Views from the bus – photographic sketches

  • Wedding at St Peter's Church, Clerkenwell
  • Introduction

    When I moved back to London I started using the buses so I could watch my home town once more.  At that time I regularly used one of the infamous bendy buses. They were very long, single decker buses that would bend in the middle as they turned the corner.  Most people did not like them. They were dangerous for other traffic users.  People could steal rides and sleep unnoticed at the back because there were no conductors.  So they were taken out of service.  I am one of the few people that did like them.  Why??  Because you got a great pavement level view of life on the streets of the city.  Their windows were enormous.  I found the experience reminded me of giant paintings, like the epic street scenes of by gone eras which you can view in the National Gallery, London. I still miss those views.

    When you travel on London buses now the only good views are from the top deck.  And this gives a different experience.  You are more detached from the world around you, gazing down.  But its interesting none the less.

    In March this year I posted this Now You See it… preview of my summer project 2014.  And then I started experimenting with ideas using my phone in response to anything I saw on my way around London.  I found my practice photos really interesting, so I’m sharing them with you.  They were all taken around May and using my Orange San Diego phone.  This selection does not follow a particular route.

    Lets Board the Bus

    This shot is cool because it has three of the new routemaster buses designed by Thomas Heatherwick. The black buses are only temporary; they are part of a 4 month advertising campaign. And I expect a new campaign will follow. They are possibly the reason why there are suddenly so many of the expensive new buses in service at the moment.


    3 new London routemaster buses in Central London


    Travelling around Central London

    I regularly pass this wonderful old town hall with its Art Nouveau glass portico. And when you pass early in the morning around 8.30am, you can peek in through the windows and spot the dance students already hard at work in a class.  Their dedication always impresses me.


    Looking out at Finsbury Town Hall glass portico


    This next sequence of three shots were taken on Cheapside, in the City of London. I saw the parked police car up ahead and wondered what was going on. It looks like there had been a minor collision between a car and a cyclist.  Thankfully there were no ambulances in view.


    Cheapside London






    One Saturday I was passing the beautiful Italian Church, St Peter’s, in Clerkenwell and glimpsed this wedding. I didn’t have a convenient window seat as the bus was very busy.  But still I found it interesting to see what I could catch by standing up and using the window over the stairs.  The old Routemaster bus was a wedding special with ribbons attached at the front.  I did photograph it but I preferred this shot.


    Wedding at St Peters' Church, Clerkenwell


    Wedding at St Peter's Church, Clerkenwell


    Wedding at St Peter's Church, Clerkenwell


    Roadworks are the bane of all London bus travellers’ lives. They slow the traffic and they never end.  In 2012 when London held the Olympic Games the traffic flowed freely for those few weeks.  But then they returned.  I’ve been travelling along Bishopsgate where the next 2 pictures were taken and there have been roadworks there on and off since 2009!  These photographs were take about 3 weeks ago in 2014.






    And further along this road is Broadgate Tower which has a full time door keeper to welcome the officer workers each day. He’s the man in the middle looking out in, wearing a bowler hat.  This is one of the signs of the City of London’s continued prosperity.  This tower was built during the recession and opened about 2 years ago.




    In the next sequence of photographs I was playing with shapes and patterns, rather than the views, trying to re-create the experience of sitting on the bus. Look out for the Banksy on the wall in the first shot.  When I took the photograph though I was actually fascinated by the men talking near the cafe.  But this wasn’t the right camera to snap them with.


    street view from bus with Banksy on wall








    The final two were taken to record where I’d spotted some more street art that I had been hunting.  I’ve added them here because they are great views of London in another area that’s very popular, Shoreditch.

    In the first photograph you can glimpse a man sunbathing on the pavement.  His prone body adds a nice counter point to the vertical painting by Otto Schade of woman smoking against the wall. Its tricky to see on a small scale though.  And amazing what the eye sees but the camera finds hard to replicate.  Well the wrong camera anyway.

    Shoreditch-Old -Street-view-from-bus


    Old Street-view-from-bus


    The bus project will probably been ongoing through out the year.  There are so many exciting other activities to cover at the moment.  Watch out for Books About Town through July.  There will be more vintage buses and street art too.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my random views of London via the bus.


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