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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