The Petrol Station Series 3: It’s a Wrap and A Very Huge Sigh of Relief!!

Note: Mention of harassment, just an advance warning

Friday 28th February, the last day of the month and also the last night of shooting The Petrol Station Series. I was back in Croydon again, but finished in South Norwood. Thankfully four stops for the finale.

First stop was BP on Shirley Road in Croydon. A little far out from the town centre by bus, passing through Addiscombe. Once I got to the petrol station and got my camera out, I was met by a guy (who happened to be sitting next to me on the same bus). He asked if I was a photographer, to which I replied yes and briefly explained I was shooting petrol stations, however things turned a bit weird after he said he was interested in me and said ‘lived around the corner’. I told him firmly I wasn’t interested in him and to leave me alone. Then in panic mode hoping he would go away, I ran to the petrol station but he was soon following me. I went straight up to a staff member on the shop floor and told him I was being followed. So the kind staff member took me to the back, that was the warehouse, and he checked if the creep was on the shop floor or lurking around outside. I waited a few minutes until I was confident to see if the coast was clear, so I could take the photo of BP. It was quite scary, to be honest and I was glad that it didn’t escalate. I did thank BP, also an M&S Simply Food publicly over on my Twitter afterwards.

BP – Shirley Road, Croydon

Second stop also on Shirley Road was Tesco Esso, a ten minute walk from BP. I was constantly looking over my shoulder and walking at a fast pace, checking if the creepy guy was following me again but he was nowhere to be seen. It was a quick snap from an angle, capturing all three cars at the pumps in perfect harmony.

Tesco Esso – Shirley Road, Croydon

The next stop was Shell on Portland Road in South Norwood, which was a short bus ride to get there. It is located on the high street, surrounded by various shops, restaurants, a dental practice and Citizens Advice bureau. Norwood Junction Overground Station is even nearby, where I would go from to return back home after the next stop.

Shell – Portland Road, South Norwood

The last and final petrol station of the night was BP on South Norwood Hill. A walk up from the previous stop, not even a mile away. I shot the station from the side on Holmesdale Road, in a similar style with an Esso on Brighton Road earlier that week.

BP – South Norwood Hill

Click. The last exposure. Then the film began unwinding from 38 to E on the camera. It had been an absolutely adventurous couple of weeks – trekking around South London during the cold and sometimes wet nights.

As usual, thank you everyone for the support and kindness throughout this series!! I apologise for posts coming in a little later than usual for the last few weeks. I have been juggling work and my personal life quite a lot, especially during recent times.

That’s it. Third Series is a wrap and I am glad it is finally over!!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Beyond Balham

Thursday 27th February, the penultimate night started from Balham with it ending in Pimlico. I shot four petrol stations that evening in three different areas, a perfect way to almost close the series.

The first stop was Sainsbury’s Local on Nightingale Lane in Balham, a five minute walk from Clapham South Tube Station, where I came straight from home via Angel Station; not from Brixton this time round! This Sainsbury’s also has a small supermarket similar to Tesco Express and M&S Simply Food. The petrol station is close to Clapham Common, quite a big park in the middle of South London, also on the other side of the park is BP on North Side, where I went to a week before. Worth noting that I was originally meant to shoot both BP and Sainsbury’s on the same night, however my plans changed a couple weeks prior to make my journey easier.

Sainsbury’s Local – Nightingale Lane, Balham

Next stop was Shell on Balham Hill. I walked there from Sainbury’s, passed the Tube station and crossed the road. The petrol station is on the main high road and it was easy to find. This Shell has it all: a car wash on site, Costa Coffee, plus a Burger King with the drive thru starting from the side of the station next to the kiosk!

