Sunday, 31 March 2013

Day 90 : the (scary) bunny army

Really the day can't pass with a nod to the bunny. I broke the bunnies out just after midnight whilst we were enjoying delicious cocktails, cool music and a chilled evening at Milk and Honey. Our incredulity is turned up to eleven when it transpires that C, the Scottish “hard” man of our little group is afraid of bunnies! However C discovers that biting the heads off the scary chocolate army banishes the bunny traumas. Tranquility is restored.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Day 89 : the power station and the setting sun

I'm heading for the city. Not for once on the packed commuter train barely after sunrise, for the daily grind, but just before sunset to meet friends for great food and wicked cocktails. My camera is primed to try and get sone nice shots and a bonus would be to incorporate a fine sunset. Another beyond bland day sky-wise has slightly livened up a by the trickles of colour proclaiming what little we've seen of the sun packing up for the day.

I take a few pictures at the station, the yellow, ochres and oranges can just be seen behind the bares branches on the horizon from the very end of the platform, it's got some promise but it’s not really working.

From the fast train between the blocks of flats, the other building and the still undressed trees I see the sunbursts of golden tantalisingly out of reach. Composing a great photograph from a moving train through undoubtedly grubby windows is really a challenge. Battersea Power station comes into view, a building I've been dying to get my lens on. The ideal situation would be to have the iconic old building (yes it's the one from the Pink Floyd Animals album cover with the huge inflatable pig) silhouetted against the setting sun. It's an impossible task but as luck would have it as the train rumbles past, if I strain myself I can just get Battersea Power station, the cranes and the new building skeleton being worked on all in a fiery skyline. I'd prefer just the power station building by itself but I felt I was fortunate enough to get anything of use through a dirty moving train window. Next time I'll get the slow train that stops at Battersea Queenstown Road and go for the close-up.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Day 88 : a tiny patch of blue

The beginning of the four day Easter holiday weekend and the weather hasn't got with the programme. In other parts of the country the white witch of Narnia is holding Spring hostage and everything is still slumbering under a frosty blanket of snow. We don't have any snow here but definitely the optimistic green shoots seem to be rather stifled. There was a universal burst of enthusiasm as Spring kicked in but then Winter - part 2 happened and flowers that hadn't bloomed yet, appear now to be reluctant to take the final step.

Today there were a few moments when the sun broke through and there was a faint blue sky. It didn't last long but maybe Spring part 2 is around the corner or perhaps a few corners.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Day 87 : a little graffiti

I'm not sure what in particular reason drew me to glance at this wall as I passed by. And then somehow to spot a cheeky bit of graffiti round the side of the drain pipe. But I did and here it is.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Day 86 : artificial bushes!

I'm going through a sentimental period considering all the years I've worked in one building or another around Tower Hill and now we’re upping sticks I feel I should capture the local attractions as part of our final hurrah. I probably should be trying to catch sight of ravens, Beefeaters or executing long exposures of Tower Bridge but tonight I've opted for an entirely different landmark or perhaps point of reference if you will.

Our latest building is on a particularly barren part of the highway, really little to cite as a local monument. So when directing a cab driver, after exhausting the seemingly unheard of street intersection I resort to “it’s just past Secrets”. Secrets is, I believe the vernacular is, a table dancing bar. During the day it is tightly shuttered up and looks like it’s closed up forever but at night it comes into its slightly tawdry lit own. And to facilitate the smokers each night they wheel out this curious oasis of fake greenery surrounding a small piece of carpet. I've always assumed it’s to shield the girls who, let's say it, are not always “well dressed” from the busy road. I suspect someone envisaged accidents courtesy of distracted drivers and made it a proviso of their licence.

Now, however ardent a smoker you are, you'd have to be pretty tough to endure the biting cold at the moment but luckily the table dancing emporium has considered that and furnished the girls with big gold capes. I'm assuming this is some sort of inclement weather protection and not some elaborate stripping superhero act but either way the girls are clad thus when partaking in cigarette breaks.

