Tag Archives: architecture

Oh to be in…, Paris!

A year ago I ran a lovely workshop in Paris, with my colleague Noel Baldewijns, photographing the architecture in La Défense. Modernist, curvy, architectural heaven. Can’t wait to get back there…

There is something exquisite about glass, steel and black & white fine art photography. All go very well together. These would make for excellent large prints and look very dramatic in the right location.

La Défense has still got a very French feel to it – even though it’s a financial district dedicated to the pursuit of filthy lucre. Perhaps it’s all the restaurants underneath these steel towers that give it that je ne sais quoi… Macron said the other day that restaurants and lunch were part of ‘the art of being French’. He has a point – dining out for lunch is still sacrosanct in la belle France, and as soon as lockdown is over I’m sure the resto-trade will boom again.

We will be running this tour again, possibly next year – keep an eye out for the Quest brochure when it comes out in a few months… In the meantime, here’s another pic of what Paris is famous for…

A bientôt, tout le monde!

Empty Venice…

Venice is a photographer’s delight. Everywhere you look are potential images. The trick is to empty the city of people, and that isn’t quite so easy…

Early morning works (only photographers get up before 6am…) or shoot across the water in the misty twilight.

I love slowing the exposures down so much that everything moving – boats, people etc – just disappears…

And then it’s good to find hidden corners, bridges and canals where occasional interlopers do appear, but seem quite arbitrary.

Visit Venice in the off season and it’s easy to appreciate its beauty, and not get too flustered by its crowds. And then, get up early morning to make the most of it…


For more info on Quest Photographic Tours, and the workshops I’m leading next year, please click on this .

But which ones to choose…?

Right, I need some help. We have a club competition coming up this week. A prestigious cup, no less, is on offer. The Bedwell Trophy, for the best panel of 4 images. And my problem is which 4 to choose….

Obvs they need to be themed, and I’ve gone for “Long Exposure at More London”. But I’ve got 5 images, and I can’t make up my mind. I only can take 4. Above is ‘Shard 1’, below is ‘City Hall’, I think they top and tail quite nicely…

But then there’s ‘Skyline Shard’ which is a good scene setter:

Finally, I have two more abstract-y images. Do I go with both, or just one…? They are ‘London Office Block’ and ‘Reflection’:

So, which should I choose for my 4? Anyone care to help me out? Have a vote below for which image to leave out?

(Remember to check out more of my photos on Instagram: thomaspeck or twitter @Peckster68)

Sharp lines and chiaroscuro in London and Rotterdam!

I have been having some fun converting  pictures! With the expert help of my friend Noel (check out his website here) I’ve been experimenting with luminosity masks, superior selections, and 8 minute sky exposures. Dramatic and I love it! Here’s London, looking sharp…



And give me a Dutch bridge and this is what I do to it:



Perhaps the most photogenic city for modern architecture however is Rotterdam, see below. And it’s got a fine modern art museum. Noel tells me his wife tells him that the shopping is superlative too. Excellent. Mrs P will have something to do on our next weekend away whilst I get on with the image making!


Rush hour in Perugia

London was all a bustle today. Hot, sticky, busy, full of people, all with a place to go and little time to get there. Now I quite like the buzz, but I have to admit that photography is probably easier when there’s calm. And that does exist in the city, but more so in hilltop Italian city states than in the UK’s megametrolopolis… This is rush hour in Perugia:


7am, a Thursday morning

7am, a Tuesday morning


Isn’t it blissful. Don’t you wish every day could start like this? Can you sense the head-down, must get on, march march-ness of the commuters here? Round the corner I spotted another person dashing to work:



The adrenalin is just kickin’. I wandered further, in search of more typical morning rush hour shots. But no-one was around. Clearly it was too early:

Deserted backstreets

Deserted backstreets

Empty porticoes

Empty porticoes


Even the main square was empty. Mind you, as I said it makes for easy photography… And good memories to sustain me through the crush-push-shove (?!@**!!) of the tube on a Tuesday morning here in London. Bring on the holidays!

Town hall steps, empty...

Town hall steps, empty…


If you like these pics, check them out in colour here and let me know which version you prefer. Plus I have a series of articles appearing in Black+White Photography magazine. Link here to the mag if you’re interested in how photographs create emotional reactions in viewers. Let me know what you think – I’d be fascinated to find out!




