Friday, January 8, 2010

Colour in the snow (more from yesterday)

Birds in the snowy Russia Dock Woodland and Stave Hill Eco Park

Long-tailed Tit
Aegithalos caudatus

I only ever see these in the park in winter. One of my bird books says that
their surface area is high in relation to tehir volume and that as a result
they lose heat rapidly and have difficulty staying warm in winter when insects are
hard to find for sustenance. Populations have been known to fall by 80%.

Erithacus rubecula

Blue Tit
Parus caeruleus

Blue Tit
Parus caeruleus

Little gull in winter guise
Larus minutus

It's latin name refers to the fact that it is the smallest of the gull family.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow in the Russia Dock Woodland

I took one look at the solid ice outside my front door and exchanged trainers for hiking boots. A good decision. There was no-one to see when I arrived at the park but by the time I left there were several mothers with children and a number of dog walkers, all sliding on the patches of ice. If you are thinking of going over to the park do be careful, whatever your footwear, the flight of "stairs" which take you from behind Globe Pond up to the windmill - they were treacherous.

There was a lot to see in the RDW and Stave Hill eco park. There were few colours around, but a few shrubs were in bud or even in full flower (including the mohonia below), and the light on the snow and the whites and shadows against the blue sky were spectacular.

There was a lot of bird life around, and several squirrels.

All the ponds were frozen, with a few disconsolate birds standing on the ice. On Globe Pond there were also pigeons standing on the ice, next to the seagulls, which was slightly peculiar to see. The overflow from Downtown Pond into the channel along Waterman's Wall had become a very attractive row of icicles, but there was a trickle of water making its way out beneath them. The channels themselves were all frozen solid.

Although some of the bigger paths in the RDW were quite well trodden, presumably by people getting to and from work and taking children to school, others were virtually untouched, with only a few shoe marks, pushchair tracks and dog prints to be seen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snowfall over Greenland Dock

I was in the Moby Dick with friends when the snow started to come down with real attitude. It was so thick that at times it was impossible to see the far end of the dock. The Moby now has a cover for smokers which looks out towards the end of the dock so I was able to go and stand outside for a few moments without getting completely sodden.

A friend and I did take advantage of a break in the intensity of the snowfall to go and feed the water birds with half a loaf of bread given to us by the landlord. There were two swans, a large number of coots and a mass of greedy, aggressive seagulls - all of which had gathered together at the corner where the main dock meets the inlet, which was one of the few places on the dock where the water had remained unfrozen leaving a patch of water some 6ft by 6ft into which the swans and coots were tightly packed, leaving the seagulls standing morosely on the ice surrounding them.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New book on Rotherhithe: Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 (Paperback)

Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 (Paperback)
By Geoff Howard
Vane Publishing
ISBN-10: 095613890X
ISBN-13: 978-0956138903

Available from I have it on order.

There's a review on the British Journal of Photography. Here's an extract (has one of the photos from the book):

Geoff Howard is an unassuming man, and he only mentions in passing that he once exhibited in the Whitechapel Gallery and published his work in Creative Review, and that his photograph of Martin Parr hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. But if his humble nature makes self-promotion tricky, it's also the secret to his fascinating fly-on-the-wall shots of 1970s Rotherhithe. 'I met Pam and Alan Field, a young brother and sister from Rotherhithe, at a party in north London when I was still attending college (at the London College of Printing),' he says.

'We got talking and they invited me down to their local in Rotherhithe. It was packed and there was a very aggressive atmosphere - when people finished their drinks they'd just drop their glasses on the floor, so by the end of the night you were ankle-deep in broken glass. But I got interested in it, so I started shooting pictures. It was very working class and I'm middle class but I can get on with most people and fit in. You just see how people live.'

His approach was anything but subtle though - using a Leica with a 25mm lens and a big flash, he'd simply walk up to groups and shoot them. But although he had some problems, he had less than you might expect. 'People were very amiable, and I don't think they really took me seriously,' he says. 'Plus I'd just take the shot and move on quickly. But I wanted to be aggressive and do that flash (of light) to capture what was going on. I was an available light photographer but the pubs were very dark so you couldn't shoot them like that - you'd need to really push the film and use a very slow shutter. I wanted to show it like it was, not just capture the atmosphere.'

Here's also what Southwark Weekender has to say (with another one of the photos from the book):

A photographer is searching for a woman he caught on camera nearly forty years ago.

The haunting shot is part of a series chronicling the lives of youngsters in 70s Rotherhithe and is now featured on the front cover of a book.

If the woman - walking down Rotherhithe Street on Christmas Day 1973 - can be found, the photographer will send her a free copy of the book.

Filled with evocative images of Southwark Park festival, old pubs and strip clubs, and now much-changed scenery, the shots cover life in the area from 1971 to 1980.

Geoff Howard, the photographer, told the 'News' that to begin with, his experience of south London was the Elephant and the London College of Printing, where he studied photography.

Geoff said: "In my final year I happened to meet a young couple, brother and sister, while at a party - they lived in Eugina Road with their divorced mother. We all became friends and I took to visiting frequently. As I always have done, I took photographs. The local pub, The Apples and Pears, had a very definite atmosphere, and these pictures were the start of me shooting more seriously.

"Documentary photographs acquire a different meaning with the passing of time. In some ways 1980 doesn't seem that long ago, but in other ways it seems a very long time ago - much has passed since then. The docklands redevelopment was certainly the end of the things I saw in Rotherhithe. I'm just glad I saw the things I did."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

A very Happy New Year with best wishes for 2010.
I hope that it's a good one.
And if it isn't I hope that you find a way to get to grips with it.