Upnor Castle

Deene Park

John – John Beardsworth

Daily protest

Every evening the SODEM pro-EU protesters go to the gates outside the Houses of Parliament and tell MPs what to do with Brexit.

This is with the Fuji X-T2, shot at 4K, and yes, I know I overcooked the sound. As I have been doing more video, I acquired a Rode VideoMic microphone last week and this was its first outing. In this case though, I don’t think the blown out sound (not sure what the tech term may be!) seems too wrong.

Yellow vests in Whitehall

On Saturday I was in central London just as a protest march approached the Cenotaph in Whitehall. It turned out to be a “yellow vest” protest mixing chants about Lee Rigby (the soldier murdered in Woolwich by Islamist thugs), prosecution of soldiers for alleged crimes, and in favour of Brexit. Once you’ve got the idea, I would recommend turning the sound right down – the singing doesn’t get any more musical!

The British way

This morning I was already recording some close-up clips of flags fluttering in the sunshine (for use in other videos) when the Brexiter started shouting. He then recognised the elderly former Conservative MP John Gummer and started ranting at him – until a passerby intervened…..

It’s only a short clip and at the time I was so wrapped up in the comical Brexit supporter. But since when did shouting at frail old men belong in British politics?

Guy Verhofstadt visits SODEM

On Friday May 10, 2019 the former Belgian PM and now head of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee Guy Verhofstadt was in London to help kick off the Liberals’ campaign for the EU elections. Hold on a second, I thought the EU was supposed to be undemocratic? Anyway, as part of his trip, he arranged to meet Steve “Mr Stop Brexit” Bray and the SODEM protesters who campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.

As before, it’s a combination of Fuji X-T2 stills processed in Lightroom, and video shot on an iPhone8, all assembled in Premiere Pro.

Extinction Rebellion

I’ve just added a couple of new collections of pictures to the site – one on the Brexit protests and another on Extinction Rebellion.

A year ago I remember telling a German friend how I have never really felt at home in London, even after 30+ years and how I’ve always thought that in 5 years’ time I would be elsewhere. I’m a European first, from Northern England, and I always react if anyone refers to me as a Londoner. My friend loves her adopted city in the Rhineland and she was surprised and saddened by my comment, as was I, and it was one of those conversations that has just stuck in my mind. Surely I should find something to like?

Unconnected to that conversation, shortly afterwards I began taking long daily walks, not missing a single day for over a year. I mention this because part of the motivation has been how much I have enjoyed rediscovering the city. Sometimes I stay close to home in Dulwich and have learnt to appreciate nearby Brockwell Park or I explore elsewhere in London such as the paths along the river towards the Isle of Dogs or Greenwich, places I used to go when I first started taking pictures. Another aspect of this re-acquaintance with London is the interesting stuff that goes on in this huge and varied city. I feel that’s why I am doing more “street” photography, and it also explains my project on the Brexit protests.

So photographing April’s 10-day-long Extinction Rebellion protests was interesting and was the good exercise that I need. They blocked roads and bridges, preventing buses from south London reaching the centre, so they certainly stretched my daily walking routine. 16 km on a single day was an exception though – and it’s really not the kind of thing Londoners do.

The videos were just shots on the iPhone, normally handheld but using a sturdy Gorillapod 5K for the timelapse.

Basing House

Many people don’t know that the iPhone’s first known use was… in the 1640s.

Brexit

While I feel sure that Brexit is a serious mistake for the country, I did expect Theresa May’s government would implement it in a professional way that minimized the damage. But it soon became clear that May herself lacked many key skills as a politician. Unable to get her own supporters to agree what Brexit meant, and unwilling to compromise and seek wider consensus on the way forward, she called an election and fought a remarkably-lacklustre campaign which cost her the Parliamentary majority and led to paralysis. Brexit had quickly made the UK a laughing stock.

In October 2018 I went on the “People’s March” to demand a vote on the final deal and overturn the referendum. I then started photographing the protests outside Parliament whenever I fancied the short bus ride or the 3/4 hour walk from leafy Dulwich into central London. This is a selection of my favourites.

