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Picture of the Month English Perpendicular

By NYIP Staff on October 10, 2012


Photo by NYIP digital photography school Graduate Debbie Bellingham

English Perpendicular by NYIP Graduate Debbie Bellingham

This month's Picture of the Month, made by NYIP Graduate Debbie Bellingham of Horomorice, Republic of Czechoslovakia, is a timely one as it coincides with a great year for England, featuring Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics. It is, as Lincoln noted, that it is altogether fitting and proper that we do this: to share with our friends and allies "across the Pond" Her Majesty's great achievement.

So, Bellingham has given us a splendid view of London, featuring Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the Westminster Bridge. As an arcane footnote here let me add that none of these structures is actually in London. Rather, they are all in the Borough of Westminster, which is outside the boundaries of the City of London. But even the famed London Bridge is no longer in London but can be seen at Lake Havasu in Arizona. Don't ask me why; just accept the fact.

Many memories of ye olde London still remain intact. The Tower Bridge still stands, as does the Tower of London itself. That latter place houses not only the crown jewels but also is the same gloomy place where Ann Boleyn lost her head (not due to insanity but to the headman's axe). Rumor has it that her ghost stalks the Tower at the midnight hour "with her 'ead tucked underneath her arm". But you shouldn't believe everything you hear.

If, perhaps, I sound like an anglophile, I don't deny that. I've been to London four times, lived there one whole summer, and have also visited Scotland and Ireland as well. This photograph depicts that beauty of English architecture known as "English Perpendicular". We see it here in the Big Ben tower and in the adjacent Houses of Parliament. English Perpendicular is a form of High Gothic architecture, often characterized by tall narrow windows. If you are lucky enough to visit Britain you will find numerous examples of this style including Canterbury Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Cambridge University, Hampton Court, and numerous other important buildings. The Westminster Bridge, though, is Roman in style with more than a touch of Victorian-Gothic tacked on.

One of the difficulties when visiting London is that there is so much to see. If you're only there for a short visit you can't take it all in. So many palaces, so many monuments, so many museums and galleries, so much pageantry. But in a hasty attempt to see all of the above one may overlook the more commonplace but nonetheless equally interesting spots.

For example, there's a shop that makes custom-made umbrellas and walking sticks, including a sword cane to ward off ne'er do-wells. Or a cane whose handle can be unscrewed and leaving a small chamber that can be filled with one's favorite brandy. or you can (expensively) visit a Savile Row bespoke tailor, get some clothing made for yourself, and view the order books for clothes made for Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington, Prince Charles, and Laurence Olivier. Or go to a hatter by the name of Locke and see the order that Nelson placed for a tricorn hat; rumor has it that Nelson never picked up the hat nor paid for it. It seems that he was off for Trafalgar where he lost his life. As he himself put it: England expects every man to do his duty.

English Perpendicular by NYIP Graduate Debbie Bellingham

And while you're in Olde Blighty (or perfidious Albion, if you prefer) drop in at the "local" - the neighborhood pub. Have a pint of bitter beer (not especially cold) or a pink gin. And when the proprietor announces "time, gentlemen, please" he means it; the pub will close on schedule (or "shed-yule" as they say over there).

The photographer very carefully followed the standard NYIP Guidelines. First of all, there's the strong subject matter - the beauty of classic English architecture. Then, in order to focus attention on the subject, Debby Bellingham used framing in the form of the arch above Big Ben and also leading lines as the Westminster Bridge leads the eye directly to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Also, consider the lighting. The photographer has chosen to photograph the structures either in the early morning or late in the afternoon when the sun (something of a rarity in London) is low in the sky, thus using chiaroscuro for dramatic emphasis.

Finally, the picture has been simplified by using just four elements - the clock, Parliament, the bridge, and the arch. Oh, yes, don't overlook the seagull that was hired for the "photo op" and flown in specially from southern California. It's in just the right place at the right moment.