For one month only: an 1845 Fox Talbot salt print on display at the Museum of London Docklands

Any exhibition opening is exciting for the curation team behind it, but the Museum of London is particularly excited about its forthcoming exhibition Bridge, which opens at the Docklands branch of the organisation on 27 June. Bridge will feature the oldest photograph in the museum's collection, William Henry Fox Talbot's Old Hungerford Bridge, a salt print made in 1845. The print has never been exhibited by the museum until now, owing to its fragile condition and its special place in photographic history.

While Fox Talbot worked on developing the photographic process throughout the 1830s, it wasn't until 1845 that he made his major breakthrough that allowed photographs to be successfully fixed in a way that wasn't so hit-and-miss. This was a precursor to the development process that was used until the advent of digital photography. And Old Hungerford Bridge would have been one of the first negative-to-positive images fixed in this way.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) Hungerford Bridge Salt print, made around 1845

The print itself shows Isambard Kingdom Brunel's original Hungerford Bridge in 1845, the year it opened. (It would be demolished 15 years later to make way for a railway bridge.) 'By contrasting the old barges in the foreground with the Brunel's new iron bridge, Fox Talbot highlights the technological advances of the 19th century,' says Francis Marshall, Bridge's curator. Let alone his own technological advances in the photography world.

Why the difficulty in exhibiting the print? It's extremely fragile and faded due to its age. In order to minimise the risks to the picture, it will be displayed in strictly controlled lighting conditions; in order to see it, visitors will be invited to press a button to illuminate it, reducing its exposure to nnecessary light. It's also only going to be on display for the first month of the exhibition.

As for the rest of the exhibition, it uses a mixture of contemporary and historical artworks, photography, and film to chart the visual history of London. From Hungerford to Blackfriars, Westminster, Millennium, and Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge design, Bridge looks at how London’s bridges allow people to move around and experience the city.

The exhibition runs from 27 June to 2 November 2014, at the Museum of London Docklands. But the Fox Talbot print will only be on display for the first month. It's free to enter. The entire museum is well worth a trip, and I recommend indulging in a mojito in Rum & Sugar when you've finished.

Juxtaposition: London past and present in pictures

I'm a big fan of the Museum of London. It panders to my penchant for Romans, hosts very interesting exhibitions, and has a great app to guide you around the city itself: Streetmuseum. To mark the launch of version 2.0 of Streetmuseum, the museum has released 16 gorgeous, ghostly images of the city, merging past with present. You can look over the Thames from Tower Bridge, from the 1920s on the left and the 2010s on the right; or stand on the corner of Long Acre and Neal Street (just about where Marks and Sparks is now), looking towards Covent Garden Tube station, 2010 on the left, 1930 on the right. It's wonderful to see how much London has, and hasn't changed. Palace Theatre, 1958, Bob Collins. A night shot outside the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, before an evening's performance.

The new version of the app has had 100s more city locations added to it, meaning that you can select a destination from a London map or let yourself be geo-tagged to your present location. Then a historical image of London will appear on your screen and you can expand it to learn about where you are. Most of these are in central London, but some are in its outer reaches, too.

Charing Cross Road, c.1935, Wolfgang Suschitzky An evening street scene outside Foyles book shop on Charing Cross Road, c.1935.

The photos range in date from 1868 to 2003 and were taken by photographers including Henry Grant, Wolfgang Suschitsky, Roger Mayne, and George Davison Reid.

Cheapside, 1893, Paul Martin. A street seller of sherbert and water is photographed  on Cheapside completely unawares of the camera.  Paul Martin was the first photographer to roam around the streets of London with a disguised camera taking  candid pictures such as this solely for the purpose of showing 'life as it is'.

The app is free to download to your iPhone and is available now.

Victoria Station, 1950, Henry Grant.

Tower Bridge, c. 1930, George Davison Reid

Another Olympus Image Space pop-up event

Olympus' second pop-up event, Image Space @ Icetank, kicks off on Saturday 2 November in London's Covent Garden. A series of activities has been scheduled that includes workshops, talks, debates, and interviews. There will also be opportunities to go hands-on with Olympus' new OM-D E-M1. Sessions include the chance to assist Damian McGillicuddy when he photographs model Ulorin Vex on a commercial shoot, a discussion of the power of the personal photographic project, and an introduction to social media for photographers.

You can see the full run-down of of what's available and book yourself onto a session or two on the Olympus website. All of the sessions are free but you do need to reserve a place.

Olympus Images Space @ Icetank runs from 2 to 9 November 2013 at 5-7 Grape Street, LONDON WC2H 8DW.

Photo Mosaic - a free photography workshop for children

A participant at a previous Geffrye Museum photography event, by Hannah Salisbury (courtesy of the Geffrye Museum).

Photography workshops for kids are good. Free photography workshops for kids are even better. On Sunday 25 March, the Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch, London, will be offering a free afternoon of photography for young people aged between 11 and 19.