Shell – Balham Hill

Third stop was Applegreen in Eccles Court down Kennington, heading towards Vauxhall. I had taken a bus straight from Balham, then walked for a good ten minutes from Oval through a few backstreets. This was the third Applegreen I had shot, with the previous one of this series being in Camberwell, and the very first one in Streatham when I began the first series last summer. I don’t know if Applegreen is a ‘South London thing’ like Morley’s – both a department store and chicken shop (not all in one place!). I haven’t seen any anywhere else so far, including East or North London. This particular stop has a Gregg’s bakery which is inside, something I never seen before.

Applegreen – Eccles Court, Kennington Lane

Last petrol station of the night was BP on Vauxhall Bridge Road in Pimlico. I walked it there from Applegreen rather than take a bus, a straight twenty minute walk on Vauxhall Bridge heading towards Victoria. This stop is quite unique in terms of design: there are residential apartments above, even some surrounding. This BP has a typical petrol station layout despite it missing a roof which would have been impossible to do due to the apartments and planning.

BP – Vauxhall Bridge Road, Pimlico

My night ended there, so it was time to get back home by Tube. Took less than an hour, thank goodness as it was getting late and a little bit cold.

The series would finally wrap up the next day, on the last day of the month. A perfect way to bow out after all this hard work for the last few weeks.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Croydon Chronicles

NOTE: Apologies for the late delay in posting. I didn’t write the entry up until the very last minute. I was hoping to get it done and published as soon as possible on either Saturday or Sunday. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday 25th February, I was back in Croydon again. I think I had been through Croydon more times than the Apollo 8 going around the moon! Thankfully, I was only shooting four petrol stations in the area, which was a reasonable distance from each other.

There are two petrol stations on Brighton Road in South Croydon. First one was Esso, also known as MFG Whitgift – quite fitting as the Whitgift Centre is a mile away down the town centre. Although Esso is on Brighton Road, I shot it from the side on Haling Road. Close to the station, there is a Volvo car dealership on the opposite side, and a car repairs literally yards away.

Esso – Brighton Road, Croydon

The second stop was Shell, on the same road but a ten minute walk away not even a mile apart. This stop is surrounded by a high road full of fast food places, restaurants and even a pub!

Shell – Brighton Road, Croydon

Third station of the night was another Shell (surprise, surprise) on Whitehorse Road. It was a bus ride to get there, which is down the other side of Croydon and even passed the town centre again!

Shell – Whitehorse Road, Croydon

The fourth and final stop was Esso (yes, another one!) on Lower Addiscombe Road. Not far from the previous stop, despite taking the bus there as it was late and cold. The station is actually in Addiscombe, still in the Croydon area; famous for its trams and supermodel Kate Moss, who hails from there. This Esso is also a Tesco Express, unlike the first one on Brighton Road. This stop has a few interesting surrounding ‘neighbours’ – from a Methodist church, a Scouts group, Chinese language school, business management consultancy to singing lessons.

Esso – Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon

The night ended in Croydon, again. Now it was time to go return back to the East. I would return back there a couple days later to finish off the series once and for all.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Lomography Color Negative 100 in 35mm

For today’s Film Friday, I have selected Lomography Color Negative 100 in 35mm (aka Lomography CN 100 or simply Lomo 100 or Lomo CN 100).

Most Lomography films come in a pack of three, which works out cheaper plus is great value for money. It was until recently, Analogue Wonderland has been selling Lomo 100, 400 and 800 in single rolls both 35mm and 120. You can still purchase the three pack film for full price from their website.

I began shooting with this film from 2017, and bought a few packs of them over the years. I often shoot them on a variety of different cameras I own, from my trusty Canon film SLR to my reliable Point and Shoot cameras.

It is a film with the low ISO, good for sunny and bright days which is one of the main advantages. Also brilliant for early evening photography, such as sunsets and cloud formations. There are few examples posted highlighting the versatile uses of the Lomography film on different cameras.

