Euston - The Lost Tunnels

I had heard of tours of the London Underground where you can visit old stations and areas which are no longer used, however there would be hoards of screaming public getting in the way of a decent shot. After a bit of research I found an offer of a Photographers day in the tunnels of Euston station. The head count would only be up to eight people so there would be ample opportunity to take some great shots with out the back of someones head in the way.

Its a turbine, if you missed the preamble....

Its a turbine, if you missed the preamble....

The UK had been experiencing the Beast from the East snow storm so I phoned ahead to make sure the event was happening. It was still going so I trudged my way to the meeting point inside a building opposite Euston Station. Here we were signed in and given a hi-vis jacket to wear. We were not allowed to keep them... yes I did ask.

After a brief PowerPoint presentation about the areas we were visiting and a few terms and conditions we were taken to the turbine room next door. To see a turbine... an enclosed turbine so all you could see what the outer shell. A few of the other photographers started taking shots so I thought I would give it a go too. I had my Canon 70d and the Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 wide angle lens as I wanted to capture long tunnels as well as the walls in one shot and not have to resort to a panoramic set up. For now I had to make do with... a turbine.

You may be thinking 'you paid for the trip so why not enjoy everything it has to offer', this is true but the event is called 'Euston - The Lost Tunnels' not 'Euston - The Easily Found Turbine'.

After this we all trudged back outside to Euston Station and headed down to one of the platforms. We were taken through a metal grated door into the starting area. First thing you notice? The cold! 

We were first taken around each area we would be using then split into small groups. Two in each group. Each area was split into two smaller areas so we would not get in each others way. We were allowed to use the magnetic LED torches the organizers had on them and there were many places to stick them to.

This first shot had the light behind the central ladder which cast a shadow towards the camera and another illuminated the tunnel behind. My metal tripod was freezing at this point!

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Along the walls of the tunnels, mostly ripped and faded are advertising posters, many were for films, theater and train destinations. This wall had posters for films  The St Valentines Day Massacre - 1967 and One Born Every Minute - 1967.

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These tunnels are used for storage so there were a lot of tools and metal things stacked up along the walls, none of which were in the way but in places the floor was a little uneven but those areas were well lit.

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Moving further down in to the areas there is a tunnel designed to move air around as the trains on the Victoria Line come and go. The tunnel had a wall bisecting it to funnel the air around. Just around the corner there was a walkway where you could look down on the platform and watch as people boarded the trains. When the trains entered the platforms a gust of warm wind would rush down this tunnel, sadly this would do nothing for my already frozen tripod.

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I swear that if the organizers had someone dressed as H. R. Gigers Alien down here it would not look out of place at all. This side of the tunnel was stone cold as the warm air would only travel so far. You could literally stand in one place and be cold, then step forward and be warm. 

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We had been down there a while now and I started to experiment with using the camera hand held rather than on the tripod. At the current light levels the exposure time would be 1-2 seconds which gave me enough time to zoom in and out to create light trails and blurs.

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I also tried a unfocused shot of the Alien tunnel. The three lights flared out and I have combined a couple of these blurred shots together to create this surreal image below.

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The final area was a short downward sloping tunnel ending in a small door, dubbed the Hobbit door. This area was quiet despite the distant noise of the trains back along the tunnel. I took a moment while setting up the shot to think about where exactly and how far down I was in the system at this point. I wonder what was through the door?

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The curve of the ceiling and the lights caught my eye for this shot. It makes a great wallpaper image on my laptop.

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Our group was eventually released back into the warmth of Euston Station... right into the middle of an emergency evacuation. Hundreds of people milling about and complaining while the snow storm (which i had forgotten about while being underground) ignored the complaints and continued to pelt everyone with tiny ice crystals.

I gave my thanks to the organizers and trudged my way back to Kings Cross then home.

If you are the last to leave, turn out the light....

If you are the last to leave, turn out the light....

The Battle, the Oak and the Lens.

During July 2017 I was asked to shoot some head shots to promote my friends face painting business, http://www.whatsaface.co.uk. This was to be at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Hatfield House was hosting this years Battle Proms and Folk by the Oak festival, so there would be other things to photograph over the weekend.

The entrance to the fields are directly opposite the station. However as I wandered down to the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field I noticed it was a lot bigger than I thought. Passing across a small dried up river I heard a lot of squeaking to my left. I noticed a ferret chasing down a small rabbit. The rabbit was doing really well until three dogs ran in and then chaos erupted. One dog ran after the now squealing ferret while the other two harassed the rabbit. Things were not great for the rabbit and one of the dogs got hold of it. I suppose it was a sort of 'Battle' so it seemed an omen of sorts.

