Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Brian Micklethwait on Miguel aligns his message with his van
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Michael Jennings on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Brian Micklethwait on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
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Most recent entries
- Matt Ridley on the educational discoveries of James Tooley
- The Dome and Tower Bridge aligned
- I never thought that we could win
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- The wonderful things they’re doing with plastics nowadays
- The Big Parliament Tower and the Shard as seen from the Westminster Cathedral Tower
- 240 Blackfriars behind some reinforced concrete that is being demolished
- John Croft: Composition is not research
- The cuddly killer
- Strand Palace Hotel footbridge
- Harley Davidson - woman playing gramophone records
- Wooden Citroens and black baby dolls
- Brittany lighthouses
- Citroen correction
- When the people are the Art
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Category archive: Cranes
All regulars here (such people do exist) know that I love an alignment, of two London Big Things.
So. Tower Bridge. You see that in plenty of photos. The Dome. Ditto. But how often do you see them in the same photo, right next to one another? I just tried googling “Tower Bridge The Dome”. Nothing. All I got was pictures of each, separately, (mostly Tower Bridge), and lots of instructions about how to get from one to the other on foot, on the tube, etc.
So, take a look at this:
Just to be sure we know what we are talking about, here is a square of detail, from another closer-up shot of the same alignment:
In the middle there we see the top of the northern tower of Tower Bridge. And just to its left, as we look, through a gap in the big Docklands towers, we see a clutch of cranes, yellow, red and grey. Except, the yellow cranes are not cranes. They are the spikes of the Dome, and the Dome is the white expanse below the cranes and the spikes.
It took me quite a few visits to the top of the Tate Modern Extension, from where these shots were taken, and quite a few looks at the photos that I had taken, to work out that this particular photo was there to be photoed. I don’t claim that my photos are photo-perfection. They merely prove that all you Real Photographers out there, who might want to improve on the bridge camera quality of my efforts, can now get up there and do just that.
Photoed in January of this year. from the top of the tower of Westminster Cathedral:
The Parliament website says that the tower above, the big one with lots of pointy bits, is called the Victoria Tower, but I’ve never heard it called that. For me, it’s the Big Parliament Tower.
Anyway, whatever you call it, there it is, with the Shard beside and behind. Very sweet alignment, I hope you will agree.
While categorising this posting, I had to check the picture to see if there are any cranes. Of course there are cranes. In shots like this, there are always cranes.
There are also two major London hospitals in the shot. On the left St Thomas’s Hospital (the building on which it says “St Thomas’s Hospital"), on the far side of the river. On the right, further away, bigger, next to the Shard, Guy’s.
If I take a photo like this …:
… then I am liable to feel quite a lot of affection for the spot from which I took it. Big Things. Cranes. Roof clutter. A lit-up sign with news about a cricket game. Advertising, including even an advert for the excellent City A.M. (bottom right). True, it’s a bit gloomy. But that only makes the cricket score shine all the brighter.
Here, below, is a photo of the spot that I took the above photo from:
Yes it’s the Oval Pavilion. There is now sunshine, going sideways because by now it is the evening. Surrey have narrowly defeated Notts and all is well with the world, unless you were supporting Notts.
Here is another photo which I took a year later, from almost the same spot. Just sitting a bit further back:
Judging by the next photo I took, I must have surveyed the scene. 240 Blackfriars. St Paul’s. Yellow cranes. Yes, let’s take a closer look at those yellow cranes:
However, since taking all of the above (and a great many more (to say nothing of vans outside)) I have taken also to visiting another excellent Big Thing viewing platform, namely the one at the top of the Tate Modern Extension.
And when I looked more closely at the above photo of the yellow cranes, I observed this:
Still the yellow cranes, but this time we can also see the Tate Modern Tower much more clearly. And the Tate Modern Extension is right behind a new block of flats, one of the ones already referred to in this earlier posting, about how you can see right into these new flats from the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform.
So, if I could see parts of the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform from the top of the Oval Pavilion, it ought also to be possible to see the top of the Oval Pavilion from parts of the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform.
And so it proved. On my first expedition to the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform, I had given no thought to the Oval Pavilion. But on my second visit, having scrutinised my Oval photos in the manner described above, I tried to photo the Oval Pavilion. A lot, because I couldn’t myself see it properly.
On the right, in green, the famous Oval Gasometer.
