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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
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

Categories
Memories

Memories No 03 – from Walthamstow Central to West Croydon

My third blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the DLR, Overground, Tfl Rail, Tram and the Victoria lines through July and into early September 2018.

An exciting couple of months through the heat of the summer months in 2018, and one when I was introduced to the magic of expressive art, colour and wonderful people. People ranging from a bespoke tailor, wall artists and security professionals.

Please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why through any of my social media platforms.

So here goes for week 3. Please let me know what you think.

#15: Walthamstow Central – ‘The Birds’

05/07-2018 – This is taken inside the beer garden to Mirth, along Hoe Street. The doors are open so I take a peek inside and given the time of day (early morning), there’s no trading taking place so I can walk through uninterrupted.

This painting/wall art/mural is deep inside the alleyway, but it’s vibrancy and bird motifs gives it a somewhat garish look. The birds maybe crows or ravens, certainly some type of carrion chasing the skirted woman is very reminiscent of a scene from Hitchock’s The Birds.

I’ve converted the picture into black and white but I can’t decide which image is best, so I’ve decided to include them both. Maybe you can decide…message me and let me know

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO400; Google Photo Filter – None (Colour), and Vista (B&W)

#16: Stratford International – ‘Bruno’

12/07/2018 – Meet Bruno, a two year old guard dog; part of Westfield’s security patrol. His handler explained he’s a cross between a Malinois and a dutch hunter. The Malinois is a medium-to-large breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd dog rather than as a separate breed. The name “Malinois” is derived from Malines, the French name for the breed’s Flemish city of origin, Mechelen. (This is an update from my original blog as I had misheard the breed name as ‘malinmor’ and couldn’t find any reference).

Both handler and dog were very friendly but I have no doubt Bruno would quickly jump into action on his handler’s instruction. I decided not to test this out.

I couldn’t quite get him to look straight into the lens as he averted his eyes; trained I guess to keep watching out, but this shot gives a very good impression of his poise, discipline and strength.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO1o0; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#17: Wimbledon – ‘Release’

19/07/2018 – On the side of Wimbledon library in Compton Road, there’s a very interesting sculpture by Mohammed Sheibani entitled ‘Release’. It’s a composition of three murals depicting books on bookshelves made out of bricks or terracotta tiles.

It’s an imaginative representation stylised to blend into the red brick wall. A simple piece, but one that speaks volumes. It’s a shame it’s on the side of the building as many passers by will miss it, and even though it’s just around the corner from the main entrance, if you have no reason to go into the side road, then you’ll miss it.

The only enhancement to the picture is that I’ve applied a green filter (Alpaca) to help with contrasting the ‘books’ within the shelving.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#18: Paddington – ‘Hidden Rainbow’

02/08/2018 – This is taken under the Bishop’s Bridge Road flyover as it crosses the Paddington Basin just north of the station. An otherwise dark and gloomy underpass en route to several restaurants and where you’ll also find one of the Paddington Bear statues dotted around the area.

This colourful metal display has been erected to brighten up the area, and it does do that. A little difficult to capture as there was a stream of passers by making their way to/from the restaurants, or generally milling around. The first few shots using a flash failed to capture the true colour but I persevered and only slightly enhanced it with a green filter in post production to heighten the colour range.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 53mm; Film Speed – ISO500; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#19: New Cross – ‘Life Saver’

14/08/2018 – Just outside the station, I’m reminded of my childhood days when I see what I consider to be an iconic vision of an NHS pharmacy. Maybe it’s a reminder of a pharmacy I used to see in my parental hometown, I can’t remember, but nevertheless the image is worthy of capturing as it happens to be the NHS’ 70th anniversary year.

I waited for someone to walk past, to contextualise the scene, and in some way to create a reference point showing that the pharmacy is used by those walking past. 

