Images of London Life on a bus
This post is a continuation from my June 22nd post Views from the Bus – photographic sketches. The images this week were all taken during July, on my way to and from work when I hadn’t deliberately set out to take pictures. They came from that semi-daydreaming state, when you sit in heavy London traffic, as if in stand-by mode, waiting for your day’s work to start or to get home and relax.
Two two summers ago I was at the Photographers Gallery in London and saw an exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Photobooks. And I was particularly inspired by the work of Taiji Matsue who used pattern and shape to tell a story rather than people’s expressions. His pictures also reflect our relationship to the space around us. And in a big, over populated city like London, that space is important. Of course my images are very different but for the first time I was reminded of this other photographer’s work. Viewing life from a bus I saw people in a series of boxes, hemmed in. And as I feel somewhat trapped in my life at the moment, that’s what I saw when I looked at my pictures.
Some Sweet Toof brings colour on my bus journey home
My only thought when taking this first shot was to snap Sweef Toof’s painted shop window shutters even though I was sat on the wrong side of the bus for a good shot! You can spot his distinctive teeth and pink gums through the bus window. Once the image was downloaded, I loved the contrast between those trapped on the busy bus home and the sense of freedom outside. That man on his phone smiling was a serendipitous link to Sweet Toof’s smiling shutters. I have cropped the picture sightly to emphasise the handrails and bus windows boxing us in.
The glimpse of a London Landmark! – Trafalgar Square
Unless you sit at the front of a bus, most views of London are often obstructed by other traffic. When this picture was taken my bus was halted at traffic lights. And the bus in the next lane was perfectly lined up so that I could see both the National Gallery and one of the fountains in Trafalgar Square beyond. And the van you can see to the right in the actual Square belongs to the pest control company who use hawks to keep down the pigeon population.
Bus Life as an extension of people’s living rooms
I am fascinated by women who put on their make in public. Pretty much every morning I see at least one woman doing it. And in this next shot I could see a woman crimping her eyelashes on the far front seat of the bus next to me. I took the shot out of curiosity to see if my camera phone could pick her out and it didn’t. But I love how the man turned to look at me as my bus moved off. And the space age shape of the new bus window.
And this next one was taken on another journey in the afternoon. I love the empty space between me and the woman in the bus next door. The two sets of windows between us creates the illusion of watching a person in their front room at home.
The Bus jam
I was lucky to have an impatient driver who tried to get ahead of all the buses in the left hand lane. Being in the middle lane gave me much better opportunity to show just how many buses had became bottle necked here that afternoon. And there was nothing stopping the traffic that I could see. There were simply too many buses.
Superman watches Bus Jam 2
I saw this image later on Saturday morning after I’d posted this week’s post. There was an obstruction on the road which made it nearly impossible for the two buses to pass each other. As I was enjoying the experience of these 2 floors of buses sitting side by side I noticed that one of those passengers looking most helpless was Superman! Would he speed things up? Of course eventually we managed to squeeze passed the other bus and continue with our journey.
Extreme Reading the paper over someone’s shoulder.
On that same journey of the bus jam, I spotted this very cute, dinky yellow car. And as we were parked along side at traffic lights, I realised that my eyes could read the newspaper headlines of the paper opened on the passenger seat. The story was about the lonely polar bear trapped in the hot Argentinian zoo.
Reflections and Compartments
When I took the next shot, it was the circular reflection of my bus in the mirror by the traffic lights which caught my eye. But on downloading the image, what I love is carefree conversation of the two women on the pavement. Whilst I’m alone, trapped on my endless bus journey home.
These traffic lights were very slow. The bright green lorry parked at the lights opposite caught my eye. And I positioned the window frame in the middle of the image to draw the eye towards the green lorry. But as I was about to click, another lorry started to drive across my shot, drawing the focus away from the distinctive green one. I took the shot anyway and now I love how the second truck is so long that it couldn’t be contained in either half of the frame.
And these two shots are purely about shapes, patterns and reflections. Two buses, bumper to bumper at the traffic lights.
Knitting reflection with ginormous needles
A 2nd update from Saturday morning – after I’d posted this original post. I hadn’t noticed when the woman at the front had joined us. But what caught my eye as the bus went passed a darker background were a pair of hands floating before me. And when I paid attention, I saw that they were knitting with very large needles. I thought the image on a sunny summer’s morning rather tranquil and just managed to capture it before we moved to a brighter street.
The magic wet pathway
This was taken fairly early, around 8am. When the bus was further back along the road from this shot, I noticed that the pavement was all wet. It was narrower there and the distinctive wet path in this shot wasn’t so apparent. And in my half awake state of mind I thought, “how on earth did in rain so neatly?” And then, as the bus inched forward in the traffic, my eye delighted on this wet wiggly path created by the street cleaner to avoid the people sitting on the bench. I notice now that for some reason all 3 people on the bench seem to be watching man bending over to do something with his bag.
And then I saw the creator of the wet path, the green street cleaning machine up head. And yet hardly anyone wants to walk on the wet pavement behind him!
The cute doggie in the window
So many times on when on a bus, I’m tempted to take pictures of cute pooches. It was evening around 10pm. And the woman in the spotty top was the dog’s owner and her friend had been taking pictures of it a few moments before this shot. There was a very cute moment when the dog had plopped its head on the handrail and poked a paw through underneath. I grabbed a shot and the woman reached for her again for her phone which was in back her bag. But the dog refused to repeat the pose, even after she tried to coax a paw back into position. The earlier shot was very cute but badly exposed by an extremely bright shop sign directly behind the dog. If I had photoshop I could have made it work but I don’t. I still love this second shot of the dog not wanting its picture taken.
This is a quiet and contemplative post this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed an alternative, non touristy, non flashy glimpse of London life.