Also see blog posts tagged with Brexit. These are mainly short videos of the more eventful days.

The People’s March

On Oct 20, 2018 around 700,000 people from all over Britain marched through central London demanding a second referendum on the final Brexit deal. Beginning in Hyde Park, the march filled the streets from Park Lane to a rally in Parliament Square.

No confidence in Theresa May

The last months of 2018 were dominated by Theresa May’s failure to convince hard-line Brexiters in her own party to support her interpretation of Brexit. If I was in central London anyway, my route went past Parliament and so I would stop to take a few pictures, but on the days of big votes I would make the trip and spend a few hours there.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

This area just outside Parliament was where Far Right protesters had obstructed and jostled the anti-Brexit MP Anna Soubry. Arrests and an increased police presence changed the mood and allowed pro- and anti-Brexit protesters to mix again and disagree in friendly ways. Here the leading pro-Brexit opponent of Theresa May stopped to talk with Mr Stop Brexit, Steve Bray, was interviewed for TV, and could meet admirers. It was interesting to spend 15 minutes so close to him, and these photos give a fair impression of how I encountered Rees-Mogg in person. Deluded but charming – he reminded me of Tony Benn!

The Vote to Delay Brexit

In February and March a series of evening votes defeated Theresa May’s deal, ruled out leaving without a deal, attempted to pass amendments, and on March 14 instructed the government to delay Brexit, then only two weeks away, to provide time to reach an agreement for a less-damaging transition. Large numbers of anti-Brexit protesters gathered in the evening. Sometimes noisy Pro-Brexit protesters turned up, mainly from the far right groups, and

Put it to the People March

March 23, 2019 saw a million people marching through central London, again filling the streets from Park Lane to Parliament Square. By that time, 5 million had already signed an online petition demanding the revocation of Article 50, the UK’s notice to leave the EU.

A crowd-funded campaign bought advertising space such as a billboard on a collapsing building… and simply quoted Brexit advocates’ promises from before the 2016 vote. In Westminster a journalist looks out from the Sky News gazebo at flags reflected in the clear plastic window which shields its broadcasts from the noise of protesters.

March to Leave

March 29, 2019 was when Brexit had originally been due to happen and the Leave EU group had scheduled its 200-mile March To Leave from Sunderland to arrive in Parliament Square on that day. Since details of its route were not publicized, I went to its start in Fulham and followed the marchers through some of London’s most prosperous and pro-Remain areas.

I then took a bus to central London and waited for the marchers’ arrival in Parliament Square. The rally only just filled the square and was mostly good-natured, though many more police than usual protected the media village. UKIP had a big screen yards from the Cenotaph, the national war memorial, and showed a video featuring Tommy Robinson, a convicted fraudster and founder of the far right EDL group.

Further delays

By Spring 2019 paralysis had set in. Theresa May couldn’t get her own side to support her form of Brexit, and a cross-party majority in the House of Commons forced her to delay Brexit until October.

European Elections

Talks between May and Corbyn faltered, perhaps inevitably, and protests continued outside Parliament, especially on Wednesdays before and after PMQs. In Trafalgar Square, a flashmob gathered to sing Ode to Joy, and Brexit’s delay meant that the European parliamentary elections were held on May 23 with Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party forecast to win the largest share of votes.

Theresa May resigns

After three failures to get Parliament to approve her Brexit deal, and anticipating big losses in the European elections, Theresa May announced her resignation. In June the Conservative Party began an election to succeed her, leaving the country no clearer about how the Brexit mess would be resolved.

Musical Monday

Almost three years after making the country an international laughing stock, the Brexiters still don’t agree what Brexit means and Theresa May has failed to force through her “Brexit means Brexit” on March 29.

So protesters remain outside Parliament, Brexiters alleging betrayal and treason, Remainers more hopeful that Brexit can be reversed. It’s busier when there is a major vote or on Wednesdays when Theresa May attends Prime Minister’s Questions, and recently Mondays have become more lively as regional Remain groups swell the numbers for “Musical Monday”.