And as I update this blog in April 2020, it’s a poignant reminder of life’s frailty as we isolate ourselves during the current world Coronavirus pandemic 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Reel

#20: Highbury & Islington– ‘Inside 1 Coopers Yard’

29/08/2018 – This shot is from within the Charlie Allen’s display window looking outwards with the tailored garments in relief. I wanted to highlight this bespoke tailor’s location and how its fashionable interior contrasts with its hidden surrounds: that of a back street opening onto Upper Street, one of London’s main arterial highways.

I had thought of cropping out the car, but that would have given a narrow view and the picture would have lost its sense of belonging. After all, the location is how I stumble across this gem, and that’s part of the memory. I’ve applied a slight blue filter to help enhance the cobble path.

Alternate picture names have been suggested by Twitter followers as follows: ‘Highbury One’ and ‘Man-nequine explores Islington’

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

#21: West Croydon – “I have myself…”

07/09/2018 – This is one of the many wonderful public art on display throughout Croydon as part of the 2018 Rise Festival. A wonderful innovation bringing art to the masses on a grand scale, which really made my day. Not only for the diversity of art on display, but also for the opportunity to meet and talk to several artists who were preparing their own murals.

As soon as I saw this piece, I was in awe of its scale, message and simplicity which is the trademark of its creator – David Hollier; a Wolverhampton born fine artist who now works out of New York.

I stood for quite a while reading the passage, which comes from Sir Winston Churchill’s famous ‘We’ll fight them on the beaches’ speech given to the House of Commons on the 18th June 1940. Quite moving, despite standing on the corner of street in Croydon in 2018. The words make up the final two paragraphs of the peroration.

The only adjustment I’ve made to the shot is to apply a Vogue black and white filter to help contextualise the piece back into the 1940’s era.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vogue

Categories
Memories

Memories No. 01 – Transforming a picture into a Story

I blogged recently about what I’ve learnt during my two years travelling to the ends of the lines, and I set out my plans for the future. But during the Covid19 lockdown arrangements, some of those plans are understandably on hold.

However, I’ve mentioned my plans to write a book which will embrace the 81 ‘Pictures of the Day’ I’ve selected from my travels. As part of those preparations, I am reviewing all the pictures I’ve selected and updating the original blogs. And from the 18th April, the second anniversary of when I started, I’m posting one picture a day on my social media channels for those interested.

Additionally, I’ll be writing weekly with the pictures I’ve posted from the past week. This time with the full narrative as to why I selected this particular picture. I’ve noticed as I’ve been reviewing, that my reasons have changed subtly over the weeks and months; maybe as I’ve become more  confident in what I want to say, or more inspired by the artistic quality of the picture, or I’ve simply become more adept at using my camera . Who knows?

Well this is where I’d like your help, as I’d like to canvass your thoughts each week on which is your favourite picture. You can reply through my blog, directly by email or via my social media platforms. And if you’d like to explain why, that will be helpful too.

So over the course of the next 12 weeks I hope to end up with the 12 most liked pictures – are you interested in helping me shape my book?

Here goes then. Week one is from Gospel Oak to Lewisham

#01: Gospel Oak – 18/04/2018

This is an exciting day in many ways; not least because I’m returning to a long forgotten passion of photography and I’m armed with a brand new camera. But it comes with a lot of trepidation as I have to re-learn how to blend all the components that make up picture taking. To be honest, my first set of pictures are not that unique, BUT I have made a start.

The walk over Hampstead Heath on what turns out to be a scorcher of a day makes the light very harsh, and I’m pleased with how the auto settings are taking care of the basics for me. But as I approach Kenwood House, the grounds are littered with a carpet of daffodils and bluebells just emerging and spreading their petals to fill the landscape with a mass of colour. The bluebells are just not ready to play their part but sufficiently in abundance to show their intent.

This, my very first picture of the day allows me to get close to nature. I’m lying on the ground, oblivious to others walking past, and I capture this isolated bluebell trying to make its way amid the carpet of blue behind it. I haven’t quite mastered the autofocus, but nevertheless this will always remind me of my very first outing: a new found freedom; and the excitement of rekindling my long forgotten love of taking pictures.

