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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Design

Tuesday October 17 2017

I love cranes, especially those big tower cranes they use to build Big Things.  So tall. But so thin.  But they do trouble me.  How do they stay up?  Why don’t they ever fall over?  Well, they do, sometimes.  But mostly they don’t.

And, as I couldn’t help noticing when I was out and about last Sunday, these tower cranes often lean over, in a way that looks like it is asking for headline-making trouble.

Consider one of these cranes, the one on the right, that’s leaning over, about four degree off of the vertical.  How does that not fall over?  (Thank you vertical lamp post for telling us what vertical is.)

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Well, I’m guessing these people know what they’re doing.  No, scrub that, I’d be amazed if they didn’t know what they’re doing.  This kind of thing just has to be business as usual, no matter how crazy it may look to mere passers-by.  As I discovered when I went looking for other leaning cranes in my photo-archives, and I found one that I had photoed just an hour earlier, on the same walkabout:

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I think we may assume that the BT Tower is the very definition of vertical.

In each case, the crane is bent backwards by the big concrete blocks that compensate them for the lifting job they do with the other end of their tops.  But when no lifting is happening, the compensating weight has no weight to compensate … it.  And the result can look very scary.

No London cranes have been reported collapsing during the last few days.  So, like I say, no problem.

Friday October 13 2017
Saturday September 30 2017

I recently referred, with an accompanying photo, to the resistance that reinforced concrete puts up when the time comes that machines destroy it rather than create it.  But the photo in that posting was basically of a machine that was doing the destroying, rather than of much in the way of the resisting concrete.

This photo, taken during the summer of 2016 in the vicinity of the then only beginning to arise One Blackfriars (aka The Boomerang), the big new Big Thing now nearing completion on the south side of the river:

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Concrete is good under compressioin.  The steel reinforcing rods are strong in tension.  But the steel reinforcing rods don’t crumble when assaulted.  They bend.

Friday September 22 2017

Today I had a taste of what my life would be if I had the Sky TV cricket channel.  (It would be over.) I watched Surrey play Somerset on the live feed from the Oval which comes complete with the BBC’s sound commentary. I had all sorts of plans for today, but managed to get very little else of consequence done.

Surrey spent their day trying to ensure that they avoided all possibility of being relegated from Division One of the County Championship.  When they finally managed to defeat Somerset, they found themselves lying second in Division One.  Division One contains eight teams, two of which will be relegated, and it’s all rather close, apart from Essex, who have already won, and Warks, who have already been relegated.  So, a very strange day, but ultimately a very good one.

So, quota photo time:

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Yes, it’s a still life, with condiments instead of old school food in old school containers.  Little Big Things, you might say.  Photoed five years ago, in a cafe only a very short walk away from the Oval.

Thursday September 21 2017

imageClick on the thumbnail on the right to see why I’m presenting this photo to you, as a thumbnail.

Photo taken outside (as you can probably work out) Westminster Abbey in December 2015.

Tuesday August 29 2017

Roofs?  Rooves? Apologies if roofs sounds wrong to you, but it now sounds a bit better to me.  English eh?  What can you do?

Anyway, yes, the roofs(ves?) … of London Bridge Station, newly erected, as photographed from on high (from a helicopter) by on high specialist Real Photographer Jason Hawkes:

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That being another of the Real Photographs in this collection, featured here already, a few days ago.

To get that bigger, you’ll have to follow the first link above.  I’m guessing that Jason Hawkes might not be bothered at me showing a smaller version of one of his Real Photographs, but that he might be miffed if I appropriated a far bigger version.

What I, and I am sure many others, find entertaining about these roofs is how they look more like a work of Mother Nature than of Man.  No straight lines anywhere, and no two curvey lines exactly the same.

When I was up at the top of the Shard with GodDaughter 2, way back when we were, I also photoed these roofs, which makes sense because they are right next to and at the bottom of the Shard:

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That one, after I had done lots of post-production on it with my Photoshop clone, came out looking okay, although before all that it was looking very iffy.  Amazing how much “sharpen”, for instance, sharpens.

This next one, on the other hand, although a fine view, is ruined as any sort of attempt at Real Photography by that great slab of reflection, bottom left.  No Real Photographer would dream of standing behind shiny sheets of plate glass of this kind:

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With a lot of rotating and some sharpening, I rescued, from the original above, the revised version below:

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But you miss out on the big picture with that, I think.

