Thursday, 31 January 2013

Day 31 : dark!

It’s another leaving do tonight, a common trait of Thursdays and the occasional Wednesday at the moment. As I approached the pub du jour I was rather struck by the church tower across the road dramatically back-lit by the charcoal clouds drifting across the inky black sky. It's pretty dark but luckily my camera does like a low light!


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Day 30 : the lion, the admiral and the square

It’s the Frui Photography Social night and we’re running around Trafalgar Square trying to conjure up our photographic interpretations of Beatles’ song titles. But AL and I both thought we couldn't visit such an iconic London spot without grabbing a few shots that were off topic. AL was much more committed than me as she practically shimmied up the column to get her angle. I think our efforts were worthwhile.



Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Day 29 : a welcome sight

The yellow glow of an underground tube station entrance is a welcome sight on a cold and rainy night. The convenient puddle vibrantly reflects the roundel protecting the portal to the underworld.

This is Tower Hill, it’s still a long way home but at least it's the beginning of the end.


Monday, 28 January 2013

Day 28 : another day, another tube station

The 150th anniversary of The London Underground system had originally prompted me to feature the rich architectural details and iconic branding in my daily photographic blogging. But as I seem to find myself in a tube station late at night and luckily they’re well lit, the continue to provide a fruitful source of inspiration.

To mix it up a bit, if I don't spy a through tube I will break up the journey by changing at a new station and giving me some additional material. Tonight I opted to visit Blackfriars. This used to be my daily destination but now I work further east and I'd been intrigued to visit since the huge renovation. It is now more open with the brushed steel that is springing up in all the newly refurbished stations.

I staked out the escalator, deadline my next train home. I was rather taken by the reflection from the overhead lights casting a chevron effect or sergeant stripes on the escalator.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Day 27 : a hint of summer

Frui challenged us to submit a summer-inspired photograph this weekend and luckily today there’s a promising blue sky to cast a suitably summery backdrop to the proceedings. I thought perhaps a scrap of blue sky reflected in a puddle would be appropriately “British Summer”. All the puddles I found just looked murky, full of detritus and cigarette butts. Not pleasant at all!

Instead of peering down I looked up and saw a big silver bird in the much bigger blue sky. This makes me think of travelling to exotic climes for summer. Hmmm note to self, need to book a holiday!



Saturday, 26 January 2013

Day 26 : emergency roses

Today I wasn't very inspired photographically, I was out and about with my camera, which is definitely a good start, but the only things that really caught my eye were the bunches of rather sad roses. And I do like to photograph a flower. These sort of roses, however, that might be "I'm sorry I was late for our date night", "oops it was your birthday yesterday wasn't it?", "I need a bit of cheering up as I grab the oven-ready meal for my supper" or "I wanted to show how much you care but the florist was shut!"

I'm sure my local corner shop convenience store wouldn't be very happy I characterised their flowers as "sad" as they used to actually own a florist and still like to keep their arm in by supplying emergency flowers for those last-minute floral Elastoplasts! But these flowers do have to contend with a busy road spewing their fumes over their delicate petals so they're trying their best.


Friday, 25 January 2013

Day 25 : Stairway to...

...the stars? ...heaven? or merely the DLR! Another much passed part of the London transport network on my daily travails. In the morning it blends into the general cacophony of the morning commute but in the evening with it’s vivid colour scheme and oh so bright lights I often think maybe there’s something more at the tops of those escalators. It looks like something off a game show with “big money prizes” if you win. I'm fairly confident that it’s just the Tower Gateway entrance to the DLR but if it just wasn’t so in the wrong direction for me to get home I’d be a little tempted to check.

The DLR does seem to have some sort of allure. It's astonishing how many people try to get the front seats of the driverless train as you have the best view and secretly can pretend to be driving. It's slightly reminiscent to a Disneyland monorail or something out of a futuristic 60's sci fi movie as you zip along seemingly in the sky. When they believed we’d all be zooming around courtesy of our jetpacks by now. Maybe this stairway leading you up is gateway to the future!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Day 24 : Margarita time!

