Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sun is shining in Clapham

One of the rare days this winter where we have had no rain or snow and the skies have been bright. It makes taking pictures more enjoyable although overcast weather is considered to be better for photographs because of a soft and non-direct light. 
Social housing in the sun (and shade).

Clapham common and bare trees.

Clouds are now taking over. 

And it is getting dark.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Clapham photo club meets for the first time with Charlie Round-Turner photographer

Here is a link to a note that Charlie shared with us. It gives some easy to grasp descriptions of aperture, shutter speed, ISO; the range of different types of lenses from wide lenses to standard and telephoto ones; a little exercise to try different apertures and shutter speeds to get the same effect; short advice on light directions and finally the rule of thumb 'keep it simple'! 

I had this idea of setting up a local photo club to share and learn from others with an interest in photography in particular mums who would be in a similar position in terms of available time.

So I asked the question on NappyValleyNet - the site for mums in South West London and I had very surprising results.

First mums showed an interest. Second a great photographer Charlie Round-Turner ( offered a free photography basics class. Third we found the perfect place to host it, Eat Play and Love on Battersea Road, spacious, with a soft play area for the children and nicely decorated. And amazing staff!

So as a result the 'Clapham photo-club' held its first meeting last week and hosted a very practical lesson for its members.

Charlie was very focused, gave us practical tips about composition

- Keep it simple 
- Try to reduce the scene in simple elements, or shapes, or lines 
- Adopt an interesting perspective 
- Use the soft light that comes from a window for example 
- Play with aperture and shutter speed until you get the results you want 
- If the scene appears dark shoot again and increase the exposure and if too bright decrease it

Although we were in a cafe, as you would expect full of people, kids, objects etc he pushed us to take pictures and apply some of the rules. 

Here are 4 out of maybe 50 or 60 of the photos I took which I thought I could share. 
 This is part of a nicely decorated wall, in Eat Play and Love cafe. 
My son playing with a balloon.  
A happy cat playing the guitar part of another nicely decorated wall.  
Son smiling after the flying balloon. I should have moved so that the bag and buggy in the background were not in the frame (I tried cropping but unless I chopped part of the little head, they were still there), but that was difficult to notice at the time and is a lesson for next time. 

Now that it exists the Clapham photo club will meet again for other exciting activities. So if you want to join or have any suggestions please do get in touch. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

In the countryside searching for the light

Some photos from a weekend down in Devon (South West of Enlgand). I was looking forward to going on a long walk and taking pictures of the countryside. Although the sun didn't make a direct appearance you could see it was hiding behind the clouds.
 Wild flowers - first signs of spring 
Empty fields
Empty fields and three adults and a child in a buggy - grand-parents, daddy and son.

Parents-in-law lovely garden.   
More signs of spring, daffodils.  
Green wilderness and the 'three with a baby' walking.  
Cold waters.

Near the River Yealm.

Even with no leaves and on a cold day, this tree looks majestic. I can only wait impatiently for it to be covered in green.  
I lied when I said the sun didn't make an appearance because it did at the end of a beautiful day.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Around Clapham Common on a cold Saturday

After having spent Saturday morning at home keeping warm, I decided to go out and brace the cold. The little one was happy in the buggy being pushed around so he didn't mind as long as we kept moving. So I went on a little tour of the area.
I had not seen this building and the arches before. You can see the small snow flakes that were coming down very lightly. 
This was new too, an empty building which looked like an academy built in the latin style. It is in fact at the back of a catholic school, so perhaps it has something to do with it. 
It wasn't too long before we ended up in the park looking at the seagulls.
And the ducks... Little one is going through a phase of imitating the sounds of animals and the ducks are big favourites. 
The sun made an appearance and I hurried to take a few snaps to catch the light. 

I felt brave enough to go in the skateboarding enclosure. With the buggy it was easier and the little one was very interested.  

A skater having some coffee. 
A man with an interesting look that noticed my camera and turned his head slightly to the side. I nodded as a way to say thank you for allowing me to take a picture. 

By the end of the walk my hands were frozen and I had used all the snacks I had in the bag. So we called it a day. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Behind the towers of Canary Wharf - some photos and observations

Some photos from one of the most emblematic areas in London - Canary Wharf - a centre of international finance and an 'island' of skyscrapers in amongst more 'down-to-earth' local communities. And some observations. 

I was really excited to go to Canning Town for a work related event. It was the launch of IPPR's - an influential think tank - programme of work and a keynote speech from the MP Jon Cruddas who is currently in charge of the Labour Party policy review. 

The event itself was very interesting for my CIH housing policy work and also for my wider interests. But what really excited me about going there was the location of the event in Canning Town. I had been meaning to go to Canning Town in the day with the intention to take photos as the first time I took the DLR train from Bank to Canning Town I was fascinated by the buildings and architecture of the places. The train line is overground so you are able to see the blocks of buildings one after the after. Because the train line is really close to the buildings there is a feeling of intimacy, of observing people's lives from a carriage window. 

If you observe more closely it becomes clear that the blocks of buildings the train goes by are social estates. 
When the train arrives closer to Canning Town high imposing towers start to appear. Although the towers feel a bit out of place with the surroundings because there are a few of them clustered together and they have the modern look of the glowing glass and steel, they are a good subject to photograph (even from inside the train). 
Near the towers it feels like being in a different place, a place of money and success. A place artificially created in the middle of a different environment which however has the ability to attract thousands to invest and work there. 
Arriving at Canning Town I was a bit confused as to the towers - I thought they were new developments and it all felt like a new 'mini Canary Wharf'. But later when I showed the pictures to R he laughed at my fantasy and said this is Canary Wharf but it's the back side of it!  

So out of the tube and on the way to the event, I was in the local area, very different from the towers and their glow of success.   

The original reason I wanted to go to Canning Town to take pictures was to see the emblematic towers under a different angle, from that of the communities that live right next to Canary Wharf but are not part of it. 

The event was hosted by Community Links, a place of innovation which helps disadvantaged people and runs a whole range of projects for the community.   

Being so close to such a big centre of employment, would make it easier for members of these communities to find employment next door. But in fact it doesn't and many obstacles stand on the way to the local communities taking advantage of this pole of development which though attracts thousands of other more skilled people.

As I was back on the train and off to catch the tube to go to work, a last glimpse of the different types of towers caught my attention again, only to highlight the differences between them and what they represent, almost two different worlds, one the world of agressive capitalism and the other that of ordinary people that have for many reasons less access to success!