This is the great Mike Peters from 1980s (and current) band The Alarm playing his Friday night “acoustic” set at this year’s annual Gathering (number 24). I’ve placed acoustic in quotation marks because he sang and played guitar, along with loops and backing tracks, to stunning effect. This view is from one side of the stage, so the audience is on the left/behind and the roadies preparing guitars, harmonicas, drumsticks and drinks are on the right.
I was trying to recreate some black and white pictures I took in 2003 at the same event when, to get a decent shot, I needed to use a camera with 3200asa film and a long lens. Now of course, a standard camera phone usually suffices. This photo is from a Canon G11 digital camera which to be honest is a bit long in the tooth! It has shutter lag, there’s much pixel noise at high asa settings and the autofocus is slow. With patience and Adobe Lightroom it is however possible to get something usable, hopefully!
Anyway, this is the first of a few from this year’s Gathering – it’s only the Sunday of the weekend as I write after all! I might try retaining the colour in some of the photos.
Oh, here’s the main photo from 2003 which, to my amazement, was used on a t-shirt to advertise a Mike Peters event! It’s not often you find one of your musical heroes opting to use an image you’ve produced.
Snow and ice scenes seem to be good at revealing the nature of human behaviour because evidence of human presence, or indeed lack of presence, can clearly be seen. Of course to capture such behaviour the photo has to be taken before the next heavy snow fall or before the ice and/or snow melts!
In the situations shown here there are examples where advice and the needs of people have been ignored, along with people being compliant and non-compliant with the prevailing “rules”. As ever, the series of pictures are simple in concept to begin with, then I throw in a bigger question, for which I usually have no answer!
I should say that this series resulted from me simply looking for “winter landscapes” for a competition, then I realised I had some winter photos with a human element, which seemed to be better at revealing the nature of human behaviour than scenes without ice and/or snow.
The first one above shows an off piste area of mountain, the pisted area being at the foot of the mountain to the left. Off piste areas although fun, can be dangerous, as shown in the photo below.
It’s generally accepted that people should take rubbish home with them, but here the cartons were thrown out of a parked car.
It was good of Oldham Council to provide a good quality off-road cycle and pedestrian route, but it was clearly too much to bother with during snowy conditions. In Denmark, for example, people continue to cycle in such weather because the authorities see the value in clearing the route of snow in order to keep their population fit and healthy.
Nice to see a positive image of compliance with the road markings, ie nobody parked over it during the night.
It’s just a nice photo of a glacier in the Swiss Alps, or is it? It was taken nearly 15 years ago so I wonder if it is now larger or smaller and therefore how this feeds into the climate change problem.
Actually the arches in the photo above are closer to being half circles, but that’s not the point of this post’s title. If you look at the first posting in this photo connection series there is a connection with the scene above, hence “full circle”. (By the way, you may need to be a Rush afficionado to make the connection.) In terms of the last posting the connection is uniforms, ie the marching police and the security staff seen here.
I wasn’t going to include any further photos that connect with the main one, as has been the case with recent postings, but in the spirit of the intention to get my photos off the hard drive, here are some more!
The image above is a nod to a similar image used on the cover of an album by the rock band Rush called Moving Pictures. Taken in 2002 whilst on a pilgrimage to see the band play a gig in their home town of Toronto, the idea was to simply visit a few sites (sights?) related to the band and inevitably photograph them (on slide and B&W film). I was quite lucky with this photo because it could’ve just been a picture of the building on the album cover (the Legislative Assembly of Ontario masquerading as an art gallery), but the chap on the left came into the scene and provided some drama. Ten years later I used the photo on an album cover by Ethel Vince (me and Neil Horsburgh) called Art Theft Investigation, the idea being that the paintings on the Moving Pictures cover had been stolen and the chap in the scene above was arriving to investigate the crime. It’s a bit of a mental leap, but some of our friends appreciated the connection! It also meant we could do fun stuff like create mug shots using our instruments and name the instrumental track on the album “Exhibit A”.
Anyway, back to Toronto. Below are some Rush related sites we visited, which appear to be an unrelated collection of photos. It is however a small connection series and a sort of “full circle” story in itself.
1. All famous musicians have a pre-history. Lakeside Park is in the area where the drummer originates from, indeed it’s also the title of a Rush song about his youth.
2. Sam the Record Man is a record shop chain (not a launderette) that supported Rush from their early days. Sadly, it has now gone the way of many other music retailers.
3. This is a street corner, although one that gives it’s name to part of a piece of music by Rush called LA Villa Strangiato, ie the “Danforth and Pape” part. Growing up in the 1980s I’d assumed that Danforth and Pape were a couple of figures from history or literature!
