A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about photography

Happy Hallowe'en!


overcast 15 °C

In honour of the ghosties and goblins, some creepy shots I have taken...

Egham, Surrey:





Bunhill Fields, London:




Posted by GregW 04:54 Archived in England Tagged photography Comments (0)

The Week In Pictures, A Few Words and One Song

Bits and bobs from London

sunny 18 °C

More Olympic Fever. Looks like the temperature is really rising!

Seems I can't escape the Olympics, especially when you are living with 3 very patriotic Brits. This past weekend and the last few days have been very good to Britain in Beijing. They won a mass of Gold medals, and now sit at 3rd in the overall standings, behind only China and the USA. Many of those medals came in Sailing and Cycling, where Team GB's strategy of co-locating all their cycling athletes in Manchester at a state of the art, well-funded facility has paid off handsomely. Of the 10 events at the velodrome this Olympics, GB has won 12 medals, including 7 golds, putting them well ahead of the next closest team, Spain, with 3 medals.

I wandered down to Trafalgar Square today to catch two of those Olympic golds in the Men and Women's Sprints. A massive video screen has been set up in Trafalgar Square, and has become an impromptu living room / party room, with moments of tension as people watch events, and moments of levity as they celebrate the winners.



Victoria Pendleton won her gold medal match in the Women's Sprint, bringing cheers from the assembled crowd.




Next up, Chris Hoy of Great Britain beat Jason Kenny, also of Great Britain, to give a Gold and Silver finish to the Men's Sprint, and made Chris Hoy the first British person to win 3 gold medals in a games since 1908. More cheers from the crowds, the medal ceremony and then the song... God Save the Queen. I've been hearing it a lot lately.


Haven't heard too much of O Canada, unfortunately. It's only been played twice this Olympics. Sigh. I guess there is always 2012.


Today, I found a barber not far from my place that I like. He's just across the river in Greenwich. £12 for a "Gents" cut. I guess I am a gent. Did a nice job with my hair, and despite the fact that he gave me a bit of a dressing down due to the fact that I sometimes shave my own neck between cuts (which causes ingrown hairs), I am for sure going back. Yay, yet another little bit of "settlement" news.


While the 2012 Olympic site at Stratford is still mostly dirt, one site is up and running already, the ExCel Centre in the east end of the Docklands. I took a walk down that way the other day. It's a pretty impressive building, at least from the footbridge going across the Royal Victoria Docks. The roof is all spikey, white bars, almost like a giant constructor set.


Unfortunately, from the ground it's just a big box. To make a nice picture of it, you have to dress it up with something in the foreground blocking part of the view, like this handily placed crane.


ExCel will be hosting Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

Walking out to the ExCel Centre I followed the North Bank of the Thames, and then cut up and walked along the north side of the Royal Victoria Dock. The area around Royal Victoria Dock is well developed, with a number of nice apartment buildings and a few bars and restaurants.


On my way back, I decided to see a different part of London, so I crossed over the DLR tracks to Victoria Dock Road. It is just north of the ExCel Centre and the condo apartments at Royal Victoria Docks, but is a very different place from it's neighbour on the south side of the DLR tracks.

On the north side of the DLR tracks is a lot of run down looking housing, and mostly scuzzy looking businesses, many of which seemed closed permanently.


Walking further along towards Canning Town, I came across a car on the side of the road that was completely destroyed by fire. 4 cars down from that, a car with it's passenger side window smashed, glove box open and papers strewn around the car. I thought about taking a photo, as it reminded me almost of the kind of shots you see from war zones, but then though better of hauling out my camera in an area where, apparently, people smash and grab and on occasion burn cars.

Past Canning Town Station, though, suddenly everything changes again, with more pricey looking condos and shiny office blocks. A lot of the businesses along the Victoria Dock road close to Canning Town were shut down, not for lack of business, but because the land was reclaimed for a massive redevelopment project. When walking along, I couldn't help but feel that it would only be a matter of time until the gentrification oozed its way north and east and all those burnt out cars and run down flats would be replaced by condo high-rises and California-Thai-Mexican fusion restaurants.