Here, in case you are in any way unsure, is the Oval Pavilion:
For the last few days, I have been asking myself why I so much relish little visual duets of this sort. Liking A, liking B, seeing A from B, seeing B from A. Why am I so diverted by this? Rather than answer this question, I will just leave it, for now, at putting the question. I have the beginnings of some answers meandering about in my head, but they can wait.
Yesterday - yesterday morning - I visited the top of the Tate Modern Extension again. I went in the morning because I needed the light coming from the direction it comes from in the morning, for reasons that I may (although I promise nothing) explain at some future date in some future posting. Also, the weather forecast forecast a lot of light yesterday. It was right about this, because it is right about everything.
I took about seven hundred photos, of which I suppose about two hundred or so were each good enough to display here. But which to show? And to illustrate what opinion? So many photos. So many opinions.
After many minutes of failed deciding, I eventually decided on one almost at random. This:
At the centre point of this photo is Centre Point, now kitted out in its revamp costume. It doesn’t look like that normally, and soon it will (I presume) be back to looking as it always did.
Once again, we observe the Wembley Arch, this time supplying the backup visuals for a crane.
I linked from the latter posting to this Evening Standard piece about this building, which includes this:
The material of the coloured walls is glazed ceramic, assembled out of thousands of individual pieces. This material will barely fade and is self-cleaning in the rain, so will look much the same as it does now for decades
Good to know. This is the kind of thing that Renzo Piano tends to get right.
I also like the little orange box, presumably for getting revamping materials to all the parts of Centre Point that need it.
How soon before Centre Point itself bursts into colour?
I’m actually rather surprised that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often:
The story is that a lorry with a digger on the back of it drove under a bridge, but the digger hit the bridge and broke half of the bridge off so that it fell on the road below, or to be more exact, onto another lorry, also going under it at the time. A motorcyclist was nearly killed, but wasn’t.
Cranes helped to clean up the mess:
One of the scarier things about all this, if I understand what has happened correctly, is that half the bridge is still sticking out over the motorway, and traffic is even now passing underneath it:
Is that right? And if that is right, is that .. you know … right?
Here in London, when a pedestrian sees a red light saying don’t walk across a road, it usually looks something like this:
Or like this:
Those being from the archives.
But yesterday, I was in a place where the corresponding red lights look like this:
Definitely horse-riding country. Although, perhaps strangely, I saw no real horses.
I was in that part of outer London known as Epsom. Having disembarked from a train at a station called Tattenham Corner, I found myself in … Tattenham? … and then kept on for a bit and emerged, just like that, into the open countryside. And I saw things like this:
That being, I’m pretty sure, in the foreground, the actual, original, Tattenham Corner, around which the horses and their riders go, in races.
But if, instead of making your way towards that big grandstand to watch the racing, you instead turn right, up a slight hill, through various clumps of trees, you eventually come out the other side of these trees, and you find yourself enjoying a distant view of London.
I did not come to Epsom in order to photo pedestrian lights or sporting architecture, although I did do this. What I came to Epsom to photo was scenes like this:
And like this:
And like this:
When I took these shots, the scenes I was shooting were so far away that it was very hard for me, with my ever more terrible eyesight, to work out what I was photoing. I only learned that I had photoed The Wheel when I looked at that shot on the screen of my camera and enlarged it, and hey, that looks like The Wheel.
As for Wembley Arch, I do vaguely remember thinking that I saw a shape that might be that, but I wasn’t sure until I got home.
And even then, these distant views of London weren’t that good, on account of being too distant and my non-SLR camera being too primitive. Epsom is a long way away from London.
The above explains, as not promised in the previous posting, why I was in Croydon yesterday. Getting by train from London to Tattenham Corner meant, for me, going from Victoria to East Croydon, and then changing to the Tattenham Corner train.
I half had in mind to break the journey back to Victoria at Battersea Park station, which also has fine views of London’s Big Things, but I slept through Battersea Park, and anyway, it was getting dark.
Today I was in Croydon. Not for long, but I was in Croydon. While in Croydon I took photos.
Like this one, of No. 1 Croydon:
And like this one, of a buildlng which was being modified, but whose name I did not catch:
Why was I in Croydon? I had my reason. More tomorrow, or some day, or maybe never. I promise nothing.
Taken from the top of my block of flats, in April:
The cranes, of course, are quite close. The Shard is way over on the other side of the River. I’m not sure what the building is.
I think it’s the colours that made me pick this one to show here. The near white of all the solid objects, and the dark grey of the sky.
