Wednesday, August 17, 2011



I live a bit less than two hours’ train ride from London, but I never went there much till I took up photography. It was a long journey, on uncomfortable and old rolling stock, and there wasn’t enough to entice me to make the trip. Although I have friends there now, I didn’t then and the city seemed so huge I could never make my mind up where to go or what, exactly, I wanted to do. But things change. The railway stock was upgraded and I could travel without my legs and neck freezing from the little draughts of air coming from the rattling windows. I made friends in distant places and London became our meeting ground. And I became a photographer and had a revelation that although I’d much rather be in the countryside, when it came to photography my appetite was tempted most by the visual feast offered by the city.

St Dunstan’s Church was one of the first places I discovered on one of my early photographic missions. It’s a medieval church that was bombed out during WWII, leaving only the shell of the walls behind. Much later, it was decided not to rebuild the church, but to turn it into a public garden, with benches, shrubs, trees, and a fountain in the centre. What makes it so unusual is that it’s right in the heart of the financial district of London – a green jewel of calm and tranquillity in the middle of the hustling, bustling, city. Once inside, the walls of the church protect you from the noise and confusion of the streets and the roof is open to the sun and the sky. You can feel your heartbeat slow as you enter, tense shoulders release, and suddenly you can breathe more easily – it’s a very special place.

The original church porch is still intact, and there are benches set round the walls inside. When I first went there, a businessman was sitting, mostly hidden, legs crossed, on one of these benches just to the side of the entrance - all you could see of him were his legs and feet. I had intended a nice shot of the impressive arched entrance and at first was slightly annoyed by his intrusive legs and feet. I thought I might Photoshop them out if he didn’t move. And then I thought again, and realised it made the shot much more interesting. I took the photo, but when I got home I was disappointed to find there was a small amount of camera shake. I went back there many times, always hoping I might get something similar, but it never happened. And then one day, there it was again – the legs, the suit, the business shoes. Not an identical shot – through a different doorway this time - but maybe even better than the first one. And this time I got it right – two attempts to get two legs!

When I was looking through the Muses pool, I saw this great shot by eldaha. I thought it was funky and funny and it reminded me of ‘my’ pair of legs – they have a certain quirkiness in common, and I love the way both sets of legs are completely disembodied from their owners. I also like the contrasts between them – her legs are naked, mine are formally clothed; hers are female, mine are male; hers emerge from a bath, mine emerge from a church. Two photos, two very different sets of legs.

Day 65 - Legs
legs by eldaha


Ashley Sisk said...

It's funny how photography completely alters how we look at the world. Great post. I always love eldaha's bathtub shots.

Christina said...

Gilly this is awesome!!

Holly {Soupatraveler} said...

Gilly, I am right there with you in that church! I can see it, feel it, breath it!!! What a wonderful story and I love the two shots together. : )

Kirstin said...

This is such a great story, Gilly! Love the shots too, legs and all!

mosey said...

Not only do I love your photo, Gilly, but the fact that you didn't just give up after a missed opportunity - you went back until you got the shot you envisioned. Your pairing is beautiful, as well. (welcome to the muses!)

urban muser said...

a great interpretation of the theme gilly. welcome!

Chelsea said...

I love is so unique & fascinating! Both photos are perfect. I love how the bench in the first has "city of London" written on it...subtly showing where it is!

Angela Bowden said...

Great shots! Striving to be a great photographer really does change the way you see the things around you. This Tennessee girl can't wait to go back to London with my improved "photographer's eyes".

Anika said...

This is awesome.

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