The snow has departed overnight but the frost has replaced the white blanket with the sugar dusting again. I love the deep pink and the verdant green offsetting those tiny white crystals. Hmmm I wonder why it makes me think of Margaritas!



Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Day 23 : N' icicles

There's still a couple of things left on my shopping list of winter scenes to shoot. Snowman, icicles, footprints/tracks in the snow and abstract ice patterns. Maybe I will discover an igloo or somehow be able to capture a single snowflake. Hmmm, I think I better aim for a snowman. My neighbours a few doors away built a promising example. Sadly my initial picture was taken much too late at night, the colours were decidedly odd. When I tried a second time, the snow on the paved garden had all melted making the whole image look rather sad. Even sadder than John Lewis’ Christmas snowman advert.

But the melting and refreezing that had occurred okay created the happy accident of one of my other must-have shots.

Standing on the mainline station platform this morning I glanced at the departing rear of a tube snaking out of the station, under the railway bridge and eating up the glistening silver tracks beyond. And I noticed distinctive icicles hanging from underneath the railway bridge. Oooh I might be able to get a shot if I'm quick. First a glance at the departure board to calculate if I have time to dash to the end of the platform, compose, fire a few shots and then back to the platform edge to board the fast train to work. I figure I have...just.

I made it but in my haste I didn't spot I'd caught the mode wheel on my camera and thus caused the colours to be a little off and somewhat desaturated. I could have probably fixed it in Lightroom as I always shoot in RAW but editing time was against me. However at least I got my icicles, and in the nick of time. When I checked again on the way home, not the tiniest icy spike could be seen so I couldn't retake.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Day 22 : the loneliest Christmas tree!

Straight after twelfth night I spotted the now unloved real Christmas trees piling up in various designated spots. Or more likely one was left out for collection and that encouraged dozens to join the throng. I tried photographing them but the resultant shots weren't inspiring. Just a tangle of piney fronds looking rather dejected.

It's way past the time to remove Christmas fripperies and decorations for fear of bad luck but one lone tree surfaced. And then to add to the authenticity, got snowed upon. This morning the snow on the ground has all but melted but had clung tenaciously to the dead branches of thus poor discarded former Christmas tree.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Day 21 : welcome to Narnia

This morning I woke up in Narnia. Another soft blanket of snow fell overnight and as the sun rose the world from my window looked very beautiful. No sign of the white witch’s sleigh though!

The scene starting disappearing quite soon. As the sun rose higher, the snow dusting the coniferous leaves and branches melted first, followed by the roads and paths. The gardens still have some snow, where eager gloved hands haven't been grabbing handfuls to make snowballs yet. But the world is a lot less white, I'm assuming Aslan is melting the magical winter!


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Day 20 : snow good!

I'm in South Kensington all day today and it’s snowing again. Not the good kind, the big fluffy flakes but instead teeny, tiny dots of snow. Snow that instantly melts on contact and turns the pavements to slush. I had this idea of taking a picture of the beautiful wrought iron Metropolitan and District station entrance sign with the snow falling in front. But try as I might the snow just wasn't impressive enough and just looked like “noise”. I slowed it down and now it looks like someone has dropped a lot of cocktail sticks from on high. The pigeons don't look that impressed either! I still like the sign though!


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Day 19 : too early!

Managed to grab another snowy scene before the winter street lights have turned off. Up and out unreasonably early on a Saturday as I've signed up for a weekend workshop which has handily coincided with those two dreaded words you hear on public transport “engineering works”. Oh and three more “replacement bus service”, all you really know is that your journey will take much longer than you anticipated. So just in case I've taken the precaution of an early start, but on the bright side the warm glow from the sodium lights made the snow sparkle.



