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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
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: