar’

the facade of a new housing block

10/03/2020 – For this my final Picture of the Day from this first series of travels, choosing a picture to remember the day had been a struggle. Mainly because the sky was dull and grey which tended to flatten the pictures I’m taking, and because the landscape I’ve walked through has been predominantly industrial. 

But nevertheless, today’s picture merges the old and new industries. The setting is that of the fast developing Barking Riverside housing development:  once a marshland and a brownfield site occupied by the Barking Power Station.

This is a view of the ‘almost complete’ Parklands development at the eastern end of Fielders Crescent (a new road) which I’m looking at in a westerly direction. The symmetry of the design and the harshness of the brickwork, which has now almost become the standard brick used across London for such developments (well that’s my opinion), lends itself to being taken in Black and White.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 170mm; Film Speed – ISO1000; Google Photo Filter – Vista

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Memories

Memories No 11 – from Woolwich Arsenal to Reading

My eleventh blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the District, DLR, Emirates Air Line, Metropolitan, Northern, Overground and Tfl Rail from October 2019 through to February 2020.

It’s not all Black & White, well almost not. With the exception of one colour picture in this week’s portfolio, I seem to have returned to my heyday and original passion for monochromatic photographs. To me they seem far more expressive, and this, the penultimate blog in this series, is a homage to that style.

But for now, see what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for week 11. Please let me know what you think?

#71: Woolwich Arsenal – ‘Silhouetted Statues’

Cast iron statues caught in black and white on the banks of The Thames

22/10/2019 – Taken at the very bottom of the Royal Arsenal Heritage site in James Clavell Square. There is nothing (as far as I can see) to tell me who the sculptor is so an internet search is needed. My first inkling is that it’s an installment by Antony Gormley, and some internet results also suggested this. But wrongly as it turns out and it’s a sculpture by Peter Burke.

Approaching the square from the west, I see this interesting installation from afar and capture some shots through a telephoto lens to narrow the frame whilst also capturing passers by between the 16 statues. But as I get closer, I feel it’s better to be amongst the rusty statues and I compose today’s shot still with passers by in-between the statues. I position myself so that the decorative street lamps almost form part of the installation as well.

In post production, I’ve decided a black & white filter influences the picture best as it helps to highlight the starkness of the shadows cast by the early afternoon sun.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 130mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google filter – Vogue

#72: Upminster – ‘Upminster Court’

Upminster Court viewed through its ornate gates (closed), from the roadside

05/12/2019 – This is taken at Upminster Court along Hall Lane headed north out of Upminster showing off its grandeur, and highlighting its seclusion behind these locked gates.

This should have been a simple shot to capture if it wasn’t for the fact that to get the full frame of the gates in view and keep both mansion and gates in focus required that I stood at the very edge of the pavement set against a busy Hall Lane. So I keep one eye on the traffic and the other on framing this picture.

I take several shots with attempts to capture the right colour and vividness using flash for some fill in, and some shots using the camera’s in-built grainy  black & white filter. However, this one has been taken in full colour with flash, and in post production I’ve adjusted the final image with a harsh black & white filter to create the starkness that makes this picture work well.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google filter – Vista

#73: Romford – ‘A Person in a Passage’

A long shot of a raindow style painted arched walkway, with a shopper in the distant

18/12/2019 – This view is taken through the partly covered arches on the northern side of Romford station running alongside and eventually into Exchange Street. The multi-coloured path is almost an attractive feature if it wasn’t for the fact that this is a somewhat seedy cut-through to the west of Romford. But nevertheless, it provides for an attractive photo-opportunity.This is taken facing west.

I waited for the right pedestrian to reach the end of the tunnel so that their silhouette helped to fill the tunnel opening. The late afternoon daylight coming in overhead helps to highlight the floor pattern, and the arch brickwork is enhanced using a green (Alpaca) filter.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google filter – Alpaca

#74: Aldgate – ‘What’s for Lunch?’

Lunch time food shoppers browing what to chose at a pop-up food market. The main character is focussing inteently on the menu: he's wearing a wolly hat and parka typw hoodie, and vaping

16/01/2020 – This picture was taken in the food market in Goulston Street, just off Wentworth Street, and is part of a series studying lunch-time office workers deciding on their food choice of the day. The street is lined with open air pop-up food stalls, and their menus and price guide erected high up on their stalls so that potential customers can see what’s on offer whilst they move around the crowds.

I’m standing amidst the crowds and slightly elevated when taking this shot, and I notice that those queuing to be served are all studying the menu board intently, oblivious to their surroundings. Presenting this in black & white helps to strengthen the observation, and I believe it also helps to focus attention on the three main subject’s gaze. The individual in the centrepiece has a simple ruggedness to him which playfully offsets the more traditional office gent on the right.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google filter – Vista

#75: High Barnet – ‘Going Down’

A view down the steep slope to the station entrance with one passenger walking by

23/01/2020 – Today’s picture is taken to demonstrate the extent of the gradient from High Barnet station entrance. I’ve cropped this picture vertically using the three handrails to accentuate the descent. Applying a deep Black & White filter (Vista) helps to highlight the horizontal sunbeams hitting the middle railing and ground as the sun shines through an out of shot fence on the right.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google filter – Vista

#76: Emirates Royal Docks – ‘Sunburst’

A view of the bridge struts looking directly inot the sun, which casts deep shadows

28/01/2020 – This shot is taken on the Royal Victoria Bridge looking straight into the low lying sun. I’ve positioned myself so that the point of dissection of the bridge support struts intersect the sun. The shot is unfiltered as the stark sunlight adds to the shadowy black and white effect I’m trying to create, and highlights the white wispy clouds against an otherwise clear sky…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ13; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#77: Reading – ‘Caversham Weir’

A log view of Caversham weir with its metal railings on both sides narrowing to the bridge entrance

04/02/2020 – This is a view of the footpath over Caversham Weir. I waited for some cyclists and pedestrians to pass by and I crouched down to get the low view shot. The railings on either side help to guide you through the picture and the Vista filter adds strength and starkness.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 28mm; Film Speed – ISO125; Google Photo Filter – Vista

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Memories

Memories No 10 – from Dalston Junction to Kennington

My tenth blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the Central, DLR, Metropolitan, Northern, Overground and Piccadilly lines from late August to mid October 2019.