4. After a few more years of worldwide notoriety for their music and musical ability, Rush was awarded with a star on Toronto’s walk of fame.
5. The doorway to a small music bar founded by the band’s guitarist illustrates a sort of “full circle” event because it’s the sort of place Rush would have originally played at 40+ years ago. It also shows how success can enable investment into the future of following generations.
Oh by the way, we also visited the more mainstream tourist sights in and around Toronto: the CN Tower, Niagra Falls, a Canadian football game, Art Gallery of Ontario (for the Henry Moore collection) etc. I also went a bit native and wandered around the city; taking photos like the one in this posting.
So that’s it, the photo connection series is over…or possibly the beginning if you go back to the first posting because the connection is Rush.
The connection, albeit a bit tenuous, is “red”. Clearly the A-board on the left would not have made it into the “red-fest” of the last posting, but it’s a connection all the same. Also, since this is the penultimate posting in my photo-connection series, it’s an essential step along the way to making sure that the last photo in the series doesn’t leave things open-ended. Most of the time the series has been fairly random; with each connection only being considered after the previous posting (if you see what I mean), but hopefully the more planned approach will be deemed acceptable.
The photo is from September 2010 during the Pope’s visit to Birmingham, which demanded a large police presence along the A456 Hagley Road as it was the route chosen for his journey into the city centre. Crowd barriers were placed along the road for a couple of miles and a police officer positioned every 25m or so…although not much in the way of crowds turned up to get a glimpse of the pontiff along most of the route. This was probably just as well because his limo just flashed by. It must’ve been like waiting for the Tour de France and then seeing it go by in an instant, although at least with a bike race the peloton could be stretched out over a few hundred metres. Anyway, soon after the “event” the police officers marched back to their minibuses in groups, as seen here. It’s unusual to see police in such organised groups and it’s good to see that the security requirements implied by their numbers weren’t called upon.
Other photos I have where the police are acting in a helpful capacity, rather than in a confrontational capacity or having to enforce the law etc, are shown below. Apologies if they’re not very, ahem, arresting. The first photo sort of connects with the one above in that it was taken in the Vatican. It’s a small country where clearly only small police cars are required!
Amsterdam has a number of police who get around on bikes. I like to think the car driver is being given directions that are quite convoluted due to the various one-way streets and areas where motor vehicles aren’t allowed; where a bicycle would be a more convenient form of transport, hence the reason why the police use bikes. The policeman might even be explaining this by showing his bike to the car driver. In the UK, a policeman (or anyone) extolling the virtues of cycling might as well be speaking the language probably being used in the conversation shown below (perhaps doubly so). Sorry, we’re moving yet again towards my “broken record” sounding desire for a better organised transport system based on walking, cycling and access restrictions to cities by motor vehicle. Better air quality, fitter people and a more relaxed environment would be the spin-offs.
Although I’m trying to portray police being helpful, I think in the scene below they were a little bemused as to what to do with the injured pigeon being held by the lady. The fact that the (Italian) police haven’t taken it from her suggests that they’re trying to remember the name of the local veterinary surgery so that they can direct her towards it! The policeman in the background appears to have realised that the storage area under the seat of his scooter is already occupied by something and he is therefore unable to take the pigeon to the vet.
The Italian police below in Florence appear to be discussing how best to blend in with the local environment in order to carry out some covert duties.
Help is being offered below to someone who has found an unusual place to rest. He wasn’t necessarily being moved along for his choice of resting place because he seemed to have some head injuries, so the police officers are offering to get medical help for him. When I came across this scene, the man was on his own and I wondered if anyone else had noticed or if help was on the way because no other passers-by stopped to ask if he needed help (I have photos showing people just walking past). I got fairly close to him before someone in the doorway of the shop told me that police were on the way to help.
The last photo, shown below, is from the Harborne street carnival. The police are simply a presence to assist anyone who might want to ask for directions etc…or perhaps to report pick-pocketing!
The connection is bus travel, this time the interior of a bus rather than a bus stop. I liked the way the lady’s red hair matched the various safety poles inside the bus so it was recorded for posterity. It’s interesting that her red hair would normally be very distinctive in a crowd of people, but she sort of blends in chameleon-like with the bus interior.
Using the above image for the connection made me wonder if I tend to be attracted to scenes with an abundance of red in them. I don’t really have a favourite colour, but I guess the boldness of red is attractive and can emphasise the graphic nature of an image. So, to explore this idea further I’ve raided my back catalogue and pulled out some of the ones that have red subject matter…or are simply red throughout! They’re sort of grouped in order.