Somehow, you need to be able get rid of those damn reflections.  Hire a helicopter?  Get a drone?  Helicopters are all fine and dandy for the likes of Jason Hawkes, but the complications of all that would be way beyond me.  Besides which, it’s the cheap shots that we can all take that interest me the most.  For me, throwing money at photography removes a major slice of it’s deeper meaning.  Which is: We can all now do this!

So, how about doing what this guy was doing?:

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This was my first visit to the top of the Shard, but I’m guessing he was not having his first visit.  He did what I did, first time around.  On his first visit, just like me, he took a lot of photos with lots of reflections in them.  But then, he returned, with a possible answer that he had made a point of bringing with him.

What this guy did looks promising, but I reckon I could maybe improve on this.  The problem this guy still has is that he still has his camera and worse, his bright and lightly coloured fingers, all out there in front of his big black rectangle.  What is needed is a big black rectangle with a hole in it, through which to poke the camera.  That would surely defeat the reflections much more completely.  And, unlike with his arrangement, you’d still be able to see what your picture was consisting of, because you’d still be able to see it on the screen or through a viewfinder (if you are viewfinder inclined, which I am not).

Unless of course you don’t want to defeat the reflections.

But, assuming you do, how big would such a rectangle have to be?  Would a rectangle small enough to fit easily into my bag be big enough?  I must do some experiments with a nearby shop window.

Monday August 28 2017

I like to photo buses with adverts all over them.  I consider the elaborate graphics involved to be of aesthetic interest.

Buses like this one, photoed in Tottenham Court Road on the same afternoon, just over a year ago, that I photoed the dfs Union Jack door that I just added to the posting below:

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Okay very pretty, but do what I did.  Take a closer look:

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What intrigues me about that is how it points up the contrasting reputations of the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie.  The Gherkin is clearly visible there.  But the Walkie Talkie is deranged by that clutch of ventilation holes, or whatever they are.  The advertising classes don’t do things like this by accident.  They like Lord Foster of Gherkin, but they do not like Rafael Vinoly of Walkie Talkie, and the same probably applies to most other people who know both of these Starchitects.  (I like both of them.) My sense is that Vinoly is reckoned to be too much the entrepreneur, too much the profit maximising businessman, too bothered with making buildings that make money, the way (so I hear it) the Walkie Talkie does and the Gherkin does not.  Vinoly, I surmise, is the Richart Seifert of our time, but on a global scale.

This is not the kind of thing you can prove very easily, and maybe I’m reading too much into a meaningless piece of graphics.

Well, I’m tired, I’ve had a complicated day attempting other things, unsuccessfully, and this is what you are getting.  Also, there’s a really good test match going on.

Sunday August 27 2017

The first I photoed in Victoria Station, while waiting for a train, to go to visit some friends in south London and partake of a barbecue, which is why I have so little time to be doing a posting here:

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I like the contrast between the sun-drenched colours of the flag with the mostly monochromatic background.

And here is a Union Jack I photoed earlier, about a fortnight ago, in a shop window near where I live:

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In that box, designer spectacles.  Although, I didn’t find many Union Jacks at the William Morris London bit of the William Morris website.

I really like how Union Jacks now come in lots of different colours.

Are you supposed to put Union Jacks with capital letters?  I do this because it feels right to me, but maybe that’s wrong.

Google, however, now tells me that the rest of the world does this too.

LATER, another Union Jack, Tottenham Court Road, June 2016:

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I remember when dfs stood for dashed fine show.  Except that no, I don’t, because it didn’t.  But, it could have.  And should have.

Saturday August 26 2017

Jason Hawkes seems to have carved out a niche for himself as an aerial Real Photographer.  His latest clutch of aerial photos of London is headlined by the Daily Mail, with characteristic reticence and brevity:

London as you’ve never seen it before! Stunning aerial photos zoom in on top spots including the BBC Television Centre and Justin Bieber singing in Hyde Park

I like them all, but this is one of my particular favourites:

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I’ve occasionally tried to photo this very place, but I never got anything nearly as good as that.

My last construction industry question here got very well answered.  (The question was: what is this?)

So, are those yellow tubes are going to be replaced, by the building?  Or are they going to be part of the building?  Their yellowness makes them look, like the cranes, temporary.  But the way they are fixed to the side of the hole suggests something more permanent.  But then again, they don’t look like they are exactly straight (I’m looking especially at the ones on the left), the way they would (presumably) be if permanent.  My guess: temporary.

