It was sunny on Sunday – at last, I walked around the newly refurbished Cutty Sark in Greenwich. The hull of the original ship has been enclosed by a protective glazed gallery affording lots of weird and interesting ghostly interior views overlaid with reflections on the outside.
My daughter, who is a freelance designer of bespoke wedding stationery, created a design for her new website and I then transformed it from paper to web. I think it looks great. Kate Ruth Romey
I have been taking photographs on the streets at night with a small group of people. I happened to capture this group of running figures and heard some shouting. On waking the next day I found this part-story already formed in my head. I don’t know yet if there will be more to come but let me know if you find it intriguing (or daft!).
It was a wet, cold night in February the kind of night where puddles lie full of wild reflections flickering with vivid colours. Brompton Square was a good address in a respectable area of London but if you look hard enough you’ll find something dark behind the curtains.
I waited at the Cromwell Road end of the Square the damp creeping into my shoes. I was sure that something was going to kick-off. I knew the where and the likely when but not the what.
I had a clear view down the brightly lit terrace of stuccoed Regency houses. Rows of wrought iron railings and shiny black doors where the lions-head knockers kept their polished eyes on the street. A London cab was parked down the far end the headlights throwing everything in their path into silhouette. Two men in dark overcoats and a woman with flesh-coloured tights were strolling towards me, just as they passed under the street light, I snapped a discreet shot or two of their faces from low down by my waist hoping they wouldn’t notice. A group of dark-coated figures standing far down the street were huddled too tight to count.
The first group walked passed me disappearing into the rush hour throng on the Cromwell Road. She gave me a bit of a sideways glance sending chills down my back, did she recognise me? Soon a car pulled up opposite No57. A middle-aged man got out, walked over to the house and with a fumbling at the lock with his key he pushed open the door. I caught him in my view finder and clicked twice, once at the fumble and then again as he slipped into the bright hallway the door closing behind him. This was the right place then, he was wearing a hat. I was expecting that.
Ten minutes later I moved out of the shadows and crossed the street to the corner, hovering for a last look, maybe this was a mistake after all. It was right then as I turned to go that it began. A figure of man with a fur-collared coat was briefly lit by the shaft of bright light as he came out into the street from the corner house. Shouts and dull thuds of punches or baseball bats on flesh came from the far end. The taxi revved and sped down the street in my direction. The huddled group had burst apart, figures were leaping the railings into the central gardens. Three more were running fast as hell towards me coats flapping in crow-like panic. It was now or never. I got just one shot but you couldn’t see their faces. I didn’t stop for a second shot, I needed to keep out of sight. I turned quickly out of Brompton Square and up towards Harrods melting into the crowd. They’d be after me for sure if they’d seen me.
The next morning I read the newspaper version of what had gone on down there in genteel Knightsbridge and there were my photos. I had sent my three good shots to my contact and he’d passed them on. My job had been to prove that certain people had been in that place on that night. The man in the hat from No57, the woman in the flesh-coloured tights and the running group. I didn’t ask why, the less I knew the better. It would be a long time before the whole story came out but by then I was a long way from there.
It was bitterly cold and raining last night but our group braved the elements till our fingers froze to our tripods.
Rain spots on the lens made some soft refraction patterns and I like the way the guy’s phone is lighting up his face.
What looks a little like a twig on the Houses of Parliament Tower is actually the trailing light of an airplane flying West towards Heathrow Airport during the 8 sec exposure.
The Supreme Court, designed by James S Gibson is built in Portland Stone, pale in colour, making a good backdrop for the silhouetted plane tree with its circular seed balls. The interior lighting seems unusually tinged with green and in the first floor window to the left of the entrance there is an eerie figure in a red jacket.
The blue lighting on the London Eye and the trees nearby make a great opportunity to make trailing light photos, this was taken at f10, 13secs, ISO200 and moving the camera slowly downwards on the tripod during the exposure.
I was travelling on the underground, after a couple of stops some passengers got off and I had an uninterrupted view of the young man, strap-hanging in the next doorway. I noticed his hat first, dark tan coloured felt, folded tight around his head. The unadorned, close-fitting hat set off his smooth-shaven chin and high cheekbones, his fleshy lips just a little blue at the centre. He made me think maybe he was Russian, perhaps a Cossack with his high-collared, double-breasted grey coat.
He was holding a long stemmed rose in his right hand, unwrapped and in full bloom, a bright orange rose.
It seemed odd that the rose was unwrapped, unprotected, surely not bought from a florist, had he picked it from a garden? unlikely as this was late December.
I pondered, whilst waiting for my stop, the young man’s eyes were fixed on the floor at his feet, his only movement a gentle rolling of the stem in his fingers. I wondered who he would be meeting, to whom he would present his vibrant flower, orange is a symbol of amusement, the unconventional and the extrovert.
He had dressed carefully, pressed his trousers, polished his shoes, he looked out of place amongst the majority of youths in their casual mismatched clothes, he must be meeting someone important. He seemed serious, perhaps a little anxious though not excited, eager or optimistic.
We both got off at London Bridge station, swept along by the surge of passengers eager to catch their connecting trains to Kent. I tried to keep him in my sights curious to see to whom the orange rose would be delivered, maybe here at London Bridge Station on the gleaming new concourse.
It began close to me, at first a quiet humming like the start of an overture then building into a full-throated a capella song. The young man, a few steps in front of me on the long escalator riding upward into the cathedral-like concourse, had begun to sing in a deep rich voice, a song of haunting melody, of love and warmth and joy, though in a foreign tongue the tone was unmistakeable. All around people ceased talking, stood still and listened as his voice was caught up in the atrium, echoed and multiplied as if in a great concert hall.
It was a Russian song, sung right from his heart to someone he loved.
As we rose up into the open space, the crowds parted letting the singer walk on towards the centre of the concourse where a tiny figure was waiting, dressed in an elegant fur coat and hat. He knelt at her feet holding out the rose as he finished his song. The woman smiling, took the the rose in one hand and his hand in the other and they embraced. My last sight of them was a glimpse of their backs as they made their way to Platform 2 for the 17.28 to Walmer. All seemed right with the world as the the young man slid a protective, guiding arm around the waist of his adored grandmother.
I found these 1950’s/160’s Cocktail glasses in an antique shop in Essex and the Salt at an exhibition of crafts in Clerkenwell, London. The glasses were ridiculously cheap and the salt was not expensive. The glasses are perfectly weighted, the stems are gilded glass, not a metal cone as I had thought when I first glanced them in a showcase. I have not identified the make yet, let me know if anyone recognises them. The salt it is mouth-blown glass intricately hand-engraved with plant forms by Katherine Coleman.
Again inspired by Ansel Adams photography, I looked back through my large collection of shadow photographs from the Tate Modern. I have made images of people’s shadows whilst they are walking up and down the stairs. I think these two in particular are interesting, just body parts, no colour, no identity, no gender, no nationality, not even any age, just soft fleeting recordings of movement.