Tag Archives: images

Canterbury at Night and Brassai’s “Paris de Nuit”

One of the most precious photography books in my collection is Brassai’s “Paris de Nuit”.  This was given to me by my father about 20 years ago and is a well loved copy which detracts from it’s monetary value (it remains the most valuable book I own despite the wear) but in no way detracts from the images.  These images, along with those of Sudek have formed one of the back-bone of my photographic education. Interestingly though, I never felt moved to emulate any of their work at the time.  But last year, or it may have been the year before, I spent a number of winter nights tramping around the streets of Canterbury doing a Canterbury de Nuit series.

By way of background to Brassai, this Hungarian born photographer forms part of that rich stream of photographers that flowed out of Europe during the early part of the 20C.  He worked mainly in Paris and died there in 1984, after a life of work in photography.  His commercial commissioned work is largely forgotten now but his legacy of personal work is formidable.

And so to Canterbury at night…

Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction

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Street View vs 360/180 Panoramas (vs single Images)

City of London

City of London

I started writing this thinking I that I would have something critical to say about Google’s Streetview.  However, once I got started and my thoughts fell into some sort of order it became clear that even though the world through Streetview is entirely pervasive and inescapable and has transformed our perceptions of what is familiar and unknown, it is not the creative bogey man I thought it might be.

First off I should acknowledge that I use Streetview extensively for work and find it an invaluable tool  but nevertheless I felt that my own efforts to shoot stitched panoramas were rendered somehow rather pointless given that Streetview has revealed every corner of the world in 360 degree glory (with very few exceptions) at the click of a mouse. My thoughts were inspired by a panorama project that I started a couple of years ago and that is ongoing.

I started (along with millions of others) to shoot 360/180 panoramas in the early naughties. My first efforts were predominately interior views of public buildings and considering the ropey software that was available at the time, they looked pretty good.  This is a view of the Cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral done in 2004.

Cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral

More recently, I embarked on a long-term project of landscapes of London using stitched techniques. (The recently posted images of the QEII Bridge are part of this endeavour). There is no part of London (or anywhere else for that matter) that is not covered in 360deg by Streetview.  As a result 360/180 views are commonplace and do not have the intrigue that they once may have had… so how can one work with stitched panoramas in a way that retains a degree of intrigue and uniqueness?

Looking back over the views produced since the London project began, (around 25 or so) I now realise that by shooting at dusk and/or night and by positioning myself in slightly more unusual places I have achieved images that are to a degree different and unique.

At it’s core all photography is about selection and timing.  (Perhaps I should qualify that by saying “straight photography using a camera”!)  In a sense 360/180 images negate the first of these in that there is no selection other that where you position the camera but that in itself is a form of selection.  And timing is simply a matter of when you take the image so on both counts a 360/180 image scores.  By using a combination of unusual vantage points and working in non-daylight or semi daylight hours one can, at least to a degree produce images that are at once similar but different to Streetview and that have their own integrity.  In addition I rarely produce full 360/180 images and nearly always crop in to the image.

That said, even though they are quite fun things to make, nothing beats a great single image!

This one was shot in 1989 with my battered Nikon FM2 (and as an aside, clearly demonstrates the difference between film and digitally originated images but maybe that is a subject for a separate post).

Holy Island, Northumberland

Holy Island, Northumberland

Looking Back at 2012

Usually at this stage of the new year I prepare a mini portfolio of the year just gone.  This time I thought I’d do it here for a change because I can more easily combine words and images.

2012 saw the end of my work on the new Scala book on “The Architecture of Canterbury Cathedral” by #Jonathan Foyle.   The last shot was for the cover and was a view from the organ loft looking towards the apse and was a fitting end to a wonderful project.  The book will be launched in May this year.

Arch of CC front cove#3C8E0

Whilst on an ecclesiastical theme, 2012 also saw me photographing a number of church projects for #LeeEvans most notably Cuckfield church in Sussex which has had an impressive makeover by the architects.  In his “England’s Thousand Best Churches” Simon Jenkins gave the building one star, surely he would give it more now!  Of particular note is the rather fine restored Encaustic floor tiling around the font.

Robert Greshoff; Architecture; Cuckfield Church, Sussex, Lee Evans llp

Lee Evans also saw the completion of their West Faversham Community Centre with it’s very busy main hall space, popular with the local Bowls enthusiasts amongst others.

Lee Evans llp, West Faversham Community Centre, Kent, Robert Greshoff, ArcEye Images

As well as their Maidstone Girls Grammar School building which is the first of a multi-phase project and has certainly got the school racing to get phase two started.  The building looks quite unassuming from the outside but the classroom spaces are stunning and I am looking forward to seeing what they will pull out of the hat for the next phase.

