Wave goodbye to all that

In such traumatic times here in the UK, it really seems that much of what we have taken for granted over the last years is gradually draining away. Such things as rationality, decency, respect, imagination, the quest for truth, idealism and tolerance have been thrown onto a political bonfire of vanities. And who knows what lies on the far side of all this upheaval.

While I was choosing an image for this year’s International Print Exchange this one jumped out as a weird, wistful and very obvious candidate. I hope whoever receives it will take it as a hand of friendship as well as a slightly desperate wave for help.


Not very long ago I bought an old Lubitel on Ebay with the intention of converting it into a pinhole camera. Just from curiosity I decided to try it out as it arrived with me, complete with lens and an old roll of partly exposed ORWO film still inside. The blemishes are entirely and purely what showed on the film after processing without any kind of post-processing. I have to admit I really like the mystery and the imperfection of it. This is my hand, I think, even though I have no recollection of making the exposure. It does show on the film after an exposure which I know I made so was not on the film when I received it. I find myself intrigued and fascinated by this image which is most certainly mine but which I can neither explain nor recall.

Show on black

Climate change march, London, December 2007

Back in December 10,000 hardy souls braved the cold, rainy British December to take part in a consciousness-raising protest march through the streets of London. The march walked simultaneously with others around the globe and, although we all froze and stood for several hours beneath the heavy winter rain, it was an incredibly moving event.

To walk alongside thousands of others, most of us completely unknown to each other, in peaceful recognition of an impending problem concerning us all, was an unforgettable experience. An experience which I used to know as a student when peaceful protest came as naturally as going to the pub. Have we lost the art and spirit of public protest? Do we no longer care? Or, indeed, has the cynicism of modern politics with its shiny spin disillusioned us such that we are reduced to inaction? Protest is positive and democracy can’t just be left to the ballot box. It has to be a continual dialogue with those who lead us if it is to have any meaning.

Nelson's column - London Climate Change march, December 2007

Nelson's column - London Climate Change march, December 2007
Nelson’s column – London Climate Change march, December 2007

Respect - London Climate Change march, December 2007
Approaching Trafalgar Square

Love your Mum, ecological bike - London Climate Change march, December 2007
Ecological message by bike – “Love your Mum”

Dancing polar bear - London Climate Change march, December 2007
Polar bears, totem creatures for those to be the soonest affected.

Photographically, it was fascinating to stand alongside Nikon-toting press photographers with my 50p plastic camera.

Hearsall Common in winter

Is there an analog photographer alive who doesn’t have a backlog of films to develop and prints to make? How many gems do we have hidden away awaiting that spare moment which will bring them to life? Here’s one I like from a roll of HP5 I put through my one and only plastic toy camera, its lens suitably distressed by fingers and sandpaper, moving it towards the magic of pinhole whilst retaining the instant practicality of the lens and shutter.

Hearsall Common, Coventry, oak and crow

Hearsall Common, Coventry, oak and crow, December 2007