Although three of this week’s portfolio inclusions are in Black & White, I think they support the ‘Colour’ theme title I’m giving them. Debate!..

But for now, see what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for week 10. Please let me know what you think?

#64: Dalston Junction – ‘Graffiti Lane’ 

A multi-coloured graffiti alleway

13/08/2019 – Although today’s journey started at Dalston Junction, this picture is taken at the corner of Blackall Street and Ravey Street in Shoreditch. There’s a new building here where passers-by are admiring its fancy facia and a below ground coffee house and seating area. However, I’m more interested in the view along the side of Blackall Street, now almost an alley due to hoarding surrounding another new build, blocking most of the street. There’s just enough room to squeeze through, and because of its limited accessibility, I suspect that’s created an opportunity for graffiti artists to practice their art. I played with the HDR settings on this shot to create an oversaturated effect with the colour scape.

The artwork, its vividness and alley effect peering in on workmen in high-vis jackets at the far end of the street creates a colourful, gritty urban memory. One I think that reflects the day I’ve had today. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO1250; Google filter effect – Alpaca; Camera effect – HDR art vivid

#65: Watford – ‘Green is the Colour’ 

Shimmering water reflection under Cassiobury Bridge along the Grand Union Canal

20/08/2019 – This is Cassiobury Park Bridge (No. 167) besides Ironbridge Lock (No. 77) on the Grand Union Canal as it flows through Cassiobury Park. After seeing a narrow boat through the lock, I wander around it and under the bridge and notice the sunlight shimmering off the canal surface iridescently onto the underside of the bridge.

I’ve taken this shot using a vivid art effect on the camera, and in post production, I’ve applied the green Alpaca filter from Google Photos. The effect is quite mesmerising, particularly with the water reflection continuously changing its display on the underside of the bridge. The combined effect not only saturates the greens, but adds a sparkle to the story as your eyes are drawn to the rustic lock gates..

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO640; Google filter effect – Alpaca; Camera effect – HDR art vivid

#66: West Ruislip – ‘Lunchtime’ 

A black and white portrait of a woman sitting on a bench next to the Great Barn at Ruislip Farm buildings

27/08/2019 – I’ve taken this picture within the grounds of Ruislip Manor Farm buildings. In particular within the green area enclosed by the Great Barn, the Library and the Cow Byre Gallery. I’m looking directly at the Great Barn and as I walked through the first time I was struck by the magnificence of the restored buildings, the starkness of the black wooden cladding and the contrast this created with the sun soaked roof tiles. 

Getting the right tone of black is difficult, especially with the sun directly overhead, so I take a few practice shots to get the camera settings just right.

Now I’d seen this lady when I first walked by; she seemed to have stopped for her lunch and is now intently studying her mobile. My first thought is to capture The Barn without her in the frame, but the more I played with my positioning, the more I thought her inclusion helps to set the scene. I deliberate on whether to ask her to stay, but decide against this as it would then have made her conscious of my presence. It’s her intense concentration and complete lack of awareness of her surroundings that I believe adds to the final picture.

I started with a shot from afar which captures too much foreground, so I walk closer to tighten the shot, and then maybe after every 10 steps I take the same picture. In this final shot, I’m probably no more than 3 or 4 metres away and I’m very happy with the outcome. Even as I walk right past her, she still doesn’t acknowledge me, so whatever she’s doing, it’s certainly very riveting.

In post production, I played a little with Google Photos filter settings to get the starkness of the black I was after to represent as close as possible the colour I saw. The ‘Vista’ setting does this justice.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 47mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google filter effect – Vista; Camera effect – B&W

#67: Beckton – ‘Sunstreaked Stairway’

a woman walking down the covered walkway from Gallions Reach DLR station. Sun streaking through the railings creating dramatic patterns

02/09/2019 – From Beckton I walk down Woolwich Manor Way to Gallions Reach DLR station which is surrounded by a large, empty paved area. I guess during peak travel times this is busy as commuters either make their way home or divert to the nearby shopping park. Anyhow, as I take a breather, I notice the enclosed walkways from the raised platforms to ground level have a distinct pattern; and with the afternoon sun streaming through, it casts dramatic shadows which I sense will make for a good shot.

I set my camera on the ground using my trusty bean bags (best investment next to a tripod) to help steady the shot, and with minor placement adjustments I’m pleased with how I capture the contrasting shadows. Passengers have just alighted from a recently departed train and I realise  I need to capture their movement to complete this picture. Alas I’ve just missed that opportunity so I set the camera and wait for the next train. You know what, it always seems longer when you’re waiting for something, but probably no more than 10 minutes later I get my chance as another Beckton bound train arrives.

The passenger’s black and white attire complements the shadow effect perfectly, and her gaze away from the camera somehow represents some disdain at being photographed, but she doesn’t challenge me as she passes by. I quite like the end result.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ29; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 

36mm; Film Speed – ISO400; Google filter effect – Vista; Camera effect – B&W

#68: Finchley Central – ‘România’

The Romanian flag colours painted on the side of a building - Blue, Yellow, Red

24/09/2019 – I’d intended to have a predominantly black and white day to help capture the moody weather conditions, but when I saw this wall, it simply wouldn’t have worked in B&W. The location is on the side of a closed and abandoned restaurant, the Central Restaurant, part of the Central House tower block complex on the corner of Ballard Lane and Nether Street.