Friday, 18 January 2013

Day 18 : snow day!

And then it snowed and it snowed and it snowed! Luckily I'm at home today so when the snow stopped I reverted back to my shopping list of snow scenes and worked on a branch of holly that had clung tenaciously to a few berries. There might have been more attractive shots but I was determined to capture those berries.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Day 17 : sugar coated

So the much anticipated snow still is a no-show but today the world seemed sugar coated. Have I said how much I love my new Leica’s wider aperture?


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Day 16 : sorry about the kitten!

This was not a good morning for commuting in London. Our already rammed to the rafters train closed the doors at Clapham Junction and then changed its mind. Oh good, more passengers (actually they transpired to be policeman) and then after leaving the station, we stopped, and then stay stopped. Deep breath, perhaps if I twist myself a little I can gain a few more millimetres of extra space and then maybe when the train moves I’ll be less likely to fall over. It is going to move isn't it?

The driver then announced that “they'd been an incident at Vauxhall” and then added “you will hear it on the news later, a helicopter has hit a crane”. That really didn't sound good! It took an age to crawl towards Vauxhall as we approached we strained to see the offending crane but the clouds seem unusually low. The train stopped just before the station and from our vantage point we could see a sea of blue lights and high-vis jackets. Below was a burnt out white van surrounded by hunks of what seemed like black twisted metal and just debris everywhere. Passengers were reaching for their phones and I had my camera round my neck as I'd hoped to be inspired on the journey to the station. But I stopped, what was I seeing? Could I be looking down at something so much more awful than bits of helicopter, for example someone's remains? The scene looked exactly like a still from ER, Casualty or any disaster movie. But TV dramas can desensitise us to reality and this was a bit too real. Normally the emergency services shield the publics’ eyes from anything too sensitive but with our birds’ eye view meant that we could be privy to something we shouldn't be. I just couldn't risk taking a photo and when I heard later of the fatalities I'm glad I didn't.

On the way home (by tube for obvious reasons) I was attracted to the bright, shiny new tube train and thought I'd remind myself how to do one of the tricks my camera does that is very much a Marmite photographic treatment - one point colour. I couldn't recall how to set the one colour and kept fiercely shooting the hand rails but all the other colours would remain. Eventually I resorted to checking the manual, oh of course, left arrow, point at desired colour, menu set, done! Fortunately I managed to drive the other passengers away with my strange photography, anyway none or them were wearing green so I wasn't interested in them.

Just after Christmas Nikon posted a picture on their Facebook page, obviously with the emphasis on yellow in their case, of two children in (yellow) wellingtons and raincoats standing on a dock staring at the little boats. And the basically asked “what type of photo looks best with this effect?” The outpouring of vitriolic comments and the odd “ooh it can be nice with wedding photography, with a single” was quite startling but one barbed comment that made me laugh was - “Every time a photographer uses selective colour, God kills a kitten. Please, think of the kittens.“ So, as a cat lover I have to say, “I'm really sorry about the kitten!"


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Day 15 : Frosty the postman!

As I stepped off my bus arriving home from the office I was taken by the sparkly glow that all the street lamps were illuminating. The post box at the end of my road looked like it had been sprinkled with fairy dust and, despite the challenging conditions of lighting on a street at midnight, I thought I'd try and capture this frosty moment. I would normally desaturate the photograph and resort to going down the B&W route to stave off the orangey overtones but it was the frost against the red of the post box that had caught my eye so colour it is.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Day 14 : careful what you wish for...

Yesterday I was hankering after the much promised snow and overnight we had a delivery. Really not much, just to cover everything in a thin, white veneer. But when I left this morning it was still completely dark and I really couldn't get inspiration from snowy leaves in the harsh orange glow of the tungsten street lights. I'd been wondering last night if any of the local holly had clung onto its berries and peering into the gloom I think I'd found some obliging sprigs.