The connection is “windows”. The shop window is in Bordeaux and here’s a bus stop window being cleaned in Birmingham. The idea of course is to maintain public assets and also to make using the bus a bit more attractive by keeping the associated infrastructure presentable.
I think I was very lucky to get this photo: firstly through having a camera with me, secondly because it was out of the bag when I saw the scene and thirdly due to the various settings being about right for the available light. Like other people I’ve missed many pictures due to failing on these three points, to the extent that the images simply exist as memories. Oh well. I’m wondering how long it will be before I simply blink my eye and a device fixed to my glasses captures the image. This makes me wonder how close or far away this will be from what we understand photography to be. I’m tempted to conclude that there will, like music, be two types of photos, good ones and bad ones. I’m not sure where the above one lies, perhaps in the highly populated category in between good and bad that only stimulates indifference. Perhaps this will be known as “imehgery” (sorry).
Anyway, back to “maintaining assets”! The photo below is from Paris at one of the many Velib bike hire stations. As with buses, if the bikes are going to be used, a large amount of resources need to be put in place to look after them. A step further than this would be complementary measures such as restricting motor vehicular use in the city and/or segregated cycle lanes. The same would go for increasing the use of buses, which although generally clean these days, still suffer from late-running due to congestion caused by other vehicles. Bicycles don’t tend to suffer from congestion, but many new or returning bike users tend to be ex-bus users when what we really want is to tempt car users either into buses or onto bikes. Wait a minute, I’m meant to be on holiday from work!
Ah, that’s better, a reminder of the summer holidays. Blue sky and beach huts in Paignton…oh and there’s a chap sweeping sand. To be honest I wasn’t really sure where he was sweeping the sand to. Perhaps he was dealing with a diesel spillage. This assumption could lead me onto all sorts of comments about diesel spillages (from over-filled lorry and bus fuel tanks) being lethal for cyclists and motorcyclists, or even the poor air quality resulting from burning diesel fuel. I did however say that I’m on holiday.
In a similar “maintenance” vein, here are some telecom workers or maybe traffic signal engineers in Barcelona. I liked their use of a table to sort out the wires etc, which seems a lot easier than the UK equivalent situation of kneeling inside one of those red and white striped tents or next to a green cabinet. I suppose the drier weather in Barcelona enables a more “picnic” style approach to the work.
The last photo in my mini-series on maintenance is from Prague. Comments could be made about the apparent contrast between the occupations of the two chaps. Comments could probably also be made about using small blocks of stone for surfacing a pedestrian footway whereas in the UK the same facility would simply be surfaced with tarmac…which although less attractive might be better for mobility impaired people.
The connection is shops. The festive tree is within a shopping area in Birmingham and this image of engrossed window shoppers is from a bookshop in Bordeaux. Given the time of year, the image could be a refreshing and relaxing alternative to one of shoppers rushing around during the annual pre-Christmas splurge.
This was another use for my old Nikon 4500 stealth camera, although the two chaps would’ve been oblivious to someone using a big camera as they were so engrossed in the books. I’m not sure what happened after I left the scene, perhaps one or both of them went inside to continue their browsing….and maybe two other people started looking in the window. I wonder what treasures the chaps might’ve found and how long it took them to do so.
Less agreeable and relaxing window shopping scenes are shown below. The sheer audacity of the graffiti from somewhere in Spain contrasts with what would we might ordinarily regard as a pleasant and welcoming town centre environment.
Despite being situated opposite a shop, the campaigner from Belfast some years ago is probably not window shopping. I like the contrast in style between the information on the tabard and that in the shop window. Does stark black type on a white background work better than the image of the girl and simply showing the price of the clothes? There’s intrigue about the nature of the evil deeds that might result in some people asking the chap for more information, but the image of the girl would probably instantly connect on many levels to many people. Few people however seem to be interested in either the chap’s message or the image in the window, so both marketing techniques are failing to a certain extent. Maybe I should’ve used this photo as the main connecting image for this blog posting because there’s probably a lot to say about it. I think I just preferred the symmetry of the bookshop scene!
By the way, the scene below might be the first stage in the process of window shopping, ie the lady glances at something she finds interesting, after which she walks over to the shop to take a closer look…or simply walks into the shop. I don’t know, I was just trying to get a nice photo of the curving street and buildings! I wonder how many of my apparently simple photos I can turn into comments on human behaviour?
Connection to the next instalment has multiple possibilities; there are books, windows, people etc to choose from. It’ll need to be straightforward though because the festive period is upon us, which although potentially relaxing will inevitably result in some rushing around. Hopefully the image of the bookshop window will remind me to relax and try to make time stand still for a while.
