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

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Huntingdon – Charles I

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Extinction Rebellion

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

Brockwell Park lies between Brixton, Herne Hill and Dulwich in south London, and is one of my favourite daily walks. Hillier than other local parks, from some parts you can see the skyscrapers of central London and Canary Wharf, then turn 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 this 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.

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.

The public

Living History displays

Commemoration

2017 has been and gone

I knew I was struggling to keep the blog going, but I just realized that I hadn’t made a single “real” post in the whole of 2017! I am still alive, I do tweet, quite often, I still help people in forums, occasionally exchange harsh words too, and Facebook a little too, which I am told is a verb. But for some reason, I’m just not as communicative as I used to be!

Brooklands

I did in fact have a long post lined up, but just never got round to publishing it. It was about the Fuji X-T2 which I did get in September 2016, days after they released it, and it was going to be “3 months with the X-T2”, then it got pushed back to 6 months, then a year, and I still intend to unleash it on the world!

In short, the X-T2 wasn’t content to remain as a second camera to my Nikon D800 and pushed it aside for almost all types of photography. Mid way through 2017 I added the 100-400mm lens to my kit bag and while I still have my Nikon I barely paid any attention to its replacement the D850. I’m happy with the switch, if that is what it is, and all three of my favourite images from 2017 were shot on the X-T2.

The first picture here isn’t perfectly-sharp but I love the subject and the expression of the boy in the passenger seat. It reflects a bit of a change in my photography as I’ve slowly been getting into vintage motorsport since encountering the Vintage Sports Car Club 5-6 years ago in the Lake District. I’d only been to a few events, but in 2017 I “went for it”. This was at the old Brooklands circuit and I had no idea what this car was. Its shape is freakish, and the engine noise is like no car that I’ve ever heard. But in fact it it quite well known, a one-off special built in 1911 by FIAT to beat the land speed record, and it’s powered by an aircraft engine. Just watch this video if you want to know why it is named “The Beast of Turin”.

HastingsMy second favourite was taken in late October at the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. My re-enactment photography began in a small way 12 years ago when I had nothing to do one weekend and went to an event nearby. But as someone who studied history at university and who still reads academic works on the subject, I imagine it was always likely to attract my interest. I am still not a re-enactor and nothing would make me want to dress up and go into battle, yet as a photographic subject I still find it presents interesting challenges and enjoyment.

I often get my best shots away from the battle itself, sometimes before it begins when they’re lining up before entering the battlefield, or afterwards when they’re sweaty and knackered. So this picture was taken when the Norman army was beginning to assemble and for a moment this French re-enactor gave me a look of such hostility. I don’t know whether he was playing up for me or was just annoyed at the big lens – this was on the 100-400 – being pointed in his face, but it’s the Norman version of Millwall’s “No-one likes us, we don’t care”.

Castle Crag
But my favourite picture of 2017 is, not surprisingly, from the Lake District. I was there a lot again – thanks to my brother and his wife – and got two particularly-wonderful “peak autumn” weeks in mid November.

This shot was taken using the 55-200mm late one afternoon from a spot just over Seatoller in Borrowdale. It’s not a scene I had ever noticed before but at that time of year the light falls beautifully along the line of the fells.

As so often with my longer-lens landscapes, I had been up there to photograph a different scene – Castle Crag itself. But isn’t that the beauty of photography? Planning is great, but reacting and improvising is so much more rewarding.

 

New Lightroom plugin – X-LR

X-LR is released