Published on 22-12-2009 by James Newman

Yesterday I lost a friend. A lot of people did. His name was Darren but you probably knew him as Downfallen.

He was the urban explorer extraordinaire and modern day superhero complete with a secret identity, who would surreptitiously gain access to building sites, scale the top of towers, and take some of the most stunning photography of London you've ever seen.

For me, his standout picture would be, although I'm sure many will disagree with me, the shot of the O2 shrouded in London fog taken from the top of Pan Peninsula in Docklands.

Wherever there was a tower under construction in London he had been. This wasn't so much a comment on poor security as he went everywhere no matter what the boundaries, with an endless enthusiasm to go places people don't normally get to far above us. In doing so whilst being such a talented photographer, he elevated the urban exploration hobby to art.

He took his love of heights further than that with a love of BASE jumping that saw him jump off the Burj Dubai setting a world record in the process and getting arrested immediately after, and of course, from Swiss mountains. It was here doing the latter that he died, not at the top of a tall building having broken health and safety rules, but simply by prematurely slipping and being unable to properly deploy the parachute he had on.

I last saw him two weeks ago. We talked about our skyscraper visits, comparing the official PR-led ones I experience to his unofficial sneaky trips that sometimes end with him jumping off a tall building like Batman. I got increasingly drunk and as I had to leave I went to bid him farewell.

Being out-of-it I was more honest than usual about both his talent and some of the dangers he put himself through saying he took chances and wouldn't be around forever. With his large body of stunning work I urged him to get a book published, although in a typically modest reply he said that just wasn't his style as he didn't want the fame.

Slurringly, to try and bolster my argument I found myself quoting Bladerunner. "All these moments will be lost like tears in the rain. You capture those moments, so please... do it," and then I headed off into the cold London night. With Darren's loss we'll get rather less of those beautiful moments.

There isn't much more I can add, particularly when the man himself summed it all up so much better only last month.

"I choose to live my life to a different tune of music, one which is not censored or wrapped up so much with a blanket of over regulation, Health and Safety gone mad (because these days it has), fear and blind compliance to anything you are told to do.. a blanket so thick, that you no longer can hear the music. If I'm injured, you'll hear me blaming only one person.. myself. It's acceptance of personal responsibility for my actions... a quality that's very much lacking in society these days."