New York – no bruised Apple here…

November ’12: Mrs P was all set to run the New York marathon. So it felt only right that we should all get on a plane and go and support her. After all, that’s what families do…. – that’s our excuse anyway, so off we went to the Big Apple. Hurray!

Big Apple skyline

Manhattan skyline

However, Hurricane Sandy had other ideas about 15,000 x 26 milers, and got in the week before the race to smack the city black and blue.

Limping crane

Limp crane

don't look up

don’t look up…

New Jersey devastation

New Jersey devastation

but blimey, it's still a good looking cityscape!

but blimey, it’s still a good looking cityscape!

The mayor couldn’t make up his mind: first the race was still on, then finally it was off. The right decision too – far too many people still without power to divert all that manpower into directing a race. But Mrs P wasn’t too concerned. That left more time on 5th Av and Madison…

Spent fat too much time (money) here

Spent far too much time (money) here

What was really impressive was how welcoming the locals were! No matter that they had to walk or bike in to their jobs in the city – the Subway was still flooded – they weren’t complaining, not to the tourists anyway. “We need you, welcome! Wall Street ain’t functioning, you’re our only income. Don’t stay away, don’t feel you shouldn’t enjoy yourselves. Spend those dollars, you are our lifeblood!!!” That’s pretty much a direct quotation from our Circle Line guide, who kept up the patter all way round Manhattan peninsula.



Steichen homage

Steichen homage

Modernism at its best

Modernism at its best

Rockefeller Doorway

Rockefeller Doorway

The Chrysler building is my favourite. Iconic in a city full of icons. (Someone tell me – how do I get permission to go up to take a picture of the griffin/gargoyles from close up? A photographic dream of mine! Seriously – how do I achieve this…?)

A beauty!

A beauty!



Compare and contrast...

Compare and contrast…

Central Park should have been the climax of the marathon, and a glorious setting it would have been too. As soon as the sun shone, so did the park, resplendent in its autumn (fall!) colours (colors!!)

Cool hotel

Classic view of the park

Classic view of the park

Another classic view of the park

Another classic view of the park...

And another classic view of the park…!

So, a big thank you to the Big Apple for the marvellous welcome you gave us. We forgive the over-abundance of flags and the misspelling of the English language. Can’t wait to come back, although I think I shall confiscate Mrs P’s credit card before she hits the shops again….

Central Station

Central Station

Another classic - every which way you look!

Another classic – every which way you look!

Larger than life.

Larger than life.

(Next week – NY portraits, because as you can see from these pix here, the city was deserted…)

Fog, Royal Sandringham and Wet Feet….

I may have mentioned in a previous post that the Peck clan is regularly hauled off to visit places of interest. There is a particular pattern to these events. A chorus of groans from the kids, some muted resignation in the back of the car – always ignored in the front. Arrival at wherever usually marks an upswing in mood. The visit takes place and we generally agree that the place of interest is, in fact, quite interesting. Then home, tea, and the PlayStation can take over again. 

Such it was with our visit to Sandringham, quite the most exquisite Royal house that I’ve been to.

Foggy view across the lake

Foggy view across the lake

We had picked a foggy day for our visit in late October. But it leant a moody quietness to the day, very atmospheric…

Beautiful Sandringham

Beautiful Sandringham

The entrance - never quite sure if this is the 'front' or the 'back'...

The entrance – never quite sure if this is the ‘front’ or the ‘back’…?

Immy takes possession

Immy takes possession

This is of course where the Royals spend Christmas. So they will all be there right now. Wonder if they have turkey or goose?

The inside was Immy’s fascination. As usual she buttonholed the guide: How, she asked, does Queen Alexandra look so young in the photos, when she must be at least 50? Corsets and photographic magic, came the reply. (Goes to show photoshop merely reinvents the tricks of the 1890s!)

View to the Oak

View to the Oak

Formal garden

Formal garden

Teenager being a teenager

Teenager being a teenager

Charles was not interested in photos of old queens…. But the garages were full of posh cars!!!


Quintessential Royal Car

Quintessential Royal Car

Personally, I loved the gardens and the park.

Muted autumn colours

Muted autumn colours


Happy faces!

Happy faces!

To finish, a bracing walk on the coast – work up some appetite!

Caspar David Friedrich would paint this...

