UK Detour: Day 12, London

By my third day in London, which was essen­tial­ly my last, I was push­ing myself to the lim­it of exhaus­tion. We had to pri­or­i­tize each activ­i­ty, as we there were so many things to do in such a short amount of time.

My impres­sion of London is one of diver­si­ty, his­to­ry, and para­noia. CCTV cam­eras are every­where, thanks to Britain’s dubi­ous dis­tinc­tion of being the most CCTV mon­i­tored coun­try in Europe.

London Night

Rainy London nights.



After a stop at Monmouth, where we were served by a Chinese girl with very heavy British accent (which I found quite nov­el), we head­ed to the National Portrait Gallery to see the short­list for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010. The inter­est­ing thing about this gallery is that being accept­ed into it is con­sid­ered very pres­ti­gious, and yet any­one can enter.

It hit me more than any of the oth­er gal­leries I vis­it­ed, because the sub­ject of the human con­di­tion always speaks to me more than still life, abstract, or any oth­er kind of pho­tog­ra­phy. Perhaps it’s just more acces­si­ble.

longest escalator

One of the longest esca­la­tors in the UK at the National Portrait Gallery.

buy more shit

A play on the British slo­gan, Keep Calm and Carry On, pop­u­lar­ized in recent years after being cre­at­ed to boost morale dur­ing WWII.

Found in a quirky lit­tle sun­dries shop, filled with many things I want­ed to buy.

Trafalgar Square 1

Trafalgar Square. Notice the Canadian flag at one end.

human statue

A human stat­ue, a form of busk­ing (if you notice the lit­tle change col­lec­tion box at his feet) that isn’t very pop­u­lar in Canada, but pret­ty com­mon in Europe.

Trafalgar Square 2


Westminster Abbey 1

Westminster Abbey.

rows of poppy crosses

Rows of pop­py cross­es out­side of Westminster Abbey. Some of them had poems writ­ten on them.

Westminster Abbey 2


Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster.

Emma looks on


Palace of Westminster


Big Ben

Big Ben. I was expect­ing it to be much taller and big­ger.

London Eye

The London Eye, the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most pop­u­lar tourist attrac­tion in the UK.

This is where Emma recites the first few sen­tences of Lolita, word-for-word, and my heart skips a beat.

Old War Office

The Old War Office, where the Ministry of Defence oper­ates.

lunch at the BFI

Lunch at the British Film Institute, where you get to sit on plush couch­es and meet those across the table from you.

steak sandwich

Steak sand­wich served with hand-cut Maris Piper chips. Delectable.

At night, we went to the The 27th AOP Assistants Awards, for pho­tog­ra­pher’s assis­tants, where Emma had two entries select­ed as final­ists. As Mike point­ed out, these are the next gen­er­a­tion of pho­tog­ra­phers, and to see their work when they’re half your age is some­what scary. I under­stood how he felt, as I’d been sur­round­ed by pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers this entire time, and felt extreme­ly self-con­scious about the snaps I was tak­ing.

27th AOP Assistants Awards


She end­ed up win­ning a mer­it award for a pho­to from her series of pre­co­cious kids. Without know­ing the con­cept of the series — chil­dren made to look like adults — I guessed the theme sim­ply from the expres­sion on the girl’s face and pos­ture of her body. Check out the rest of Emma’s awe­some work.

child photo


Mike gave me a beer to “hold”, because I could­n’t be seen walk­ing around with­out a drink in my hand. It’s also impos­si­ble to just hold a beer with­out drink­ing it.

Carlsberg always takes me back to the last day of uni­ver­si­ty in 1st year, sit­ting on a patio on Wilbrod Street, shar­ing a pitch­er with a few floor­mates, with the slow real­iza­tion sink­ing in that exams were over.

And to cel­e­brate the win, we head­ed to a posh Thai restau­rant, who did­n’t serve iced tea but was will­ing to make it as well.

ordering food

I love Mike’s shirt and the pat­tern on the cuff. I need shirts like this.

finger foods

Finger food appe­tiz­ers. The spring peas were cov­ered in large grains of sea salt, and the pile of ground beef is used as stuff­ing in the cab­bage leaves. Very Asian influ­enced.

sleeping kitties

This is what I’m hop­ing for one day.

Europe 2010 travel diaries


  1. There is always (ok ALMOST ALWAYS) a ter­ri­ble human stat­ue busker in the mar­ket right in front of EQ3 at lunch time on week­days. He can only hold a pose for about 30 sec­onds.

    • Now that you men­tion it, I do remem­ber see­ing a human busker there. He just put on a head­band and held a ten­nis rack­et to make a real­ly chintzy ten­nis play­er. No won­der I for­got him. On the oth­er hand, these guys in Europe are slather­ing them­selves with most like­ly tox­ic metal­lic paints.

  2. I get to use the Canon EOS xti over Christmas. It almost feel like cheat­ing as I was able to get the shot I want­ed with the col­ors I want­ed with­out hav­ing to adjust for the pre­cise set­tings. I think the tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion have as much to do with the improve­ment in pho­tog­ra­pher’s shots in our day and age.

    • I half agree with you. It’s not so much the tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion that’s caused improve­ment in over­all ama­teur pho­tog­ra­phy as the fact that the tech­nol­o­gy is so much more afford­able. This brought pho­tog­ra­phy to the mass­es, which increas­es the num­ber of peo­ple who will get decent shots. Just look at ama­teur astropho­tog­ra­phy, and how so many peo­ple can get decent pho­tos of astral objects from their back­yards that only big insti­tu­tions could get 10 years ago cause they were the only ones who could afford giant tele­scopes.

      A nice cam­era has no more to do with tak­ing a spec­tac­u­lar pho­to than a nice pan has to do with cook­ing a spec­tac­u­lar meal; it’s the crafts­man or the cook that does the work, not the tool. If you feel like you were get­ting the shots you want­ed with a bet­ter cam­era, then your abil­i­ty sur­passed the lim­it of your old cam­era.

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