I recently took a wander along the riverside beach at low tide from Enderby’s Wharf to Morden Wharf, surveying the textures, colours and variety of items that are either washed up (for instance, wood, moss, brick), or more permanent, discarded items (such as cabling, metal, netting, tyres). I have wanted to do a series of macro photographs along the riverside for ages, because there are always so many wonderful things to capture, and one day the weather and tide made it perfect to go out there and do it.
The area around Enderby’s Wharf, on the Greenwich Peninsula, is currently being heavily redeveloped, from industrial brownfield to residential. In the mid-2010s, the Alcatel factory just to the north of Mauritius Road, where the cabling for the world’s first undersea telegraph cable was manufactured, as well as the first Transatlantic cable, was cut back by approximately 50% of its former size, and given over to several riverfront and inland housing developments. This site has a lovely pictorial history of the factory, and its development and subsequent demise and redevelopment.
Along the riverside are numerous artefacts – both big and small – that have their roots in this industry. One of these is a wealth of old cabling:
This was ideal for the lens and macro tube combination I was using: the wide angle and relatively short minimum focusing distance (50cm!) of the Flektogon plus the 30mm macro tube meant I could get right up in to the cabling itself, while keeping a wide angle of view, and achieve the razor thin depth of field that almost makes the cable stand out of the page at you. The Ektachrome 100 film renders the colours beautifully neutrally.
In a similar vein, you can find rather a lot of discarded netting, permanently caught up on the rocks:
I love the beautiful contrast the red netting adds to the browns and greens in the foreground.
Moving along from there, you walk under some of the old piers and jetties that, while unsafe to walk on now, and with no budget to renovate them, have been converted into habitats for the native wildlife and plantlife, rather than being demolished. While the tops of the piers and jetties tend to get a lot of attention, the pillars on which they stand are also a haven of mosses, lichens and other assorted plantlife:
You can also, if you look carefully enough, find pieces of wood that have been broken asunder and where almost sculptural shards have been left exposed:
And the final image in the selection is another mossy one, this time a plank of wood that has been completely taken over by its residents!
The walk, while quite a short one, is tough, because of the shifting, rocky ground, and typically damp mosses that make it difficult to find grip, as well as having to perform acrobatics while navigating under the piers and jetties, but entirely worth it, as it’s a little haven of colour, texture and variety! Lugging the Kiev 60 around with me certainly gave me some exercise, though at least it was only the little 50mm Flektogon on there and not the great, hulking 180mm Sonnar!
Overall I love the Kiev 60 as a camera, in spite of all its faults. Having worked out the niggles with the wonky frame spacing (a home made “leader extension” kit in my camera bag – pre-cut 10cm lengths of paper and a roll of tape mean I regularly now get 13 frames on a roll of 120 instead of 12!), and flocked the mirror box properly (so as long as I use lens hoods, no more lens flare or irritating reflections), it really has been quite the delightful piece of kit. Given that the camera, plus 50mm, 80mm and 180mm Zeiss lenses, strap, case, filters and hoods came in at around the £750 mark, I think it’s a true bargain!
Thank you for reading!