My blogging time this evening was totally bent out of shape by – surprise, surprise – a game of cricket. This went on for longer than I expected, and it seeed and sawed hither and thither. Sangakkara scored a brilliant hundred. Jade Dernbach also did important things for Surrey. And Surrey won. It was like I was there!
Sangakkara’s brilliance is well explained in this report of the game. But Dernbach deserves a bit more immortalising than his performance might otherwise get. First off, he took three top order Northants wickets, including those of Levi and Duckett, both dangerous, for small scores. And just as in that game in 2015 against Notts, the penultimate over that Dernbach bowled, and the contrast between it and the penultimate over of the Surrey innings, also involving Dernbach, proved crucial.
In the penultimate over of the Northants innings, Dernbach conceded just two runs, after the over before that one had gone for eighteen. And he got the wicket of his opposite number – the Northants number eleven, Azharullah – with the last ball of that penultimate over, thus ending a troublesome last wicket stand, and denying Kleinveldt one final over of tumultuous hitting, because thanks to Dernbach getting Azharullah there was no final over. Kleinveldt might have got a century, and Northants might have got three hundred. As it was, Kleinveldt had to be content with 76, and Northants with 276.
But whereas Northants had scored two off their last two overs, with one wicket left at the beginning of the second last over, Surrey, also with only one wicket standing, found themselves needing twenty four off the last two overs to win the game. Dernbach was batting alongside Sanga, and thanks in no small part to Dernbach, Surrey did win. Dernbach scored eight, including a much needed boundary during that penultimate over, and the rest of his runs in singles of the sort that got the strike back to Sanga. And Sanga did the necessary slogging and won the game for Surrey with an amazing six during the last over and a four off the last ball of the match. But Dernbach’s support was vital. He played a few shots and did not get out.
Here is a not very dramatic picture I took of Dernbach at the Oval, at the game I attended last month, just after he had taken three top order Gloucester wickets in that game:
And here is a rather better picture that I took, during that game in 2015, of a picture someone else took of him, along with the Shard and a crane and a gasometer:
Perhaps one reason Dernbach played so very well in this evening’s game is that he is now, what with being quite old, a one-day specialist. If Surrey had lost this game, I’m pretty sure that that would have been the end of his season, because Surrey would have been knocked out of this fifty overs tournament, and have already been knocked out of the twenty overs tournament.
My today has been complicated by me having to wait to get my computer back, and then having to do other stuff with it. This left blogging, if not to the last minute, to about the last hour or so.
Last Friday I mentioned an advantage to you of me posting photos here, rather than words, which is that photos take up less of your time if you decide you don’t like the look of them. Another advantage, to me this time, is that posting photos is probably easier, for me, when I am knackered. Writing when tired involves dozens of things that might go somewhat wrong, but posting photos is a simple matter of doing an easy task, or failing to. There are no degrees of success or failure involved. With each photo, I either get one out of one or nought out of one, and even when I am tired, getting one out of one, although tiring, is entirely doable, and getting nought out of one is entirely correctable. If these words are confusing you, somewhat, this is because I am now tired.
The above photos were also taken last Friday, just before that earlier one was taken, of beautifully covered and nicely lit scaffolding.
The crane in the first picture (1.1) is the same crane as in the last picture (2.3). The scaffolding in the first picture (1.1) is the same as the scaffolding in the third picture (1.3). The picture featuring lots of chimneys and TV aerials was taken from near Victoria, but the crane and the new Big Thing in that picture are both on the other side of the river.
Indeed. I find sunsets hard to photo effectively. Photography is light, but the more that light, the thing itself, is what I am trying to photo, the less my pictures seem to see the amazing thing that I personally just saw. A sunset of truly spectacular vulgarity and garishness presents itself to me, and I snap away. But the snaps, although vulgar and garish, tend to have none of the extreme vulgarity and extreme garishness that I remember actually seeing.
Towards the end of last month, however, while awaiting a train at Bermondsey South railway station, I observed a sunset of an extremity so extreme that this extremity managed to communicate itself to my camera.
Here are two of the eight or so pictures I took of it.
Also involved was … a Shard …:
… and a crane and a BT Tower:
Actually, the crane and the BT Tower can also be seen in the top of these two snaps, the bottom one basically being a closer-up version of the left of the top picture, homing in on the BT Tower, and ignoring the Shard. The reason I include both is because they actually present two distinct takes on the sunset. In the top picture, we get that weird slab of purple cloud, and the Shard. In the bottom picture, there is no Shard, and that’s not good, but by zeroing in on the weirdest bit of the sunset, I show you that in all its weirdness.
