Square Mile assignment

Square Mile assignment

I spent around a full day shooting over 2 separate days this week, walking a few miles up and down the Limehouse Cut.   Thankfully the weather was pretty much with me although on the Sunday it started with overcast skies and then brightened up around lunchtime.

Taking an image to stand alone is one of those things we do as photographers, you see a subject and the image you want to create reviewing the technicalities on how to ‘proof the concept’.  In my wanderings I found myself not necessarily with an overall image I wanted to achieve but with a concept of canal life that I needed to deliver a set of images that worked well with each other and were still true to my concept and overall brief.

Culling images from a shoot is always difficult, I have my favourites and as standalone images I feel they are great but don’t fit the brief and play well with others.  I’ve ended up with 12 images that I feel tell a story and still tie in with my canal life.

When I was looking through the work of Keith Arnatt I saw his image on rubbish.  Canals always have rubbish in them and I could have set the whole series on rubbish floating in the canal, dredged from it or quietly collected by the coots to build their nests.  This got me started on the idea but on reflection they could very easily be lost from the set.

My love for wildlife led me to take lots of images of birds, Ducks with chicks, Coots standing on floating rubbish, swans and fish.  I regret not taking my longer telephoto lens and getting a little closer to the birds as this could have been more creative.   I followed 2 lost chicks for around 300m while they swam intently towards their mother, how they know which direction she was in I will never know but I couldn’t even see the mother at the time I saw the chicks.  Thankfully the family were united again.  I digress.

The canal is very busy these days and apart from framing shots and choosing your subject you also need a wary eye out to avoid runners, cyclists, fishing lines and dog mess.  It also seems that nobody will want to give way and adjust their direction and just carry on.  Health and Safety needs to be considered even on a sedate Sunday afternoon.

I’ve written up my assignment, exported the 12 images and contact sheets ready to send to my tutor.   If you have any comments on the following images please let me know.


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Square Mile

I started today looking at the research for the first assignment.  Some of the links for practitioners in the research section are not working  (JH Engstrom is under construction) but as the web is a ‘living’ entity this is to be expected.

I’m intrigued by the artists quoted.  I love the images my Keith Arnatt, square format prints similar to the images I had printed a child.  The series on walking the dog are mainly  composed centrally with the owner and the dog posed.  The clothing and backgrounds, homes, gardens etc. remind me of my childhood and I have a strong connection with these.  I do also find some of them very funny, we do like to say that dogs look their owners and there are some of the images that truly reflect this.

One of the other series shown, rubbish tip. I connect with the least.  Although this set of images are all linked and provide congruity I do feel that images of chicken wings and teabags not that inspiring at all.  Although this may well be whats in the photographers locale its not unique and even distasteful, with that said its not dissimilar to what you would find at a local community disposal site or down your high street on any given evening. But with that said it has ignited a spark for me, let’s see where it leads.

I was impressed by the work of Peter Mansell and agree with him pushing the limits of his work but also agree with the tutor regarding whether it actually fitted within the landscape genre.  The cityscape imagery of the Olympic park shows great vision and research to actually capture those images is inspiring and educational at the same time.

From my perspective I will approach the assignment with a key to a theme.  I do not live near my place of birth and the and visit there very infrequently, every few years.  There are a number of places that I frequented as a child and have specific memories of but which I fear no longer exist.  It would be very difficult to undertake an assignment there for me.   Around 1994 I left my home town and moved to London, for the past 10 years I have lived in East London.

My ‘square mile’ is adjacent to the Limehouse Cut, within a few minutes walking distance to the Limehouse Basin and the Thames and also Canary Wharf and whats left of the industrial docks are now fashionable apartments and offices.   I plan to use the brief with a water theme, to encompass the current social activities along the canal/river and to show the diversity between what was then and what is now and the social divides that still exist now.

Weather is good this weekend so I’ll start with a wander down the Limehouse cut.