It’s a very simple scene as this part of the wall has been painted in these three bright colours. The taking of the picture was less than simple as I’m positioned on the opposite side of the road, my camera low on the ground, and waiting for traffic queueing at the nearby traffic lights to move along. I’m keen to get a shot uninterrupted by cars, but this setting only gives me about two to three seconds every three minutes or so as the lights change and traffic moves by. I end up taking several shots to get the one I want, with the added challenge the sky is getting darker by the minute and about to pour, so there’s some additional pressure not to get wet as well.

I set my camera in ‘art vivid’ mode which creates an enhanced effect by taking three consecutive shots with slightly different settings. The camera software then stitches the individual pictures into one creating heightened colours. I’m pleased with the outcome but realise that the vanilla shot (with no traffic) lacks something in the composition, and I believe this one with a ghostly image of a car just entering the frame on the left hand side helps with the picture’s story. The effect is created by the image of the car being taken on the third shot and appears somewhat shadowy when stitched with the other two pictures. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO400; Google filter effect – Auti; Camera effect – Vivid

#69: Uxbridge – ‘FCK Boris’

'FCK Boris' daubed in red paint on a white wall

02/10/2019 – This is my first picture of the day taken inside the flight of stairs leading to the top of Cedars Car Park from High Street above Tesco. I’m drawn in by the red and green colouring of the stairwell I see from the street so I decide to traverse the stairwell, and my curiosity to see Uxbridge town centre from the rooftop is piqued.

It’s the type of stair well you’d rather not go into as it smells of urine; although I have to say it was relatively clean. I had no expectation of finding anything of interest but after walking up the first flight of stairs, this image is staring back at me.

I’m intrigued by the graffitti as its socio/political statement is clearly directed at the Town’s Member of Parliament who is also the current (at the time of writing) Prime Minister. The ‘statement’ raises the question in my mind as to whether the ‘artist’ is dyslexic, or that they have decided out of respect not to spell the swear word in full. But amusingly they are quite content to bedaub a publicly accessible wall in a somewhat hidden position where only a few passers by will see it. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 53mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google filter effect – Auto

#70: Kennington – ‘What’s your pleasure?’

a black and white image showing the plinth mounted artwork of a lady in 18th century garb being offered a flower from a young man from the present day.

15/10/2019 – There’s an interesting back-story behind today’s picture. The artwork I’ve captured here is found at the entrance to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens just east of Vauxhall Station. The history of the Pleasure Gardens dates back to the 18th Century when they became popular with the urban middle classes as places for paid entertainment. Vauxhall also had a seedier reputation for prostitution here too.

For those who saw the recent dramatisation of Vanity Fair by William Makepiece Thackarey, you’ll be familiar with the vision of fun and frollicking within the context of a fairground – then that’s how I imagine the pleasure gardens to have been.

This is a picture of two sculptures atop tall plinths. The sculptures recently erected in 2015 represent the coming together of Vauxhall as seen today with its historical significance. Let me explain: the artwork depicts the figures of a lady in 18th century garb being offered a flower from a young man from the present-day; and shows a representation of a silent conversation between the past and present in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

I took several shots in colour and black & white and feel this grainier image depicts the scene best, with a slight homage to the modern day with the building crane in the middle foreground and the scaffolding on the right.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 50mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Camera setting – grainy B&W

Categories
Memories

Memories No 09: from Battersea Park to Uxbridge

My ninth blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the Central, Hammersmith & City, Overground and Piccadilly lines through the summer months of July and August 2019.

I think this must have been the wettest couple of travelling months so far, despite it being the height of Summer. No discernable theme with this week’s portfolio, just a random collection whose only connection is that they are a sequence of 7 Pictures of the Day. Anyway, all for your enjoyment, I hope?

But for now, see what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for week 9. Please let me know what you think?

#57: Battersea Park – ‘Tea Break’

'Tea Break' - An orange figure reclining with a cup of tea outside Battersea Power Station

02/07/2019 – This art installation is by Jesse Wine and entitled ‘Local Vocals’. It’s outside the marketing suite and within an open piazza overlooking the river and adjacent to a viewing platform. You can’t miss the bright orange reclining figure representing workers who have stopped for a rest and a cup of tea.

Getting this shot took some patience as I waited for onlookers who would otherwise have been in frame, to leave the area. Anyway, after a little time they moved on freeing me up to ‘own’ the space for a short time.

The striking colour is what first drew me in and the figure’s reclining effect is mirrored in a number of ways: by the red/white deck chairs which are there for those watching the Wimbledon Tennis on  large screens behind the figure; and by the reclining chairs in the foreground which I’ve framed to emulate the shape of the reclining figure. The figure’s black cap and a cup of tea contrasts nicely with the orange, and the addition of a ‘bazaar’ Google Photos filter helps to heighten the contrast of the orange with the bluer hue of the surrounding buildings.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 27mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Bazaar

#58: An Art Special – ‘Looking On’

'Looking On' - A visitor to The Other Art Fair Looking on at the list of entries to the Graduate Art Prize

07/07/2019 – I caught this gent studying the narrative about the Graduate Art Prize and he was oblivious to his surroundings so I quickly caught the moment. I’ve cropped the original shot to remove any unnecessary distraction and applied a Google Photos Vista Black & White filter to add a measure of graininess to emphasise the monotone outcome.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vista (B&W)

#59: Liverpool Street – ‘Taxi!’

'Taxi' - a London Black Cab in disrepair with its windscreen smashed in

12/07/2019 – This abandoned black cab, with its windscreen smashed in, seems to have reached its own end of the line. It’s one in a long line of others abandoned under the railway arches in Collingwood Street: an area awash with London Taxi repair garages.