I regularly photo sunsets, as I say, but I seldom show the results here, partly because my photos just don’t seem to do the sunsets justice, but also because sunsets are routinely photoed by far better photographers than I am, who give far more thought to the technicalities of photoing sunsets than I do. Type “sunset” into google, specifying that you want images, and … well, you get the pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. What on earth can I add to all this? Very little indeed. However, the above two sunset photos of mine do not look out of place in this company.
It is noticeable how the most effective sunset photos often have other things on show besides the mere sunshine, clouds etc. Often the things in question are animals of some sort, in silhouette. Or trees. Or people. My silhouetted things are of course a couple of London’s Big Things. And a crane.
Last Tuesday was ferociously hot by English standards.
The first thing I noticed, when I stepped into the inferno that was outdoors, were those windows which are not windows. (1)
I was at Waterloo because my officially designated destination was to check out the state of this view:
I took that photo in July 2004, with a now antique Canon A70, through a window, hence those unfortunate reflections.
Because it was a rather dirty window, this photo also emits a rather antique-photo atmosphere, like it was taken in the very earliest days of colour photography, an atmosphere greatly reinforced by the subject matter. Right in the middle of that snap is a bunch of back-to-back terrace houses. Where are we? Somewhere in The North? No, we are looking out on a little bit of London near Waterloo Station, a strange clutch of houses left untouched by either bombing or Modern Architecture. All around this antiquated patch of otherness, Modern Architecture is springing up, beating its chest and yelling for attention. But the thing itself is an unsullied little set of dwellings that would not be out of place in a DH Lawrence TV adaptation.
Here is how the same view looked last Tuesday:
No dirty window, no reflections, because I managed to get my camera through a small window opening out into the open. Also, my latest camera takes a broader view of things, which means that the stubby tower in the 2004 photo has become slimmer, and more of the horizon is to be seen. The Oxo Tower, for example, has moved into view.
The most obvious change is how 240 Blackfriars now blocks out so much. Tate Modern, Tate Modern Extension, and a large chunk of the City, all blotted out.
The place where I took these photos, from the outside, in 2004 as now, looks like this:
Just before taking the new version of the back-to-backs view, I took another photo, through another window off to the right of the ones you see in the above photo, the one of the Wheel and the cranes and the clutter in this earlier posting about a cricket match. (3) Which makes this the forth posting involving photos taken on that expedition.
My entire day today was bent out of shape by a cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire. Surrey were trying to bowl out Hants and win, but the pitch was a belter and a draw was the likely result all day long. Nevertheless, every time the day looked like it had died, Surrey took more wickets. It reached six down, and Surrey were in with a chance. But then there was yet another long stand, by two Hampshire guys, in a match distinguished by long stands. The game had begun with a stand of over two hundred by the Surrey openers, and the Surrey first innings ended with another two hundred stand, unbroken, between the Surrey wicketkeeper and the Surrey captain, Gareth Batty. So today, Hampshire six down, with the game nearly over.
But then, Batty suddenly got a couple more wickets in the same over, bringing his total for the innings to six and his total for the match to eight, and then Stuart Meaker got another, and suddenly Hampshire were nine down. Could Surrey finish it? Earlier in the season, they got another side nine down but then got beaten by a big tenth wicket stand, so nothing was done and dusted until it was done and dusted. But then Meaker got the final wicket, and it was done and dusted.
The two photos I showed at Samizdata were chosen for their content, not their artistic expression. Here is one of my favourite photos, from the artistic expression point of view, that I took yesterday:
Mmmmmm. Cranes. And roof clutter. And The Wheel.
While out and about taking snaps like that, I was also following the Hampshire v Surrey game on my mobile. When I left my home, Hampshire were nearly all out in their first innings, and Surrey were on course to get them in again and get stuck into their second innings. But while I was drowning my sorrows in photography, Hampshire’s last wicket pair were frustrating Surrey for the last hour and a half of the day, and Hampshire still hadn’t lost their last wicket at close of play. This morning, the stand went on, only ending with a run out. Like I say, this was a match which Surrey always deserved to win, but you never thought they actually would. And then: they did.
Yesterday, I was opining that you shouldn’t let yourself be at the mercy of popular culture, to the point where you start getting angry about sequels and remakes, in this case the remake of Ghostbusters. But this is the fate of every true sports fan. He is at the mercy of events entirely controlled by others, and is doomed to constant disappointment. But, I suppose, there are enough good days, like today was for me, to make it a satisfactory bargain.