A Lonely Bluebell

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto

#02: Ealing Broadway – 19/04/2018

An easy pic today, simply because of the Welsh connection. This display is of a pink neon sheep which symbolises the shop’s name. It is an interesting experience and one that helps me overcome the feeling of embarrassment whilst taking pictures surrounded by passing shoppers. 

Pink Sheep

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2500; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#03: Elephant & Castle – 25/04/2018

Why a yellow lock? It simply caught my eye as the colour stood out against an otherwise tired and drab lock up garage on a dull day. The picture is taken at the entrance to the garage lock ups on Rockingham Street

But as I took it, I wondered if it somehow symbolised my ‘end of the line’ theme as who knows what’s inside? A lock is definitive in that it states that whatever’s inside it’s at the end of its use: be that daily or permanent. And because of this I’ve adopted the symbol as my social media avatar.

Lock Down

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ25; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Auto

#04: Edgware – 03/05/2018

This is taken in the car park by Sainsbury’s wandering around a florist’s pop up stall; seems like a regular event though as this was quite a well established stall. Nevertheless, the trader was happy for me to wander around and capture his stall.

This is an amusing shot as it took me a while to realise the florist had ‘painted’ on the black eyes to give the illusion that these are ‘happy smiley’ faces on these succulent, mat-forming alpines. Nevertheless the illusion works as it draws in several shoppers to buy them.

Smilie

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO125; Google Photo Filter – None

#05: Edgware Road – 09/05/2018

This is a view from inside the station looking in a southerly direction at the adjoining building: Griffith House which is one of Tfl’s training centres which was originally built as an electricity substation for the tube network.

The side of the building is covered in this elaborate and colourful “Wrapper” of vitreous enamel cladding created by Jacqueline Poncelet and the variegated station roof edging creates an interesting shadowed feature set against the brighter colours in the background. This is one of those images that as a commuter you may not normally see as you are busy rushing to/from the train…just look up!

Colourfull Cladding

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

#06: Waterloo – 10/05/2018

This is one of many graffiti/artworks on display in Leake Street, also known as the Graffiti Tunnel or the Banksy Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the area, don’t feel intimidated, but take a walk through the cavernous underground space under Waterloo Station. The street runs from Lower Marsh Street through to York Road where the smell of spray paint lingers in the air and is one of the homes of legal street art in London.

I can guarantee the images change frequently. I’ve chosen this as my picture of the day as a representation of what’s on view here. It’s vibrancy and scale draws me in, but to be honest I could have chosen any of the images I’d captured. I hope it inspires you to go take a look?

The Kiss

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO3200; Google Photo Filter – Palma

#07: Lewisham – 17/05/2018

This is a short pedestrian bridge over the Ravensbourne River at Waterway Avenue headed towards the main ring road at Molesworth Avenue. The bright sun casts a dark shadow through the geometric designs of the railings onto the footpath, and creates an interesting mirror image.

Although the original picture is taken in colour, the Vista filter transforms the image into a strong Black and White landscape.

Ravensbourne Shadows

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vista

Please vote for your favourite picture. Reply to this message or through any of my Social Media channels:
YouTube, Instagram, Google Photos, Twitter, Facebook, email, www.theendoftheline.blog, Triptipedia –  here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story

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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:

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Blog Update

#82 – A New Beginning and What Next?

Is this the end of ‘theendoftheline’?

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, full of wonderful experiences, meeting new people, enjoying new and colourful locations and artworks, and rekindled a thirst to learn again.

Stratford (DLR) 28/12/2018

For the last few months, as I started to approach the end of ‘theendoftheline’, I turned my attention to’ What Next?’ I had some ideas, but not the opportunity to make them happen, until now. But before explaining more about these, here are a few of the things I’ll be doing in the next couple of ‘socially distant’ months.

Immediate Plans

This blog has remained unchanged for a couple of years so I’ve refreshed its look and feel by giving it a new theme. I may also play around with this in the coming months trying out new templates so if there’s one you particularly like, do please let me know.

I’m also crafting a survey in the expectation that I can understand from my readers and followers what you’ve enjoyed; and what you might like to see.