Well a plan in place of sorts, so off to enjoy the daily commute, Monday morning always being extra special! The merest dusting on the tracks caused the train to be a few minutes late, not many, not even five. But these few minutes allowed more people to squeeze onto the platform thus making it impossible to get on the “fast” train unless perhaps if you were wearing a customised spiky elbowed jacket...I wasn't! The next train slightly less packed but a “slow” train or as they prefer “all stations”, slow not being a positive word when promoting a transport service. Their couple of minutes supposedly precipitated by the advertised “extreme weather conditions” added 25 minutes to my amongst morning commute. Grrrr! I could see tantalising possibly abstract shots of station accoutrements all coated in the perfect frosty layer coating but so out of reach. Ah well, I figured I could see if there were some photogenic opportunities near the office at lunchtime or perhaps I could try agin on the way home when I wouldn't be so time pressured and have a Monday morning meeting eagerly awaiting my attendance.

But the snow hadn’t touched the environs of the office. There were some promising fat, fluffy snowflakes falling for a while but they went the way of so many snowflakes and disappeared on contact.

Before I left the office I thought I'd capture a little piece of art on my desk. Quite a few of us have different coloured ’Thinking Putty’ about their desk, maybe as a stress reliever (pummelling it and pulling it apart is ever so soothing), or occasionally in my case I mould it into designs which gravity takes over making it look like liquid silver has been poured over my desk. It is not my finest work but seemed apt with all the talk of snow today.

On arrival at home ever tiny vestige of the morning snowfall had dissipated. It was a good job I went for a more abstract snowflake instead!


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Day 13 : no snow!

I'm sure snow was promised this weekend. I had envisaged branches weighed down with a small coat of down, frosty grass, crunchy snow underfoot and I hoped at least one of holly bushes around here would have retained some berries that would sparkle in the winter fairy dust. It's cold, very cold but I haven't spotted a flake yet.

In lieu of the winter wonderland I’d hoped for I caught the last golden vestiges of the sun and a flock of spooked birds flying over the River Thames. Maybe it will snow tomorrow, it feels cold enough.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Day 12 ; back to the future

Despite the celebrations of the inauguration of the Bakerloo line some parts of the tube network are much shinier than others. Westminster tube station had been another cut and cover station on the District line but when the Jubilee line extension decided to change plans and connect Waterloo to the burgeoning Canary Wharf Westminster was thrust on to the list for a major revamp. The resultant tube station is a monument to sleek concrete lines, stacked banks of escalators and shiny steel supports.
I remember when I first travelled through both here and Canary Wharf I was rather perplexed at the design but now I love these homages to Metropolis and Blade Runner, these industrial, cavernous cathedrals of commuting.
High-dynamic black and white seemed the most appropriate medium to capture this futurist station.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Day 11 : Chelsea green

I figured I'd capture a tube station shot from Sloane Square as I've always thought the red, the blue and the sage green was a striking and retro combination. I couldn't manage to get here on Wednesday, and also make it home without having to resort to night buses (which I endeavour never to resort to) so tonight I built in a trip here en route home complete with photography time.

The station stands out from many of its neighbours, it's the last westbound tube station with tiled walls and it has the original roundels not just the big white squares now so common. It unusually has escalators from platform up to the street level whisking shoppers up towards the bright lights of Peter Jones and King’s Road. And the whole look has an elegant fifties glamour which is so very apt for the gateway to Chelsea!

If I hadn't already taken the shot at Mansion House on Wednesday I would be focusing on the original station signage with its chunky brass rims but I don’t want to take the same photo again so needed another angle. I have spotted the vibrant red painted doors on the platform against the green previously and figured that could work but they've since repainted them and the green on green wasn't so interesting. However in lieu of the wooden doors I thought the fire extinguishers made their own statement.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Day 10 : mind the gap!