I’ve taken this with a 160mm focal length to get a tight shot with the row of taxis behind in frame. This helps to limit the background and capture enough contrasting light to balance the end result.

Applying a black & white filter is perfect in emphasising the cab’s blackness and highlights the contrasting light through the arches and overhead .

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 160mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO1600; Google Photo Filter – Vista (Black & White)

#60: Epping – ‘Bridge O93A’

'Bridge O93A' - a view inside the canopied footbrige just outside Epping station

18/07/2019 – This is the covered footbridge over the railway line by Epping station joining Station Approach with Hillcrest Way and onwards onto Bower Hill. No doubt a much used footbridge when the side entrance from the station into Hillcrest Way is closed, but equally an unloved one judging by its state. A narrow bridge with just enough room for two people to pass side by side, and covered with a metal cage to allow some light in and to prevent anything and anyone (yes) being thrown onto the railway track below, as now prescribed by current highway standards.

The wide angle shot is taken to draw the eye down the tunnel and accentuate the grill effect of its covered meshwork. In doing so, highlighting its necessary yet unwelcoming feel and one you probably would think twice about walking through on a dark evening. The picture has been manipulated using a Google Photo ‘Reel’ filter to enhance the colour contrast.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 18mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO250; Google Photo Filter – Reel

#61: Upminster – ‘Donald Trump’

'Donald Trump' - a name I've given to a proud and strutting crested saxony duck  in Clockhouse Gardens

24/07/2019 – Meet Donald Trump…well it’s a name I’ve seen given to this type of crested duck on the internet, and I can sort of understand why with its glorious bouffoned crest beautifully coiffed in an elegant ‘comb over’ effect. This duck clearly stood out from the crowd as it was the only one of this type I could see, as it waddled majestically amongst all the other ducks in Clockhouse Gardens.

The picture was a little tricky to capture as I’m using the barrel of my 75-300 mm lens as the only stabiliser, so the risk of camera shake is high. The lighting is also tricky as the duck is in a shaded area which is heavily backlit by the sun creating a contrasting light & shade effect. The shot is taken almost at ground level resting the camera on the low level fencing surrounding a pond.

I’ve tried to find out the breed, and the closest I’ve got to determining this is that it’s a Crested Saxony as identified by the Domestic Waterfowl Club of Great Britain. Although the crested gene can be grown into most duck breeds, it does nevertheless have a breeding consequence as not all eggs will result in a successful hatchling.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/1000; Focal Length – 255mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO5000; Google Photo Filter – Palma

#62: Barking – ‘Gone Fishing’

'Gone Fishing' - a silhouette of a boy riding a bicycle holding a stick near the pedlos in Barking Park

30/07/2019 – I’m trying out several long distance focal length shots: to highlight the yellow boat against the blue pedalos, and to show how they’re framed by the two tone greens of the overhanging trees in the foreground and the trees in the background. But I felt there was something missing in the final composition so I took some with geese in the foreground, but that didn’t quite work either.

Then, whilst I was kneeling and getting wet, there was a teenage lad cycling in the foreground. I waited for him to get out of the shot, but he suddenly appeared with a stick in his hand as if he was fishing. And as he appeared I snatched a few shots in case he didn’t return. I knew it was just right as he brought a human element to the shot, and thereby helping to balance the otherwise stillness of the picture.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length – 230mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO640; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#63: Uxbridge – ‘Hello! Can you hear me?’

'Hello! Can you hear me?' - a grainy black and white picture of a young lad with his mobile to his ear as he walks up a covered footpath

07/08/2019 – I spent most of the day with my camera set in Black & White mode, and this picture comes from that collection. The graininess I’ve applied to this picture adds a particular edge to it which I think works well. I’m standing on the footbridge over the Oxford Road leading to the car park entrance to The Pavilions shopping centre.

The concrete and graffiti stand out and whilst I’m trying to get the right lighting effect, there’s an elderly gent walking down the ramp trying to avoid being in the picture. I respect his desire for anonymity and leave him to walk out of sight, but think that the photo would be better with someone in it. 

I move onto the lower part of the ramp looking up. With the sun casting strong shadows, I line up the metal handrail on the right hand side so that my eye is drawn to the graffiti on the end wall. And as I’m crouched low, trying to emphasise the rising ramp, I wait for someone to walk into the shot. This gentleman obliges, unaware of my presence, apparently distracted by his mobile conversation – thank you.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 51mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Eiffel

Categories
Memories

Memories No 08: from Clapham Junction to Chesham

My eighth blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the DLR, Metropolitan, Overground, and Victoria lines from the end of April to the end of June 2019.

The clocks have changed and the Spring days are starting to lengthen again. I’m fortunate with the weather as it seems over these two months I’ve been exploring ‘walkways’.

But for now, see what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for week 8. Please let me know what you think?

#50: Clapham Junction – ‘Sif’

Meet 'Sif' the bearded dragon enjoying the sun

30/04/2019 – Meet Sif, the bearded dragon.

I’m surprised to see him sitting on a book (The end of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas) with his keeper, both of whom were enjoying the sunshine. I had to ask if he was real and in doing so, got into conversation with Jermaine, a local resident who was enjoying the sunshine.

The soft tones of the book he’s sitting on blended nicely with the brick wall behind, and with each shot I got closer but making sure the eyes were the focal point. 