I once had the pleasure of chatting to one of the “dancers” (that's probably too long a story as to how that came about) and Milly (as she said she said her name was, though I wondered if she was going to use that line “what do you want me to be called?” referred to the smoking area. I asked if she was alluding to the area with the “artificial bushes” and Milly, quick as a flash, retorted “there ain't any bushes nor anything artificial in here!” Now that could be deemed educational, frankly T.M.I. or just plain wrong as I am reasonably sure some of the girls have been “enhanced”, though I haven't made a particular study. But whatever, it’s a great line!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Day 85 : Erwitt inspired noticing things

“Today everyone is a photographer. Photography is not brain surgery. It’s not that complicated, it is easier than before… it’s not the ease, it’s what you do and how you do it and how you construct your life and your vision… noticing possible pictures with or without carrying a camera is fundamental to every working photographer. The photograph, if it communicates, is a very good is is something you can’t describe. IT’S MAGIC THAT SOMETIMES HAPPENS” Elliott Erwitt

I can't purport to have an ounce of Erwitt’s talent but I totally concur about noticing pictures through or outside a camera’s viewfinder. I just wish I could devote the time required to capture all those little vignettes forever. I found myself doing this before I commenced this project, mentally cropping, composing the shot and adjusting the depth of field on little scenes that flash by. Now I’ve committed to a photo-a-day I find this behaviour is even more pronounced.

On the commute into the city this morning, the train was a sardine can of passengers, all layered up against the biting cold and pressed up together so we could let just one more person on. There's that musty fug of scratchy winter coats and padded ski jackets and there's always one person strapped to the largest rucksack imaginable like some lost mutant ninja turtle and we’re having to contort ourselves to avoid being the one pressed up against the Velcro and zippered lumpy pockets. I have a view through the dusty window at the world whizzing by, just. And if I could have taken a picture, when there’s no room to reach in my bag for my camera and even if I was wearing it there’s not even wiggle room to raise it to my eye, also we’re just about going too fast to focus and the windows are not the tiniest bit clean and transparently window-like, what would I have taken? The row of large roller shutters and one painted bright yellow - click! Battersea Power Station looming high with little nests if scaffoldings in the chimneys - click! Two men on the platform bent over and scrambling in their bags with exactly the same stance a few feet apart - click!

As it is I wait for the evening journey home. This time it is on the Underground rather than the train, so the focus is on the passengers not the nothingness beyond the windows. Almost as soon as I was settled down I just trying out an unfamiliar setting on my camera and was focusing up and down the carriage, not taking shots, merely fiddling. A woman sat a few seats away indignantly demanded to know what I was taking pictures of. I told her I wasn't, but was just experimenting with settings but clearly disbelieving me she viewed me with suspicion for the next 45 minutes or so. As it is, I fired off a sneaky shot of the passengers opposite at one point after her admonishment but as my camera is oh so quiet in its stealth mode I think I got away with it. Dare I sat that there's a tiny whisper of Erwitt here, he would have somehow included a dog and the poses have had more synergy but I did my best with the “unsolicited photograph police” monitoring. It's not “magic” but at least I'm noticing!


Monday, 25 March 2013

Day 84 : simply the Shard

I found out today that we should be upping sticks and relocating our office at the end of April, assuming the building work is on schedule (hmmm, that sounds like famous last words to me!) So galvanised into action on the way home from the office I thought I'd take another local picture postcard, as I know I’ll miss it when I'm no longer here. Not that I can’t return but isn’t it always true we don't always appreciate what’s on our doorstep.

Here is the Shard glowing from across the Thames on this clear and chilly night. It towers over everything, I haven't visited the dizzying heights yet, that's something else I should cross off the list.

