Oslo – The City of Peace, Still

[…Oslo, Norway August 2011…]

A sad day for Norwegians. A blanket of roses filled the grounds of Oslo Cathedral as Norway mourns the victims of the massacre that took place on July 22, 2011.

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Oslo. The European city known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize has its own peace compromised just a few weeks ago when a car bomb exploded in front of the government quarters while a lone gunmen went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp in Utoya. This sort of violence I would expect anywhere else in the world, but it just seemed farfetched to me that it would happen in Norway. Suffice to say, this is one of the most horrific events in Norway’s peacetime history which left not only the Norwegians stunned, but also the rest of the world.
[…Read more about Oslo…]

The Tree in Trafalgar Square

You’ve probably watched or read the news about the student protests in London the other day, which turned pretty violent, even putting Prince Charles and Camilla in harm’s way as they drove down Regent Street. Students rallied the streets hours after the House of Commons announced a triple tuition hike in universities. They even set fire to the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square which fortunately police had stopped before it completely burned down. See: Student protesters set fire to Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

I had planned on shooting the tree at Trafalgar Square the same night, and had been looking forward to it since the lighting ceremony last week, but decided to do it the next day. Reading the news that night, I was worried that the tree would not be there anymore, but still went to see it anyway. Getting there the next day, clean-up crew and repairmen were on the scene fixing the lights on the Christmas tree while I patiently waited. Even with a back-up plan, I still had my mind set on this. Fortunately, they had the tree back to normal in time for twilight, which was just before 4 p.m. Inspite of that, I still found it challenging to shoot there as there were many distractions: scaffolding on the left side of the National Gallery, the work crew had not left yet, and some news reporters and carolers were on one side of the tree setting up stage. Not to mention, the light in the sky was not ideal. But I did manage somehow.

The Trafalgar Square tree is typically a 50 to 60-year old Norwegian spruce and stands about 20 meters tall. It is an annual gift of Norway as a token of gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during World War ll.

At the base of the tree stands a plaque, bearing the words: "This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45. A tree has been given annually since 1947."

The famous fountains of Trafalgar Square were originally constructed to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar against Napoleon. The two fountains feature mermen and mermaids alongside dolphins, sculpted in bronze.

Looking down to Big Ben from the steps of the National Gallery.

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