Sif is a good subject, and seems unperturbed by my intrusion, but just like taking pictures of children, I believe the secret is to shoot quickly and keep a close crop so that the subject fills the screen.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 37mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Blush

#51: Bank – ‘Mind the Gap’

'Mind the Gap' is a picture of the DLR train just coming into the station

09/05/2019 – This was one of my first photos of the day and after a few test shots to get the settings right, I waited for a sequence of trains to pull into the end of the DLR at Bank station. With a slow shutter speed to capture the train’s movement, I was pleased, and surprised, to get the focus just right as this is a hand held shot. 

The position of the train as it is just about to pass the station sign was planned, and as the sign states the platform is for ‘alighting only’ so there were no other passengers waiting other than me. I was half expecting to get stopped by passing Tfl staff as I was loitering there for quite a while, but guess they’re used to enthusiasts hanging around. 

The wide angle shot lets me get the full length of the station in frame, and the fast ISO setting lets me get the depth of field I wanted. Maybe the lighting could have been slightly darker with a slower film speed setting, but sometimes a compromise is OK.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/22; Shutter Speed – 1/5; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO12800; Google Photo Filter – Auto

#52: Crystal Palace – ‘The Painted Lady’

'The Painted Lady' - one of the shpinx with black mascara and red lipstick

14/05/2019 – As soon as I saw this sphinx at the top end of Crystal Palace Park, I knew it would feature as my picture of the day as the artwork somehow elevated the statue to something else. There are several of these sphinxes adorning what would have been the many entrances into the original Crystal Palace, but this one in particular stands out because a budding artist has stamped their own mark on the sculpture.

I’m standing on the plinth about six inches away from the sculpture, and although not in imminent danger of falling, one misplaced step could have been awkward. Nevertheless, I felt the calculated risk was worth the effort as I closed in on the face making sure I kept the neighbouring sphinx in frame. The sphinx looks South Easterly across the North Downs, and on a day like today the view is uninterrupted as far as the eye can see.

I particularly like this picture because of the modern twist given to the faux relics, and who knows, would the Egyptians have done likewise?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/8; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 24mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto

#53: Brixton – ‘Walking through Brixton’

'Walking through Brixton' - three pedestrians walking past a painted sign of brixton under the railway bridge

28/05/2019 – This was a tricky shot and is one of a sequence taken to get the right composure. I’m standing under the main railway bridge just by the station, on the west side of the road looking at the ‘BRIXTON’ mural on the wall on the east side. Traffic is coming from both directions and people walking by from the mainline station and underground. As the traffic lights turned red, there’s a double decker bus just out of shot on the left hand side – you can just make out its yellow wing mirror above the ‘B’. And I was trying to line up people walking by making the upright of the letters.

Judging the timing was crucial to get that juxtaposition, and as I saw the girl in the green top, she was ideal to colour complement the mural. Some shots got quite busy with people walking in different shapes to the letters, but this one was perfect. There are three people whose movements coincide with an upright part of a letter. The lady on the left just entering the ‘B’’; the guy on the right making the ‘N’ and partly hidden by the traffic light post, and the lady in green making a perfect centrepiece forming the upright of the ‘T’. I think it works…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 32mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#54: Stratford – ‘Green Lane’

'Green Lane' - a view looking through tall hedges in the former Olympic Village

13/06/2019 – The precise location of this shot is at the northerly end of Champion’s Walk, part of the original Athlete’s Village built for the 2012 Olympics; and what struck me was the unspoilt, manicured cleanliness of the area. 

I’ve taken this shot at ground level to accentuate the trimmed bright green hedges. It also helps to highlight the symmetry of the surrounding high rise tower blocks with the street lights on one side, and balanced by the angle of the building on the other. The hedges appear to narrow in on the pedestrian highlighted in white at the centre/bottom of the picture. You can just see her with a snatch of colour from an orange bag (possibly a Sainsbury’s carrier bag), and just in view, the red ‘don’t walk’ sign on the hidden traffic lights (zoom in and you’ll see it).

The shot also helps to remind me of the excitement and the crowds that would have been prevalent in the summer of 2012 as the country (and world) welcomed the sporting elite and others to London. Maybe I’ve captured more than I’d imagined?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/8; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 35mm; Film Speed – ISO250; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#55: Watford Junction – ‘Tiled Illusion’

'Tile Illusion' - light refracting through the entrance of an underpass which is covered in coloured tiles

18/06/2019 – This underpass, one of many in the area, is the most colourful and cried out to have its picture taken. I tried different settings, and what makes this one work best for me is the use of flash to highlight the colour of the tiles balanced with the rectangular light effect created using the light coming through the far side of the underpass as it hits the walls on either side.

I’ve referenced in the original blog that of a lady walking through the tunnel: she was kind enough to agree to my taking her picture provided I didn’t get her face, as having someone walk through helps to explain the underpass’s function. I’ve used that picture in the original story, but I’ve selected this one, devoid of the pedestrian, as the lighting effect is unexpected and it helps create a lighting juxtaposition between the horizontal light effect through the tunnel and the vertical lines as you’re eyes are guided through the tunnel

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO3200; Google Photo Filter – Palma

#56: Chesham – ‘A Step in Time’

'A Step in Time' - a pedestrain walking down a flight of stairs leading to an underpass. The picture is in black and white

25/06/2019 – This picture is taken in an underpass to the main road, just by the Library. The underpass has a sequence of children’s murals on its walls; placed there no doubt to brighten up a depressing cut through. I’ve kept the briefest of reference to these murals in the picture on the left hand side, by way of helping to put the picture in context. The steps are pretty uninspiring but I was drawn to the symmetry and colour of the yellow handrails and the somewhat leaf strewn stairs. I had a vision however that this could look striking in black and white.

I’d taken a few shots waiting for pedestrians to walk through as I wanted a ‘clean shot’, so I had a few in the bag with the settings just right. Then I decided it might make for a better story by including someone on the steps, and when I saw this person just coming into view I quickly captured her walking into frame.