As before, this is a combination of hand held iPhone 8 video and Fuji X-T2 stills. One photo shows Jacob Rees-Mogg arriving at Parliament in a taxi, protesters on either side, and gives an interesting but misleading idea of the scale of the demonstrations. I am sure I’ll miss this when it’s all over.

1640s timelapse

After experimenting with the iPhone’s standard timelapse feature at the Brexit and Extinction Rebellion protests here in London, I thought it might suit a historical re-enactment that I was going to over the Easter weekend. The phone was left on the tripod while I carried on photographing, and the files were automatically imported into Lightroom Mobile and synced to my computer.

Though I am able to assemble the movie in PremierePro, it’s not very high tech. And it is fun.

Another day in Brexistan

The scenes outside Parliament continue to fascinate me, and on a nice day it’s too tempting to continue my daily walk round Dulwich and carry on the 4-5km into central London, or I’ll just catch the bus up to Westminster and spend an hour or two there. This was a Wednesday, usually more busy thanks to Prime Minister’s Questions, but it was particularly significant as Theresa May was due to travel to Brussels later that day to request another delay to the UK’s departure date.

The movie is a combination of iPhone video and stills taken on my Fuji X-T2. Some video is 4k 60fps, but the timelapses were shot with the phone on a Jobo Gorrilapod which fits nicely into my small “walkabout” rucksack. It was assembled in Premiere Pro which I am slowly feeling more confident using. It still takes me hours to put something together, and there are only so many times you can listen to some of these demonstrators’ voices….

Brexistani Times

The video does have a few rough edges, but I hope it gives a good impression of the scenes outside Parliament every day. It’s a combination of stills taken on my Fuji X-T2 and video from my iPhone.

Brockwell Park

I’ve never walked enough, but I haven’t missed a single day for over a year and it’s led me to start photographing local themes such as Brockwell Park which lies between Brixton, Herne Hill and Dulwich in south London.

Hillier than other local parks, from some parts you can see the skyscrapers of central London and Canary Wharf, then turn round and look at a landscape that might appear anywhere in rural southern England. In fact, the views explain the origins of the park’s centrepiece, Brockwell House, positioned so the estate’s owner could see his glass factory near St Paul’s.

Ploughing with horses is not a usual sight, even less so in such an urban setting. I’d seen a local business (er, pub) tweet a video of it and rushed down to find they were preparing some ground for a wild flower meadow. At the time it seemed a commentary on life after Brexit, but of course the reason for using horses was more about ecological sustainability which soon became another major theme of 2019.

I walk whatever the conditions, no matter if it’s “bad” weather or if something ugly is in the park, such as when a large part of the public space was sealed off for a private festival event.

Ploughing on….

Shire horses ploughing ground to make a wildflower meadow in Brockwell Park, South London

One morning last week I got home from a brisk walk around Dulwich, pleased to have done my daily exercise and ready to spend the rest of the day working.

But I was straight back out of the door soon after turning on the computer and seeing that a local pub had tweeted a video clip of Shire horses ploughing in the park. It’s not something that happens often in the 21st century, certainly not 4-5 km from the centre of our capital city, so the shoes were back on and 20 minutes later I was in Brockwell Park.

It turned out to be a perfect afternoon with clouds coming right out of a John Constable landscape. The horses belong to Operation Centaur and were breaking up ground that’s going to sown with wild flowers.

This is pretty-well straight out of the camera – just cropped a little. Weak pun intended.

 

 

Street

I have always admired “street photography” and some of my earliest serious photographs, like the couple in Trafalgar Square, were observational, “street” or candid public photography. It’s a challenge to make pictures when people see you there, or to capture the funny side of something everybody can see.

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Instagram

For a few months I have been posting new pictures to Instagram and odd videos on YouTube. Just don’t take this as evidence of any burgeoning social media strategy, let alone of any ambition to be an “influencer”, or whatever. It’s just proof that I am still alive, if anyone is wondering.