It’s an unusual building, I had always envisaged it would be pointier when it was finished but instead the shard refers to the fact that it looks like it has been broken off at the top, almost looking like an accident waiting to happen. Having done untold damage to my toe with a much smaller shard recently, there is something about this building that make me think “jeopardy!”


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Day 83 : the pen is mightier than...

Like many I guess, I write with a pen so much less than I used to. Ever since I got my first Palm Pilot, then graduated to a BlackBerry, iPhone and then iPad, if I'm not slaving over a hot laptop I'm tapping furiously into one of those. I don't tend to pick up a paintbrush now either, occasionally I draw and “paint” on my iPad, or more likely resort to getting my artistic kicks via the Draw Something app.

I'm not entirely paperless, I still have a notebook at work that I laboriously list some of my todo items, various notes and reminders. And on the lengthier conference calls (dare I say if they veer towards a tad tedious) I produce complicated abstract scribbles in the margins. I don't like taking my notebook out of the office, my last one had over five years of musings in black and hot pink penmanship (very particular about the colours!) so I'd hate not to be able to lay my hands on it any time. To keep years worth of teeny, tiny writing and the odd curious doodle from being left at a customer or in a taxi generally when heading for client meetings I furnish myself with my “special grown-up” notebook and pen. Maybe I think it’ll add gravitas to my jottings!


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Day 82 : a beautiful noise!

Tonight I braved the bitter cold to visit St John’s in Smith Square to listen to Handel’s Messiah performed by AL and the City of London choir. I wasn't really sat close enough to get some action shots but luckily at the interval the timpani player was doing a bit of tuning up so I could sidle up to the front and just catch his flying hands. My favourite parts were not the soloists, but when the entire choir lift their voices and sing together, it certainly is a beautiful noise!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Day 81 : Friday sugar-rush

As a treat for getting to the end of the week we do seem to occasionally indulge in Burger Fridays or feel the need for a “it’s nearly the weekend” sugar-high. N had succumbed to a box of teeny, tiny sunshine coloured cupcakes to share amongst us all. And I had the last one on proviso is was the subject of my “photo-a-day”. With the aid of some sheets of A3 paper from the stationary cup word it had the perfect minimalist Donna Hay-esque back drop. It was tasty too!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Day 80 : flower bank

As I arrived for my appointment I was taken by the beautiful bowls of striking deep pink flowers adorning reception. I’m not sure what the flowers are (maybe lilies because of the stamens or a very exotic tulip) but they’re in a large clear vase with red metal spirals Coiled artistically inside. My fingers were itching to reach for my camera but I figured I would wait until after my visit and capture them on the way out.

So after my appointment I dropped by bags in the now empty reception and reached for my camera. Suddenly I'm surrounded by security guards. It didn't occur to me to ask to take a photograph of the ’perty flowers’ but they seem to be most concerned I might use flash. I so rarely do I almost forget that I have a flash on my camera. Apparently their security systems don't like flashes! I manage to grab a quick shot and convince them I'm not planning a heist or something.

I thought they might be open to artistic endeavours as they're currently hosting a Roy Lichtenstein retrospective exhibition on the other side of their reception. I was amused that the first three pieces are of bulls, didn't think I'd see any more of those images at this bank, perhaps the curator worked here prior to 2008 when the bull got banished!


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Day 79 : sub-culture

A friend checking out this blog for the first commented that it was very underground. “Subversive?” I asked, “that's curious feedback”. However he was referring to the amount of pictures that seem to feature the structure, the trains, the platforms, tunnels, steps and walls of the London Underground. I will concede it is true, it spend a disproportionate amount of time when I'm not sleeping or working, subterranean. And I've always been curiously fascinated by the history, the lore, the unique architecture and the design of all things underground. So it figures that considering my daily picture, if I wasn’t inspired earlier in the day I look at the material around me after dark.