I’ve applied a Google Photos ‘Vista’ filter to create a harsh and grainy black & white effect which I think gives the picture some depth. And curiously though, and this is a secondary feature, if you look closely at the central handrail and the joining ‘T’ metalwork, they look like a parade of faces in their own right, maybe guarding those walking through or the mural itself?!

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Vista

Categories
Memories

Memories No 07: from Stanmore to Mill Hill East

My seventh blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the DLR, Jubilee, Northern, Overground and Tfl Rail lines through from late February to April 2019. This series also sees me celebrating my first travelling anniversary.

If I were to try and categorise this week’s portfolio, maybe it would be a mix of Patterns and Stations. But that would only be an artificial coincidence as I’ve not gone out on many days set on fulfilling a particular brief. Nevertheless, it is curious how now on reflection, I can create a link. I may return to this coincidence at a later date.

But for now, see what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for week 7. Please let me know what you think?

#43:Stanmore – ‘Gold on Bronze’

'Gold on Bronze' - a side view of the Novotel hotel in Wembley Park

28/02-2019 – This shot reflects the geometric pattern of the windows on the side of the Novotel Hotel along the Olympic Way from Wembley Park underground station heading towards Wembley Stadium. The sun was just showing itself before dusk after a gloomy day of rain and overcast sky. So the opportunity of getting the sun to highlight the colour was too good to miss. This is one of a sequence of shots, but for me this stands out as you have to look closely to realise they are windows. The pattern and colour combination, I believe, are quite striking.

Although not a picture taken in Stanmore, I remind myself that my ‘end of the line’ destination is actually the start of my journey. And my Picture of the Day reflects my journey of the day: from all the pictures taken today, this one for me stands out by a country mile.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO160; Google Photo Filter – Palma

#44: Liverpool Street – ‘Pillars & Lights’

'Pillars and Light' - a long view down platforms16 & 17

15/03/2029 – I didn’t expect this to be my picture of the day when I took it but the more I looked at it the more I felt it reflected my visit to Liverpool Street Station. It’s also a stark reminder of the view I’ve seen so many times, having passed through the station over the years as a seasoned commuter.

I’ve taken this shot from the very end of Platform 16/17 and aiming up at the vaulted canopy looking down the length of the platform. It’s almost a black & white photo, but small splashes of colour such as a streak of red on the train carriage to the left, and the colouring at the platform concourse (bottom centre) tells you otherwise.

A wide angle shot to get the width of the platform, and it is one of a series of shots. I’ve picked this one because of its stark black and white contrast which creates a somewhat atmospheric and moody feel.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 21mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google Photo Filter – Auto

#45: Chingford – ‘Yellow Boxes’

'Yellow Boxes' - bright yellow seating in Chingford Mount

28/03/2019 – This is a seating area in the centre of Chingford Mount, by the war memorial and bus station. 

Today’s bright sunshine accentuates the colour of the seats, which on one side is occupied, but this side is free. The combination of the colour and shape makes for an interesting shot; and I’ve tried to draw a parallel with the offset nature of the individual seats and with the straight edge on the left.

There’s also a measure of movement with the slightly blurred passer-by in the top right hand corner. I took several attempts to get the composition right by changing the shutter speed but maintaining the depth of field at a time someone walked by in the corner of the frame.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ32; Shutter Speed – 1/30; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Bazaar

#46: Tower Gateway – ‘Tower Arches’

'Tower Arches' - a view at Tower Bridge through a collection of cycle stands

03/04/2019 – I seem to be developing a creative theme of low, pavement level shots to capture a slightly different angle of the subject. Sometimes with a slow shutter speed to give the effect of movement when people/vehicles are moving past, or as with this shot, to create a different perspective of a well known landmark.

This is taken on the cobbled path between the Thames and The Tower looking towards Tower Bridge in the murky background through a bicycle stand set out as an array of metal hoops.

I’m trying to showcase the ruggedness of the cobbles, particularly as it has just started to rain so the light effect on the ground has just changed. Amazingly, as soon as it rained, everyone and I mean everyone suddenly disappeared and there was no one around. I took a few shots to get the framing right and played around with the settings to create the stark contrast in Black & White. A slight reddish filter helps to highlight the wet surface of the cobbles.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/40; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Blush

#47: Paddington – ‘9.32 pm’

'9.32 pm' - an empty Paddington Station looking up at the roof and a grand Victorian clock

10/04/2019 – An iconic picture taken inside Paddington Station at 9.32 pm on Wednesday the 10th April 2019.

This is one of several shots I’ve taken to get the composition and effect  just right and the settings I’m using achieves that. The particular challenge is to get the shutter speed right. Too short and the picture is dark, and too long gives a whitewashed effect. Camera stability with a 2 second exposure is achieved using the camera mounted on a low lying tripod.

This striking image, taken in black and white, shows off the iron work which is captured in fine detail right throughout the station. The clock to the left, in grand Victorian style, offsets the symmetry of the picture just enough and helps draw the eye down to a statute of Paddington Bear. The long exposure also helps to create the starburst effect with the overhead lighting which a faster exposure failed to achieve.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ16; Shutter Speed – 2 sec; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google Photo Filter – Metro

#48: Shenfield – ‘Past Recollection’

'Past Recollection' - and old and abandoned railway caboose on the sidings at the station

18/04/2019 – As soon as I saw this wagon I knew it would feature as my picture of the day, but I wanted to make sure I could create the right mood for it, capturing its age and abandoned state.

The wagon stands alone off platform 1, now disused, and cuts a sorry and unloved image ignored by most passengers walking into the station. This shot is one of a long series of pictures taken naturally and with a harsh B&W filter on the camera, the latter portraying an image reminiscent of an early newspaper picture: bold and stark – but I’m looking for something different.

