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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