Closer to the Thames River in Silvertown, development hasn't quite taken hold. It's still an industrial area with few opportunities for a pedestrian to get close to the water. About the only reclaimed part there is the area called Trinity Buoy Wharf, which has been remade from a Buoy manufacturing and maintenance facility into a centre for arts and artists.


(I didn't get to try Fatboy's Dinner. They were closed for August vacation).


Ironically, as part of the scheme, they have converted a lot of large shipping containers into art studios and small craft shops. This is ironic as it was ultimately the shipping container and the Port of London's inability to deal with the massive cranes and ships required to move shipping containers that lead the docklands to close and be redeveloped.

Then again, given they are artists, perhaps that is a statement in of itself?

Further east, south of Royal Victoria Dock and heading towards London City Airport is a large section of land that is unused. The area used to be manufacturing and shipping, but with the closure of the docks, it has mostly gone to fallow.

Walking along North Woolwich Road, I found another casualty of the docks closing.


With no thirsty dockhands looking for a pint, there is no reason to keep the pub open. Boarded up, abandoned and surrounding by two metal fences, the Graving Dock Tavern closed up in the 2002. Graving Docks, by the way, where used to clean the hulls of the ships.


Continuing to geographically hop around without any sort of rhyme or reason, here's some photos from an underpass near Waterloo Station. Graffiti is allowed and encouraged in this area, and there are some interesting pieces of art.



I know I've shown this picture before, but I really like it.


There is something very cool about the juxtaposition of the farm animals and the skyscrapers. I think every city should have a farm pasture right in the middle of downtown. It would be a great way for stressed-out office workers to relax during their lunch breaks.


Hmm, an entry without any sort of point or purpose. If this were actual literature, people would probably complain, but as this is a free blog on the internet, I know that...


Posted by GregW 08:03 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged photography Comments (2)

Battersea Power Station - Tour and Redevelopment Plans

A disused coal-fired power station on the south bank of the Thames, famous for its appearance on a Pink Floyd album cover, looks to be redone as a green building to live, work and play

all seasons in one day 15 °C
View Exploring A New Home on GregW's travel map.

London was at the fore-front of the industrial revolution. By the late 19th century, the city had grown tremendously as people moved from the country-side and agriculture to the city and the factories. The city was bursting at the seams, and thus a lot of money and energy was poured into building the infrastructure of London, much of it still in use today.

Of course, 100 year old and older infrastructure does mean that there is a lot of maintenance that needs to occur. I wander around the city, I often see streets closed to traffic, with signs indicating work with the quaint name of “Replacing London’s Victorian Water Mains.” Despite the rather prosaic sounding name, it is a multi-million pound undertaking to update the infrastructure of London’s water system into this century.

I am reminded of this infrastructure work further today as I try and reach my destination. For anyone who rides the London train and underground system, weekend closures is probably something of a swear word, an indication that travel will be a pain. Much of the underground and rail network dates back a to late 1800s and early 1900s, including this platform at Baker Street, part of the world’s first underground train line dating back to 1863.


Of course, not all the work is due to being really old, as this weekend includes closures on the Jubilee line from Green Park to Stratford (opened in 1999) and the Docklands Light Rail (opened in 1987).

Also closed this weekend, though, was the Victoria line, dating back to 1968. Unfortunately, it was to a station on the Victoria line that I wanted to go. Instead, I needed to transfer at Baker Street to the circle line, riding it around to Victoria station, where I transferred to a Southern Line train service to Battersea Park Station. If there is one thing you learn quickly here in London, it’s to use all forms of transport available - Underground, Overground, Buses, Riverboat, and National Rail - anything that’ll take your Oyster Card.

From Battersea Park Station, it was just a quick walk to my final destination, Battersea Power Station.


Opened in 1939 by the London Power Company, the station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, an industrial designer who was also responsible for the red telephone box so associated with London. The plant, a coal fired plant that provided electricity to London, was expanded in 1955 to it’s present form with four stacks in an imposing red brick building.