And as it’s my second anniversary, and given that I’m currently unable to travel, I’m going to publish each of my 81 ‘Picture of the Day’ every day from the 18th April for the next 81 days. I’ll do this in a number of ways: I’ll change my featured blog picture daily and I’ll post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Reading (Tfl Rail) 04/02/2020

What next?

I have absolutely enjoyed my travels around London, seeing it in all kinds of weather, and I’ll write another blog shortly as I have many to thank for their kindness, support and inspiration.

Beyond that, there are of course extensions always being considered to the Transport for London (Tfl) network, so I’ll be keeping an eye open for those. Here are a few I know about, but let me know if you’re aware of others:

And of course, let’s not forget the River Boat Service too.

Memories

Of the 7,000 or so pictures I’ve taken, I’ve indirectly shared over 4,000 of them through the links in my weekly blogs. And for every visit over the two years, I’ve selected one picture as my ‘Picture of the Day’. However I didn’t include this feature in my blogs until mid-November 2018, so I’m reviewing all my early blogs and updating them to reflect this.

I’m also collating ‘Picture of the Day’ into a book: my working title is ‘Memories’. More on this later in the year as I may ask you to select your favourite picture and why so that I can feature the most popular reader’s picture in my book.

Over the last year I’ve also been compiling my photos into thematic albums. I’ll be writing separate blogs, so watch out for these, featuring: People; Art & Sculpture; Stations; Landscapes; Night Time and others.

‘theendoftheline#02’

Once the travel restrictions have been lifted, I’ll be embarking on a new end of the line plan. One where I’ll be visiting Network Rail’s ‘ends of the line’ within the Tfl travel zones; and travelling on other Network Rail lines as far as I can within the Tfl travel zones. Why these limitations? Because I can still travel for free using my 60+ Oyster Card.

There are 63 stations in total to visit, so I hope that will see me still travelling and writing and taking photos into 2022.

What’s in a Name?

And finally, I’m contemplating a change of name. Whilst ‘theendoftheline’ has served me well, I’m mindful that I’ve not been able to use that name across all the social media platforms I use. My blog and YouTube are the only sites that carry this name. Facebook, Instagram and email accounts are under the name of ‘theendofthetflline’ and for Twitter I use my personal account.

Any thoughts will be gratefully appreciated.

But for now…

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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

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TfL Other Services TfL Rail

#77: Reading – 04/02/2020

Today, I stretch the boundaries of my Freedom Pass to its limits as I travel from Gidea Park to Reading for free. This will be an uninterrupted route courtesy of the Elizabeth Line, once it starts operating, but today, I have to change at Liverpool Street and Paddington.

Nevertheless, hats off to London Councils and Tfl for this great experience.

The Station

I have ‘fond?!’ memories of Reading Station as I travelled through here during different stages of my life. In my early working career I spent 6 weeks in Reading so the weekend commute to/from my home in Aberystwyth was always a challenge. And again, some 30 years ago, I passed through the station on my weekend visits back to Cardiff as I waited to move my family up to London. And more recently as I visited nearby IT and Telecoms providers in Newbury, picking up connecting services here.

Over the years, I’ve seen the station change, and I have to say its current incarnation is a significant improvement on what was once a severe bottleneck for the weary traveller. The station was remodelled in 2015 and it now boasts 15 platforms serving four train operating companies: Great Western Railway (GWR), South Western Railway, Cross Country (by Arriva), and Tfl.

I’m no train geek when it comes to spotting trains, but being one of the top 10 busiest stations across the country, this is an ideal location to see the variety of trains passing through. Some of today’s trains include: the sleek bullet shaped electric trains recently introduced by GWR, the stylish electric Tfl Rail trains introduced as part of the Elizabeth Line; the familiar South Western electric trains; and the more laboured Cross Country (diesel?) trains.

Alongside the 15 platforms, there’s a new inter-platform walkway, complete with shopping experiences and wide covered stairs and escalators to each platform (there are lifts too). All colour coordinated throughout in a ‘pleasing to the eye’ themed blue and grey. 

