Three Mills, shit and sugar – A lovely walk.

Having set myself a task of walking the 78 miles of the Capital Ring walk around London over the next year and setting my start point at Hackney Wick I decide it would be a good idea initially to do a walk around the area of the Olympic Park area. I wanted to explore some of the history and industrial heritage of the area. A good precursor for the start of the walk.

The walk of 3 miles started at Pudding Mill lane and followed some of the Greenway running through this part of London. The weather was dry but it had got colder than it had been recently.

Docklands Light Railway.

Due to engineering works we had to get the train into Liverpool Street, then tube to Bank where we got onto the DLR to Pudding Mill Lane, the start of the walk.

Starting off on a North West direction under the railway we found a great cafe at the Olympic Park and started the day with a bacon bagel and coffee.

Olympic Park

From there we followed the Greenway and Victoria Walk North West as far as the crossing of the Lea Navigation.

The Greenway, formerly known as Sewerbank, is following the course of the Northern Outfall Sewer which is part of the London sewage work carried out by Joseph Bazalgette.

Bazalgette built London’s first sewer network in the 19th Century and was responsible for wiping out Cholera in the capital. The sewers took 16 years to build and are still in use today.

Alongside the River Lea.

Going down on the track to the left before the bridge over the Lea we then took a course South alongside the River Lea Navigation. At this point the sewer crosses the river overhead in an enormous steel construction.

The steel construction which supports the main Northern outfall sewage pipes over the River Lea.

The path was dry and there much to see with boats along the river.

There are many colourful and interesting narrowboats along the canal.

An interesting building across the others side of the river is the Bow Quarter which is the old Bryant and May match factory, redeveloped in the 1980s it is now flats and town houses.

Just before the Bow flyover we had to jiggle round the river at the point where the river splits to travel North East and becomes St Thomas Creek.

Crossing over to the other side of the river we go as far as Three Mill Lane where we cross the river again onto Three Mills Island.

There are references to mills on this site in the Domesday survey of 1086 which is considered to be the earliest record of a mill system in England.

The current mills were bought in 1727 by three local Huguenots. It was a good location for mills with the strong tidal flow giving eight hours of power per tide.

The mills are currently film studios with programs such as Masterchef being filmed there.

Continuing North we travel alongside Three Mills Wall River and stop off at Three Mills Green for a late lunch of sandwiches. East of us across the Prescott Chanel, a tributory of the Three Mills Wall River, are the original and new Abbey Mills sewage pumping stations, something we will be visiting on our next walk.

As we continue North we can see to the West of us Sugar House Island. The Island is named after a striking 19th century five-storey red brick warehouse which still stands on site.

As we arrive at the A118 High Street we cross over to continue our walk back in a Westerly direction to the end at our start point at Pudding Mill Lane DLR station. Before continuing though we stop on the A118 to admire the old Yardley box factory and offices.

Film Test

Rollei RPX 100 with the Pentax P30.

Having just loaded up my Olympus OM2n with a roll of Rollei RPX 100 it has prompted me to write up my results from the last time I used this film

Back in 2019 I had a couple of days out with my Pentax P30 and SMC Pentax-M 50mm f1.7 lens and loaded with a 36 exposure roll of the Rollei RPX 100.

One day was spent through Bishops Stortford and the second day was Saffron Walden which is a lovely town in Essex, and a favourite of mine.

I developed the film in Ilford ID11 diluted 1:1 for 12 minutes at 20 deg C.

My first location was on a walk through Bishops Stortford.

Bishops Stortford.

Top of Wind Hill, Bishops Stortford.
Looking down High Street, Bishops Stortford.
The Gourmet Turk restaurant which used to be The Boar’s Head pub.
Church Street, Bishops Stortford.
The multi-storey car park. Bishops Stortford.

My second location was the lovely town of Saffron Walden.

On the corner of Freshwell Street looking up Bridge Street toward High Street
Looking down Bridge Street Saffron Walden.
Looking up Bridge Street, Saffron Walden.

I scanned the negatives using a Plustek 8100 scanner and was very pleased with the results. The negs have good tonal variation and contrast so it’s prompted me to stock up with some more of this film.

Some darkroom work

I’ve recently completed converting my loft into a darkroom. It seemed like a natural progression from having got more into my film photography recently..

An ideal time to spend in the darkroom what with this awful weather and being in lockdown.

Did a few trial prints the other day of some photos taken in the Barbican using a 35mm Olympus OM2n.The film was rated at ISO 400 and developed in Ilford ID11 developer.

These are all scans of the actual prints made in the darkroom and printed on Kentmere VC Select Luster multigrade paper.

The first print (above) I made using the settings on the colour head for the equivalent of a grade 2 paper which is a mid way grade. The range of tones at the lower level under the overhanging construction are pretty good, although the upper level balconies are a bit over exposed and losing some detail.

For the second example (above) I reset the yellow and magenta settings on the enlarger colour head to give me an equivalent to grade 3 paper which is more contrasty. The image has more punch and has darker blacks to the shadow area, although the lower part does look a bit under exposed (it does look darker on the scanned image than on the actual print though). It does also have good detail to the upper balcony areas. I may have to redo this and using a bit of cardboard just hold back the lower part by 5 seconds on the exposure in the enlarger.

It is good fun and is an interesting project to be doing in these restricted times.

I’ve also included a few of the other scanned prints of the Barbican from the last session.

Geometric shapes caught on film

Geometric shapes can be defined as figure or area closed by a boundary which is created by combining the specific amount of curves, points, and lines.

Assignment

A group of friends who are members of the local photography club and also keen on old cameras decided last week that it was time to go out on a photo shoot. Keeping to the current Government guidelines we were limited to a total of 6 and we decided to have a visit to a local town called Harlow in Essex.

The town plans were drawn up in 1947 by Sir Frederick Gibberd and was designated a New Town built to provide housing to replace the loss of housing in London during the war.

We wanted to catch the setting sun going down and throwing some light shafts through the contemporary architecture in the town. A New Town is an ideal location for this style of photography due to the proliferation of contemporary architecture with it’s associated square blocks and straight lines.

Equipment used

I used my Olympus OM2n 35mm SLR with a 50mm f1.4 lens. I had a red filter fitted to the lens for all these shots to darken the blue of the sky and give contrast between the sky and the buildings. Film used was Ilford HP5+ rated at 400 asa. The film was processed in Ilford ID11 @20 deg c for 20 minutes.

I saw this zebra crossing and thought it would be an ideal location for some Street Photography, especially with the vertical lines of the building behind. All I need now, I thought, was for someone to walk into the picture. Imagine my surprise when at that moment over my shoulder I heard someone appologise for walking into my picture. It couldn’t have been better. Not only had I got my subject but they were wearing a black and white striped top too. Perfect!
A selfie in a black and white barbers shop!

Legacy glass on digital Part 1.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 Lens.

I do like the quality and feel of the old legacy lenses created for the old film cameras. To my mind they are built to a higher standard than the modern lenses made for the consumer market.

I recently saw a Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm lens advertised on ebay and was tempted and was surprised that no one else bid on it. So, I got myself a nice lens of good condition for £31.

There is a lot written about the company of Zeiss Jena and the fact that it was situated in the Eastern part of Germany after the second world war. The company Zeiss originated in Jena but after the war the Americans moved most of the staff and manufacturing to Oberkochen in the West of Germany. Optics were continued to be manufactured in the original factory in Jena and in some cases using the original technicians who chose to stay. Some would say that the quality of the Jena lenses doesn’t match that of the ones produced in Oberkochen but I think there is an element of snobbery in that statement. It may be that the quality control was a bit more relaxed at the Jena works but if you get a good example they are certainly good lenses.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8.

You are, of course, stuck with manual focus when using these lenses on a digital camera but that doesn’t bother me at all. I often use manual focus with my digital lenses. On a Micro Four Thirds camera the focal length for this lens is 58mm which is a good focal length for Street Photography. The lens also has a close focus distance of 0.25m which is better than my Leica 25mm digital lens. I also like the way these old lenses have all the distance scales etc etched on the lens. It’s very handy for when you’re doing zone focusing, again, not something easy to do on a lens with no distance markings.

The lens fitting is the 42mm screw fit so I had to purchase a new adaptor for my micro four thirds cameras (Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Lumix GX8).

