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Way out




I guess like many night photographers, the idea of finding, exploring and shooting a great tunnel really appeals. This tour, organised by TfL (Transport for London), could've gone a long way to addressing that but for their insane decision to ban DSLRs from the station.


You might already have read about it, it's been trending on twitter and there's a lot of negative stories on various photography forums.


Here's the tale, with a little bit of opinion thrown in.


TfL uses the location for training and alongside that they manage to fit in some film location work. Like, it's the station that appeared in V for Vendetta and Die Another Day. Generally, though, it's closed to the public.


When the idea of tours was thrown around in the TfL office, someone obviously twigged that tours without photography would be a non-starter. The visitors on location backed that up, with every couple- and it was mostly couples- on our tour carrying at least one imaging device. At the same time, the corporate bods must've figured that with photo sharing at a high, lots of high quality images floating around the web would do harm to future tours. Why does that matter? £20/ ticket x 2500 tickets (TfL stats) makes quite a compelling argument.


So, what to do? A ban on DSLRs is the only option that's logistically possible to enforce but with very capable compact-looking cameras available like the M9 (haha) or the more realistic X100/ PEN/ GF1 units it doesn't stack up.


On location, the notices (and staff) gave little away, claiming the DSLR ban was due to "their combination of high-quality sensor and high resolution". A TfL employee I spoke to after the tour said it was due to them wanting to disallow urbexers from high quality images which could provide information about access points for illicit entry.


Subsequently, in a statement to The Verge TfL has expanded their actions saying: "there was not a ban on taking photos during tours. However, there were restrictions on professional cameras and tripods because we were concerned that people using them could delay the tours for others, as it was a very tight schedule."


Smacks of an excuse to me.


First of all DSLRs are de rigeur these days, used as an everyday imaging device by countless people. That doesn't mean that every DSLR user is an avid photographer seeking to get the cleanest possible shot at great lengths.


Discount the guys who bought a DSLR because that's what the man in the shop said they should buy and you're left with those who bought one consciously, to record great pictures. Within that group there will be users who are unable to approach a situation pragmatically; who don't see the potential in live documentary or abstraction, but these guys will be far outnumbered by those who can quickly line up their shot in the knowledge that an errant leg, arm or head can be dealt with in PP.


In the absence of owning a compact I had it in mind to take the D300 w/ 35mm f/2 and bluff 'n' blag my way through. Mother-in-law came to the rescue (how often can you say that?) with her Sony CyberShot thingy, the results from which are what you're seeing here.


Given their inferior quality, I felt compelled to upload my images in their highest resolution... also thought it might be a good time to experiment with the whole Creative Commons licensing model...


Feel free to download and share as you deem fit - know any urbexers? :)

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Taken on December 4, 2011