Kensal Green Cemetery


Camera: Pentax KM
Film: Kodak Tmax 100
Process: Kodak D76 1+1

Yes it’s another cemetery, and not only that, another one of London’s Magnificent Seven.

I’ve visited and written about Kensal Green Cemetery previously, about how its atmospheric, gothic nature made it an ideal filming location for a key scene in Vincent Price’s 1973 schlock-horror movie Theatre Of Blood. It’s the stirring of those childhood memories of Friday and Saturday nights, wrapped up in bed in the dark and watching camp horror films on a black and white portable, that makes Kensal Green my favourite of London’s grand old cemeteries.

Kensal Green is the oldest of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries, established in 1832. Up until then, most of London’s dead had been buried in small parish churchyards, but overcrowding lead to contamination of the water supply and subsequent health epidemics. Of course, when I say ‘contamination’ I’m euphemistically referring to bits of dead bodies. Hmmmnn…there’s something in the water….

As mentioned in the last post, I don’t shoot a lot of medium speed 35mm film. And whereas I’d normally shoot something like this on medium format, my experience with Ferrania P30 prompted me to rummage round in the fridge and see what was there; a couple of rolls of Kodak Tmax 100, as it turned out.

To my shame I realised it’s been quite a while since I used my Pentax KM. I’d almost forgotten what a joy this all-mechanical, all-manual 1970s SLR is. When I do eventually get round to rationalising the number of cameras I have, this will definitely be one of the five or six I keep for regular use.

I’m not normally keen on using more than one lens; I like to keep things simple and a choice of lens is just another distracting decision that needs to be made. But as well as the wonderful 50mm SMC Pentax-M F/1.7, I took along the 28mm Pentax-M F/3.5 I picked for a few quid a couple of years back to see how that’d perform. Not great, as it happens. Even stopped down it doesn’t seem particularly sharp, and it also overexposed by up to a stop. It’ll have to go.


London Welcomes Trump

Friday 13 July, London Together Against Trump protest

Camera: Nikon F90X
Film: Kodak Tri-X
Process: Kodak D76 1+1

The results of a recent ICM poll on British attitudes towards Donald Trump:

Trump makes the world a more dangerous place

Agree: 63%

Disagree: 16%

He only won because of Russian support

Agree: 33%

Disagree: 28%

He is doing a good job as President

Agree: 22%

Disagree: 53%

I’d like to see a politician like Trump as British PM

Agree: 20%

Disagree: 63%

Trump as President is good for the UK

Agree: 18%

Disagree: 53%

He is generally honest and tells the truth

Agree: 17%

Disagree: 60%

Politicians like Trump speak for people like me

Agree: 16%

Disagree: 62%


The People’s March for Europe

These photos were taken on a pro-European march a few weeks back. I should probably write a bit more about it, but since legislation was introduced in the late 1990s to make civil discussion about politics on the internet illegal, I’ve found it’s best just to keep quiet.

London, Sep 09 2017
Camera: Nikon F90x
Film: Kodak Tmax 400
Process:Developed in D76 1+1

3


24 Grosvenor Square

The US Embassy, London, applying for a visa. It’s a brutalist slab of architecture that’s says ‘Do not come in, you are not welcome’. On the plus side, it was used in the filming of the 1976 classic The Omen, where it doubled as….. er… the US Embassy. Gregory Peck played Robert Thorn, US Ambassador to the UK and adoptive father to the Antichrist. I believe that was actually the official job description.

Camera: Fujifilm X100T


Sphinx Aren’t What They Used To Be

A couple of unusual things happened this weekend. Firstly, the weather forecasters predicted two full days of complete sunshine and a temperature of 21C. In London. In early April. The second strange thing was that this absurd prediction actually came true. Normally during such a weekend I might typically have driven down to the coast, or maybe spent some time cycling in the park. But a few recent events have conspired to suck some of the energy and enthusiasm out of me. So instead I unfolded my handwritten list of Cemeteries I Haven’t Yet Visited, closed my eyes, and randomly prodded the paper.

