Monday, 28 April 2014

Chaos on the Tubes

Tube Strikes caused major disruption to London this week, but luckily I was able to work from home during the two days of striking. I did however manage to take quite a few shots.

To start with though, is a shot from last week that I forgot to post. Sugar Bakers Court is a small passage off Greenchurch Lane, not far from the Gherkin. There wasn't much to photograph, but I quite like this shot. The immediate are of and surrounding this passage escaped the Great Fire of London, and shortly after confectioners set up here, which led to its name (although it was first called
"Sugar Bakers Yard").

The next image is of Throgmorton Street, and is my favourite picture of the week. I think it was the only evening where the sun was not hidden behind a drab covering a cloud, and hence resulted in lovely long shadows. The building in the background is the Bank of England.

From here I went towards Moorgate to catch the tube, walking along Coleman Street, where I saw an interesting piece of "art" outside one the office, and I immediately started looking for a shot where I could utilise the reflections in the metal.

Further up Coleman Street, to the left, is Basinghall Avenue, where again I was treated to some lovely long shadows. The building here is Girdlers Hall, home to The Girdler's Company, one of the 109 Livery Companies of the City of London.

In the book ("Bleeding London"), the character Stuart, who walks every street in London, marks them off with a black pen in an A-Z map. In order to keep track of my progress I am also marking off the streets in black on a map, but in slightly more hi-tech fashion. I want track this progress, month by month, and therefore decided to end this post at the end of April, with the map of my progress to date. I will post these images in the "Progress" page also.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

What counts as a Street?

I started reading the book, and the character Stuart, who decides to walk every street in greater London, ponders what exactly counts as a street -

"Then he had to decide what he meant as 'street'. His dictionary defined it as a 'paved road (esp. Roman): a a road lined with houses, broader than a lane'. He was immediately suspicious of a definition of street that found it necessary to use the word road, but he obviously intended to walk down roads too. He also intended to walk down roads that weren't necessarily lined with houses. For that matter he intended to walk down lanes too. Alleyways and courtyards, mews and closes, avenues and walks were certainly on his map, as were embankments, bridges and towpaths. On the other hand, there were some paved roads where he didnt intend to walk at all; along stretches of London motorways, for example, through underpasses and road tunnels, along flyovers. "

The RPS have not defined a definition of street for the "Bleeding London" project, but I feel that the above definition works well for me - although the simpler definition I am going by is any such place that has a name plate or could be considered as having an address, and is passable by foot. There may be exceptions that I include, for example the picture below; its a passage between Tokenhouse Yard and Telegraph Street. As far as I can tell it doesn't have a name; however it looked photogenic and I wanted to take a shot of it. I might not be able to submit it to the RPS, but for my project I feel I can bend the rules to include something in, but perhaps not to exclude something.

The area around this passage, on the Telegraph Street side, presented a bit of challenge as there were some very small yards, or sections of road with their own name, that didn't provide a lot of photographic opportunities. Both Copthall Building's and Copthall Close are good examples of this, each only slightly longer than what can be seen in the photographs.

Whilst photographing the almost as small Whalebone Court, I had my first encounter with a Security Guard. I could see her inside a building taking a great interest in what I was doing, so I decided the best thing to do was to go in and introduce myself and explain what I was doing. I ended up chatting to her for about 20 minutes, and she wished me luck with my project.
One of the things I love about the City, is all little alleys and courtyards hidden away from the main roads, especially those with pubs.

Copthall Avenue, a much bigger street, presented a few more opportunities, although I didn't walk its length. I liked the bend in the road here and when three guys approached, it reminded me of Reservoir Dogs for some reason (and I'm still humming one of the tunes from the film now).

Another road off Copthall Avenue is Great Swan Alley, which leads to Moorgate. I managed to catch this guy on the bike ogling the woman on the other side as he cycled by.

Angel Court is another place where there is a lot of redevelopment going on. Parts of Angel Court are closed off, whilst the majority of the remainder is under scaffolding and boards.