As my new camera is a lover of low light with its wonderful 1.4 aperture and hence faster shutter speed I had to play around a bit to get the sharp painted warning about the generous space between the platform and the open tube doors and the motion blur of the tube taking off once more. I'm not a big fan of these gaps, some of them are really alarming seemingly just waiting for the merest teeter to send you slipping into the open jaws onto of the electrified tracks below. Somehow I fell down the side of a stationary train when I was very young. I remember I was going somewhere with my grandparents and luckily I was still holding onto their hands so I was snatched quickly to safety. But that brief terrifying plummet has stayed with me and I still do my utmost to dodge the most cavernous “gaps” on the tube. Frankly I'd still rather photograph them that brave them, though this one doesn't constitute a scary gap, this one is a mere hairline gap.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Day 9 : going underground

Today the London Underground is 150 years old, well to be really accurate the Bakerloo line is. The tube driver informed us of this fact with glee this morning. The passengers all seemed just seemed beyond disinterested though. To me it was a break from the “stand clear of the doors” and “mind the gap” and I've always been rather intrigued about the whole London Underground lore. When I returned to London, my local tube was a Piccadilly suburban open air one and I would listen eagerly for the “singing” of the tracks that would herald the oncoming tube to whisk me off to work each day. I don't know when I first started craving more knowledge about this mundane part of so many of our daily commutes. I know I rather taken the underground/overground aspect, the station architecture, the stylised oh so ubiquitous tube map, the iconic roundel both the thread connecting all the stations and the illuminated saviour when looking for a way home from a less well known corner of London. Occasionally if you’re standing in the right spot you’d get enticing glimpses of the abandoned stations and I always intended a visit, sadly the fear of terrorism has closed that avenue of pleasure. When I moved more south west and my local line became the District line I wanted to find out why the tube trains were totally different to the Piccadilly line tubes, they didn't always seem to go from a to b via the quickest route. And then also why when they travelled underground it somehow didn't always seem very subterranean compared to their Piccadilly cousins. The answer, in case you're interested, is “cut and cover”. But enough of tube geekery, I need a photo.

Tonight is the Photography Social so I'm bound to have a handful of pictures but not with the tube in mind. Luckily when the Social at St. Paul's had petered out I headed for my last tube home and had some time to hopefully grab my century and a half commemorative photo. I had set my heart on a roundel but ideally I wanted a tiled wall and a tin plate edged in wood or metal. The big signs on the platform were just bit squares of metal, too modern and not right. I knew there was potential at Sloane Square but I was dangerously close to my very last tube and there's a limit to the lengths I’ll take to get that shot. And leaving myself without a viable way to get home on a school night is perhaps a length too far. Luckily the platforms had more promise, the tiles not quite as retro as I like but I grabbed my shot moments before the tube pulled in alongside.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Day 8 : the early bird catches the pink

A quick glance out of the window to check the weather as I was leaving this morning made me say “wow!” Luckily I figured I could fire off a couple of shots at my higher vantage point before leaving and seeing what other angles might work on the short walk to the bus stop. Even in those few minutes the vibrancy was diminishing and by the time the bus had travelled a mere one stop to Richmond Bridge, where I hoped the twinkling Thames against this stunning backdrop might form a striking vista - all gone! The pink had been entirely replaced by dark purpley/grey streaks against the still blue sky. There were little glimpses of the rising sun peeping through the clouds, around buildings and trees leaving oranges, yellows and gold in its wake but it seems the pinks were just a special treat for the early birds!


Monday, 7 January 2013

Day 7 : a tiny skull!

So the big Alexander McQueen ring from yesterday's daily photo is for occasional adornment as it is rather a statement but it’s tiny friend was a little Christmas present to myself that so far I've worn every day. It's a Theo Fennell one this time, another designer rather enamoured by a skull motif. I'm not a fan of the skulls with a snake slithering out of the eye sockets which seem to favour a few of his cuff links but this little beauty, with its dusting of bling, is rather fabulous! A skull is for life, not just for Christmas!