The connection is trees; and once again in this photo-connection series the trees shown are conifers. ‘Tis the season to erect conifers and other Christmas decorations in shopping areas. (I was going to connect with “locks“ but a seasonal subject won the day.)
The intention is to create a warm festive feeling at a dark and cold time of the year, but I think the crowd control barriers around the tree reduce this effect and could be used as a way to convey a different message, ie some people aren’t able to access the nice aspects of the festive season.
Barriers like those in the photo seem to be placed around all such temporary trees in public places these days, presumably due to health and safety concerns over getting tangled up in branches, but why can’t the barriers be less substantial and seasonally decorative? (Do any examples exist?) To aid white stick users in negotiating their way around such a tree, a lower barrier would be sufficient…although this doesn’t seem to be a necessity for standard trees in public spaces that are unprotected all year round.
I wondered how small children might view such barriers so I’ve used a low angle (below) to show what barriers in front of trees would look like (vari-angle camera screens are great). Such barriers would probably come across as being huge, stark and unattractive objects that, confusingly, spoil the view of festive trees.
By the way, Birmingham’s bull at the Bull ring shopping centre has been decorated for the festive season, which I guess is fine, but why install barriers around it? Perhaps society has low expectations of people in terms of how they’ll react to a decorated statue/tree. Maybe barriers should be removed to see what would happen. I’m sure, along with the trees above, it would be fine.
Below are some other examples of barriered Christmas trees in public spaces. Sadly there are many others…
The connection is bicycle parking. The above image also contrasts with the previous one on the basis that the cycle parking facility is at full capacity, rather than being used for something else because current cycle parking demand is less than capacity. You might be able to guess that the scene above is from Amsterdam, where cycling is very popular not because it is flat, which is a common misconception, but because there was heavy investment in cycling infrastructure from the 1970s onwards. (I could wax-lyrical about this!)
The image also shows an abandoned bike nearby, which may have been removed from the at-capacity cycle parking facility because someone noticed that it hadn’t moved for a long time and was in a constant state of disrepair. I’m assuming that this is what happens in Amsterdam because there are so many bikes and yet a lack of cycle parking facilities in some locations. I also wondered if the bike’s the state of disrepair had resulted from the fact that the owner had passed-on and therefore was unable to remove the bike. After all, unlike cars the bikes aren’t registered so they can effectively be dumped even when locked to something! The owner may well of course have simply bought a new bike and left the old one to be, er, recycled.
An example of simply dumping a bike because it was probably broken beyond repair, or maybe stolen and then damaged and then dumped, was found in this public area near the centre of Rotterdam. There’s no nearby cycle parking and yet this bike was just simply left to, again, presumably be recycled. In the UK it would’ve found it’s way onto a metal-collectors lorry pretty quickly…
…unless of course the bike has been dumped on the Great Orme near Llandudno!
My collection of “abandoned bikes” photos also includes bikes that have either fallen because of inadequately designed cycle parking facilities or due to poor positioning by the owner, like this one from Toronto (probably a bit of both). I just wanted to pick it up and place it next to the stand, probably to help the unknown owner or because I like bikes and don’t enjoy the idea of them being maltreated!
This one in Amsterdam must’ve been pushed over the railing maliciously! Perhaps it had been parked inconsiderately. If only inconsiderately parked cars could be dealt with so easily!
Some bikes are of course abandoned in a hurry to run in to a shop, like this example from Harlech. I hope it was still there when the owner returned, having been a victim of a cycle thief myself. (I was 9 years old, I lost my cherished Raleigh Chopper and I was not at all happy.)
The connection is people leaning, although instead of just resting the people are waiting, contemplating the world, reading, etc. My guess is the train they’re waiting for will arrive on the left hand side of the platform! They’re also finding an alternative use for the copious number of cycle parking stands that have been provided here at Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Many many bikes are usually parked on stands behind the camera, so hopefully demand will increase in the near future to occupy the ones shown above. In the meantime, at least the cycle stands are serving a purpose.
The rest of the photos below, show the relaxed nature of people when presumably they’re confident that the train they’re waiting for is highly likely to turn up on time, or at least at a time acceptable to them. A situation where trains are late or cancelled might result in groups of people looking at station information screens or talking to each other about the whole injustice of it all, perhaps saying that “the same thing happened last week too”, etc.
For now though, how about some pictures of people in a relaxed state, implied by them leaning against something, rather than the more common scenes of people in railway stations frenetically gadding about with no time to spare.
Ooops sorry, the apprehended chap might not be relaxed for very long, but he is waiting patiently!