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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

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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

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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

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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
Blog Update

#83 – Transforming a Picture into a Story

So that’s it!  

Almost two years to the date when I set off on the 18th April 2018 with some nervousness, trepidation and a great deal of excitement on an exploration. An exploration in which I didn’t know what I’d find, who I’d meet or what (if anything) I’d learn. And what an amazing two years it’s been!

Royal Oak station 18/04/2018

Having now reached the end of ‘theendoftheline’, I’ve set out in my last blog what my plans are for the future. But before ploughing ahead with those plans, I thought I would write about: what I’ve learnt; explain my motivations; and thank those who have helped and inspired me along the way.

Barking Riverside (under construction) 10/03/2020

Before doing all that, here’s a small list of the the things I’ve achieved:

  • I’ve visited 76 ends of the line stations; 3 bonus ‘under construction’ stations; and attended two special events
  • I’ve travelled across all sixteen Tfl transport modes embracing the underground (11); overground; tramline; Emirates airline; TflRail and the Docklands Light Railway
  • I’ve travelled the ‘A to Z’ from Abbey Wood to Woolwich Arsenal
  • I’ve walked over 700 Kilometres; an average of 9 kilometres per station visit 
  • I’ve taken almost 7,000 pictures and shared over 4,000 through links in my weekly blogs, and shared a selection through my Instagram account
  • I’ve created 62 videos and shared them through my YouTube channel
  • I’ve written 81 regular blogs and published through Twitter and Facebook
  • I’ve occasionally published on Triptipedia

What have I learnt?

My original intention was to bring together three aspects of my work/life experiences over the last 40 years: commuting, photography and digital exposure. I believe I have successfully fulfilled this aim.

Secondly, as I was new to blogging, I wanted to develop my digital skills. I believe I have achieved this through learning how to use and digging a little deeper into several social media tools: WordPress, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos and Bit.ly. I’d no longer call myself a digital virgin.

I was also looking to invite feedback, but this has not been the success I had wished for, so I still have some work to do here.

What’s motivated me?

Rekindling a Passion for Photography

As a photographer, I wanted to and needed to embrace the digital landscape as this was one of the reasons I fell out of love with my hobby over forty years ago. I felt the onset of digital cameras took away the creative element of combining composition, lighting, speed and aperture. 

But in conversation with others I’ve learnt to accept that today’s world simply makes a fifth dimension that would otherwise have been carried out in the darkroom more accessible to all: that of photo manipulation. This is where the picture is transformed into a story. Be it through software manipulation or lens filtering, or both.

What I do know is that it’s brought the joy and excitement of photography to millions of people that would otherwise have been left in the dark. 

My trusty camera for the two years has been my Canon ES200D using predominantly a Canon EF-S 18-55 mm zoom lens (1:3.5-5.6)), and occasional use of a Canon EF 75-300 mm zoom lens (1:4-5.6). Since the start of the New Year in 2020, these have been replaced by a Sigma 18-200 mm zoom lens (1:3.5-6.3). All lenses are protected by a UVc lens filter.

My shoots over the years have seen me try out techniques and settings using the camera’s software applying different filters. Predominantly I’ve used black & white, grainy black & white, high definition art, and close up settings. Some more successfully than others, but what I do know is that I still have a lot to learn but I feel more confident in applying these settings now than when I started off on the 18th April 2018.

Aldgate 14/01/2020

The one thing I absolutely respect through, is to remember the composition, because that’s where the real story lies. As an artform, I continually ask myself ‘what is it I’m trying to say with this picture?’ and as long as I can answer that question, then I’m happy.

Paddington 10/04/2019

Don’t be afraid to explore

One of my late father’s words of wisdom, which has stayed with me all my life is ‘if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out!’ Read that in any way you want, but at the end of the day it’s been one of my life lessons and motivators.

And with this in mind, I resolved not to let a moment pass where I thought there would be a good story to tell or a great photo to capture. This would sometimes manifest itself as an awkward moment or a conversation to be had to capture someone’s emotion, or a moment in time never to be repeated, or even delve down the alley to see what’s there.

Now to follow this through I’d assess the situation as best I could and weigh up the personal risk of doing so, but to my delight I’ve often been rewarded with meeting some colourful characters. Equally, the people I’ve met have been as interested in me and my experiences, or the alleys and corners I’ve explored have yielded some unexpected results. 

And I now find that if I ever walk past a scene and ask myself ‘I wonder what if…’, I do a quick u-turn to explore that moment as it’s likely never ever to happen again.