Antibes in the late afternoon/early evening – shot with the same Olympus Mju 1

The colour quality is good, not the best although I think it is do-able for producing colour prints in the darkroom. Great examples from the Lomo film are the photos I took around Promenade Des Anglais on the Canon EOS 500n, I did make a post about it on last week’s Tried and Tested Thursday. Another example are the results from last year’s trip to Nice, when I used an Olympus Mju 1. I do believe certain films work well with certain cameras, like the Lomography films on the Mju 1 were a hit and miss in terms of image and colour quality, however they were still usable for scanning with no editing at all.

I haven’t shot much Lomography film this year, apart from the newly released Metropolis film some weeks ago. I would like to shoot with the Lomo 100 film for street photography – somewhere local or anywhere around London, or alternatively shoot on nice days out to the beach or in the country. Mind you it might not be advisable to go to any beach in the UK during this time, due to a lack of social distancing.

Eze, France 2018 – Shot with Canon EOS 500n
Manarola, Italy – Shot with Canon EOS 500n

I do hope I will have the chance to photograph with the Lomography film at some point in the near future. I have seven rolls of Lomo 100 left, with both packs expiring next month and one single roll which I believe is expired, but I’m not too sure.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Kew Gardens – Olympus Mju 1 with Kodak Ektar 100

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Ektar 100 on my Olympus Mju 1.

Another day, another throwback, but this time it is a continuation from my trip to Kew Gardens in 2018. Last month’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I discussed shooting Colorplus there and how satisfied I was with the outcome. This post is focusing on Ektar by how different it is to Colorplus, not only the price but the film’s results and quality.

Ektar was the first film I shot upon arriving at Kew Gardens, and was also the first time shooting it on the Olympus Mju 1. That day was a chance to test out various films on my newly gifted compact camera. My journey with the film started from the gardens leading through to Palm House, then back to the gardens again.

I had shot Ektar a few times previously on my Canon SLR and Canon compact camera. There was a time I used to buy at least two 35mm rolls of them a year, but recently I have purchased more than that amount, including ten expired rolls from eBay.

Once the film was processed and scanned, I got the results I wanted; smooth and subtly saturated, especially the colour quality. I didn’t edit the scans on Photoshop nor very rarely do, apart from adding the faint watermark in the corner of each scan.

To be honest, I did like the overall results and personally I think it would be better as colour darkroom prints, it would work strongly on matte or lacklustre photo paper.

Ektar and Colorplus are two different films with different results in terms of quality. Ektar is subtly saturated, whereas Colorplus has a bright colour vibrance  – a little saturated than the former, mainly with contrast and tones. I am at a tie with both films, they are both great to use in their own way.

The greenhouse shots are a perfect example of smoothness, tone and the low ISO of 100 which has its benefits and uses especially on bright sunny days. I must note, the day at Kew Gardens started a little overcast however it got better as the day went by.

I had shot a lot of greens, something I tend to do whenever doing nature photography as I most likely to be surrounded by trees or plants. The greens were quite subtle when using this film, though not too overly saturated. Shooting nature can be a hit and miss, even when using film. When I started photography as a teenager, I was mainly shooting flowers with a small Canon digital camera, not knowing what I was doing; not completely understanding what ISO, aperture or shutter speed was back in 2009. Nevertheless, my attention was often focused on colours of flowers, most importantly how to make them stand out, which can be the same for film photography.

I would recommend Ektar for nature photography. It may be pricey for one single roll of 35mm, but is certainly worth trying out. The low ISO is great, unless you have a camera where you can change the film speed, possibly take advantage of shooting one or two stops. The results might come out interesting, you’ll never know until trying!!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Lucky Lewisham

It was Monday 24th February, the last Monday of the month and the beginning of a new week. My evening was spent around Lewisham where I shot four petrol stations in the area.

My first stop was Tesco on Conington Road, next to the superstore and behind Lewisham DLR station. I had shot the stop from the empty car park, with the sky still a little bright despite it being early evening.

Tesco – Conington Road, Lewisham

The second stop was Esso on Loampit Vale, also a Tesco Express. It’s not too far from the first stop, which is walking distance, and close to the same DLR station.