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

I chose the K & F Concept adaptor as I had purchased others in the past and some had been problematic and fitted the Lumix camera but not the Olympus. The one I chose was the Pro version which is a couple of pounds more expensive but was of excellent build quality and finish. It fitted both cameras very accurately without any play.

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

The lens and the adaptor look very good mounted on my Olympus OM-D.

Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.
Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.

I mounted the lens to my Lumix GX8 and went out for an afternoon photographing in a small town called Saffron Walden in Essex. These are some of the results. All jpgs straight out of the camera with no post processing:

The life of a Street photographer during lockdown.

Another day of restricting ourselves of travel. Another walk locally.

We are able thankfully to walk in areas of open space at the edge of our estate and keep ourselves away from others. This walk through the tracks and lanes of the countryside has become my new ‘Street’.

Around the turn of the 15th Century, Thorley Manor acquired one of its most illustrious Lords, Sir Richard Whittington. As the legendary Dick Whittington, three times Lord Mayor of London, he made most of his fortune lending money in the City of London. His name, however, now lives on at Richard Whittington School and on Whittington Way. Popular folk lore likes to adopt the successive cats that frequent the church as the local descendant of Dick’s famous cat!

Our walk starts at the local church of St. James the Great, Thorley Church.

Originating in the 13th Century the church gained it’s most prominent feature, in the 15th century. The the church tower, built in the Perpendicular style. The evidence that church towers were still thought of as defensive locations is shown by the ornamental battlements and the extra heigh provided by successive storeys. Thorley’s design of tower with a thin eight sided spire or spike rising direct from the tower is a church feature peculiar to Hertfordshire.

The use of the top of the tower as a vantage point has a modern significance. It was used in the Second World War as a look-out place to watch for the night-flying Lysander aircraft returning to Sawbridgeworth airfield at Allen’s Green less than two miles away.

Moving on down into the valley our ‘Street’ takes us past some old barns, now used by industry.

Down into the valley with the weather closing in!
Down the valley and looking back to the church and the industrial buildings.

On over a small bridge over a stream to follow the valley floor.

The little bridge over the stream.
There’s still some late blossom.
Through a stile!

Back across the fields to the church and home again.

Istanbul Day 1 and 2

Day 1 – March 5th

Each year on my birthday month I tend to go somewhere for a short city break. This year I chose Istanbul in Turkey. It seemed like too good an offer to pass over with 6 nights including flights and transfers from the airport for a little over £400.

The journey from Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, 30 miles South-East of Istanbul, to our hotel in Istanbul took around 1 1/2 hours including our driver getting into a scrap at a busy junction with a yellow cab driver. The timely arrival of a policeman on a motorbike broke up the two characters rolling around on a bonnet of the yellow cab throwing punches at each other. Fortunately the policeman didn’t arrest the cabbies and cart them off so we could continue our journey.

Eminonu where the boats depart along the Bosphorous

With all it’s mix of cultures and the changes throughout the ages to it’s architecture I thought it would be an interesting place to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The area known as the Hippodrome, once a gigantic stadium which stood at the heart of the Byzantine city of Constantinople. It is now an elongated garden and an area where people can promenade.

Istanbul wasn’t at that time showing any cases of the virus but we were scanned at the airport when we arrived by a thermal camera which should show anyone with a temperature.

Across the Hippodrome with the German Fountain. Built to commemorate the visit of the German Emperor Wilhelm II visit.

Formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople and with over 15 million inhabitants, the city stands in a position between Europe and Asia. The city is split by the Bosphorous Strait which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. As the only sea route between the oil-rich Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus is one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Strolling up the street from the Hipodrome to our hotel at the end of the day.

We had a small but very comfortable hotel, The Hotel Perula, just a few minutes walk up a street from the Hipodrome and ideally located for all the tourist attractions.

Located in the Hippodrome is the Egyptian Obelisk which was built in 1500 BC and stood outside Luxor. It was brought to Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine.

We spent the rest of the first day on a short walk around the Hippodrome and the surroundings to get our bearings.

Day 2 – March 6th.

we decided to visit firstly the underground water reservoir called the Basilica Cistern followed by the two local mosques. The Basilica Cistern dates from the reign of Justinian in the 6th century. It consists of a vast underground cavern used to store the water which runs down from the nearby mountains in the vast underground where the roof is held up by 336 columns, each over 8 metres tall.