How to keep the costs down without compromising the Quality

My hope was not to spend any money, but  where this was unavoidable, to keep it to a bare minimum. I’m not averse to spending money (although close family members may disagree with me), but it has been more about showing how to sustain and develop this hobby without digging too deeply into the pension pot. Let me explain a few things.

  • Travelling: now as a 60+ London borough resident, I’m entitled to free travel on the majority of transport systems right across the Transport for London (Tfl) network. This includes the underground, overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Trams with reduced fees on the Emirates air line cable car and River Boat services
  • Since the incorporation of Tfl Rail and by extension those stations that will make up the Elizabeth Line, their stations are also open to free travel. From the east in Shenfield and Abbey Wood to the west in Heathrow and Reading
  • I can’t say thank you enough to Tfl who provide this fantastic resource and with it the opportunity to explore
  • Website management: I’ve adopted WordPress as my platform of choice for which I pay an annual fee of £55 for my domain name and the hosting services
  • For all other digital tools, I take advantage of the free versions to manage my social network. These include Google: for Mail, Storage, Photos and YouTube; Facebook: for Facebook and Instagram; and Bit.ly for URL management

So all in all, I reckon I only spend between £60-£100 per year. There are however some limitations to what I do, which are mostly self imposed as I decided in my later years at work, and since retiring, not to work on a Windows PC or an Apple Mac.

My device of choice is a Chromebook and thereby I wanted to show how easy it is to exploit today’s cloud services. This does mean I’m limited to the applications I can use as the storage and memory on a Chromebook are limited. BUT that’s my point, and with no exceptions, I’ve not been prevented from doing anything. 

Clearly I am not using the finest device based photo editing software that’s available, such as Photoshop, but I do find that the cloud Google Photo service sufficiently helps me transform my pictures by applying filters, allowing me to crop and to individually adjust the lighting, colour and intensity of the pictures. For more creative adjustments, which I rarely do, my current application of choice is befunky.com (but there are so many others out there).

The advantage of using today’s cloud services is that being on the go, I’m able to do most of the things I need to on my Android mobile device although I do tend to review my photos, and write my blog in the comfort and solitude of home. Access to free wifi across London and within the Tfl network is also a bonus as this helps to reduce my dependency on my mobile provider’s roaming data provision.

The free storage of my photos in Google has a limitation in that the files are compressed when being uploaded. By way of example, an original JPG file size of 4.5Mb is reduced to 217Kb; and a RAW file size of 35Mb is reduced to 448Kb. I’ve not yet found that this compromises the quality of my photos, as the largest print size I’ve used is A4 where the quality and integrity is very good. This may, however, be an issue for larger displays, but it’s not one I’ve had to consider just yet.

There are of course other options; I could upload the full file format, or use other cloud storage services which offer free space. Canon and Amazon are two I can think about; there will be many others too. So whilst in the main I rely on free cloud storage, I will always keep the original photo on local removal storage.

But what I’ve set out here works well for me, so if you’re thinking of following in my footsteps, I’d be more than happy to guide you through.

Thank you’s

It’s inevitable with so many travel writers in London, there comes a point where we write about similar locations or similar experiences, and over the two years I’ve grown to admire a number of other writers. But the beauty of how we present our material is that we each do so from a different perspective and we each have a Unique Selling Point (USP).

Some do so from a commercial perspective, such as those who rely on tourism for their living; some do so from a historical perspective, some from a rail enthusiast’s perspective and some as hobbyists. What I’ve grown to appreciate is that whilst we are all different, our collective knowledge and experience is far greater than the sum of our individual offerings…and this provides for a wealth of information to those eager to explore and learn about LONDON and beyond.

By way of a public thank you, here’s a roll call of some of the travel writers who’ve inspired me through their stories and insight into how they see life, and London differently. 

A London Inheritance

Geoff Marshall

Ian Visits

Katie Wignall – Lookup London

Laura Porter – About London

LondonIST

Nigel Harris

Sue Hillman – It’s Your London

Tim Dunn

Likewise there are a number of photographers I follow closely as I admire their style and  I appreciate their content and stories. I’ve never met any of you, but again my thanks for being out there.

Chris Close

Jimmy Lee

John Dawson

Linda Wisdom

Matt Hardy

Tube Mapper

My final thanks goes to my wife, for humouring my passion, obsession and indulgence in what I do, and for her honest and positive feedback as my critical content editor and proofreader.

30th March 2018 – 1st day of retirement

Onwards into 2020 – but for now:

Categories
TfL Other Services TfL Rail

#79: Abbey Wood – 18/02/2020

This is the second of three bonus ‘end of the line’ stations that have yet to be built or commissioned. 

