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The smell of a steam engine.

We stayed in a hotel in Coventry last weekend. We were at the elegantly re-fitted former home of the Coventry Evening Telegraph, a purpose built structure, now a sensitively styled 1960’s hotel.

All around the hotel there are reminders of its past, not least of which are old front pages placed all around, even in the bathroom in our room. This one, being placed above the toilet was impossible for me to miss.

The piece recounts an accident in Marston Green, once a small village in my childhood – it even had a blacksmiths forge. The main railway line between Birmingham to Coventry and further, was sandwiched alongside the village and a municipal golf course on the other side of the tracks.

As you can read several carriages of an express train were derailed in the station. This occurred, according to the Coventry Evening Telegraph, in 1963. I was 16 by then. Prior to this, in my pre-teens, I would stand on the skeletal metal bridge over the rail line (pictured below) waiting for the steam engines to go through ,blasting steam and smoke upwards and shrouding me in that wonderful smell which has bewitched many a young boy. Sometimes, the driver would see me on the bridge and give a whistle as he went through. Such an exhilarating experience for a young lad.

All pictures copyright of the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

Should you be interested in staying at the Telegraph Coventry, you can find information via this link…

Telegraph Hotel Coventry.

Gods waiting room

I live on a small estate made up of bungalows. Single story houses only. Consequently there is a preponderance of old people who live hereabouts. The houses suit us you see; no stairs.

It should come as no surprise when people here die as most of us are around the three score year and ten mark. 

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New Topographics.

I have taken pictures from an early age and subsequently, I’ve been producing ‘work’ for over 50 years. I have no formal education in Photography. I am entirely self taught.

So it comes as no surprise I only recently heard the term “New Topographics” applied to a style of images.

First coined by William Jenkins in 1975 when he was describing a group of photographers such as Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and Bernd and Hilla Becher. At the time each of whom adopted a similar banal aesthetic in their formal black and white prints of the urban landscape. 

For them and their ilk, car parks, suburban housing, pit-head winding gear, water towers etc were depicted in high quality, stark beauty – as the TATE says on their web site “almost in the way early photographers documented the natural landscape” – hence, I suppose, the term was coined from seeing a new topography directly opposing the picturesque images from the past.

Bernd and Hilla Becher were lecturers at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf. There they influenced  a number of students who actively embraced the “New Objectivity” as practised by the Becher’s, forming their own modified style of their tutors called the “Dusseldorf School of Photography”.

The TATE lists Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth as members of this modified Becher style.

Despite my ignorance of the term, the style somehow must have sunk in. Even from my early years with a camera; gas holders, the urban landscape and dereliction attracted me. I was once accused of being a member of the “Dustbin school” of photography. (There was no such school. It was just an insult).

Coincidentally, a few years back we were in Mumbai where, at the time, there was a travelling exhibition of works by the Becher’s. I knew nothing about their work; it mattered not, gas holders and water towers did it for me. Loved it.

To read more about:-

New Topographics




Dusseldorf School of photography.



2020. Blessed is the ‘white van man’, for he delivers the goods.

Taken recently in Lincoln, for me at least, this image seems to hold much of what 2020 has become.

Boredom and the ennui generated by that. And yet so much has changed and is still yet to change. We are engulfed by a curious storm. One which is invisible to us and yet surrounds us.

Let’s hope we become free of its stultifying effects soon. Life cannot continue to be ‘on hold’. It just can’t.

Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.

Haruki Murakami

My Jigsaw of Life’s pageant

This morning when I woke, I was thinking about pictures – this is not unusual for me. I think about images a lot – and this morning I thought about what makes a good picture. I take pictures – not so many under Covid restrictions because I work mainly on the street – but how do I know it’s a good picture? Firstly, I suppose, you have to define what constitutes  a “good picture”, and as we are all different, then what makes a good picture to one does not to another; yes, it’s personal, as they say. There is no simple answer.

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Selling my prints. Hmmm.

Recently, I asked on Twitter who amongst my ‘followers’ sold their pictures on line and if they did would they mind sharing their experiences; the reason being I wish to sell some of my own pictures on line and I thought I could benefit from the experience of those who had gone before, as it were. I had some interesting comments and help.

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Sound and pictures

Like many others I guess, I edit pictures whilst listening to music. I always have done, ever since my darkroom days. I even write whilst listening to music – though there cannot be any vocals, too distracting.

Often the music dictates what I edit and indeed the way I might edit it. And, of course, some pictures just call for a specific genre or mood of music.

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