Today it's London Bridge, not my usual journey, but it gave me the opportunity to be drawn to a particular tunnel as I head for the Jubilee line.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Day 78 : sparkly Hix fish

Tonight enjoyed a repeat visit to HIX in Soho with Moscow P., the restaurant boasts delicious, elegant modern British food plus plenty of striking modern British artwork. Several of the pieces are themed, for example pies and fish. Damien Hirst’s fish in Perspex boxes mobile above the bar is a fine example but my eye was very much drawn to Stephen Webster’s “Jaws” mobile. Which is a small shoal of black crystal encrusted fish swimming through the open jaws of a shark skeleton (maybe). I do like a sparkly thing!
They were rather a challenge to photograph but as we were nearly the last to leave the friendly staff kindly turned on the main lights to help me. I've only come across Stephen Webster’s fabulous spiky, edgy jewellery before as I have a little in my collection, so it was a lovely surprise to see more of his work on a much grander scale.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Day 77 : wheels

The “Boris-bike” park near the office is often denuded of vehicles. I've never availed myself of one of the ubiquitous cycles as I'm not a massive fan of cycling (a vivid memory of a young girl’s bike versus large angry bus) and especially not fond of tackling the mean streets of London devoid of a helmet!

I've managed to find plenty of blue bikes lined up today because I'd been hoping to get an abstract shot of their multiple wheels.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Day 75 : Spring is winning!

With all the crazy weather this week I had a real yen today to find a little sign that Spring was still winning. Near me it’s the daffodils, the lone snowdrop and budding of the leaves. I yearned for something a little different. Over the bridge I discovered a low ivy-clad wall housing a cute little cottage garden with some delicate vibrant pink-hued blossoming branches. I'm not sure what this small tree is or what it is going to turn into but today it looks very beautiful

Friday, 15 March 2013

Day 74 : art in progress

Today I managed to tag along with the Friday Burger Club for the first time. They had hired a car and planned to drive to a little street market near Old Street, avail themselves of fine burgers and then drive back to the office. It does seem wildly decadent, but it transpires hiring a ’Zip Car’ for an hour, is cheaper than hailing a black cab both ways. As we pull into the Red Market in Rivington Street I notice some intricate wall art, we had both preordered our burgers a secured a parking spot. The Friday Burger Club take burger purveying terribly seriously! It transpires we are a little early so the ’Bear’ fires up the grill and starts on our order.

We’re intrigued by a girl in a boiler suit and mask work a little on a huge mural stretching the length of the market, whilst her friend takes regular photographs as she ducks out of shot. It’s explained that we are watching the acclaimed “contemporary urban” artist Jo Peel work on her latest animation of one of her huge murals. We’re told that the story starts with pile of rubbish rolling out from the double decker bus Jo has already decorated. The paper ball scoots across the market and through some painted pipes at the right of the mural. This caused a chain reaction and activated the wrecking ball swinging back and forth smashing a building, releasing a flock of birds that have flown off the painting. Now the large crane is rising no doubt leaving a new building in its wake but exactly what, remains to be seen. Jo appears to be cowering whilst her friend is recording the changes to the painted height of the crane hook in a stop-motion style. It is painstaking stuff! I think I recall that the finished film is being projected on the opposite wall on May 5th.

Our Grizzly burgers are done to perfection, we chose Grizzly (bacon, cheese and bacon jam) over Greedy (double the size) or Angry (scary chilli flavours). The boys were still peckish however, and chased their burger with a fabulous looking Mark Hix Fish Dog. I tried some of Hix’s Dog Nuts (cinnamon churros with salted caramel sauce), sadly the van had been stocked up with curry sauce (urghh) rather than the caramel so we had them au natural. Still pretty amazing though!

