Ye olde London

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese sign and St Paul's dome on Fleet Street, London

London is so full of history. It isn’t just the old buildings, the iconic landmarks or the pubs that have been there for centuries – there’s an atmosphere about parts of London where you can almost feel the ghosts of the people who walked down those streets centuries before you. I feel this particularly in the evenings and at night. I don’t know why this is – it might just be the legacy of a lifetime of ghost stories.

Black and white seems the obvious choice for portraying the atmosphere and history of these places. The first image is looking down Fleet Street towards St Paul’s. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of the oldest pubs in London. But of course, this is the 21st century and so a sign for one of the oldest pubs is joined by a sign for the ubiquitous Pret a Manger.

Victorian houses and lamp post on Roupell Street behind Waterloo East Station

Roupell Street, just behind Waterloo East station, is one of my favourite streets in London. Most of the Victorian terraced houses are still standing along the cobbled street and there’s a wonderful pub – The King’s Arms. It feels like you’ve left the 21st century behind when you turn the corner into the street. The modern does intrude on the facades though, with the burglar alarms and television aerials. And the street is lined with parked cars which makes it difficult to get a good long shot of the terraced houses. But if you ignore the cars, aerials, burglar alarms, modern blinds, people, you can very easily imagine the street with girls in smocks playing with hoops and boys in caps swinging on the lamp posts.

Stage door of the Cambridge Theatre, London

This is the stage door of the Cambridge Theatre. I usually find the backs of theatres much more interesting than the front. So many interesting people have walked through these doors.

Street life – Night time street scenes

Woman carrying shopping bags, walking past cafe at night

I like the colours of London at night – the yellow or bright white of the street lighting, the light spilling out from inside cafes and shops and the colours of the shop signs. So here are some street scenes.

The clock and sign of Bar Italia in London reflected in a puddle

People walking along a wet path, their shadows visible in the wet pavement

Night life – the time between

Looking through blinds into an empty office

Wandering around London with my camera, taking photos through windows, I have found a ‘between time’  when nothing much is happening. It’s the time after offices close, shops and coffee shops start to wind down for the day and restaurants are ready for diners but it’s too early for anyone to eat dinner.

It’s not the case everywhere – people do work late in offices and some shops get busy at this time, particularly with shoppers buying dinner to take home. And on a Friday night, the bars and restaurants fill up much earlier.

But I like the emptiness. I like the feeling of the world in transition from daytime to nighttime.

I took these in February, when it was dark at the ‘between time’ and I could get photos of places lit up. It will be difficult to get these sort of images at this time now that the clocks have gone forward.

Looking through the stairs into an empty shop

Looking through venetian blinds into an empty restaurant at night

 

An empty make up shop at night

The Coffee Art Project London

A woman spotlighted through a cafe window

Another of my photos looking through windows. I took this a few weeks ago. (I haven’t been out with my camera since then because I’ve been laid up with flu.)

You can see a print of this at the Coffee Art Project London exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London E1 6QL until Sunday (30th March).

And while you’re out and about looking at photography, why not visit my solo exhibition “Landscapes and Plant Portraits” at The Fox Reformed on Stoke Newington Church Street. And it’s also on until Sunday (30th March).

 

Street life – Wedding belle

A bridge and groom pose for photos by Tower Bridge and are captured in the light of a flash

I saw this bride and groom posing for wedding photos by Tower Bridge in the early evening. I only had my 50mm lens with me and I was quite far away. I wanted to capture them before they moved on. I waited for their photographer to use his flash and pressed my shutter at the same time to get them lit up in a spotlight. Had I had time to move around and frame the shot, I wouldn’t have put them smack bang in the middle of it. But I had to grab it while I could.

I particularly like the fact that I captured a man on his mobile phone and other people walking past – the mundane and everyday juxtaposed with the big occasion.

People and performers – Covent Garden in black and white

A couple having coffee at a cafe in London, the woman is smoking

Wandering around Covent Garden on a spring day, there was something about this couple that caught my eye. The sun was helpfully highlighting them. But it was the way they were interacting: the woman seemed self-assured, the man a little agitated.

Two men shield their eyes from the sun while another man takes a photo

I was following Japanese tourists around – I had spotted a group of three and I wanted to get that classic composition of three people doing the same thing but completely unaware of each other.

Then I spotted these two men standing behind one another in the same pose and moved around to get the right angle and the man on the left put his camera up to his eye. I pressed the shutter. And as luck would have it, nobody walked in front of me at that moment. That is a hazard of shooting in busy places – you get the perfect shot and someone walks in front at the wrong moment and partially or completely obscures it. When they’ve gone, the moment has passed and the perfect shot is no more.

Two men dressed as Star Wars Storm Troopers in Covent Garden, London

There are a lot of performers in Covent Garden which can be lucrative for some while others get ignored as the crowds gather round someone else. These Storm Troopers were mocking the cheering crowd that had gathered around another performer. I don’t know what their act was – they seemed to be waiting for people to gather or to come up to have their photos taken with them.

I particularly like the footwear – the white shoes just about blend in but the trainers don’t really finish off the outfit! I can’t think what Storm Troopers actually wear on their feet. I can’t remember seeing their feet in a Star Wars film.

Night life – Soho windows #3

A chef in a window in Soho

Continuing my theme of looking through windows – I have been back in Soho. (My last post was Covent Garden.) I was experimenting with juxtaposing what was outside with the inside of these cafes. I’d love to know your thoughts

Looking through a window at a man in a cafe, obscured by a screen on which there is a reflection of another man walking past

I also took this one in colour. I don’t know which I prefer. The black and white has more atmosphere but I like the colours in the colour version – I like the splashes of green against the mostly yellow-toned background and I like the sepia tone of the reflection.

Man sitting in cafe is obscured by a screen which has a reflection of another man outside the cafe on it

Night life – On the outside looking in

Condensation on a cafe window blurs the outlines of two women

The condensation on the window of a cafe blurs the outline of the two women inside. But it also gives a nice reflection of the windows of the building opposite.

I took two shots of this cafe window. The second shows two other women, one of whom’s face can be seen while the other’s face is obscured by a reflection of a bright light. I like the symmetry of the two tables, the two pairs of women and the way the faces are obscured.

Two pairs of women sit at cafe tables

I don’t know which I prefer. Any thoughts?

Kiss of life – romance isn’t dead

A couple kissing. The man is looking at his mobile phone

 

My New Year’s resolution to post at least twice a week went to pot in the first week of January! As Mark Twain said: “New Year’s Day: now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving Hell with them as usual.”

It seems I did just that. I blame it on the lurgy. But now that I am fit and well again and ready to post, this is a photo that I took at the end of 2013 that I have been wanting to share for a while. I caught this couple on Villiers Street (down the side of Charing Cross Station). I love that she still has her cigarette in her hand and he will be back on his phone in a moment.

Is it romantic? Or is it a comment on the state of romance these days?

I have captured a few of these moments before on the South Bank and with a shot in Peckham that became an award winner. They never fail to amuse.

Celebrate – Happy Christmas

Girl chasing bubbles in Hyde Park, London

Chase bubbles or take selfies. Whatever takes your fancy. Wishing all my readers a very Happy Christmas!

Two girls take a selfie outside Selfridges on Oxford Street, London, at Christmas

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