On the first day, after taking many head shots of children with painted faces and glitter (with parental consent of course), I made my way down to where there was to be a horse display, the riders were dressed as soldiers from wars from Wellington and Napoleon times. They were showing horse riding skills not widely seen in Napoleonic war time. I don't recall hoops and balloons that needed dispatching as enemies of the British Empire during those wars but it made for a good display.

I had one problem though, I was not the first to arrive at the fence so I was about two rows back, I had to make use of the flip screen on the Canon 70d, along with the 24-105mm f4 lens. Finally getting to stand next to the fence in front of the display I found the reach of the 24-105mm lens was not enough as I was by then quite far from the display. I had brought my older lens with me, my Canon 50-250mm. I had not used this for a long time since I had got my Sigma 70-200 f2.8. It did have the reach for some great shots.

Which came in handy as the next display from the Red Devils. I was expecting some satanic ritual but it turned out it was a parachute display team. The plane flew over a couple of times  as they were checking wind speed before the jump and I kept my lens trained on the open door of the plane and managed to take a shot just as the lead jumper let go! Each jumper made it safely to the ground, one carrying a Union Jack flag on his foot.

The highlight, once the day turned into evening was the firing of a World War One cannon. Until that evening, I had not been in the vicinity of a loaded cannon, let alone being in its presence when it get fired. I tried to time my shots to the firing of the cannon and missed completely the first time. I was rocked by other smaller cannons firing off to the left of me. These cannons seemed to have plastic caps on to make the sound louder. This cap would be shredded to bits. These bits would then be wafted by the wind into my face. So a little shell shocked, I wandere back to the face painting stall and took one last photo as the sun set. 


Whatsaface, a professional face painter and make-up artist, with 11 years experience. Worked for many organisations, including local school fêtes, charity days and company corporate events, as well as children’s birthday parties and weddings.

Visit her website www.whatsaface.co.uk

Hammer and Stone

A friend of mine alerted me to an event going on at the Freemasons Hall in London. They were having a open house day so I decided to go take a look. I of course turned up early, I wanted to beat the crowds. Turning the corner I found the front of the building still closed and about six large motor bikes were parked on the front pavement. 

Beware the rumbling doors!

Beware the rumbling doors!

I stood around ticking off the minutes until the doors opened and when they did the didn't open with wooden creek, no. They rumbled open,loudly. Everyone has heard of stories of Masons and Masonic lodges and things that may or may not happen in them but I was not expecting a large rumbling door to greet me!

After my camera bag was searched I was then given another bag, plastic, which I searched thoroughly. I found a map and information about the building. Typically I ignored the map and wandered to the right up the short steps past the string quartet, which I thought was a nice touch considering the day was a free outing. No drinks though.

I was carrying my Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 wide angle lens. I thought there would be a number of rooms where a wide angle lens would be beneficial. Sometimes the 24-105 f4 just would not cut it.

I wandered in here.

I wandered in here.

A lot of coat racks.

A lot of coat racks.

After being shuffled away from the area I was not supposed to be I climbed the stairs onto the first floor. Here there were stalls showing the various activities the Freemasons offer. Behind me I found a three pane, stained glass window. I took shots with the 10-20mm lens to get all of it in. Moving through the stalls I moved towards the Grand Temple.

This was impressive,it can hold around 1700 people as well as golden thrones to sit on. Standing on the checked floor I found myself directly under what looked like the night sky in fabric form. It is called the Celestial Sky. Around the top is a decorated border, one of which is a representation of the Ark of the Covenant. I wasn't carrying a representation of a fedora and bullwhip so I couldn't make off with it. Instead I took a few shots of the thrones and headed out.

A room of thrones

A room of thrones

Euclid and Pythagoras

Euclid and Pythagoras

Soloman and Hirim

Soloman and Hirim

More thrones

More thrones

Helios the sun god

Helios the sun god

Saint George and the Dragon

Saint George and the Dragon

Walking into the drawing room I saw something I was not expecting... a race track. One of the attendants handed me the white controller and we had a quick race with another visitor. It was a close race, I was holding my own until graciously accepted defeat and rammed my car into the visitor car to end the race.

Not quite the winning car...

Not quite the winning car...

For the next hour I wandered around the exhibition room (with another throne), the library and museum where they had on show the ceremonial sword and the original maul which I was told laid the first stone. The Grand Officers Roding Room, Processional Corridor and ended with me exiting the building at Great Queen Street after being told I couldn't take photos in a certain area. Opps!

A look back in Lego

I had almost forgotten I had taken these shots. They are of Star Wars Lego sets carefully selected and posed on my kitchen counter. Taken with either the Panasonic Lumix FZ45 or the Canon 550d with the 50mm f1.8 lens.

They were taken close to when I first started photography.

(Click on the first picture then use the arrow keys to move on)