It’s a bitter cold day and even though the inter-platform walkway is covered, access to the platforms and stairs/escalators is open to the elements. So as I crouch down taking a few shots, I’m approached by a very pleasant and chatty Interserve supervisor who’s intrigued by what I’m doing, so we chat for a while. She’s an Irish girl quite used to the cold, but a little surprised when I tell her tales of having to scrape the ice from inside my bedroom window when I was growing up. As we part company I remark on her cold hands, to which she responds…’ah but I have a warm heart…’

Passengers come and go, with little regard to their surroundings as they work out which platform to head to. But their heads popping into shot through the angular structures makes for an interesting collection of pictures. I wonder what they’re thinking?

Before leaving the station, I notice that the Tfl Rail returning destination shows Ealing Broadway, even though the scheduled destination is Paddington. I’m intrigued and when I ask a Tfl platform guard, she helpfully explains that it’s done to prevent those journeying through the station thinking that it might be a fast service to Paddington. I speculate this may have been the case when this service was first introduced just before Christmas.

As it’s been a bitterly cold morning, I decide a short respite in The Three Guineas pub which backs onto the station is called for. I rest my feet whilst enjoying a coffe and as I leave I try to work out what’s the time?

Out of the station, heading to the river, I pass under the brightly coloured railway bridge with repeating geometric shapes that are formed from the girders spanning the road. A combination of having a back-lit footpath on the opposite side and pedestrians from a nearby building site  wearing high-vis jackets helps to make this picture. I also notice a couple of stranded birds roosting up above too.

The River Thames

A walk along the south and north banks brings a different Reading into perspective, and here are a few of my highlights.

Thames Water Property Searches: not necessarily everyone’s idea of a landmark, but this open circular building has some interestingly shaped access stairs. No doubt purposely designed to reflect the circular shape of the building, but in my mind also mirroring an Archimedes Screw designed to move water, and now used in some hydropower schemes.

Christchurch Bridge: this is a relatively new foot and cycle bridge built in 2015 to connect Reading and Caversham through Christchurch Meadows. A cable-stayed bridge with one mast and 14 pairs of cable in a fan style. I’m sure this looks very attractive at night time lit by its 234 LED’s, but this monochromic shot helps to show off its simplistic beauty.

Caversham Weir and Lock: continuing along the north bank I return via Heron Island and View Island, a once derelict boatyard now converted into a wildlife haven. There’s a footpath running through it which brings me out at the Weir. An impressive water feature used to manage the water flow at this point on The Thames, and with the sluices wide open, the water flows rather fiercely.

The footpath across the weir is quite popular, and standing in the middle peering over the edge, I get a strong sense of the water’s power. And I can understand why the local community has successfully lobbied to build an environmentally friendly hydropower scheme utilising two Archimedean screw turbines here.

The Thames Path: I only cover a minute part of the 215 mile path, which at Reading runs along the south bank from Caversham Bridge, under Reading Bridge and past Caversham lock and weir before meandering easterly towards Henley-on-Thames. There’s one peculiar river boat moored along the path and as I say farewell to Reading, I reflect on the achievements of my sister-in-law and her sister who both completed the Thames Path challenge recently. Well done ladies…

Birdlife

A few birds catch my attention as I walk along the riverbank. On the Caversham side walking through Christchurch Meadows I pass a small copse and hear some rustling in the undergrowth. I assume it to be a squirrel so I decided to ignore it, but the sound seems to follow me. Looking around, I could just make out a bird ground feeding around the copse. It’s unperturbed by my presence, although I did keep my distance, and this short animation captures its movements. I didn’t recognise the bird instantly, but my suspicion was confirmed once I looked up the RSPB Identify a Bird site. Some of you will recognise it instantly as a Redwing.

Further along I arrive at Heron Island, and no guesses what I see here.

And in the middle of the river, there’s a trio of Seagulls perched on a rather faded Danger sign, no doubt placed to warn anyone approaching of the nearby weir and reminding boaters to keep right towards Caversham Lock.