By 1983 both of the two generators were shut down, and the station fell into disrepair.

For those outside London, the station will probably best be known for appearing on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals, with a large pink pig floating above it.

Though tethered to the station, the large floating pig broke loose and rose up into the sky. Unfortunately for travellers into London that day, Battersea is below the flight path into Heathrow Airport, and so a large number of flights were delayed and cancelled while the pig floated above London, finally landing somewhere in Kent.

The pig has become something of a symbol for the power plant itself, and had been used in the campaign to notify the public of the free tours and consultations for future development going on this month.


The power plant is quite imposing, a tall, thick red-brick structure with it’s massive stacks. It has, however, been unused for a quarter of a century, so it has fallen into disrepair, the site covered with fallen brick and rusting metal.



Currently, development plans have been drawn up to reclaim the site and turn it into a residential, shopping and business area. The plans are quite elaborate and grand, including a massive clear chimney that will vent hot air and bring in cool air into the “ecodome,” as a heating and cool measure. The glass chimney will tower above the four white stacks of the old Battersea Power Station.

The plans are not without their critics, though, and they aren’t the first plans to redevelop the site. The next two years will be taken up with approvals. Beyond that, plans to extend the Northern tube line to the site to be completed by 2015, and the rest of the buildings on the site completed in a phased development after that.

Still many years before the white stacks with be dwarfed by the glass eco-tower. Lots of time for them to tower over the south Thames.


Posted by GregW 09:34 Archived in England Tagged photography Comments (0)

Toronto the White

Aftermath of a blizzard in Toronto, Canada

snow -5 °C

A few weeks ago Toronto was getting another blanketing of snow. I was standing in the vestibule of my apartment building doing up my jacket’s zipper and securing my hat and gloves. A man walked into the vestibule also readying himself to head out into the falling snow.

“Bad winter, eh?” I said

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “it’s Canada.” Then he turned and walked outside, letting twister of blowing snow into the vestibule and causing a chill to creep up my spine.

“I don’t know, seems bad to me,” I said to no one, before hunkering down my shoulders and heading out into the snow.

That encounter got me thinking, though, whether or not I’d become some sort of softy when it comes to the snow. After all, my usually constant business travel usually keeps me on the road during winter in places that are warmer and less snowy than Canada. This winter, though, I’ve mostly been here in Canada. Perhaps all my travel has zapped me of the usual Canadian stiff upper lip when it comes to the winter weather.

Turns out, though, that isn’t the case. It is a bad winter here in Toronto. Last Saturday Toronto was in the middle of a blizzard delivering another 30 cm – 40 cm of snow, and we’d already had 20 cm earlier in the week. A front page story on the Toronto Star laid out the truth. We were very close to being the worst winter ever in Toronto.

After the 40 or so centimeters that fell on Friday and Saturday, so far this winter season Toronto has gotten 189.6 cm of snow (almost two metres!), and is only 17.8 cm away from the all time Toronto record of 207.4 cm set in 1938-1939. With still half of March and the very real possibility of some snow in early April, Toronto could break the record yet.

This is further contrasted by the fact that last year Toronto only got 60 cm of snow all winter, the second lowest total on record. So it’s not just my imagination, it is a bad winter!

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, so I went out to capture some of the aftermath of Toronto’s latest snow storm.






Snow banks above car roofs. Cool!

The rest of Canada probably won’t think this all that impressive, of course. Ottawa, just a 5 hour drive away, has had 411 cm of snow so far this year, and Montreal has gotten 348 cm of the white stuff. In fact, Toronto is just 79th on the list of snowy cities, and our all time high of 207 cm is just above the AVERAGE snowfall across Canada of 200 cm a year.

Just another reason why the rest of Canada can continue to hate Toronto.

Posted by GregW 10:56 Archived in Canada Tagged photography Comments (2)

The Candid Photo

The Composition of a Seemingly Natural and Organic Photo

sunny 25 °C
View Trinidad and Tobago November 2007 on GregW's travel map.

