Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures


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Seeing in black and white #1

36 years ago as a rather penniless student, I made one of the most expensive purchases I had ever made til then – my much loved Pentax ME SLR camera (special edition, brown body, not black). This little camera travelled the world with me and took thousands of photos over the years, until more modern digital cameras pushed it off pole position.

“Black and white are the colors of photography.” Robert Frank

Recently, on a whim I had it re-conditioned and have been testing it out. I have realised how used to instant pictures I have become. The art of slow photography; not wasting a shot, filling up a full roll of film and then patiently waiting for the results, good or bad, has become rather passé. These days we carry cameras on us permanently, taking pictures on our devices in a moment and instantly deciding to delete or keep. With a 35mm camera you set out to look for pictures. So camera in hand I have been taking odd shots over the past few weeks to see how it still works.

First up: Nunhead Cemetery again. My favourite gothic gloom and headless angels. The light was very low as it was damp and dusky when I went there, so they are a bit grainy, but I think this suits the subject matter.

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Cornishman Charles Simmons’ grave Nunhead

Angel, Nunhead cemetery

Angel, Nunhead cemetery

Nunhead cemetery

Nunhead cemetery

The second foray was to Broadgate Circus in London for lunch. Here I was looking at the tones, structures and shapes of the buildings. Continue reading

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One of the magnificent seven…

There is a place nearby which I often retreat to, where you can wander in peace and tranquilty. In its heydey Nunhead Cemetery was one of the magnificent seven, the huge cemeteries that ringed London. As the population exploded in the first half of the 19th century the problem of burying the dead became ever more acute. On a recent guided walk of Nunhead, our guide talked about entrepreneurial types who rented backyards where they would stack up leaking coffins for a fee. As a result, in 1832, permissions for the establishment of private cemetaries outside of London was granted and All Saints’ Cemetery, Nunhead was consecrated in 1840.

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