Picture of the Day

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

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

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DLR Jubilee Overground TfL Other Services TfL Underground

#54: Stratford – 13/06/2019

Back from two weeks holiday and it seems I’ve forgotten what to do. Well, one of the key ingredients of this photo journal is my ability to take pictures – so I can only claim my holiday brain caused me not to charge my camera battery, so at less than 50% capacity, it didn’t take long to exhaust.

But to my rescue came the rain. Yes: whatever happened to ‘flaming June’. I went out of the house relying on good ‘ol BBC’s forecast that there was only a 25% chance of rain. Well it seems I was in that part of London where the 25% had been converted to 100%. So today was a bit of a soaking, but to be honest, it still turned out to be an interesting one.

The Station

I’ve written about the station before, so I won’t repeat myself. The Overground platforms, Nos 1 and 2 are on the most northerly end of the station, and serve trains to Richmond and Clapham Junction. The end of Platform 1 is overshadowed by a large cage like building creating an almost tunnel effect.

Whilst exploring the platform, I look for a different angle to capture, and as I do, I bemuse a couple of station staff as I crouch down below some fixed seats to capture this locked toolbox.

The overground platforms are oddly adjacent to platform nos 11 and 12, and having commuted through Stratford for over 30 years, and looked at these platforms from a passing train I’d never ventured there until now. There’s a large platform expanse, which seems slightly out of place, but there have been occasions when I’ve seen the area crowded as commuters wait for a delayed train taking them home east. But I wonder how many will have stopped to look at Jonathan Edwards – yes the Olympic triple jumper? You see there’s a rather tired perspex case up against the wall that does nothing to inspire the casual viewer to look beyond the faded, discoloured casing. But peer inside, and there’s a sculpture by Ptolemy Elrington who creates art from recycled material.

This one of Jonathan Edwards holding up the union flag depicting the scene when he won the Olympics in 2000 was commissioned as part of the 2012 Olympic preparations and the statue toured the country before finding its resting place here. I think more should be done to promote this forgotten piece of work.

There are some unusual building facades that probably puzzle passers by. No doubt the external facade is purposely designed to hide their ugliness, and if so,  the architects seem to have achieved this quite well. These two masking a car park and an energy centre are now part of the accepted landscape of the area.

Stratford City Bus Station

This is a hub for local London buses and National Express airport coaches located by the south entrance to Westfield Shopping Centre and is bubbling with transient passengers. Although I don’t count the number of buses pulling in whilst I’m here, I would guess though there’s a bus arriving/leaving every two minutes or so. But unless you have a need to use the bus station, or walk past it destined elsewhere, you wouldn’t know it’s here.

London Buses is a conglomeration of 20 separate bus companies who provide the city with it’s distinct red livery and managed under the TfL banner. And for this privilege, they can carry the iconic London Transport roundel…

East Village

Built as the athlete’s village for the 2012 London Olympics, the housing complex of mid rise self-contained secure tower blocks dominates the east side of the Olympic Park and Westfield shopping centre. And 5 years on, development has and continues to expand, and you can get a sense of the surrounding environment in my ‘picture of the day’ below. Now an established residential area of architecturally attractive buildings, I still believe the area lacks character and soul as it’s devoid of personality. And if you’d like to know what an apartment costing more than £750,000 looks like in its naked state, here’s one I made earlier – and it’s exactly the same as any other development…

The village is adjacent to an area called Chobham Manor which gives its name to the local academy, and I’ve noticed a trend with modern academies – they no longer look like schools. I guess that’s a consequence of the market forces driving their financial models? This one looking more like a collection of office blocks with a little effort to camouflage their walls with some educational messages…

…and it seems any unused space is also open game for businesses to utilise, as exemplified by this nearby re-purposed prison van.

The Lee Valley Velopark

Tucked just inside the main A12 trunk road that cuts a swathe through east London, is the Velopark; built for the main cycling events at the 2012 London Olympics and now part of its ongoing legacy. There aren’t many people about on this windy rainy day, and as I walk around the Velodrome admiring the attractive cedar canopy, there’s one lone tri-cyclist on the road circuit cranking his way around the track. I’ve visited the Velodrome before but hadn’t realised it’s free to enter, so in I pop following in the wake of a coach load of school kids who had come to enjoy the spectacle.

