On 31st May 1962 Howard Grey a photographer in his twenty’s, caught a bus to London's Waterloo Station to witness the latest arrival of Caribbean migrants off the famous ship SS Empire Windrush that had docked at Southampton that morning. The passengers were the last West Indian Immigrants to enter Britain before the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 came into force.
Carrying his Leica 3c with plenty of self rolled Kodak Tri-X Black & White film plus a rather battered Twin-Lens Rolleiflex camera, Howard Grey was amazed to notice that he was the only photographer at the scene, with the exception of a TV or Movietone news crew. Shooting the photographs was a trial in itself; there was ‘a bit of a scene’ remarked Howard, as he was the subject of suspicion and anxiety as the crowd became agitated at his presence. Additionally with the glass roof of the station still displaying remains of grime and smoke screen oil from WW2, the very low light conditions proved problematic. With no exposure meter, Howard had no alternative but to drop the shutter speeds to a 15th sec, hand held, and open the lens up to around f3.5 in the hope that he could capture something of the scene
Sadly the density of the film proved to be too thin for printing and only one single image was printed from all the rolls of film. “My father, also a photographer reassured me that there were definitely images on the film and that one day, I would be able to reveal those images,” explained Howard.
Earlier this year he was recommended the drum scanning services
of Metro Imaging. Particularly effective for high-end film applications the drum scanner is capable of capturing very subtle details in film originals, producing exceptionally smooth tonal gradients and a high level of shadow detail, perfect for Howard’s requirements. Finally, much to Howard’s delight after more than fifty years the full beauty and historical significance of the photos were finally revealed. The full series of black and white fibre based images
have now been printed and form his ‘Windrush’ collection that Howard hopes to have exhibited in the near future.
Howard Grey is a fourth generation photographer with over sixty years experience and has, with the assistance of Luke Thompson proof digitised over 10,000 of his negatives previously held in storage. With each stack of negatives came a different memory and another story.