Tesco Esso – Loampit Vale, Lewisham

The next station was BP on Lee High Road, in which I took the bus there. It had been a long while since going to Lewisham, but I can never forget Lee High Road. I remember buying my first Morley’s meal down there many years ago as a teenager; I think I had chicken and chips… Back to BP, this one also has a M&S Simply Food store (a smaller version of Marks and Spencers), something that is quite common to see at most BP branches.

BP – Lee High Road, Lewisham

My night in Lewisham was almost over when I went to the last petrol station, Shell on Lewisham High Street. Another bus ride and then a walk, from what I can remember. I think I walked through a park and a pathway near to the hospital, which happened to be opposite Shell!!

Shell – Lewisham High Street

My brief evening in Lewisham ended and I returned to the DLR station to go home, before going back made a quick stop at Canary Wharf for a hot chocolate run at Caffe Nero.

The week would go fast with the Series almost evening; I would go back to Croydon twice, go through Balham, and then face unwanted attention on my last night of shooting.

Blimey!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Crawling Around Croydon

It was Saturday 22nd February, the fourth day of shooting the Petrol Station Series. That night I was in Croydon, however I would return back there twice the following week. Yes, there were so many petrol stations in Croydon that it was impossible to shoot them all in one night.

My first stop was Jet on Croydon Road, where there is a used car dealership next door. I was in Brixton for a darkroom session earlier that day and didn’t leave until 6pm. Originally I had considered taking the bus from there to Croydon, but the journey would have taken over an hour. Instead I took the Overground from Brixton to Penge East, then a ten minute walk to Jet. The train journey was half the duration than the bus.

Jet – Croydon Road

Afterwards, I went to Tesco on Croydon Road in Beckenham. Despite it being on the same road as Jet, I took the bus there. Tesco was situated nearby the superstore on an industrial estate off the roundabout. Just to note, Beckenham borders Croydon and is quite close by, despite it not being in the same borough.

Tesco – Croydon Road, Beckenham

Moving on swiftly was BP on Mitcham Road. I went back to Croydon proper, which was a bus ride away from the previous stop. Opposite this BP there is a Kwik Fit, a car repairs shop, and across the road there is a used car dealership called McCarthy Cars Croydon.

BP – Mitcham Road

The next stop was Esso on Purley Way. There are two on the same road, although I only shot one and had only discovered while researching for the series. According to Google this Esso is also known as ‘MFG Waddon Court’. MFG or Motor Fuel Group describes themselves as being ‘the largest independent forecourt operator in the UK’ on their website, where they operate many stations across the country such as BP, Shell, Esso and Jet, only to name a few.

Esso – Purley Way

The next stop was Sainsbury’s in Drury Crescent. This time this petrol station was right next to the superstore, where I went to buy a couple of Nakd bars and a drink. I needed some energy while on the road, especially when I last ate a few hours ago. Sainsbury’s is located in a huge retail park with surrounding shops like TK Maxx, Homesense and Hobbycraft.

Sainsbury’s – Drury Crescent, Croydon

I went to Asda in Wallington afterwards, which I walked there through a pathway. Mind you it was pitch black and I was careful not to trip over or get lost enroute. The station is next to the superstore, plus like many of them, this Asda is self-service where card payments are only accepted. This stop is also very close to the famous Ikea in Croydon which is a fifteen minute walk through the retail park.

Asda – Wallington

The final stop of the night was BP on Beddington Lane, literally across the road from Asda which I had no problem finding. This BP not only has their shop with a Costa Coffee, it also has a MOT repairs and a small car wash on the premises.

BP – Beddington Lane, Croydon

My time had almost concluded at another Esso (also a MFG chain) on Brighton Road in Croydon, sadly my phone battery went flat and I couldn’t get my Google Maps route there. So I had no choice to derail my plans and make my way to the nearest train station that would take me home. I would soon revisit Croydon in the next week, including the petrol station mentioned and others. I was already half way through shooting the series and was positive to get it completed sooner rather than later.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Promenade Des Anglais – Canon EOS 500n with Lomography CN 100

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Lomography Color Negative 100 on my Canon EOS 500n camera.