Friday August 25 2017

Just the one photo here today, today being a busy day for me.  I have a meeting this evening to prepare for, in my living room.  And because today is a Friday, which is the day of the week when I often feature animals of various kinds, this photo is a good choice, featuring as it does, two lions:

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Although this memorial is much photoed, that’s an angle on it that you don’t see quite so much.  This is the sort of photo that it is easy to take only if your camera has a twiddly screen, to enable you to hold your camera very low, but still know what you are photoing.  This was amongst the last photos I took with my old Lumix FZ200, the zoom process of which was already misbehaving.

More about this Crimean and Indian Mutiny Memorial here:

Opposite the west entrance of Westminster Abbey is a tall marble and stone column, erected in 1861 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, which remembers former pupils of Westminster School who died in the Crimean War 1854-56 and the Indian Mutiny 1857-58. At the top is a figure of St George slaying the dragon, carved by J.R.Clayton, with statues of St Edward the Confessor, Henry III, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, carved by J.Birnie Philip. Four lions flank the base ...

It’s interesting that monarchs feature so prominently on a war memorial.  By the time of WW2, the statuary either commemorates commanders, or their dead commandees.  You don’t get pictures or sculptures of the former on memorials devoted to the sacrifices of the latter.

And, given that monarchs are involved, it’s an interesting selection of monarchs.  I wonder who would have come fifth.  Henry of that number?  I further wonder, did the worship of Henry V only get into its stride rather later?  With that Olivier film, made during WW2?  Meanwhile, Henry III has faded in public esteem.

By the time of later British military dramas involving Napoleonic France, which would still have been personally remembered at the time this memorial was erected, the recognition all went to the likes of Nelson and Wellington, and the King’s brother, with the mere King himself getting very little public credit.  The statues reflect this.

My meeting tonight will be Nico Metten talking about libertarian foreign policy, i.e. about decidedly different foreign policies to the ones alluded to in this War Memorial.

Wednesday August 23 2017

This afternoon, I took this photo, or what looks like a miniature excavator being craned into the demolition-stroke-building site where New Scotland Yard is being dismantled, to make way for expensive SW1 apartments:

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And here is a full size bit cropped out of the above photo:

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The good news is that my new camera, even on this rather dull day, was getting details looking reasonably clear.  It looks like I have finally managed to press some of the right buttons.

The bad news is that I don’t know what that blackened-blue bit there actually is.  Is it the end of the arm of an excavator, but without the excavating attachment?  Or is it something quite different?  I’m guessing: the former.  I could find no trace of anything looking like this black-and-blue excavator appendage at this Kobelco website.

But, I did find this:

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That being a hammer attachment for, I presume, an excavator.  And if there can be a hammer attachment, there can be other attachments.  So, what I photoed was an excavator that could become whatever the choice of possible attachments makes possible.

I will probably never know what this excavator, or whatever it is, now is, no matter how often I pass by this site, because this excavator, or whatever it is, is now hiding behind a big old fence.

Oh well, no worries.  It was the camera that had been really bothering me.  This excavator, or whatever it is, was just a photo op.  There is something rather endearing about small machines being lifted hither and thither by a large machine.  Once it lands on the ground, my interest, not that strong to start with, ends.  Whether my new camera is taking decent photos, on the other hand, is a permanently concern.

Tuesday August 22 2017

About a week ago or less, I found myself in the vicinity of The Wheel.  The light was very good, with lots of sunshine and lots of lurid looking clouds.  So, I took photos.

Below are a clutch of The Wheel related photos.  My opinion of how to photo The Wheel is that you should combine The Wheel with other things.  Like graphic designs featuring The Wheel which are in the vicinity of The Wheel.  It’s the old modified cliché routine.

In this photo clutch, however, I do include one very old school photo of The Wheel.  It’s the photo I took of a postcard (1.2), which features The Wheel.  And look what the postcard calls The Wheel.  It calls it The Wheel: “The Wheel”.  None of this “London Eye” nonsense.  Do large numbers of people in other parts of the world call The Wheel The Wheel?  I do hope so.  And I hope that this habit conquers London.

The next four photos, after the postcard (1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3) are all of The Wheel reflected in a tourist crap shop.  And then 3.1 is of The Wheel reflected in a place, next door, that sells sandwiches.

