Tag Archives: photography

London Pinhole images from early 1990’s

Pinhole Pics
I have begun 2015 by embarking on the mammoth task of producing hi-res digital files from my Uncle Jan (Greshoff’s) film archive. (My brother Martin is already well underway with the lower res scans and he regularly uploads some of these to the Jan Greshoff facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/Jan.Greshoffs.Photographs?ref=br_rs).

So I have got my film scanner out of retirement and have upgraded my software but it still takes forever and the post-production takes even longer but it is actually quite refreshing not to be working on my own work with all that entails and to be putting myself in someone else’s mind to try and produce the kind of images that he would have printed. We have lots of his prints so it is relatively easy to see the kind of quality he was aiming for.

However, I digress… during a New Year sortout I came across a small pile of pinhole prints from negs that I did in the early 1990’s with an adapted Sinar. As my scanner is out again I thought I put them through and here they are. There are a few more tucked away somewhere but someone else can scan those when I am pushing up the daisies.

I just love the feel that pinhole images produce and still find it entirely amazing that they are possible in the first instance. I shot a few more a couple of years ago, using my last remaining large format camera (all the Sinars being sold off ages ago), a baby Linhof but the rolls of film are still waiting to be processed I am ashamed to say. I even bought a 6×12 custom-made wooden pinhole camera that is still waiting to be used, I am even more ashamed to say!

Maybe 2015 will be the year of dusting off my processing cans and reels as well as my scanner.

So here is the inside of Smithfield Market:

Image: Robert Greshoff

And one of the Loading Doors:

Image: Robert Greshoff

These are the fine bridges that are a signature feature of Conran’s Butlers Wharf development just east of London Bridge in SE1. It wasn’t long finished then.

Image: Robert Greshoff

Here is Greenwich’s finest gasometer, it is still there going up and down like a great breathing lung. This picture was done when it had just breathed out:

Image: Robert Greshoff

A slight gear change, this is the view towards Kent from near London’s oldest ancient woodland that is Oxleas Wood:

Image: Robert Greshoff

Back to the city, this is a random view in South East London very close to where IPC magazines used to be. (It is in fact the building adjacent to the then HQ for Sainsbury’s), I guess they have probably moved by now. I did this after dropping off some pictures for Homes and Gardens I recall:

Image: Robert Greshoff

And here is the Sainsbury’s building itself, with the reflection of the local bolthole for all those overworked subs and picture editors there were lot’s of them then:

Image: Robert Greshoff

I have saved the best, or my favourites at any rate, till last. Here is Canary Wharf when it was newly finished, at the height of the recession and pretty devoid of tenants. Interestingly, there were no private security guys then either. If you tried to to this shot now (you can’t because there are now buildings where I was standing) or indeed use any camera bigger than an iphone you will be pounced on by 2 or 3 security guards and they are amazing adept at appearing out of nowhere very fast:

Image: Robert Greshoff

And finally my most favourite pinhole from that period has got to be this view of the Houses of Parliament from the south bank, complete with marvellous with pinhole flare:

Image: Robert Greshoff

Better get back to my scanning now…

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The Skinners, a City of London Livery Company

I often find myself in one or other of the various Livery Halls dotted around the City of London (Not as a guest but rather pursuing my own trade for which there is no company!).  Last week I was doing a regular annual shoot for the Architects Benevolent Society who hold their event in a different Hall each year.  This year it was the Skinners and it was one Hall I had not visited before.

For those who may not be familiar with the traditions of this land, the Livery Companies all go back a very long way, (in the case o the Skinners, they were awarded their charter by Edward the Third in 1327) and they are essentially trade associations that exist to protect and promote their particular trade.  There are 108 of them (I have only visited a small handful) and many of them are rather wealthy institutions.  Originally they had strong links to the church but nowadays these links are rather know tenuous but many still do a great deal of charitable work.  The Skinners is a case in point.  In fact the Skinners as a trade ceased to exist a couple of hundred years ago but the company is still doing very well and currently supports four schools in Kent and London, runs Sheltered Housing accommodations and make generous grants to other charities.  And then of course they have their fine building, right next door to Cannon Street station and within spitting distance to the Thames river.

An interesting aside is that in 1484 the Skinners and Merchant Taylors had a argument about who whose barge go in front during the Mayor of London river procession.  In the end the Mayor himself had to intervene and decreed that henceforth each company would take turns to be in front and when the fixed order was finally arranged they alternated between positions six and seven.  This probably gave rise to the phrase “to be at sixes and sevens”

I had a few minutes to kill last week so I made use of my time by looking at things that interested me.  (This is not meant to be a comprehensive study of the hall!)  In particular I really liked the huge chest with it’s impressively ornate locking mechanism in the lid, which was accidently closed and it took all the skills of the locksmith to get it open again and only once he had been given a photograph of the workings!  Otherwise they are all quite self-explanatory.

Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London

Sea Wall, water and waves

We had a couple of days on the beach in France (it was my birthday) and as the tide gradually came in I was reminded about just how fantastically dynamic the sea is – constantly moving and changing.  Being on the sea is one of the things I love about sailing and even though we weren’t sailing this week-end, watching the waves wash up and break against the seawall was almost as good.  This series was done in the space of about 30 seconds in between chatting and the occasional glass of wine:

Sea against the SeaWall in France Sea against the SeaWall in France Sea against the SeaWall in France Sea against the SeaWall in France

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

St Mary the Virgin Church, Fordwich, Near Canterbury, Kent

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent ©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent
©Robert Greshoff

Popped in to see St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich after doing that traditional Sunday activity of visiting the DIY shop.   This is one of seventeen Kent churches entrusted to the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, a charity who sole function is to ensure that the historical and material aspects of local Churches is maintained and that they can remain open to the public.

Fordwich sits comfortably and sleepily on the banks of the Stour as it winds it’s way to the sea.  The present town bears very little relation to the buzzing place it must have been when it served as the main port for the arrival of Caen stone from France during the Norman reconstruction of the nearby Canterbury Cathedral in 12C and 13C.  Nowadays it’s main claim to fame is that it is the smallest place in the country to have a Town Council and it also has two fine pubs one of which is conveniently opposite the miniscule Town Hall!

Having negotiated my way past innumerable gravestones I arrived at the Church door.  The church itself is very much more substantial than the Romney Marsh building I visited last Sunday and the setting is no where near as unique but that said it does have some interesting features.  I guess from an historical point of view the sarcophagus (that supposedly once contained the remains of St Augustine of Canterbury) is of note. dating from 1100, it is carved with columns and with fishscale tiles on the sloping top  making it look a bit like a Greek temple but but beyond that the thing itself is pretty featureless.

The painting (1688) above the tympanium represents the Royal Arms of William III and Commandments but the best thing about it is the way it exactly follows the shape of the chancel arch below and so serves to emphasise the architectural structure of the building as well as to remind us to be good and pious.

And then there is the fine hand-pumped organ with a large lever protruding from the rear which, no doubt,  someone who didn’t pay enough attention to the commandments above the Chancel Arch was obliged to pump up and down until given the signal to stop from the organist.

And finally, the crowning glory has got to be the curious bully-beef tin hooked on the side of one of the pews.  It certainly never had the honour of holding any relics but what a fantastic piece of folk art – and I have no idea what it was made to hold!

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent ©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent
©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent ©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent
©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent ©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent
©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent ©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent
©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent ©Robert Greshoff

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent
©Robert Greshoff