Leica Virgin – London

It all started last Thursday, when I got an email from SAS telling me that my flight to London the following day was ready for check-in.

What flight?

I looked into it and sure enough, I’d booked a weekend in London some time ago that I’d completely forgotten about. With plans already in place for Friday night and no accommodation booked, it was a bit of a tough call. But who can resist a weekend in London, especially if you’ve got an M240 that you love shooting with?

Unexpected trips are often the best trips and so it came to be in London. I had nothing at all on my agenda – tres unusual for me – so I hastily organised a couple of dinners with friends and did nothing else except walk around like a tourist.

My first visit to London was back in 2010 and it’s fair to say I didn’t fall in love with the place. It was hard to navigate and way too easy to get lost in. Having visited a few times since, I’ve come to absolutely adore it. Spend some time in London and the city’s history and culture – its vibe – will seep through and work its way into your soul.

Resistance is futile (for me, at least).

London is so much more than you can ever capture on a camera in a weekend. But here’s a VERY quick look at some of the places, people and architecture that I saw.

Click images to enlarge.

The old and the new

London suffered a lot of bombing raids at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the second world war. These raids scarred the city, leveling buildings and killing thousands (while later spawning a million Keep Calm and Carry On souvenirs).

London’s streetscape today is an odd mix of old and new as a result.

Gates and Doors

With so many historical buildings still standing, there are many beautiful gates and doors. You could spend a week photographing all the interesting entrances to different places and pondering what’s behind them. Those pictured below are all pretty obvious, but still beautifully ornate and closed to many.

The Canada Gate is part of the Queen Victoria Memorial and stands between Buckingham Palace and Green Park.

The front doors of Buckingham Palace.

A guard outside Buckingham Palace, who presumably opens that gate to the left when Prince Philip wants to scoot by in his Jaguar Mark II and do some donuts in the courtyard.

Doors to Westminster Abbey.

The tradesman’s entrance, off to the side of the doors above. Still beautiful.

Veterans Seeking Justice

Half a mile from Buckingham Palace, a group of what I presume were army veterans had gathered. They were there to demand justice for fallen comrades killed in Northern Ireland during the troubles. Each was given a sign with the name of a fallen soldier or civilian and the script ‘Murdered’ or ‘Massacre’ in red across the middle. It was a moving scene and I thank those present for not minding a guy with a camera wandering amongst them.

Looking Up At Things

Two of the things I love about London are its old buildings and its public sculpture. I get sick of old buildings sometimes and England can be a bit contrived about making sure everything looks old. But there’s no denying the beauty of some of London’s grand architecture and public monuments.

You have to look up to see many of them, so I spent a lot of time with my camera pointed skywards.

Day 1 was quite drizzly, hence the dark mood over Winged Victory from the Victoria Memorial.

Sir Winston simply had be converted to black and white.

Westminster Abbey

Winged Victory looking much happier amidst blue skies the next day.

Another statue from the Victoria Memorial.

Out and About

The rest of these images are mostly un-themed, simply shot when I was out and about in the city.

Travelers head down into the Underground at Piccadilly station.

Their train arrives every few minutes.

This one, below, is a cheeky favourite.

This couple were smooching – quite enthusiastically, one has to say – at the base of Eros for quite a while. I was trying to shoot the statue at night and couldn’t resist positioning myself to get them in the shot.

Zoom in on the guy, and……. he’s not concentrating on the job at hand! 😀

Two of the Four Horses of Helios at Piccadilly Circus.

A note to Theresa May?

Street Art outside the National Gallery. The emphasis was on homelessness.

A new-fangled walk signal that’s sure to get someone’s knickers in a twist.

Lock and Co Hatters was founded nearly 100 years before Captain Cook discovered the land of my birth.

Inscription on the walls of Westminster Abbey.

Cinderella heading toward the castle, or something similar. My sister would die for a ride up to Buckingham Palace in something like this.

A bobby on duty at the Palace before the changing of the guard. He was hamming it up for the cameras.

An older couple braving winter’s chill at Picadilly Circus.

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    1. Yep. Same spots, Ted. What a great reminder of time those shots are.

      I love the little silver Mini in the Piccadilly shot 🙂 . It would have been a new car back then.

  1. Great photos. Are these filter free? The gold is eye-popping, as the blue sky! We drove there from Dublin in our then-new Volvo 740 GLE in 1990. We got lost, or at least briefly confused, outside Buckingham Palace and my father came to a stop as we searched for a map. A WPC came to the window and said in a manner that left little room for argument, ‘Sir, you are parked in the middle of the road. Move on.’ Nearly 30 years later we still laugh about it. Must go back sometime…

    1. All photos get some treatment. It’s par for the course.

      The gold on Winged Victory was ‘lifted’ (only a little) in the cloudy photo. The blue sky photo is free from any extra saturation/brightening, though. It really is that brilliant in the sunshine.

      As abrupt as that WPC might have been, I’d imagine a parked car there nowadays would get an even more forceful response!

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