Looking forward to seeing completed mural, I suspect it will be pretty sensational!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Day 73 : wharf in the water

I had a few minutes ahead of my appointment at Canary Wharf today. I thought I would inevitably incur the wrath of security by taking some photos of the shiny, looming buildings. But nothing was particularly inspiring me today. I walked over to the water to check if the flotilla of paper boats where still anchored there. They were not. However I was rather taken by the reflection of the tallest building, One Canada Square, the Thomson Reuters curved building in the ripples and the glimpses blue sky.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Day 72 : meat-ing up

Tonight’s photographing social was based in Smithfield Meat Market. Every thing is entirely meat-free and scrubbed down for when we are running around with our cameras. You wouldn't know what the place turns back into the thriving, buzzing livestock trading emporium from 3am.

At we leave the pub (aptly named the Butcher’s Hook & Cleaver) at closing time the big refrigerated vans are just rolling up prepping for the next day trading. I loved the eerie blue glow emanating from the driver’s cab.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Day 71 : snow, what snow?

The snow falling as I arrived home last night, the talk on the radio of closed “snow gates”, cancelled Eurostar trains, long delays at Gatwick and lurid tales of passengers trapped in their cars overnight on a motorway convinced me it was back to the snow gear. But checking the weather out the window I was shocked to see not a tiniest scrap of white on the grass, in the tree branches on top of the car roofs, and instead a blue, blue sky. It seemed very apt to shoot soft white shapes counterpointed against this cornflower blue sky so delicate white blossom sprang to mind.


Monday, 11 March 2013

Day 70 : beyond cold

Today has certainly been petulant weather-wise. There have been angry flurries of horizontal snow one moment and then minutes later all gone. No trace of a sudden impetuous snow storm left on the pavements, not a single flake.

The schizophrenic weather has carried on throughout the day and now it’s cold. Too cold to snow! One of that well used statements, particularly about snow, that gets bandied around. Others being “the wrong sort of snow” and “it is, or is not, going to stick”. Somehow in the bitter wind I manage to prop my camera up and on the side wall, fortunately relatively far for a near plummet into the Thames, and shot a what may appear slightly drunken shot of a famous bridge I work near, for just a little while longer.

An hour plus later when I'm finally home, the snow is swirling around me as I get off the train, and somehow it has got much colder, teeth chatteringly, breath freezing, finger numbingly colder. Apparently it wasn't too cold to snow after all!


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Day 69 : how did that get there?

There are daffodils blooming all over the place. Many of the local gardens are hosts to these splashes of sunshine and the park is awash with rivers of their golden bobbing heads. But on the muddy bank or verge alongside the bowling club, which grows spindly brambles, weeds and nettles. But somehow in all the random overgrown undergrowth is a lone daffodil. Curious really as I'm pretty sure daffodils don't proliferate by their seeds blowing in the wind, bulbs are pretty heavy. I can only assume someone had a spare bulb and planted a little surprise in the mud. A perfect daffodil somehow seems extra apt today on Mother's Day.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Day 68 : a girl’s best friend

Something sparkly caught my eye today and I just had to make it mine and take it home. It seemed appropriate to make it today's muse! Well it is forever after all!


Friday, 8 March 2013

Day 67 : light in the darkness

I really enjoyed the food in the Bread Street Kitchen tonight but not loved the lack of light so much. I'm convinced I was sat at the darkest table in the entire place and being able to see my food is an important part of me really being able to appreciate it. I found that if I propped my iPad up on a bright page, for example email, the ensuring glow would throw just enough illumination to show me my delicious food.

Ironically, across from table was a cluster of kitsch pendant lamps juxtaposed against an art nouveau-esque column light and the galvanised steel industrial ceiling.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Day 66 : ghostly tree

A quote from Elliott Erwitt really struck a chord this week “To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Elliot would be much more inclined to capture the perfect decisive and quirky moment with a dog, a poignant vignette of social commentary or just some glimpse at some eccentric characters he’s espied.

I'm positive this is not what would have caught Elliott’s eye. But I just noticed as I disembarked from the bus that if I waited for an oncoming car to come around the corner to illuminate this denuded tree, the ghostly shadows on the pavement made such a beautiful abstract image.