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I like how I totally lined up the circular blue logo with The Wheel reflection, in 2.3.  Could I also have done something similar with the circular things in 2.1 and 2.2, in the latter case an actual picture of The Wheel.  I rather think that I tried, but couldn’t do that.  But, memo to self, return to this enticing spot, on a nice day, and see what I can do.

This is what I like about taking photos in London, rather than in some foreign spot that I am only going to be in once.  If, upon reflection back home, I suspect that I might have been able to do some of the photos better, I can, in London, go back to try to do this.

Tuesday August 15 2017

The idea of these O(ld) S(chool) B(logging) posts has been to rid my desktop of open windows, and I have been doing that.  But, perhaps because I have inevitably been opening more windows, my computer is still unpredictably pausing whenever it is asked to switch from one window to another.  So, my technology is letting me down.

But never mind, technology generally is leaping ahead, and here are a few links to stuff about 3D printing.

To start with, a link to an article about how 3D printing really is, now, finally, at last, going to find a use for itself, repetitively-but-with-variations, in the home.  Making toys.  But do kids these days go for Old School toys, that you keep in an Old School toy cupboard?  Surely all the action these days is on computer screens, screens that don’t, like my one at the moment, ever get stuck.  I say: 3D printers won’t make toys in the home, or not in any normal or sane homes.  There was only ever going to be one domestic toy associated with 3D printing, and that toy is the 3D printer itself.  That’s the toy.  For some crazy kid who is so fascinated by 3D printing that he wants to start doing it, and crucially, to start learning about it, now.  But, how much can you really learn about real 3D printing, by mucking about with a piece-of-crap “domestic” 3D printer?  Not a lot, I surmise.

The true impact of 3D printing is not turning out to be disruptive to Old School manufacturing.

The future of 3D Printing for the Supply Chain

3D printing is Quietly Thriving Without Mainstream Adoption

“Mainstream” adoption being people doing their own 3D printing at home.

Manufacturing continues to be done by Old School salaried boffins, working in well-funded projects for Old School manufacturing companies.  Each application is highly specialised, and has to be rigorously checked out to make sure that it works and is economical enough to roll out for real.  3D printing does not disrupt traditional supply chains and sales networks.  It makes use of these things and improves on them, additively, bit by bit, project by project, highly specialised printer by highly specialised printer.  It is additive manufacturing, in other words, in more ways than one.  It adds stuff together to make stuff, instead of sculpting stuff.  And it is itself adding to existing manufacturing arrangements.

All of which is pretty much what I said (or nearly said) in a Samizdata posting entitled 3D printing won’t be domesticated any time soon (but then again how it might), all of five years ago now.

Monday August 14 2017

The titles of these things were getting to be too long-winded.

So yes, the Camden Highline.

Bid to turn disused railway between Camden Town and King’s Cross into elevated ‘Highline’ park

Sadiq Khan throws weight behind Camden highline project

The official website.

Where they hope it will be, just north of the Regent’s Canal:

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Click on that to get it twice as big, and consequently (if your eyesight is anything like mine) legible.

Those little green circles are cameras.  Presumably this means good places for photography.  If and when they contrive this, I will definitely be checking it out.

Long moderately high platforms, even ones that are not very high, often supply great views, because you can walk along them until the great views appear.

Sunday August 06 2017

Yesterday’s posting featured photoers whom I photoed at the top of the Shard, last Friday.  But I saved the most striking looking photoer whom I photoed that day in that place for a separate posting in celebration of him, this being that that posting.  If this guy did not want strangers to photo him and celebrate him on the internet, then he made a big mistake when he made himself look like this:

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Next is a photo which shows the man’s hands and arms in a little more detail:

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And finally, this photo, which I include because it was the least bad photo that I took featuring the tattooed photoer, from the point of view of what we can see out in the big world of London beyond the Shard:

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In the top of these three photos, we can just about make out the Wheel, on the left.  In the second, we can just about discern the NatWest Tower (as was – now “Tower 42"), and also the top of the Walkie Talkie.  But this last photo is a lot easier to scrutinise for recognisable buildings.

Not that it’s a good photo of the scene.  In particular, that smudge of red in the middle would trouble a Real Photographer far more than it troubles me.  That would be the reflection of the tattooed photoer’s own shirt.