Another holiday throwback from my trip to Nice back of April 2018. I was travelling through Southern France to Northern Italy for a week, mainly around Nice and Cinque Terre respectively.

I packed so much film with me that week probably around forty rolls, I began shooting for shooting sake. In retrospect, I could have brought only twenty rolls or even less with me. It would have been convenient as it would make the workflow easier and less stressful, especially with the costs of processing and finding the time to scan negatives. Thankfully that lesson was learnt when I would return back to Nice the following year.

I have been buying and shooting Lomography films since 2017, mostly colour. I am not a massive fan of their monochrome (or black and white) stock. In the past, I bought limited edition films such as the Lomography F2 400, and most recently their new Kino range Berlin and Potsdam.

I didn’t know what to expect while I was shooting with Lomography CN 100 when I went down to Promenade Des Anglais. On that day the sky was bright, I don’t think I saw a cloud in sight, and the scenery was absolutely amazing. It was all quick candid snapshots along the Promenade of people relaxing by the sea or sitting on the blue metal chairs. I originally started shooting the film from Niceville train station working my way to the beach area, close to the port.

Once I returned back to London (and then fly out again to Germany within a week), I got my films processed at Photofusion and I would eventually scan the negatives at home. Initially I wasn’t overly impressed with the Lomo results from the Promenade Des. Anglais, that wasn’t until I showed them at the Saturday Sessions at Photofusion, a once monthly get together with other photographers discussing and showing work. I didn’t produce any prints of them at this point, so the best I did was show the scans through a slideshow on my Macbook.

From there, I started to appreciate the results as I loved the pastel feel to the scans – they weren’t edited on Photoshop, only added the faint watermark on the corner. Then I became an instant fan of Lomography CN 100 and started more of the film. I began creating a mini series from my time in Nice through my Instagram, plus planned out a zine based on the scans that I was hoping to release last year however that idea fell through. There is hope in the near future to revisit.

Sometimes I go through these photos on my computer and can’t help how proud I am. They are probably one of the best I have produced to date. Since then I have made colour (even black and white) darkroom prints of them, as well as submit a few to the yearly Salon at Photofusion in late 2018.

Choosing a low speed film was the right decision, but had I selected a high speed film ranging from ISO 400 the results would have been completely different. Possibly a little washed out or overexposed, however I did bring along Ilford HP5 and Rollei Retro 400s, which are both high speed films. I guess black and white films are a little forgiving in the sense that it can be versatile and great for further processing either the darkroom or a computer editing programme.

I would repeat this for the second time when I return to Nice the following April. The same Lomography film but different camera which was the Olympus Mju 1, something a little lightweight and smaller, plus easier to carry around. Unfortunately, it didn’t meet up to the expectations from the previous success from last year. The results for me felt a little ‘flat’, however I put them into great use for posting on social media.

Lomography films can be a hit and miss, like most things in life. I think the Lomography’s strength was with the Canon SLR, also possibly being at the right place at the right time.

Later on that day I would revisit the Promenade, this time shooting with a roll of Rollei Superpan 200 with a Jessops Orange filter attached to the lens. Almost duplicating the same style, technique and concept I had done a few hours before.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: When Everything Changes

It was the following week, Tuesday 18th February and I was in Brixton again but my stay at Photofusion was brief. I did manage to shoot around the area and beyond, despite there being a very last minute change along the way – all for good reason, which I will touch on a little later in the post.

First station of the night was Tesco Esso on Brixton Road in Brixton, of course. Just around the corner from Photofusion, also leading up to Oval and Elephant and Castle. I had almost forgotten about Tesco Esso’s existence until researching petrol stations around the South London area.

Tesco Esso – Brixton Road

The next stop was Jet on Hinton Road, not too far from Loughborough Junction Station and Coldharbour Lane. Unfortunately, once I got off the bus, it started raining so I had to juggle both my camera and umbrella. Jet was a five minute walk from the bus stop.