The Velodrome runs Experience Sessions where you can be coached in the use of a fixed wheel bike and the basic skills required to safely ride the velodrome track. From my observations it’s not as easy as it looks, and some degree of nerve is needed to balance the right speed with the angle of the curves. At the London Velodrome the steepest curves are banked at 42°, but standing on top of it (safely  behind the barrier I hasten to add), it looks much steeper. Those practicing today were being guided by the professionals at a modest pace on the lower level.

The Marshes

Leaving the Velodrome, I have it in mind to head for the New Spitalfields Market now on the other side of the A12, but as I make my way there, the heavens open and within minutes I’m a little like a drowned rat. Not perturbed, I walk past the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, over the main road and take refuge under a bus shelter by one of the fields that makes up the infamous Hackney Marshes sports ground. But on a midweek wet day, there’s not a soul in sight on any of the 88 full sized football pitches.

I think the rain begins to ease (oh how wrong am I!) and walk up to the New Spitalfields Market, on the expectation I’d see how today’s fruit and veg distribution works in London. But alas the signs into the market make it quite clear this is private land and no photography without permission. Given the rain soaking conditions, I feel disinclined to follow through and search out the person whose permission I’d need. I satisfy myself, somewhat dejectedly, with a photo of their sign behind railings.

Drenched by now, I decide to head to Leyton underground as the lesser walk rather than returning directly to Stratford as I can’t see a bus coming. In the pouring rain, it’s much further than I thought, but I do pass a couple of things that catch my eye. One of which is my first introduction to London’s Quietways: a different sort of cycle route for those looking for a quieter ride. This one on the edge of Orient Way showing what I assume to be the number of cyclists that have passed today (328), and the number that have passed so far this year (85105). I couldn’t see, though, how this measurement was taken and if indeed it reflected this particular spot or the whole Quietway in its entirety. Perhaps someone reading this may have the answer – please drop me a line and if you do and I’ll update this blog.

The second thing is this distance measurement emblazoned on a brick wall. There’s nothing to indicate what it signifies, but I hazard a guess it’s nothing more than a reference to how far the nearest Asda store is, as the wall is on the route from the main road to Asda’s car park. Nevertheless catching the wet pedestrian within the measurement is slightly entertaining.

Hackney Wick

By the time I’m back in Stratford, it’s bright and sunny, so I decide to visit Hackney Wick out of curiosity. It’s a part of London I have walked through before en route to ‘Here East’, the former Olympic Media Centre which sits directly opposite on the other side of the River Lee. I was there exploring its suitability for an office move when at GDS, but the move to here was trumped by another location in Aldgate where GDS is now based. Hackney Wick has a long industrial heritage, but through the 20th Century, its association is more with poverty and deprivation. Walking around you can understand why, but there’s a 21st Century resurgence with the area now being popularised with millennial business ventures happy to work out of urban/industrial premises surrounded by graffiti and wall art.

The area, which sits by the river Lee, is also popular with river dwellers, and the recently modernised station helps to breathe new life into the area. An interesting way to end the day and I think a revisit here would be worthwhile in the future so that I can truly capture its essence. If anyone is up to joining me, drop me a line.

Picture of the Day

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

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#48: Shenfield – 18/04/2019

I have new eyes and I can see!.. Let me explain. Having had a cataract operation last August, I’ve struggled a bit with focusing and had to rely on two sets of glasses as the focal point in both eyes have been somewhat out of kilter. So I’ve been using one pair of glasses for reading and one for long distance. So although when I’m walking about I have been able to see OK, when I’ve then tried to focus on taking a photograph, I’ve had to swap glasses. All in all it was manageable but somewhat clumsy.