If you’re familiar with Google Photos, you’ll know it comes with simple, but very effective edit features. One of which consists of 14 different filter settings. I’ve often questioned the purpose of the Modena filter as it places a yellowish tint across the whole picture. However, that’s precisely the effect I’m looking for: one that mimics old film stock, and this time it gives the feel of an early wild west colour movie.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 29mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Modena

#49: Mill Hill East – ‘Pink Petals’

'Pink Petals' - a street strewn with cherry blossom petals

24/04/2019 – Mill Hill has proven difficult to select today’s picture as I’ve taken so few. Nonetheless, I’ve chosen this one to serve as a reminder of my first lodgings in Devonshire Road. And because it’s a windy spring day, no sooner has the Cherry Blossom burst into an abundant display of pink, it’s quickly blown away.

The pavement covered pink palate is forever changing as the wind swirls the petals on the ground.

This picture is taken from ground level and captures the yellow dandelions in the foreground to help with the colour contrast. Timing is crucial too and this one captures a travelling car just right as it appears between the tree line. I would like to have had more time to play with the aperture setting to extend the depth of field, but the changing conditions made this challenging.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Reel

Categories
Memories

Memories No 06 – from New Addington to Richmond

My sixth blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the Central, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee and Tram lines through the New Year into late February 2019.

Not such a harsh winter to stop me going out, with maybe a few dull days, but more influenced by the shorter daylight hours than inclement weather. This week’s portfolio seems to have somewhat of a window theme to it. Either looking through; looking from or looking at. Not all, but most of them.

See what you think and please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why. You can contact me through any of my social media channels. So here goes for week 6. Please let me know what you think?

#36: New Addington – ‘Golden Alcoves’

10/01/2019 -This is the altar inside St Mary the Blessed Virgin church in Addington Village.

I took a series of shots with different settings, but this one is the most striking. I’ve not used flash here as I wanted to glorify the stained glass windows by keeping the rest of the church in the shadows. The combined effect of the light coming through the windows, and the low uplights in each recess transforms the final effect.

I’ve marginally cropped the picture to balance the three windows so that the middle one is centrally aligned, and a Bazaar (blue) filter to enhance the colours in the alcoves and windows. This is as close to the real image I could get, and I’m pleased with the outcome.

Golden Alcoves inside St Mary's Church, Addington Village

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 27mm; Film Speed – ISO5000; Google Photo Filter – Bazaar

#37: Edgware Road – ‘Minion Memories’

15/01/2019 – This is easy to explain – it just made me smile…

This scene, in a flat window in Porchester Place, a road that runs parallel with Edgware Road, is simply entertaining. I’ve cropped the picture and enlarged this portion, so I expected the quality to be affected. But I’m pleased that the detailed numbering on the Minions are still sharp enough to read.

Minion Memories in a window along Porchester Place

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO1600; Google Photo Filter – Blush

#38: Woodford – ‘The Broadway Deli’

22/01/2029 – This one fits the bill for several reasons:

  • It’s a reminder of the time spent at the Deli & Grocery
  • Although the picture is ‘busy’, everything is framed and each window has its own story – if you zoom in on each pane, you can decide for yourself
  • The brief inclusion of the letter box acts as a reminder this was once the post office
  • There is an interesting juxtaposition with Sainsbury’s reflection providing a contrast between independent and chain retailer – I know which I prefer
The Broadway Deli & Grocery in Woodford

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Blush

#39: Hammersmith – ‘Argosy’

29/01/2019 – This is one stack of books of many on display in the library in the Terrick Dining Room within Fulham Palace. I’ve selected this one more for it’s quizzical nature as on face value there are ‘stories within stories’ here. Such as:

It’s a simple picture which I’ve closely cropped so that the books themselves are the story in this picture.

Click on the links to answer the questions yourself…

A row of Argosy publications in the Terrick Dining Room at Fulham Palace

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/50; Focal Length – 48mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#40: Stratford – ‘A Walking Silhouette’

05/02/2019 – This was an easy one to identify as once I’d seen the outcome of the shot I knew it worked. The location, seasoned district line commuters will recognise, is the walkway between the Jubilee and District lines at West Ham.

I was trying different settings to catch the light and as commuters passed in waves, some looked my way. Those shots didn’t work, but persevering, this guy in muted commuter mode ignoring everything around him, provides a great silhouette.

The hazy background works well too as the pixelation created by the 60’s style wall tiles lets you see the immediate and distant London scene, and thereby creates a picture within a picture.

'A walking silhouette' along the walkway between the Jubilee and Distric lines at West Ham station

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 37mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Metro

#41: Wimbledon – ‘Rads on a Rack’

12/02/2019 – High up in Wimbledon Village, along its High Street, is the cast iron radiator shop Castrads, and as I walk past I admire the window display and walk into the shop introducing myself to Sam Mayel-Afshar, one of the owners. I explain my journey and ask his permission to take some pictures; he’s more than obliging. The window features rows and rows of miniature radiators in a very impressive display and this is today’s Picture of the Day.

Standing inside the shop and looking out of the window, I capture the silhouetted effect of the mini-radiators set against a backdrop of the street parking, over which I have no control. However, I position the shot in such a way by casting the blue van almost centrally and balance it with the decorative lighting peeking through the display.

This took some time to get the right composition and then waiting for pedestrians walking by or looking into the shop from outside to pass by. A slight blue filtering effect helps to complete the shot

'Rads on a reck' inside Castrads in Wimbledon Village

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 47mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Bazaar

#42: Richmond – ‘A Lonely Daffodil’

19/02/2019 – I’ve taken this shot along the Thames at Buccleuch Passage, the footpath that leads you along the river from Richmond towards Richmond Park. The exact spot is overlooking the seated terraced area of Gaucho, a fine dining restaurant.