Caspar David Friedrich would paint this…

Mmm, this pathetic jump resulted in wet wife's feet and much cursing.

This pathetic jump resulted in wet wife’s feet and much cursing, directed towards me..!

Drier feet and equilibrium returns

Drier feet and equilibrium returns…

A classic Peck clan trip! Well worth dragging the kids along. They can take it out on their own kids in years to come when they do the same to the next generation. And so the wheel will turn….

The clan

The clan

Even the kids love Gaudi…!

Normally, getting the Peck clan to visit a house or a building is really hard. The attraction of the PS3, or on holiday – the swimming pool, is too much of a pull. Moans and groans meet any suggestion to go and visit this or that. But not in Barcelona! At least, not once I got them all there, stood them in front of the Casa Batllo, and let them stare. Mmmm, even the kids went quiet…

House exterior3

Getting close up


This house really does shimmer in the light! Gaudi stood in the middle of the street to direct exactly where the tiles should go to get maximum watery shimmer and shine. We sat opposite, had a second breakfast (McDonald’s, yummy) and gazed.

Just imagine living in a place like this! The Batllos did. It must of have been extraordinary. A sinuous, organic, crazy building. The house is alive. Mrs Battlo must have loved inviting her envious friends around for a coffee. “Take a seat in our lounge, we think of it as being inside a sea-dragon…”

The 'lounge'

The ‘lounge’

Ceiling as bottom of the sea.

Ceiling, to look like the bottom of the sea.

Organic designs in the back rooms.

Organic designs in the back rooms.

Every detail is exquisite. Look at how Gaudi has redesigned a door handle, so that it fits the hand even more perfectly.

For right handers...

For right handers…

The stairwell glistens, blue, as if under water.

The stairwell glistens, blue, as if under water.

Top of the house

Top of the house

Immy loved the house so much she wanted to buy it. How much would she pay? 10 million Euros was the answer. Not quite sure where she thinks she can get that money from…, and I suspect she will still be a few million short!

Having mentally bought the house, we progressed to the Gaudi park. More sinuosity and organicness. Then, onto the Sagrada Familia.

Coolest park bench in the world?

Coolest park bench in the world?

Modern tympanum

Modern tympanum

It does look really modern, but of course, Gaudi was designing and building this well over 100 years ago. His vision is still, well, visionary!

Window light

Window light

The high altar

The high altar

I wonder if the seeds of architectural curiosity have been sown in the kids? What will the reaction be next time I force them to visit a National Trust property back in England? The PS3 may hold sway again… We shall see…

As we are almost at Christmas, the last image should be a Nativity. Here’s Gaudi’s, the quintessential sagrada familia.

(love the donkey...)

(love the donkey…)


(NB – 2 of the pictures are ‘fake’ – photos of postcards, rather than ‘live’ pix. Can you work out which ones?)


If you like this, check out Shooting icons in New York or Imperial Russia rides again!

Mad business travel on a Thursday night

A five way conversation via Blackberry that sums up the madness of modern business lives.

Madridian hotel

Me, travelling home from Madrid (hence the pix). Woman 1, somewhere in central Europe, Woman 2 and 4 in London, Woman 3 on the Eurostar
From: Woman 1 to: Woman 2 and 3  and 4 and me
Still stuck in meeting, going on for ever!

From : me to : Woman1 and 2 and 3 and 4

I don’t believe it, I just emailed you as a joke to ask if you’d finished… I’m in the cab on the way home looking forward to a (lge) glass of wine avec ma femme who has spent the week in Singapore. We all live mad mad lives!

From: woman 1 To: me, woman 2 and 3 and 4

that we do – enjoy!

Lonely bed in a business hotel

From: woman 4 To: me, woman 1, 2 and 3

… I just got on the wrong bus, the only one on it and don’t know where I’m going!!!

From: me  To: woman 4, woman 1 and 2 and 3

Awesome! Maybe you need the wine more than me…

From: woman 3, To woman 1, 2, 4 and me

I toast you with all my bordeaux from the Eurostar! How did your preso go, or have you even got that far?

