Category Archives: London

London

London November 5th Protests

Yesterday, I was at a lecture at the House of Commons, listening to Prof. Vlatka Hlupic suggest ways for business Leaders to better engage their employees. It was an interesting lecture, with some new ideas and tools to help make this long-term organizational goal actually happen.

But as I stepped outside, another world unfolded. It was the tail-end of the “Million Mask March” protest in Parliament Square, liberally sprinkled with the “Occupy Democracy” movement. Lots of Guy Fawkes masks. Remember V for Vendetta, the movie? Well, art had become reality in central London.

Loved this report from the UK Mirror newspaper.

“Anonymous ‘Million Mask March': Huge police presence as thousands of masked protesters gather in central London. Thousands of anti-capitalist activists – including self-proclaimed revolutionary Russell Brand – have taken to the streets of central London to protest against “political oppression”.

Demonstrators wearing the sinister Guy Fawkes masks popularised in the 2005 film V for Vendetta and carrying banners and placards converged on Trafalgar Square before marching towards Parliament Square at 6.30pm.

Protesters chanted anti-establishment slogans as they milled around, and some who had climbed on to the base of Nelson’s Column let off fireworks. There was a heavy police presence at both Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, as well as along Whitehall, with officers carrying riot gear, but the protest began peacefully.

There was a chorus of boos and whistles as an officer from the Metropolitan Police warned protesters about their behaviour over a loud hailer. The protest, the so-called Million Masks March, was organised by activist group Anonymous”.

Sinister masks? Really! Looked more like carnival time to me! Honestly, as far as I could tell, except for a few heated moments and the odd arrest, it was a very “British” protest. The cops were smiling (most of the time) and were acting with great restraint and good humour. Most of the marchers seemed like they were on a late night picnic.

And everyone (police as well) was taking pictures on their phones.

Funnily enough, I couldn’t see any “real” journalists as the night developed. I guess most had taken photos of the initial protest gathering in the Square, and then went home to file.

I decided to follow the march, as it spread across London. Kind of caught the police by surprise, I think, at Buckingham Palace, though all was fairly civilised.

Along the way, a Russian lady, first time visitor to the UK, from St. Petersburg for the World Travel Mart, asked me what was going on. She seemed bemused to hear that the Brits celebrate the ultimate (failed) terrorist act, performed by Guy Fawkes, as he tried to blow up Parliament. “What are you celebrating?” she asked. Hard to anwer, I replied, though “Free Speech” comes to mind. And the protestors had simply appropriated this age-old British fireworks celebration.

Much to my chagrin, I did not have the Leica, just the iPhone. So, I wondered just what could be done in low light with the iPhone 6.

I don’t claim the pictures are great, but it does add to the revolution that we are seeing in citizen journalism.

The Barricades at Parliament Square

Barricades

V, Posing

V

Guardians at Big Ben (should say, The Elizabeth Tower)

On Guard

What We Want

What We Want

Scuffle on Birdcage Walk …

Scuffle

… and an arrest

Arrest

Circling back on Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus

Still Walking

Walking All Night

.. and the Watchers

The Watchers

Poppies, Selfies and Inspiration

The art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marks one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war. The poppies encircle the Tower, and all of the poppies will be sold, with proceeds shared equally amongst six service charities.

The installation has really caught a nerve in the British psyche, with crowds increasing over time and all the poppies are already sold.

What fascinated me, though, was the “poppies selfie”. Cameras and phones everywhere, photos of everything. That human desire to connect, to connect to others, to share what one is doing, and to be part of something.

All play a role. But what was totally inspirational was that everyone seemed to be there for a reason, and to honour the fallen. Despite the crowds it was calm, peaceful and thoughtful.

The Americans say “Thank you for your Service”.

Brits, with a stiff upper lip, do not.

“Thank you for you Service” seems appropriate.

Selfies

Poppies and Selfies

Capture the moment

Poppies and Selfies

Proud Grandparents

Poppies and Selfies

A family event

Poppies and Selfies

All images Leica M-P, with Elmarit-M 28MM F/2.8, processed in Color Efex Pro

Style (with a purpose) on Saturday

Hampstead Colour Wash -5

Wandering around Hampstead yesterday, on a very pleasant and chilled Saturday, I came across this stylish lady collecting for the Children’s Hope Foundation.

She talked to everyone, catching some unawares, but always with a smile.

Hampstead Colour Wash -4

She had a canny way of talking to passers by, with an infectious personality and a positive word to say about everything.

Everyone stopped.

And she had a style completely her own.

Hampstead

Leica M9 and Noctilux F/1.0 50mm, post processed in Color Efex Pro.

Street style

Leica Akademie Street BW -53

I wrote this in 1970:

Home Town

The gang and me
we get along fine.

We drink together
and wander the roads
of our town
with youthful haste.

Without them
my home town
would have no meaning.

Which makes me think about the streets. It makes me wonder what it is we see when we take photographs on the street.

Are we seeing the people, or are we seeing the image of the people?

Surely, we don’t see the “gang”?

Does Gilden’s flash work for the viewer, or the subject?

On the Leica Akademie day, I took many pictures in London’s Chinatown. The gentleman above seemed to be chilling. Reading. Smoking. Smiling.

He could see I was taking his picture, and didn’t seem to care. Perhaps that is the price we pay when we hang out in a 21st century venue full of cameras.

In any event, my first look at the images of the day lead to the one above. Lots of detail, softly processed. I published the sequence on my main photo site, and got some pleasing feedback on various forums.

Then I looked again.

He might not be a member of my “gang”, but he is connected to me via the image.

Let’s try another process.

Leica Akademie Street Noir -27

Is that more “him”?

Does that make him more a member of my “gang”?

English Gentleman

English Gentleman

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first Leica Akademie event – and it won’t be the last.  A small group of us were in Soho and Chinatown, London, practising street photography.

I decided to use a single lens on the Leica M9-P – the Noctilux 50mm F/1.0. A classic lens – and somewhat scary to use as it is so sharp at point of focus! Of course, it also has beautiful bokeh. A gem.

In Berwick Street, I saw this English Gentleman. Others told me afterwards that he is often seen in that area.

I first saw him buying water in a store. He disappeared from view, and then walked along the road. So I ran back to take a series of images. He was apparently in his own world, oblivious to my camera – until this moment.

I would like to know his real story, and plan to go back.

You can see more of the sequence here

After processing the images, I then discovered a very vibrant set of Leica Groups on Facebook, such as the Leica Meet and Leica. Shame on me that I hadn’t seen them before.

At the same time, Flickr released a massively improved mobile app, which has now made it onto my home screen. So it’s been a great couple of weeks for my photography.

Posting the English Gentleman got quite a positive response online, for which I am extremely grateful.

To me, the image is more than “in your face voyeurism”. It is a story about a man and his environment. The eccentric, classic English Gentleman against a background of urban (and young) London.

Seems to me that is the one thing street photography should be about.

The real story.

M9-P and Noctilux 50mm F/1.0, processed in Silver Efex Pro