West Norwood Cemetery is a 40 acre site in south east London, so for me that’s a 30 minute train ride up to central London, followed by a further 15 minutes out through the other side. It’s one of The Magnificent Seven, the group of private cemeteries that were established in the 19th century to deal with overcrowding at the various parish cemeteries. It’s not the first of the seven I’ve visited.

The cemetery had its first burials in 1837, and although all the plots are now taken, the crematorium is still active and you can have your ashes stashed in the columbarium. It holds London’s finest collection of sepulchral monuments, has 69 listed structures, and is on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It’s a peaceful place.

All of these were shot with an orange filter, most of them them with the wonderful (but hefty) Mamiya Sekor C F/2.8 45mm lens (35mm equivlant=28mm). I semi-stand developed them (one gentle inversion at the half-way mark) in a 1+99 dilution of Rodinal for 60 minutes. I find this gives a really nice level of bite without being too grainy. On these sunny, cloudless days I don’t bother with the onboard meter. I just use sunny 16, allow an extra stop of light to compensate for the filter, and then it’s just 1/125 & F/11 or permutations thereof all the way.

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL
Film: Ilford FP4
Process: Developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 minutes

The Crematorium; still in use today

After a hour or so of wandering round, I found a shady spot to eat the sandwich I had brought with me, and was thinking about catching the train home. That’s when it occurred to me that a couple of stops and about ten minutes further down the line was Crystal Palace Park.

I’d forgotten how nice Crystal Palace Station is, and at the risk of being mistaken for a train geek, I took a quick snap. To be honest, when you spend a sunny Saturday hanging round a cemetery, people thinking you’re a train spotter is the least of your worries.

Wikipedia describes Crystal Palace Park as a Victorian pleasure park, which I think is a lovely turn of phrase. The district of Crystal Palace takes its name from the building –The Crystal Palace – in which the Great Exhibition of 1851 was held. Yet the exhibition wasn’t held in Crystal Palace; it was held in Hyde Park in central London. Confused? Don’t be.

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (phew) was conceived as a celebration of modern industrial technology and design. It was an attempt to show the rest of the world how Britain was a clear leader in industry, and in the process stick two fingers up to the French after their highly successful Industrial Exposition of 1844. Plus ça change. After the exhibition, between 1852 and 1855, the park was created as a home for the relocated and rebuilt Crystal Palace, but tragically the building was destroyed by fire in 1936, leaving just the few remnants you can see from the photos.

That’s the Crystal Palace TV Transmitter in the background. 719 feet and the fifth tallest structure in London.

There’s plenty to see and do in the park. The boating lake. A maze. The famous Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – a series of extinct (and often inaccurate) animal sculptures that date from 1852. But it was the sphinxes that really drew me here on this day. It was about twelve years ago now, on my only previous visit to the park, that I sat beneath them holding the hand of a pretty red-headed girl with a kind heart. I’ve no idea what’s happened in her life since then, but a few years back I was surprised to be told she now lives just a couple of miles away from me. I keep that little bit of information wrapped up and tucked away at the back of my mind, but occasionally I take it out, just to see how it feels.

There are six sphinxes in all , and they’ve been there ever since the site was moved from central London in the 1850s. What surprised me however, is that they are now in much better condition than when I last saw them. And as you clearly can’t see from the photo, they’ve been painted terracotta. I’ve since found out they were restored last year, and analysis has shown that they were regularly painted up until about 1900, after which they gradually started to fall in to disrepair.

This dude was happy to ham it up for the camera.

And in the middle of the park, at the sports centre, they were playing beach volleyball. I took the photo just so I can tell people that I did indeed have a lovely day at the seaside, and no, I didn’t waste a glorious weekend wallowing in nostalgia and gravestones..