From me To woman 3, 4, 1 and 2

Done it. A success!. A most peculiar 5 way conversation this, i might have to blog on it…

From woman 3, To me. woman 1, 2 and 4

Actually, the question on the preso was to woman 1, not you, but glad yours went well too

From me, To woman 3, 1, 2, and 4

Classic!!!!!!!!!!!! (woman 1 seems to have ducked out of the conversation – probably powdering her nose…)

Lift lobby

From woman 3, to woman 1, 2, 4 and me

Despite it only being a 2.5 hour train journey and separated by merely a tunnel, how is the weather so much worse in the UK than France?

From woman 2 To woman 3, 1 and 4 and me

That’s the question I ask myself every single morning ….

From me, To woman 3, 1, 2 and 4

We make up for it by having a wicked sense of humour… 

From: woman 4 (still on a bus) To: me, woman 1, 2 and 3

I’d get off but I’ve been on a no carbs diet this week so don’t actually have the energy in my legs to stand!

Fixtures and fittings

From: me To: woman 1,2, 3 and 4

My wife just phoned me, having landed back from Singapore. “Where have I been?” “Madrid” I reply. “Oh, I thought you were in Munich?” “No, Madrid.” “Well, at least it begins with an M.” “Indeed.” A typical Peck conversation.

From: woman 3 To me, 1,2 and 4
Close enough for sure…
From: woman 1 To: woman 3, me; woman 4 and 2
I had the same discussion with hubby about Miami and Orlando all week last week
From: me, To: woman1, 2, 3, 4
At least they’re in the same country. We can’t even get that right!
From: woman1 To: me, woman 2, 3, 4.
I think I’ve won the race – clutching a g & t right now – Tom? 
From me, To woman 1, 2, 3 and 4
Woman 1 resurfaces! In an attempt to dodge traffic my taximan has gone via the backroads. Result – I’m completely lost. Could be in Timbuctoo (is that how you spell it?)
From: woman 2 To: me, woman 1, 3 and 4
It’s Timbuktu – haven’t you heard of spell check before… ?
From: me To: woman 2, 1, 3, and 4
!@+!?#####/!!! Spell check? Don’t make any grammatical mistakes in my presence for the next week. I will explode, apoplectically! (More likely to be woman 3 come to think of it…she’s an apostrophe abuser)

My Madrid view

From: woman 4, to woman 1, 2, 3 and me:
Apparently there’s a destination change on my bus… Which doesn’t bother me as I have no idea where I’m going anyway… Impromptu sightseeing of London whilst I look out for any tube station or friendly looking pub 😉
From: woman 1 To: woman 4, 2, 3 and me
Sounds quite relaxing that – just sit back and see where you end up ..
From: woman 4 To Woman 1, 2, 3, and me
Just boarded bus no 3… Now en route to ‘Snellington Palace’! Quite an adventure, but think I’ll pay more attention tomorrow! Have a good evening all!
From: me To: woman 1, 2, 3 and 4
 I’m arriving! HOME!!!
Pour me my drink and let me flop on the sofa.
Bberry about to be discarded. Thumbs can take a break. Normal mania will resume tomorrow.
Its been an honour conversing with you ladies. God bless…
From: woman 3 To: woman 2, me, womand 1 and 4
Made it back to London…just the tube home to go! Double jack and coke here I come!
From: woman 2 To: me, woman 1 2 and 4
Have a good evening all!
From: woman 1 To: me. woman 2, 3, 4
and to all a good night 😉 

M. Eiffel’s tower is a triumph!

The classic shot

It’s so nice to get to Paris as a tourist for once, instead of on business. I actually managed to indulge in all those classic touristy things – like taking photos of the Eiffel Tower!

I wasn’t the only tourist about, of course. Even at 7am on a bitterly cold April morning there were some very hardy Far Eastern newlyweds, who were doing the sites in full regalia.

This bride must have been freezing...!

Later in the day was time to climb the beast of a tower. No way were we waiting in the queues for the lift (at least a 2 hour wait) and we knew a trick, which I pass onto all of you here: climb the stairs to the second floor and get the lift to the top from there. Easy and saves hours!!!

Shy Eiffel.

Bold Eiffel!

Looking up...

Looking down

Looking out

Looking in...

So, walking up to the second floor is a good dodge, and it’s not too hard. That leaves an exhilarating ride to the top in the lift, and a great view from the top. Awesome!

Up, up and up some more

With a great reward

and a happy tourist family!

A bit of trickery with the last shot. Anyone know why it looks like this?

Distorted Eiffel!

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