Jet – Hinton Road

Next stop was Applegreen in Camberwell. I took the bus there and it was still raining, even my trainers got soaked once I came off. This was the second Applegreen in South London I saw, the first in Streatham for the first series. I would eventually shoot another one in the third series in Eccles Court the following week.

Applegreen – Camberwell

The evening was going well after going to Tesco on Dunton Road in Bermondsey. Another supermarket petrol station, this time not an Esso but one with the namesake superstore nearby.

Tesco – Dunton Road, Bermondsey

Then I realised something: Old Kent Road was quite close. I looked at my list on my phone, then my Google Maps and thought to myself I could kill two birds with one stone if I went to the next stop on Old Kent Road, rather than the following week. At least get everything out of the way if altering my route.

Soon this would turn into a very long night out after the minor changes but was certainly worth it.

After Tesco, I went to Asda on Old Kent Road. Only a ten minute walk straight, I had to cross the road to go through the side road where the petrol station is located. Most Asda stations are self-service where they only accept card payments. The payment system is modern as many places like shops are taking more cashless transactions, not only from cards but from mobile smart phones and smart watches.

Asda – Old Kent Road

The sixth stop was Morrisons in Hanover Park, Peckham. This station was originally meant to be the last stop of the night before the last minute detour, which I am glad I went there after Asda. It made the bus journey less stressful and was completely straight forward without any changes. Like Tesco in Bermondsey and Old Kent Road’s Asda petrol stations, Morrisons also has a superstore located literally yards away.

Morrisons – Hanover Park, Peckham

The last three petrol stations were around the Clapham area. I took the Overground train from Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction, thankfully not a long ride but it was getting late and not for long it would rain again.

BP is located in Clapham Common North Side opposite Clapham Common park. A bit of a walk from the station to get there, although not too complicated to find. This was possibly the smallest BP I had seen so far. It has the little corner shop feel rather than a place to pump petrol in your car.

BP – Clapham Common North Side

The next stop was Texaco on Wandsworth Road, Nine Elms. I decided to walk there rather than take the bus. I did stop raining for a short while, I think. I went through backstreets and the main road to get to Texaco. I shot the stop from the outside entrance with the sign saying ‘Welcome’, with the person in front adding ‘character’ to the photo. Something a little different for this series.

Texaco – Wandsworth Road, Nine Elms

The last station of the night was Shell on Queenstown Road, Nine Elms, which is opposite Battersea Park and near to the famous Battersea Power Station. I took the photo from across the road next to the traffic lights and roundabout.

Shell – Queenstown Road, Nine Elms

The third night ended there as it was raining buckets. I got caught up again until I managed to get on the bus!!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Two For Tuesday

It was Tuesday 11th February, I was down in Brixton again, this time for my evening darkroom session at Photofusion, however I went out for a bit to shoot a couple petrol stations on London Road. What I had initially thought would be a ‘brief’ trip, turned into an hour bus ride there and back on a cold February night.

The two stations on London Road were Harvest Energy and Tesco, ten minutes apart from each other walking distance. Although on the same road, they are in two different areas and even have different postcodes.

Harvest Energy is in Norbury, neighbouring Streatham which is over a mile away. This was the third Harvest I had shot since starting the project from last year; one in Finsbury Park and the second in Leytonstone both from the first series.

Harvest Energy – London Road, Norbury

The second and last stop was Tesco in Thornton Heath, which is in the Croydon borough. Although recently there has been some debate online on what part of South London Croydon is in. The Tesco station is less than a mile away from the previous stop, just a straight walk up on the same side of the road.

Tesco – London Road, Thornton Heath

My not-so-brief journey ended there, so it was time to head back to Photofusion where I had a delicious vegan pizza waiting for me. Spoiler alert: it was quite warm once I arrived back!!

Take care and stay safe