The Station

In the case of Abbey Wood, the station was refurbished and reopened in its current state in 2017, in preparation for the initial opening of the Elizabeth Line. But because of the line’s repeated delays, the TflRail platforms are currently mothballed and fenced off. Tfl’s latest plans for operating the line is in 2020/21, but who knows? Simultaneously, Tfl took over responsibility for the station and ironically, it does not yet operate any services through the station.

Currently, only Network Rail services, operated by Southeastern and Thameslink run through the station serving South East London and Kent. Although as I look closely at the two TflRail platforms, there’s evidence that a full service is operating; but clearly the displays are for ‘display purposes only’ as nothing is moving.

The station has had an attractive makeover, with new stairwells, decorative concourse, lifts and external walkways, and whilst chatting to the TflRail station staff on duty, they explained that even they are not allowed to access the Elizabeth Line platforms which are shuttered closed at all levels. Nevertheless, the station staff and security guards are extremely helpful to all those who pass through with some passengers being referred to by their first name; great customer service.

There’s also an obligatory piano to entice budding musicians to have a go, as one accomplished musician demonstrated whilst I was there cowering from a sudden hailstorm.

The surrounding entrances, closed to all except those engineers in high vis jackets, was a little eerie, and it all had a rather ghost station feeling to it: everything in its place, but nothing moving.

Harrow Manor Way

I’ve taken a while to mull over how best to depict this walk and I can only be honest, but in doing so I’ll try and be as objective as I can. The area north of the station is at best intimidating, but it’s clearly going through a massive regeneration programme. Most of the work seems to be being undertaken by the Peabody Trust who are making a significant investment in clearing outdated concrete high rise estates with more modern living accommodation. This is a programme of works that will take many many years to complete, so the area is at best a confusing mix of properties at the moment.

Along Harrow Manor Way, there is a cordoned off part of the Lesnes Estate labelled Caroline Walk, and it’s difficult to determine, initially, whether the barriers are an attempt to keep people in or out. The existence of razor wire helps me conclude that the area is cordoned off to prevent unwanted squatting as it is primed for demolition.

Nevertheless, walking around and through the area gives me an uneasy feeling because of it’s stark and grey surroundings with a somewhat decaying urban look, and with little human contact, I hasten to want to return to the ‘relative safety’ of the main road.

I have no doubt that those living in and around the area are warm and welcoming as there’s some evidence that within the estate, properties are being cared for as some have been decorated in a modern style. But there’s no hiding the fact that these are few and far between, and attempts to brighten up communal areas with artwork seem forgotten and faded.

I continue walking as far as SouthMere lake and Lower Thamesmead and onto The Ridgeway and cross over the almost deserted Eastern Way into the fringes of Crossway Park.

I see very few people, and other than a small collection of teenagers, possibly making their way to/from The Gym and/or The Link I feel isolated and somewhat vulnerable and maybe a little guilty for not exploring a little further.

Walking past the fenced off Lakeside Events Centre, I later learn this is itself undergoing redevelopment as an arts centre, and it’s description as having an ‘…iconic Brutalist architecture, and stunning views of SouthMere Lake and the area’s famous skyline, is a Thamesmead landmark…’ is quite telling. I guess I would liken it to the Marmite sensation that is The South Bank Centre in terms of architectural design – concrete on concrete on concrete – you either love it or hate it!

I skirt around the fringes of the SouthMere lake and amble along part of the Green Chain Walk that runs alongside the lake and back towards Abbey Wood station. Work on redeveloping the lakeside tower blocks is evident, as is the dredging of the lake to transform and return it to its former glory as one of the jewels in Thamsemead’s crown. I have to admit though, on this cold wintry and blustery day, it feels far from being a jewel.

Although there aren’t many people about, there is one jogger, one dog walker and one cyclist, but it’s hard to mask the fact that the greenway walk is merely an attempt to break up the array of 1970’s concrete tower blocks with uninviting communal stairs and walkways. 

As I cross over the railway bridge into the area south of Abbey Wood station, it seems like I’ve entered a different time zone as the building and architecture becomes more mid 1930’s London bricked terraced houses. And in some way quietly marks the obvious contrast with the more modernist concrete jungle style that began to emerge during the 1950’s.

My journey ends here, but who knows I may return one day to explore the much promoted Lesnes Abbey or indeed return and explore, with more confidence, the grittiness of the surrounding concrete estates.

Picture of the Day

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

Social Media

YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story