And I really am a true Surrey fan. While Surrey were piling up the runs on the first day of this game, England were busy being bowled to defeat by Pakistan. And while this was happening, I was wondering how many Surrey wickets I would surrender to cancel out England wickets. It turned out: hardly any.
So here, to celebrate, is another photo I took, last year, when I actually went to watch Surrey play:
That being Gareth Batty. Man of the Match, and Surrey’s Man of the Season so far.
LATER: Cricinfo agrees:
Batty was not so much leading from the front as picking up those around him, yapping under the helmet and then getting the job done himself. A century in the first innings began his work before two for 78 in the Hampshire reply was bested by a sensational six for 51 in the follow-on. Throw in Stuart Meaker’s reverse swing addled 18 overs of four for 40, and you wonder where the doubt in obtaining a result came from.
But with 10 overs left in the day, hope had all-but gone. At the end of Batty’s 24th over (56th of the match) he walked duck-footed to mid off, shoulders slunk, cap in hand, dreading what might be. Of all long-form cricket’s gut punches, the handshakes after a drawn fixture take the most out of a skipper who has spent the last few hours on top. And Batty’s side had been ahead for the last three days.
Summoning one last push, Batty returned to take two in his next over. Lewis McManus, having started the day with bat in hand, looked like he would finish it, too. But, after six hours and 21 minutes of crease time across both innings, he was finally dismissed to a fast arm ball. Three balls later, Andrew’s outside edge was found with a perfect off spinner. It was left to Meaker to finish things off. Late movement into the right hander did for Gareth Berg, before Mason Crane was the recipient of a bouncer that would haunt the most weathered opening batsmen, let alone a 19-year-old number 10.
Surrey currently sit outside the relegation zone, 10 points away from Nottinghamshire, who have replaced them in the bottom two. Even if Hampshire were to win their game in hand with full bonus points, they would only go one ahead of Surrey. It bears reiterating: rarely will you see a side work so hard to achieve a four day win of this magnitude.
Read the whole thing.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there I was, making my first visit to the Tate Modern Extension, and photoing from the top of it: Big Things, cranes, roof clutter, bridges, churches dwarfed by modernity, and so forth and so on, but I made no mention of other photographers. Did I perhaps ignore them?
This was the first picture I took of the new building when we arrived in its vicinity, not of the whole building, but of some people at the top of it, taking photos:
And when I got to the top myself, I was keen to photo more of my fellow photoers, and I did:
The first and last of those nine photos are of people taking photos of the building. All the others are, as you can surely see, of people taking photos from the building, from that excellent top level aperture.
Almost entirely smartphones. I didn’t pick them out that way. That’s just how it turned out. The only non-smartphone camera is in the top picture, the one taken from the ground, and even he has a smartphone snapper next to him.
There are some excellent photos of the new Tate Modern Extension to be found here, this one being number 3 of the big pictures at the top of that posting:
As that picture shows very well, they’ve stuck a big lump onto the back of the Original Tate Modern, which is the Big Thing with the big tower on the left as we look. Tate Modern itself calls this new lump, on the right, the “Switch House”, which may or may not catch on as the real name of this thing. We shall see.
The new lump is a sort of cross between a modernistic erection from the Concrete Monstrosity era of Modern Architecture and a Crusader Castle. The structure is concrete, but the surface is brick, just like Original Tate Modern. And very handsome it looks, to my eyes. Those thin windows suggest to me people who want to be able to fire arrows at you, while being much harder to hit themselves. An appropriately belligerent metaphor for the still somewhat fraught relationship between Modern Art and the surrounding culture.
What that set of pictures at Dezeen does not wallow in is what you can see from the new Tate Modern Extension, and especially from that bigger opening at the top, the one without glass. That is indeed what it looks like from below. It is a viewing gallery. I never quite believe arrangements like that until I have personally sampled them. What will it cost? Do you have to book? Is there a lot of airport security crap to get through? Etc. But all the answers were good. It’s free, there is no security theatre to contend with, and the viewing gallery was everything that it promised to be.
I was up there with GodDaughter 2 last Sunday afternoon, and trying not to ignore her completely. Plus, the place was about to close. So I was very much in we’ll-look-at-it-when-we-get-home mode. But I got some good snaps, which at least inform you of the sorts of views you get up there, even if they don’t always hit the spot for artistic impression:
Big Things. Cranes. Roof clutter. Bridges. Churches dwarfed by modernity. BMdotcom heaven, in other words. Click at will.
LATER: Or, even better (much better actually), click on this.