MGGS; Maidstone Grammar Girls School; Kent; Lee Evans llp; Education

MGGS, Maidstone Grammar Girls School, Kent, Lee Evans llp

Still Kent but a building of a different nature was Guy Hollaway’s Rocksalt Restaurant in Folkestone that I shot in February.  The building sits very comfortably in it’s surroundings and boasts splendid views across the harbour:

Rocksalt Restaurant

Rocksalt Restaurant

They also serve excellent food!

Round about this time I photographed the substantial KSS Architects Hale Village Scheme in Tottenham for Willmotts. Despite it’s scale the building provides some fine accommodation finished to a very high standard.

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Willmotts had a busy 2012 with their Beeches Manor sheltered housing project near Reading and the Gosterwood Scheme in Deptford both offering interesting visual possibilities.  Beeches Manor has a splendid garden space that is impressively thought out and which is very well integrated into the building itself.  Gosterwood (#BPTW) has a very contemporary feel and its shiny metal cladding somehow makes the building at home in it’s distinctly urban setting next to the railway viaduct.

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122200, Beeches Manor, Willmott Dixon, Wokingham, Housing 21

Whilst talking about housing I was commissioned by Octavia Housing to photograph a number of their recently completed schemes.  I did a similar assignment for them in the early part of the naughties so it was fantastic to be asked to do it again. They have an impressive portfolio with some very interesting buildings.  I particularly liked their Bourbon Scheme near Westfield where the balconies offered some interesting visual opportunities with a unique glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants.

BalconyCompBlog

Also included was the Postman’s Park just round the corner from St Paul’s and which has got to be one of London’s hidden Gems.  Aside from being a wonderful oasis of calm also contains the sometimes heart-wrenching Watts Memorial of heroic deeds by ordinary people created in 1897 for Queen Vic’s Jubilee.

122190 Octavia Housing, Postmans Park, London EC1

Still with houses, 2012 saw the photography of two private houses, the first for Method Architects and the second for BPTW both of which added their own housing flavours to the year.

My route into London often takes me past Surrey Quays so it seemed a shame not to do a least a few shots of the CZWG Canada Water Library.

CZWG, Canada Water Library, SE London South,

A short trip to Amsterdam in August revealed this wonderfully bronze clad canalside building (an Housing Association HQ) by the American architect Stephen Holl.

Steven Holl Architects, SARPHATISTRAAT, Stadgenoot, Amsterdam Offices

There were also some retail projects for Wanda including the small but perfectly formed Southend Airport – they have got airport retail down to a fine art.  We were successful in making the store look well stocked even though it hadn’t opened yet and most of the stock hadn’t arrived yet!

Wanda Ceative, SouthEnd Airport, Duty Free, Stobart, Airside, Retail,

Briefly back to education, the Hopkins Benenden School Science building was completed in November which sports a wonderful full height atrium with an interesting and varied use of materials but I personally think the LEllp Maidstone Grammar School classrooms knocks the Hopkins ones into a cocked hat!

Michael Hopkins Architects, Benenden School, Science Building, Lee Evans

Michael Hopkins Architects, Benenden School, Science Building, Lee Evans

In August, Burgess Salmon asked me to photograph their new building in London prior to their moving in and we got some great shots despite the weather.

Burges Salmon llp, 6 New Street Square, Bennetts Associates Architects, Robert Greshoff, London, Chancery Lane Burges Salmon llp, 6 New Street Square, Bennetts Associates Architects, Robert Greshoff, London, Chancery Lane

And then to finish off the architectural side of things, 2012 saw the completion of two major building projects in Canterbury:  The new Marlowe Theatre (Kieth Williams)  and the New Beaney (Sidell Gibson with John Miller & Partners)

Kieth Williams Architects, Buro Happold Engineers

The New Beaney; Canterbury; Kent; Sidell Gibson Architects; Exhibition; public Library; Gallery

And finally in December I produced a stop-frame animation of the removal and installation of a new pedestrian bridge in Southwark for Southwark and Conways.  The first day involved the use of an enormous crane which took pretty much the whole day to set up.  The actual lifting part took about 10 minutes and we had glorious weather throughout.  The second day was a much more streamlined affair, took less time but it rained throughout!

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On the press & portraiture front the year began with a number of press shoots for RBS in London & Kent and numerous shoots for Willmotts, Centaur, Mayfair Times and the Architects Benevolent Society amongst others.  I also had the honour to spend a day doing corporate shots of the newly established Scotch Partners and another similar session with the wonderful Buro Happold and again with the fine people at Parkeray  Then there was a day out in the countryside with the Shirlaws Coaches in Hertfordshire and days in the city with Argo International.

Shirlaws Coach Conference, The Grove, Hertfordshire

Finally 2012 saw a very successful collaboration with Herbst PR in the production of a corporate film for Aintree NHS Trust with more in the pipeline.  Keep up the good work Herbst!

So here’s to 2013…