Two-way Observation

If you are viewing this in the WP Reader you will see a horizontal slice through the centre of this image (thanks to the stupidity of the way images are handled in WP) and the title will make no sense at all – so ‘click’ and view the Post. Then hopefully you will see what this image is all about.

This image was taken in the towering Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. Tate Modern was originally Bankside Power Station, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. He also designed Battersea Power Station (famously featured on a Pink Floyd album cover) and the iconic Red Telephone Box. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world and opened in 2000.

I was in Tate Modern to see the exhibition ‘Soul of a Nation‘. A superb exhibition that shines a bright light on the vital contribution that Black artists made to a dramatic period in American art and history (post 1963).

I always spend time in the Turbine Hall. People congregate there and I ‘people watch’. On this occasion I was struck by light pouring through the high windows casting long shadows  and highlights down the walls. At one end there is a projecting box-like structure protruding into space high above the floor – an office I suspect. I’ve never before paid much attention to it before but as I wandered around I looked up and saw a figure looking out and down. And I took this image. Was I the object of his gaze? Did our eyes meet? Maybe not but the image suggests the title.

Posted in Black & White, Seen on the Street | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Cigarette Break

Lunch Hour in London is one of the best times to be walking the streets searching for images. Offices empty, cafes fill, the street population is ratcheted up by people talking on the phone, texting on the phone and catching up on Social Media. Others enjoy their first cigarette in hours. People lean against walls and sit on the kerbs in back streets.

Few are aware of their surroundings. It’s a good time of day for a little street photography.

Posted in Seen on the Street | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

A Grey Panther

Today’s image is one that was shot and printed in 1966, over half a century ago. It was one of the very first times I used a darkroom while I was an undergraduate at Cambridge University. Many of you will recognize the unmistakable facade of King’s College Chapel.

At that time I was one year into my medical training: a six-year course to obtain the necessary qualifications to be permitted to work as a Doctor. And to work in a particular speciality (including General Practice) took a minimum of another three years. A long haul.

I’m in reflective mood for two reasons. Firstly, earlier this month I reached 70 – my three score and ten – a milestone I would prefer to ignore, as it inevitably raises the concept of  additional years being time added on for good behaviour.

Secondly, the latest issue of CAM (the Cambridge Alumni Magazine) clattered through our finger-biting letterbox earlier this month. It’s a magazine I tend to skim through rather than read, but I was attracted to one particular article titled: ‘On Age’.

‘On Age’ was an article that asked a question: ‘What is it really like to work beyond the normal span?’ and provided answers from four Alumni.

The very first sentence of the article set the scene: ‘Forget the slippers, give up your idea of a quiet cottage by the sea and prepare to release your inner grey panther.’ And a few lines down there was a quote from one of the contributors, Historian Roderick Braithwaite: ‘We are not all automatically extinct the moment we reach 65 and there must be many of us who are continuing to ‘produce’ way into the so-called grey panther stage.

I am retired from Medicine – and therefore I’m not actually ‘in work’ – but I still have a desire to ‘produce’ as Roderick Braithwaite phrases it. Not simply for the end result, but because I relish a challenge and I enjoy working on projects and ideas. Which is why I produce this blog and why I continue to speak at camera Clubs occasionally. Somebody once said or wrote that inside every Scientist there is an Artist waiting to escape. The space and pace of retirement finally provided the opportunity for  my artistic interests to evolve.

Thomas Carlyle (Scottish philosopher, essayist, satirist and historian) wrote that ‘A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.’

I am delighted to say that I am neither extinct nor rudderless. I am happy to declare that I am a Grey Panther, and long may my Grey Panther state continue.

 

Posted in Non-Photographic | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Playing for Life and Love

I heard him long before I saw him – the unmistakable sound of a saxophone, playing a popular tune. The playing was nuanced and well phrased. I was returning to Oxford Street after visiting the Photographers’ Gallery, and as I turned onto the main street, there he was.

Sprawled a little awkwardly on the pavement, propped against a shop front, eyes closed – lost in the music. Oxford Street is one of the busiest streets in central London and the pavement was crowded. Few people stopped to listen. I paused – there was a photo opportunity. I waited for a gap in the human traffic, and my eye was drawn to the sheet of paper propped up in the Saxophone case. It reads: ‘This is her chance to survive. I am doing this for my sick wife.’ And then there is a phrase in a foreign language – Spanish or Italian?, I wasn’t sure, but I was pretty certain that the first two words ‘La Vita’ meant ‘Life’. I took a number of images as he played on. Not once did he look up. I dropped a donation into the Saxophone case and moved on.

I’ve thought about him a lot since then. How many days has he occupied that space? How is his wife? Has the money raised by his music helped? Is she improving? So many unknowns.

I typed the phrase ‘La vita è una ruota’ into the computer and up popped the answer: ‘Life is a wheel’. Always turning. It conjures up so many thoughts.

Posted in Seen on the Street | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Framed

Spotted yesterday in central London. I have a question: did this man realize exactly where he was standing when he paused to check a text or look something up on his phone?

Posted in Seen on the Street | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Heat Wave Distractions

It has been very hot in the UK in the last few days. Enervating, draining heat  – it results in languid, lazy behaviours. The floor to ceiling doors are flung open, the large garden umbrella is deployed but whatever one does, the heat is inescapable. Even the light is harsh and the shadows dark,

Cue Camera, to capture the light and shade, and then retreat to the computer to explore possibilities. The first image was captured on the iPhone – simple shapes, lines and patterns from the patio furniture.

Next, the shadows thrown by the Breakfast Room doors  caught my attention, and the best way to capture these was to stand on the breakfast table – you can just seen the edge of the table and two of its legs at the bottom of the image, at the top is the shadow of the large outdoor umbrella (or parasol if you are a bit up-market).

Finally, with the window blinds lowered, an image of the shadows cast by the doors. Strands of Winter Jasmine hang down from the trellis outside and Wise Owl completes the picture in the bottom right corner. The contrast was raised very high in processing to create this final image – sometimes I enjoy the pleasure of pushing monochrome to the limits. The starkness of these images feels appropriate to harsh conditions when light is bright and the shadows deep……but they won’t be to everyone’s taste I am sure. Always good to hear your thoughts.

Click on any image to view an enlargement.

Posted in Black & White, Eclectica | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Sea and Sky

One of the things I am discovering as I continue to explore the coastline of Sussex is that the sea is never the same – the light is different, the mood changes depending on the wind and tide, and the colour changes.

I arrived at this spot – an unassuming little place – and took one look out to sea and was immediately struck by the vibrancy of the colour of the sea and felt compelled to capture it – a minimalist seascape, nothing more –  but a view I could happily contemplate for quite some time.

Posted in WaterScapes | Tagged , , | 16 Comments