A man is walking down a beach in the sun, his sandals in his hands so he can dip his toes in the warm surf of the Caribbean Ocean. He looks out towards the water, letting the light breeze kiss his face. He is oblivious to the photographer up ahead, and can’t hear the snap of the camera as his image is captured on the digital memory card. Posted on the internet, web surfers come across the candid photo of a man on a beach.


Not all, however, is as it seems. Let us return to November 19th, 2007, and examine the events leading up to the photo.

I am walking along the beach beside the road that leads to Pigeon Point. The beach is a thin strip of sand running beside a paved road, and I haven’t seen another human since passing a few booths selling trinkets about 5 minutes ago. I am wandering along, sandals in my hands and bag (containing my camera) slung over my shoulder, letting the waves run up and over my bare feet.

“God, this is beautiful,” I think to myself, and my gaze glances up from my toes in the wet sand to the sandals in my hands, swinging lazily as I meander along. “Wow, this would make a really cool picture – a guy on the beach with his sandals in his hands.” So I decide to get that picture. However, because I am alone and there aren’t any other tourists around to impose upon to snap a photo, I will have to take the photo using the timer on my camera.

I look behind me, and off in the distance I can see a few boats moored near the shore, and a sliver of the rock breakwater built by the Coco Reef resort. “Hmm,” I think, “I don’t want all those signs of civilization behind me.”

I look ahead of me, and see nothing out in the water except a few white caps as waves crash over shallow sand bars. “Much better if I take the photo when I am walking in the other direction.” So I make a mental note to snap the photo on my return from Pigeon Point.

A few hours later, after lounging around at the beach and the bar at Pigeon Point, I am heading back the same way I came, along the thin sand strip of beach along the Pigeon Point road.

“Now, where should I take that photo?” I mentally check off what I need. A nice background, something with a couple palm trees would be nice, and no signs of human constructions (or, god forbid, other humans). Some place where the beach isn’t too covered with flotsam and jetsam. Some place where I can find a flat surface to put my camera on for the photo as well.

I round a nice looking palm tree jutting out over the water, and see a fence post which has been flattened, but which is still anchored in the ground. The fence post, parallel but a few feet off the ground will make a perfect spot to set up my camera. I wander over, get out my Joby Gorillapod tripod and set up my camera, taking time to ensure that the picture is nice and level. I snap a few test shots, making sure that the lighting is decent.

Once I am sure that the setting looks good, I set the timer. I remove the sunglasses and hat that have been offering my pasty white skin sun protection for the last few hours, and leave them with my bag and my 2 litre bottle of water on the end of the fallen fence post. I hit the button to start the timer, and sprint to get into position.

After running what I think is a decent distance, I turn around, and slowly walk forward, ensuring that my sandals are hanging lazily from my fingertips. After counting in my head to 10, I walk back to the camera and check the picture.

“Nope, no good,” I say. I’m looking straight ahead in the photo, not longingly out to sea as originally envisioned. I reset the camera position, set the timer again, and press the button. Again I sprint into position, and take up my slow amble.

After a few seconds, I go to check that picture. “Nope, no good.” This time, my right hand is up near by face. I take a swig of my water, and recompose the shot in my head. “Okay, Wesson, this time you’ll nail it. Hands at your side, look out to sea, walk with big exaggerated steps so that your foot is posed nicely in the air. Let’s get it done!”

Pep talk complete, I reset the timer and sprint into position again. Returning to the camera, I see I have nailed the shot. “Third time is the charm,” I say, admiring my work. The shot looks pretty natural, like it was captured in a complete and total spontaneous moment.

My spur-of-the-moment photo took a good 10 minutes to structure, plan and execute, but it sure looks good.

At least I didn’t photo shop it, though looking at it, I could probably use a little photographic tummy tuck. If I give the guy in the photo better abs, maybe I could sell the photo to a resort for marketing purposes. Though he’d probably need a little more hair as well to be a real beach body walking along the beach…

An actual candid photo. The tree didn’t pose or anything for this shot.

Posted by GregW 19:52 Archived in Trinidad and Tobago Tagged photography Comments (0)

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