The good news is that I had my other eye operated on last week, and almost instantly, my vision has returned so much so that from close to long distance I can manage without glasses except for close reading which I’m still in need. So a very good outcome indeed. Today’s journey was probably sooner than I should have ventured after my operation, but I was keen to try out my new eyes.

So the weather has changed for the better and today is a hot spring day for what turned out to be a nine mile hike through the Essex countryside which tested my childhood membership of the Tufty Club and latterly the Green Cross Code. All part of Britain’s road safety campaigns over the years to improve safety for pedestrians.

Shenfield Station

The station has six platforms serving Tfl Rail and Greater Anglia services. The former being the terminus out of Liverpool Street, and once the Elizabeth Line has been commissioned the station will serve trains through to Paddington and onwards to Heathrow (T5) and Reading. Greater Anglia services terminate here from Southend, and pass through from Liverpool Street through to Ipswich, Clacton-on-sea and Colchester.

The station shows off some memories of old. One in the guise of a Great Eastern Railways plaque (the forerunner of Greater Anglia) erected by the ‘traffic and civil engineering staff of the station’ commemorating those colleagues who died during the First World War.

The second is an abandoned caboose stranded on platform 1. I admire it’s dishevelled ruggedness which draws me in to take a close look, and it reminds me of my early childhood when steam trains were still the ‘norm’. I suspect the caboose hasn’t been abandoned, but merely parked awaiting transportation to some museum or rail enthusiasts destination – well that’s my hope anyway. Such is its draw that I take many pictures, trying to capture the mood of its era using a grainy B&W filter on the camera or recreating a wild west feel using post production filters; one of which makes it as my ‘picture of the day’ (see below).

Shenfield

Described by some internet commentators as a dormitory town for commuters to London and surrounding towns, I would say it’s more of a ‘one horse town’. What I mean by that is it’s predominantly one street with shops serving and meeting its local community. Without counting, I would say ladies and gents grooming salons make up the majority of shops with eateries/coffee shops a close second. With the exception of one or two unusual or decorative shops, Shenfield is a sedate town – and that is its charm and why residents are attracted here.

A Country Walk

I decide to head north out of Shenfield towards the hectic A12 dual carriageway, along the River Wid and through Hutton before returning to Shenfield several hours later. The route is a combination of busy main and country roads, often without a pavement, so I have to take particular care when walking along. I go under and over five different bridges; mostly railway bridges where in some cases the road narrows to single file traffic and the width of the bridge forms a short tunnel.

I also stop for some time (in a very safe place) on the roundabout that is junction 12 of the A12 (at this point also known as Ingatestone Bypass) and try to capture an image of the speeding traffic passing under me.

Turning off the roundabout to follow the River Wid, I walk past a newly completed housing development called ‘The Elms at Mountnessing’ (see Google map reference: Elm Gardens and River Court) and I’m struck by the exterior finish of all the houses.

The rural landscape is as you’d expect, although the country road is clearly used as a cut through for local and light industrial traffic serving the industrial estate north of Hutton and only a mile from the A12. I walk on through Hutton and I’m intrigued by a road name – Hanging Hill Lane. Its name is very suggestive, however an internet search doesn’t reveal any history of this road other than a ghostly sighting of a woman.

Brentwood

The road from Hutton brings me back to Shenfield so still looking for some local interest I decide to press on and walk a further 1.5 miles to Brentwood; and just on the outskirts I pass Shen Place Almshouses, a collection of six homes, and admire the adorned gable ends.

Around the corner is the Brentwood Cathedral of SS Mary and Helen, and as I poke my nose inside, I admire the colourful south entrance. Further inside I can also and see that Easter preparations are underway and understand why the cathedral is described as ‘…a light-filled baroque and renaissance-style Catholic cathedral with an ornate gold-leaf ceiling…’.

Even though there’s no one about, I leave quietly and end my journey, rather wearily, walking past the flint covered St Thomas of Canterbury Church which is next door to the cathedral before heading down the hill to the railway station. I leave Brentwood knowing that I’ll be home soon as the end of the line for me is at Gidea Park, only two stops down the line.

Picture of the Day

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 derelict abandonment.

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

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