Welcome home – Spitalfields

Looking over shutters into lit windows in Spitalfields, London

Looking at a lamp and ceilings through Georgian windows in Spitalfields, London

I’ve been revisiting old photos again and reprocessing them. And now I’m working in Lightroom I’ve been discovering detail that I couldn’t get when processing photos in Aperture even when moving them to Photoshop to finish them. Lightroom brings out different colours to Aperture. It’s much more subtle. The greens and the reds stand out in these photos. You can see the difference when compared to a previous post.

What caught my eye while wandering round Spitalfields one evening was the welcoming feeling of the lamplight seen from the road. I could imagine putting my key in the door after a night out and feeling glad to be home.

These are the windows of lovely early Georgian houses in Spitalfields. Many of these houses were occupied first by Huguenot silk weavers fleeing persecution in France. They were later the homes of Jewish refugees and immigrants and, more recently, homes to Bangladeshi immigrants. The area has now become gentrified and many of these houses have been restored.

Spitalfields has been inhabited since Roman times when it was outside the walls of the Roman city. I’m sure it will continue to change as more gentrification takes over and then the rich move on. It was ever thus.

Street lamp outside a house in Spitalfields, London


A man in a stripey jumper walks into a shaft of sunlight

The great thing about cities and tall buildings is that you get shafts of light – natural spotlights. When I spot them, I stop and wait for someone interesting to walk into them – setting the exposure to be ready to press the shutter at exactly the right moment.

Sometimes that wait can prove fruitless and I get fed up waiting and move on to see if I can get something better. But at other times, the perfect person walks into the shot – or in the case of this shot, a person wearing the perfect clothes. This man walked into shot in the perfect position. If he’d been a little to one side or the other, the line of shadow wouldn’t have fallen down the centre. He could have walked through the shadow and I wouldn’t have got him at all. Or I might have moved my camera and snapped a very quick shot but it wouldn’t have worked in the way that this shot does.

As Trente Parke says: “Light turns the ordinary into the magical.”*


*Street Photography Now, published by Thames and Hudson

On the look out

Three women in party outfits in Covent Garden, London

You always need one look out in a group.

I took the first photo in Covent Garden during an overnight shoot in June. The second is from a series I started work on this summer in Southend – London’s Colney Island as themofman commented when I shared some of the shots in a post in August.

Three children eating ice creams in Southend

Sunday evening, suburbia #3

Revisiting old photos

Woman sitting waiting for a bus in Oxford Street, London

Having switched from Aperture to Lightroom some months ago, I’ve finally got round to reprocessing some photos that I’d previously attempted to process in Aperture but wasn’t happy with the results.

This is the first of those. I don’t know why I resisted Lightroom for so long. I think it was a case of better the devil you know – or rather just not wanting to learn to use yet another piece of software. But Apple forced my hand when they dropped Aperture. And I’m so glad they did.

The problem with this shot was that there was a lot of noise. Switching it to black and white in Aperture didn’t give a satisfactory result. But de-noising in Lightroom and adding a bit of grain seems to have turned this into a half decent shot.

Though, having bought a new camera in April that is much better at low light, I won’t have this problem again. You’ve got to love technology!

Knickers Forever – Soho Windows #9

Model poses in underwear in shop window at night

I don’t want you to think I make a habit of this – taking photos of women in their undies. I came across this scene in Soho one evening. I think it must have been a promotion or a pop up shop opening.

Two women were sitting on a giant turntable in the window.

People look at model posing in window

Models laughing as they pose in a window

Soho windows #8

Looking through a coloured window in Soho, London, at 2 men talking

Looking through windows in Soho again. I took this about 6 weeks ago and initially dismissed it on first review. But looking through that shoot again, I had a change of heart. I like the mystery of this shot. We can see that two men are talking to each other but both their faces are obscured by parts of the window. It think it makes for a more interesting shot than if I’d managed to get both their faces in the shot – which, incidentally, I didn’t!

Soho bikes

 A man on a motorbike chats to a woman outside Ronnie Scotts in Soho, London


On an all night shoot in Soho recently, I got these shots of bikes – with bikers and rickshaw cyclists taking a rest, stopping for a chat, and lining up outside Ronnie Scotts. I don’t know what the occasion was for all the bikers outside Ronnie Scotts but I liked this image for the chatting couple in the middle. The man is clearly very interested in the woman. I love the expression on his face.

A rickshaw cyclist on his phone while he rests in Soho

A rickshaw driver chats to a couple outside the Intrepid Fox, Soho, London

A hard day

A man blowing his cheeks out on the tube in London


I know how he feels!

Taken on the tube.

London at the seaside

Southend seafront with adventure fun fair

Indulge me here! Okay. I know it isn’t London. But it is where Londoners come to play on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August. It’s Southend. I went there with other Londoners on Saturday and bumped into yet more Londoners I knew who’d also had the same idea! It’s amazing who you meet in the fish and chip queue on Southend seafront.

This is my old stomping ground from my teens. It hasn’t changed much. And I love it. Southend seafront from the pier


Watching the Punch and Judy on the pier.

Watching the Punch and Judy on Southend Pier

Fishing off the end of Southend pier


I was leaning over the railings, trying to get a shot back down the rail tracks and I heard “Cheeeeese”. The smallest boy had spotted my camera and was posing for me!

Children fishing on Southend Pier

An elderly couple on Southend Pier

An elderly lady in a wheelchair with a handkerchief on her head on Southend Pier


I took the photo below at about 12.30. It was very hot. People were looking for shade. I came by again an hour or so later and she’d taken off her jacket and headscarf.

Elderly women sitting on a bench reading a newspaper, wearing headscarf and jacket

Man sunbathing on the road by the sea


The train back down the pier was very crowded.

Woman's back seen through the window of the train on Southend Pier


Southend isn’t all seafront. There’s a town centre too! I used to come to Southend to get my hair cut as a teenager because the best hairdresser in Essex was in Southend.

People sitting on benches in Southend town centre


This teenager was a virtuoso on the violin.

Young man busking, playing the violin in Southend town centre



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