Seeing the daffodil all alone, my first thought is that it’s been discarded on the table, but if so, it’s probably not been discarded for long as it’s still looking healthy.

What catches my eye is the colour contrast as the outside seating area is bedecked with artistically styled white chairs against a backdrop of black decor. The yellow of the daffodil just ‘spoke’ to me. Now maybe it’s because I’m Welsh and we’re fast approaching St David’s Day, but I felt the colour contrast was striking and it represented a ‘moment in time’. I’ve cropped the picture closing in on the star of the picture – the daffodil

'A Lonely Daffodil' on a table outside Gaucho's restaurant by the Thames in Richmond

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto

Categories
Memories

Memories No 05 – from Emirates Greenwich Peninsula to High Street Kennsington

My fifth blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the Bakerloo, District, DLR, Emirates Air Line, Northern, Tfl Rail and London Tram from mid November 2018 and creeping into the New Year.

The winter months unsurprisingly brings all weather conditions and my resolve was tested a few times in the dank mists of Elmer’s End and rainswept Harrow. But this is all part of the entertainment my self-imposed sojourn has brought. In all honesty, it’s all been good fun, and this week’s portfolio seems to concentrate predominantly on design and architecture. Not intended, just the serendipitous way it’s panned out.

Please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why through any of my social media platforms. So here goes for week 5. Please let me know what you think?

#29: Emirates Greenwich Peninsula – ‘Hidden Gondolas’

12/11/2018 – If you have visited the Greenwich Peninsula, you’ll be familiar with an unusual steel sculpture created by Antony Gormley celebrating the millennium entitled Quantum Cloud. If you haven’t, then this alone is worth a look even only for it’s provocativeness in asking ‘what’s it all about?’ Nevertheless, an interesting curiosity near the Greenwich Pier offering a bespoke backdrop to the gondolas crossing the river.

A bright clear sky helps to create an almost silhouette effect; and I’ve tried framing the sculpture with several gondolas from the overhead cable car which pass by at regular intervals. This shot captures two just passing each other in the top right hand corner, and are complemented by another two almost hidden in the shot.

The puff of cloud in the bottom left corner also helps to balance the picture against the gondolas in the opposite corner and helps with the silhouette effect too.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 155mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – None

#30: Harrow & Wealdstone – ‘Purple Rain’

19/11/2018 – Having walked around Harrow during the daytime, I decided to wait for nightfall which in the middle of November is about 4.00pm so not too long to wait. And I’m drawn to the Christmas lights in St Anne’s Road which is now a pedestrian precinct.

It’s been raining and the prospect of capturing a reflective shot of the brightly coloured street lanterns was quite appealing. This one is taken towards the end of the shopping day with shoppers still milling around and the overall effect is enhanced with a Bazaar filter to heighten the lanter’s colours as they reflect on the pavement.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – None

#31: Elmers End – ‘I Hate Ironing…!’

26/11/2018 – It was a cold, dank and miserable winter’s day in Elmers End, and to be honest there was nothing inspirational about the area…

BUT, this made me smile.. a laundry service with a catchy web address emblazoned across a delivery van ihateironing.com – the name says it all really and a brief chat with the van driver reveals he gets quite a few smiles from drivers when he’s stuck in queues.

No particular photographic technique used here, it’s a simple point and shoot, but the picture does help to remind me of the day out at the terminus of one of London Tram’s lines.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 41mm; Film Speed – ISO61600; Google Photo Filter – Auto

#32: Morden – ‘A Study in Circles’

04/12/2018 – The station is typically 20’s/30’s in design and as I’m leaving the station, I stop to admire the Underground Roundel above a cavernous entrance hall which is sympathetically offset by an elaborate circular light fitting.

I’ve slightly cropped the picture to balance the roundel with the light fitting, and transformed it into black and white applying a ‘vista’ filter within Google Photos.  I think the individual lights on the hanging light display complements the light through the high window as your eye is drawn up to the reversed ‘DnuorgrednU’ sign.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 35mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vista

#33: Heathrow T4 – ‘Spotted Ceiling’

19/12/2018 – For me, the simplicity and symmetry of the roof space in Terminal 4 has an attractive quality that helps define the space. Passengers seem oblivious to the effort made to create this effect as their focus is on ensuring they are in the right zone. The roof is offset by an expanse of glass bringing the outside light in and draws the eye away from this spectacle above.

I hope you enjoy it?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 20mm; Film Speed – ISO800; Google Photo Filter – Bazaar

#34: Stratford – ‘Tunnel Vision’

28/12/2018 – Just south of the Bobby Moore Academy, the road meanders under The Greenway, one of the original East London sewers still used, and from the 1990’s covered over to create a footpath to encourage walkers and wildlife. I’ve taken this picture through the wide footpath that’s adjacent to the road that goes under The Greenway

It’s a moody shot and despite the footpath’s location, it’s surprisingly clean, albeit having a dank and dismal feel. But I suspect it’s relatively well maintained as it acts as a cut through from Pudding Mill DLR station and the London Stadium, the home of West Ham United Football Club.

I’ve tried to portray the old arch brickwork, dimly lit by the neon lighting and in the foreground, a shard of light streaming through a gap between the arches and a new concrete bridge. An atmospheric shot I think and somewhat symbolic of the area represented in its immediate surroundings.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 29mm; Film Speed – ISO500; Google Photo Filter – Vista

#35: High Street Kensington – ‘User’

03/01/2019 – I’m inside the Design Museum looking up at this rolling display and it reminds me of my time with the Government Digital Service (GDS) where the ‘user’s needs’ became the successful mantra on how to design public services. And because of that I am instantly drawn to the display and its flamboyant use of colour.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 27mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Vista