Telegraph Street (mentioned above) is very narrow at the end near Copthall Buildings as can be seen below, but gets wider by the Telegraph pub and leads up to Moorgate.

The shots above were taken on my way to Moorgate, as part of my plan to walk to/from different tube stations on my way to work/home, taking pictures along the way. Earlier the same day I had walked from Moorgate, and taken a few pictures, but I was only reasonably happy with this one, taken on Eldon Street.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Upping the Pace

After realising the scale of what I had set myself I tried to be a bit more productive this week. However I dont want to just go from street to street and take a quick snap, before moving on the next street; I still want to try to take reasonably good photos, but equally with the timescale I have I know that I cannot wait around for long at spots waiting for interesting things to happen. There are a few streets where I havent got anything I am happy with and will aim to return; only time will tell whether I get the opportunity to return or have to use the pictures I already have.

I realised that I need a plan and a strategy, and I still need to work this out. But I did make a start by travelling to/from Moorgate rather than Liverpool Street. However I dont really want to cover all of the areas closest to my office at the start, leaving all the furthest locations till the end.

Sun Street has the wealth of the Exchange Square buildings on one side of the road, whilst the other is very run down. However a lot of old run down buildings are boarded up and it looks like it is going to be redeveloped fairly soon.

Round the bend towards the end of Appold Street, I noticed the street name change to "Snowden Street", which confused me. However later I realised that the sign is kind of in the wrong place, but definitly facing the wrong way as it as side street, just round the corner of the building in this picture.

Round the corner from Appold Street is Worship Street where a lot of development seems to about to happen - the money in the city is definitely moving east.

Round the corner from Worship Street is Norton Folgate, which up the road a bit further turns into Bishopsgate.

My final picture on this particular day was taken heading back to the office along Sun Street Passage which is a small alley which leads from Exchange Square to Liverpool Street Station. Towards Liverpool Street station it gets a bit narrower and there is a lot of scaffolding and boards around/over it due to development work.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

What have I got myself into?

I thought over the idea of photographing every street in the city for a few days and it seemed like a good project and challenge to set myself. I asked the Chairman of my camera club if he had filled all the presenting slots for next season, and he still had two slots to fill. I told him about my idea, which he liked, and so I will now be presenting my project on 21st of January 2015. I felt strangely good about this, I had committed to the project, and had to do it now!
However, it was only when I came to writing this blog entry that I discovered there were 393 streets in the city of London (and does this include all those little alleys?). I have photographed about 20 so far. In order to complete my project in line with the RPS time frame (October), I will need to photograph around 60 streets a month. In order to complete by the end of year, and just in time for my presentation, I will need to photograph 45 a month. Even the lower of those figures is going to be a tall order, especially as so far I have been mostly shooting very close to my office. Maybe I should have done the maths before committing. !#@&*^%$


Pinners Passage is a small walkway from Old Broad Street to Austin Friars. You might think it doesnt count, but it does have its own street sign, and in my book that means it counts. The building above and to the side of it is fairly recent and Pinners Passage could have dissapeared, but didnt; I think its nice that it still remains.

The next image, with another reflection of Tower 42, shows one end of Austin Friars, and on the other side of the railings, Throgmorton Avenue. Which Street would this count towards, or could you count it for both? In this case, Ihave photographed Austin Friars before, and have another picture of Throgmorton Street (below), so it doest really matter, but it does make me wonder.

Below is  a sign on Throgmorton Avenue about Drapers Hall. Drapers Hall was originally built on land adjacent to, and bought from the Augustinian friary. It had been the house of Thomas Cromwell, Chief Minister to Henry VIII until he was executed in 1540. The Drapers company purchased the property three years later.

Austin Friars Passage is a Tiny alley between Austin Friars and Great Winchester Street, that doesn't give you many options in which to photograph it.

I loved this scene in the alley, though got a few odd looks photographing it. I was tempted to clone out the last line of the sign to add to the humour of it.

The next shot is taken on Lothbury. The building in the picture is the rear of the Bank of England. I loved the dappled light on the wall.