The inside of the Basilica Cistern.

Following our visit to the Cistern we firstly visited the Haghia Sophia mosque, then Suleymaniye, commonly known as the Blue Mosque.

There were plenty of people posing for shots with the Haghia Sophia in the background.
A selfie on the run!
Another view of the German Fountain.
One of the many cats in Istanbul.
Roasted chestnuts and sweetcorn.
Haghia Sophia mosque.

After wandering round the Hippodrome we vsited the Haghia Sophia mosque. The security here at the entrance is very stringent and I had my mini tripod taken from me. I should have had it in my bag rather than attached to the camera.

Interior of Haghia Sophia.
Interior of Haghia Sophia.
Interior of Haghia Sophia.
Interior of Haghia Sophia

The interior of Haghia Sophia was a little disappointing as they are obviously doing some serious refurbishment and there is a lot of scaffolding up but then at over 1,400 years old I guess it’s not surprising.

Our second visit was to Suleymaniye mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque.

A view of the blue mosque from the Hippodrome.
Interior of the blue mosque.

Built between 1609 and 1616 the blue mosque is known as such because of it’s blue iznik tiling on the interior. As the Haghia Sophia, this mosque is a little disappointing as it has quite a lot of restoration going on. I think I still managed to get some good shots using my fisheye lens.

Interior of the blue mosque. The amount of scaffolding on the right hand side and the rectangular covering of the columns is a little disappointing.

The Streets of Istanbul

Istanbul March 2020 – Beyoglu.

I am in the process of doing the Magnum The Art of Street Photography course. I thought when I started that I would be able go through it quite quickly but it has proved a bit more difficult than I thought. Winter in the UK meant that there weren’t many events happening and then just when I thought I could visit some events in London the corona virus outbreak put paid to that.

Episode 6 is about photographing people, which is one of the difficulties you have to get over if you want to do Street Photography, and not everyone is comfortable with taking candid shots of people. Peter van Agtmael however was correct in his assesment as to why we want to photograph people, in that their expressions and gestures are infinite and interesting.

I couldn’t complete the two assignments exactly. One being to take Street Portraits set by Peter van Agtmael and the other set by Carolyn Drake which is to get to know your subjects of portraits. That we would require me to probably spend more time getting to know the subjects than I was prepared to do on a limited time visit.

Location

On a 7 day city break though I could address some of the issues of getting close to the subjects and making photographs of people doing real things and putting them in place in that rectangle we call the viewfinder. Istanbul being a busy, multi-cultural city proved to be an ideal location.

Obviously the old fellas seat down by the Bazaar.

Equipment

I used my Panasonic Lumix GX8 with either a 25mm f1.4 (50mm equiv) or my 17mm f1.8 (34mm equiv) lenses. The fully articulated screen on the GX8 proved useful for some low level portrait format shots where people were unaware that I was photographing them, especially as I had turned it to ‘quiet’ mode. I also had my 7.5mm fisheye lens but that is for another blog post on the subject of mosque interiors.

Although some areas of Istanbul were a bit quiet, the quayside at Eminonu which is the gateway to the Golden Horn, a flooded river valley which flows south west into the Bosphorous, was a great place for people and Street Photography.

Two girls enjoying a selfie on the quayside.
A family on the quayside. This is where the articulated screen and the silent mode come in handy as people just think you’re looking down at the photos in your camera.

The other area was a walk down from Taksim Square along Istikal Cadessi in an area known as Beyoglu which is a pedestrianised street of modern shops and embassy buildings along where the funicular runs. It is a great place for close-up photography as it’s so busy you hardly get noticed.

The Taksim funicular.
The many cats were also a feature of Istanbul.
Knife sharpener.
The street drops down to the Galata Tower.

Istanbul is a great place for Street Photography and a place I would like to return to. The people are very friendly and don’t mind being photographed and there are some great characters in the bazaars, maybe a subject of another blog!

Decaying France

One thing I love about France is that they seem to be quite happy about just allowing buildings to weather and decay. All these photos taken in aix en Provence in January 2020.

Rather than spending money on repairing facades and making everything look new they allow the fabric of their buildings to atain a certain aged quality which I find very interesting.

I often say to people I’m with to look up about the shop fronts and study the faces above. That is where the history of the building is.