Some photos taken on evening strolls after the work from home shift, coming up to Christmas 2020. A strange time, all round, but we’re keeping safe, staying local, and all those important things. I hope you’ve had a peaceful end of year. Here’s to going slightly further afield at some point in 2021.
Indoors for much of this week: working, homeschooling and, most pressingly, looking after a Covid patient (thankfully over the worst and getting better now but – and while I realise this is not especially practical advice – I really, really recommend not catching it if you possibly can).
The pics above and below are from an exploratory go at astrophotography earlier in the week, mostly as an evening distraction once the rest of the family had gone to bed. I’m not sure the conversion to WordPress-friendly jpegs will do the results justice, but I was pleased with what I managed with my Fuji Xt-20 on a tripod, and a somewhat hit-and-hope approach to exposure parameters.
Since the weather’s been dry and the air pollution dropped away dramatically we’ve been able to see the stars in a way I’ve never experienced in semi-suburban south-east London before. The Plough has been particularly prominent so I focused most of my efforts on that. We’re due some wet weather this week; once that’s cleared I might have another go as the constellations move on.
One problem with photographing the sky at night is that, beyond the technical challenges, is that unlike what I usually shoot, where my camera is significantly more than good enough for 95% of situations, a bigger, faster sensor would definitely produce better results in the dark. I’ve probably spent enough money recently, though.
One result of our now-necessary self-isolation is that the horizons seem to have shrunk even further than they had before. Maybe this was a subconscious prompt for looking at the stars… I find that when I’m focused on the day-to-day routine then the upsides of this peculiar moment can seem quite appealing: lunch with the family every day; more time for guitar practise; tidying the garden; the pleasures of regular deliveries to break up the day (this week brought local bread, groceries via friends, a new wireless router, some extension cables, and other domestic items that suddenly seem very important), and so on. When I look beyond the day-to-day, though, I find I’m really badly missing the routine parts of life-before: Parkrun with friends, swimming at the lido, socialising with actual people, popping to the pub and talking about whatever we used to talk about, playing music with other people… Despite some ‘end the lockdown’ noises in the press, I don’t see this ending soon, however. We’ve got to push on and get through it somehow, but I worry that in the necessity of making it happen we underestimate just how strange and unnatural this period of time is, how difficult it is for so many people, and the trade-offs we’re making.
Other news and diversions:
- Had a first jazz guitar lesson via Skype. Feels like jumping into a new rabbit hole, but there’s probably never been a better time for me to try it.
- Listening to the Tokyo Jazz Joints podcast and daydreaming about opening a South East London Jazz Micropub. I’m sure it would be very popular (with about 3 other people).
- Dabbling – like every bloke in my demographic – with a sourdough starter. It smells quite unpleasant and I’m not convinced it’s working, but it’s something to do…
- Reading Johnny Pitts’ ‘Afropean’ book. An unexpected side-effect of which, no doubt lockdown-related, is a strong desire to holiday in a mundane suburb of a large European city.
This week I was lucky to see Anthony Braxton performing at a sold out Cafe OTO, the last night of a three show residence in which he performed standards with a quartet.
It was a great experience, and a treat to sit so close to the musicians and watch them interact through the songs. Not every piece worked, but even those that didn’t had something interesting going on, and those that did – particularly Eddie Harris’s Freedom Jazz Dance – were pretty sublime.
The quartet was:
Anthony Braxton – saxophone
Alexander Hawkins – piano
Neil Charles – double bass
Stephen Davies – drums
More of that Saturday afternoon autumn light in Deptford, this time in Giffin Square just off the High Street. Today’s started as grey and damp as can be, and it’s almost impossible to imagine that the light looked like that yesterday.
All photos shot on a Fujifilm XT20 with XF35mm f1.4 lens, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing.
More of my Deptford pictures here.
Viewed from the top of the ramp leading the Thames Path up the relatively new ‘missing link‘ east of Thames Side Studios on the Woolwich-Charlton border, the Thames Barrier and the former Mersey ferry ‘Royal Iris’. The latter, which has featured here before, looks a little sadder each year. I saw a rumour on Twitter that it is likely to be cut up soon, but haven’t been able to confirm it – if you know better, get in touch!
A Sunday afternoon walk to Greenwich Park, through the flower garden, past the bandstand to say hello to my uncle playing piano with a Big Band on the bandstand, then on to the Wolfe statue for the classic view over the park looking north.
One day – one day – I’ll pull together some proper then-and-now photos taken from this spot over the last 15 years. But this is how it looks now: the grass in the park very slightly greened up and recovered after weeks without rain; the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf stopped at this particular moment of development, a brief pause before the glass and steel buildings spread further out from Canada Square. I’ll no doubt be back there in the coming weeks – maybe I’ll try a then-and-now then.
I’ve never been too bothered about photographing vintage cars, bar the odd snapshot, on the (possibly flawed) basis that someone else is bound to be doing it much better, but a little while ago I noticed that there was a collection of photos of orange cars building up on my iPhone camera roll. And once I’d noticed that, I realised that there aren’t many orange cars out there (a shame – some of today’s blander car designs would be improved by an orange paint job), and so I started ‘collecting’ them.
These pics are of two Bond Bugs, caught at the July meet of Park It The Market, the monthly vintage car and bike event that has turned into one of Greenwich’s best (and free) social occasions.
PS. Got an orange car, live in south-east London, and want some nice photos of your car? Get in touch!
Nice light on a summer’s morning in my back garden. I should probably have deadheaded these weeks ago but have been holding off in order to dissect the heads and show my daughter the seeds, something I have a vague memory of doing as a child myself.
I enjoyed shooting these but was a bit discomfited by how many shots I had to discard due to camera shake: either it’s the increased camera resolution, or I can’t hold the camera as still for macro shots as I used to be able to. Of course, I could have just been not so lazy and taken the short walk back into the house to get the tripod…
A dad joke at dusk. Spotted on the Thames path, between the Anchor & Hope pub and the Thames Barrier, while out on a Sunday evening admiring the sunset and the sailing skills of the Thames tug captains piloting the Viking Sky cruise ship out of Greenwich.