This is the front of the bank of England on Threadneedle Street, taken from in front of the Royal Exchange. The statue is of the Duke of Wellington.

Below is from London Wall, which was originally the defensive wall built around London by the Romans. There are a few places left where they are remains of the wall.

And finally a shot of Moorgate. I'm sure I used to occasionally visit a greasy spoon for breakfast, where this building site is now, when I worked in London previously. I accidentally pressed the shutter in taking this picture whilst checking my camera settings, but it turned out ok(ish).

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The idea of my own project

I decided that it might be a good idea, to start my own Bleeding London related project - to photograph every single street in the Square Mile. This seemed like a fun but daunting project. Not only does the city cover a fair distance, but there are a lot of streets and many many tiny little alleys all of which would have to be photographed, and photographed reasonably well - If I was going to do this project, then I would try to get some good images, and not just dash from street to street taking record shots.

As you can see from the image below, the Square Mile is not square in shape. Its also actually a bit bigger than a square mile at 1.12 square miles.

Even at this scale, it can be seen that there are a lot of streets to photograph. No roads though! Not a single road exists in the City, though technically there is half a road. For a bit more info, see this post at the Londonist.

I take my little fuji X100s with me to work every day and usually get in a little early, so should have opportunities for getting a few shots before I start work. The next two shots were from the first of such occasions and taken from a pedestrian bridge across Wormwood Street. The first shows the reflection of Tower 42 in another building, whilst the second, shows just a little of Wormwood Street - on the other side of the crossroads it turns into London Wall.

I also took another picture of Tower 42 (where I work).

Later on I managed a couple of other shots of small side roads/alleys. Austin Friars was an Augustinian friary from the 13th Century to the 16th Century. The site of the friary is enclosed by the streets Austin Friars and Old Broad Street. The only Friary building remaining is the Dutch Church, though this was rebuilt after being bombed in the second world war.

Also just off Old Broad Street is Adams Court, which connects to Threadneedle Street.

And another shot taken outside Tower 42. I have a few here, but I was rather taken by the shadows across the pavement.

On Friday I took my bigger camera, a Nikon D7100, and tripod into work, to take a few pictures after work. I wanted to get a few long exposure shots of London Bridge and the Shard, but the weather wasn't ideal for this as their was no wind, so the clouds were fairly static.I am pretty happy with this shot though.

The next shot was taken on the bridge itself. The sun was getting low and casting long shadows of the commuters crossing over to London Bridge station.

I then ventured south of the river and out of the square mile! At this point I was still thinking of just contributing to the Bleeding London project; I think I had the idea of photographing every street in the square mile on the way home that evening. More London Place near City Hall has some very striking buildings and I have taken a few nice shots here before, but looking up provides a different view altogether.

At the other end of More London Place I saw this great reflection in the front of an office building. I love the South Bank area, but now that I am photographing the entire square mile, I don't think I will be venturing there again for a while.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Discovering the Project

At my camera club we had a talk/presentation by a excellent natural history photographer, who spoke a bit about her "journey" in obtaining a fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society. I had previously considered applying for Licentiateship (the first level of distinction at the RPS), but the cost of membership is quite high and the benefits were not obvious. Anyway, I was intrigued enough to look at the RPS website again, and that is how I came across the "Bleeding London" project. I immediately signed up and joined the Flickr group.

I managed to get out with the camera once this week. First up was Broadgate Circle. Strictly speaking I don't think this counts a street, but I am going to include it here. The shot is taken through as sculpture called Fulcrum by Richard Serra.

Also probably not counting are the following two shots at Finsbury Avenue Square and Exchange Square, but it does raise the question of what counts as a "street"? Perhaps these places have a postal address and if so then perhaps that qualifies them?

I recently saw a great shot from the Steps on Appold Street to Exchange Square, with some strong shadows which had inspired me to try something similar (bit different). However it was the wrong time of day and the light was very flat, so I settled on a different shot altogether.

Finally, a shot on Bishopsgate.