Participants will be working with a professional photographer to hone their skills, both with the camera and in the editing suite, and have access to the museum's objects - as well as themselves as portrait subjects - to create a series of 'tiles' that will be compiled to form a giant digital mosaic at the end of the day.

Sounds pretty good to me, especially as it won't cost a penny.

The workshop runs from 13:00 to 16:30. To register for a place, or to get more information, contact Vanessa Weibel at the Geffrye, by either email ( or telephone (020 7749 6013).

How much fun can you have with a giant water balloon?

If you think that the exploding water balloon thing has been done to death, no matter how awesome it looks in slow-motion, how about having a go at making a six foot version of one pop? And still filming your antics - you know, somersaults, jumping it on it from trees, that kinda thing - in slow-motion, obviously.

It's just what Gav and Dan, also known as the Slow Mo Guys, did over the summer. You can see for yourself the precise moment that the balloon gave up the ghost entirely, spewing its contents over their garden, and soaking them!

Now, it might be turning decidedly chilly here in London, but I'm still tempted to try this one. I wonder whom I can recruit to help me burst a giant water balloon? Hmmm.

July photo competition winner!

Champagne copy

Ooh we have sunshine in London! And it’s not just sunshine, it’s actually verging on the warm. So help yourself to a sherbet, or a glass of Pimm’s if you’re that way inclined, as we have a competition winner to announce. July’s theme was red in honour of my new dress (although it could quite equally be the thermometer right now) and the lovely guys at Fracture have supplied the prize. There were some cracking entries and we had a bit of a ding-dong when settling on the winner. But we got there.

Bubble, by Ivo Vuk

Many congratulations to Ivo for his picture ‘Bubble’. Get in touch, and we’ll sort out your prize for you.

And, seeing as it’s our competition and everything, and thought that we’d give an honourable mention, too. That goes to Vereesh for Gimme-Red.

Gimme-Red by Vereesh

Thank you for your gorgeous entries. We really do enjoy seeing what you come up with every month. August’s competition will be announced soon!

Astonishing astrophotography

Blazing Bristlecone, by Tom Lowe

I always thought that stargazing was best done in the desert, immersed in blackness, but the winners of the National Maritime Museum Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards have brought beautiful glimpses of the heavens to an exhibition at the museum in Greenwich. And not all these celestial images were shot on barren tundra, either.

The museum announced the winners of its annual competition this morning, and the exhibition—featuring all of the entries—runs from today until 27 February next year. Even better? Entry is free. But if you can’t make it to Greenwich, here’s a peek at the overall winner to whet your appetite.

Overall winner: Blazing Bristlecone, by Tom Lowe

Blazing Bristlecone, by Tom Lowe

To see all the winners, head over to the National Maritime Museum’s website, or of course visit the exhibition.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition runs from 10 September 2010 to 27 February 2011, 10:00 to 17:00 daily, at the National Maritime Museum, London, SE10 9NF.


Astrid Harrisson

The wonder that is the intergoogles allows everyone to exhibit their photos, whether it is on a Flickr stream, or on FaceBook, or on something like Shotblox. But it’s a bit different to seeing your photos made big and hanging on a gallery wall. However, for a handful of people who usually post their pictures on Flickr and FaceBook, they had the opportunity to see their work made big and hanging on a gallery wall last night.

London gallery theprintspace ran competitions over the course of a year, offering the opportunity for people to submit up to three photos a month to its FaceBook or Flickr groups. Each month the theme of the photos would change, and so would the professional photographer who selected the winners. The result is an intriguing mix of images.

There’s everything from beguiling landscapes to candid portraits through arresting still lifes. The only link between the images is how they were drawn together—by using social media—which means that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

I’d recommend heading over to Shoreditch for an hour to have a wander. It’s free!

SoShowMe runs from 3 to 15 September, 09:00 to 19:00, at theprintspace, 74 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DL.

Picture by Astrid Harrisson.

The Photographers' Gallery gets a refit

Photographers' Gallery

At a cost of £8.7 million, The Photographers’ Gallery in London will be ensconcing itself in a regenerative cocoon at the end of this month before emerging redeveloped, fully accessible, and with even more gallery space in time for Christmas 2011.

The refurbishment plans, drawn up by O’Donnell + Tuomey, include galleries across three floors, a floor dedicated to learning and resources, and moving the cafe and bookshop to the ground floor. All of this is a reduced version of the original plan that pretty much bulldozed the Ramillies Street building, but had to be scaled back when the Gallery couldn’t secure the £15 million of funding that it needed.

The Gallery won’t be going quiet during its facelift, though. It has organised a programme of events, projects, and talks that will take place in and around the Soho area of London where it is based. Its offices are moving into temporary accommodation and from here the Gallery will continue to sell its prints and offer access to as many of its resources as it can.

Whether or not the refurbishment will be enough to energise the Gallery, which has suffered criticism recently for being too narrow and out-of-touch—or even if it can survive being closed for 14 months—remains to be seen. But the plans do look very exciting.