Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Patrick Crozier on Peter Foster on Robert Owen
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Brian Micklethwait on Standing on boxes to interview Irfan
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MarkR on Couple photoing their own shadows
Brian Micklethwait on A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
6000 on A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
ap on Anton Howes on the idea of (and the unstoppability of) technological innovation
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- Four towers joined together by two bridges
- Peter Foster on Robert Owen
- Quota Bald Blokes and Big Ben
- Less heat and more light
- Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
- Antony Flew on the Terrors of Islam
- Bell end?
- Couple photoing their own shadows
- Standing on boxes to interview Irfan
- What is this iceStone device?
- Filling in a Meaningless Triangle near Kensington High Street tube
- A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
- Going to Kings Cross to see gas holders
- The sexiest statue in London?
- Rain on netting
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Category archive: Cranes
Indeed. Today was a lot colder than of late, and a lot brighter than of late. I guess that happens when the clouds go away, in November. I was on my way out around midday today, and took these, the last one through a train window:
The first two are looking across Vincent Square, towards Victoria Street and at Westminster Abbey. The next three are of building work at the top end of Victoria Street, where there is not a lot of building work going on. And finally, Big Things, from the train out of Victoria.
I was very pessimistic about all the new stuff around Victoria Station, but that big spikey thing is looking very cool.
The first picture is the odd one out. No cranes.
Most clichés are true. Being true they get repeated and repeated, which is how they became cliches. But the cliché that it rains a lot in England is not true, at any rate not in my part of England. Rain in London is actually quite rare, and when it does rain it seldom lasts long. Heavy rain is very rare, which is why, when it happens, it causes excited headlines.
But, the weather is often cloudy and overcast. Thus for the last several days it has been almost entirely overcast, and very occasionally wet.
I have been mostly indoors, having one of my periodic attempts to tidy up. Photographically, I have done little, except remember sunnier days earlier in the year.
Here are four photos taken in June and July of this year, all of which involve sunshine in one way or another:
I love that weird effect you see when someone has been destroying reinforced concrete, combining jumbles of twisted metal rods and what can look like ancient rocks but which are really bits of concrete. The sunniest thing in that photo is me, in the form of my shadow. Nothing says bright light like a strong shadow.
All the other snaps involve - what else? - cranes. I especially like how bright light often strikes cranes. Usually, when I photo this, I get disappointingly toned down results. My camera presumably thinks that by eliminating dazzle it was helping, but dazzle is what I am often trying to photo. I want the light to be out of control and sloshing about all over the place. Bottom left is a rare exception to that tendency.
Bottom right is looking down Tottenham Court Road, at a crane and a Wheel, lit by sun, backed by dark cloud, a favourite effect. The strange and rather misshapen green house thing (which I like) is (I think) the top of the new Tottenham Court Road Crossrail-Tube Station.
It was something to do with the fact that it was unseasonably warm yesterday, which resulted in fog this morning in London, but only in patches. And the Evening Standard, which now keeps virtually ticking over at the weekend, reported on the various London fog photos people have been taking.
This, taken by this guy, is my favourite:
Cranes (and the Walkie-Talkie) in front of the fog. Shard stabbing through the fog.
Every so often I check out Jonathan Gewirtz’s photos, often because I am reminded to do this when I read Chicago Boyz, for which Jonathan writes. Yesterday, I found my way to this wonderful photo of the cranes of Miami. Because that photo has “Copyright 2013 Johathan Gewirtz” written across the middle of it, I looked for other Miami crane photos, and found this ( by “ozanablue"):
Then, I think my finger slipped. Anyway, something happened, and I found myself looking at another terrific Gewirtz Miami crane snap, also adorned with a Copyright notice, but from which I have sliced out this:
That slice is much smaller as well as much (vertically) thinner than the meteorologically imposing original. But, as is the rule here with anything I “borrow”, if JG sees this and wants even this small slice of his picture removed from here, it will be done pronto.
Those container ship cranes will surely be looked back at by historians as one of the great visual symbols of our time, to sum up all the peaceful material and trading progress that we as a species have been making in recent decades.
Shame our cranes of this sort are too far away from the centre of London for a picture of them to be able to include our Big Things as well. Because our Big Thing’s are better than Miami’s.
Talking of cranes, another English one attracting admiring attention is this one, who bowls leg spin for Hampshire. (Another spinner nearly won it for England today, in Abu Dhabi (where they also have cranes (they now have them everywhere important that’s next to the sea)).)
Man on horseback – and cranes
As quite often happens, some of the better pictures I took on my recent Richmond expedition were taken right at the beginning, near to where I live.
When I set out last Thursday, I found that a new bike lane is being constructed along my side of Vauxhall Bridge Road, which has caused my usual bus stop for making my way to Vauxhall Station to be abolished. On my way back, I discovered that this bus stop had simply been moved back up Vauxhall Bridge Road a bit. Had I turned right instead of left at Vauxhall Bridge Road that Thursday morning, I would quickly have found the relocated bus stop. Instead, I turned left, and walked across the river to the station.
With the result that I saw the strange sight of a man on horseback, beside the river (it was the final remaining one of these four). That having got me into the swing of photoing, I also, just before entering the station, photoed a rather fetching (because of the light lighting them and the sky behind them) crane cluster, craning away between Vauxhall and Waterloo.
The cranes, I decided, needed to have some buildings to their left cropped off of them, which turned the snap into a square. And the man on horseback also worked as a square. So, squares they are. Click on them, and you get bigger squares.
What I particularly like about the cranes is how vertical they mostly are.
I spent my blogging time today starting two different postings, both of which got longer and longer and are still not nearly finished.
Which only left me time for a quota photo, taken in April of this year.
LATER: 6k borrows the picture (which I am very happy about) and tells us more about the BT Tower.
Not very busy day today, tidying up from my Last Friday meeting last night, but I neglected this blog, until now, at which point I am too tired to really say anything.
When in that state, I trawl through the archives, recent and not so recent. And I just found this picture, taken in 2009:
What (I think) separates this from your average cheesy London sunset photo is the way that what’s left of the sunshine picks out one of the cranes, the one in the middle, just to the right of St Paul’s as we look. That’s in the middle suggests to me that photoing this crane was not accidental on my part. I was aiming at it.
I often see effects like this, when the sun sets fire to something, so to speak. (Apologies if you read this far hoping that a crane would be on fire literally.) I usually photograph such brightly lit things whenever I see them, but my camera, on its automatic setting, usually then deliberately removes the fire from the picture. It wants nothing extreme. But extreme is what I want, when I do this.
But this picture left the fire at the top of that crane in.
The cloud behind the crane helps.
Jade Dernbach’s international career ended last year, amidst much derision and recrimination.
Surrey very nearly won today’s ODI Final against Gloucester. If Surrey had won, everyone would now be talking about how well Dernbach has done for Surrey this year. As it was, Surrey, having been ahead of the game all day long, instead lost three tail end wickets in a heap at the end and lost by six runs.
Had Surrey won, Dernbach would have been Man of the Match, having taken six wickets, including a hat trick at the end of the Gloucester innings and even better, at the beginning of the Gloucester innings, the prize wicket of Michael Klinger for a three ball duck in the first over of the game.
As regulars here will know, I was at the semi-final at the Oval that got Surrey to today’s final. (It was probably my day of the year so far.) Dernbach did well in that game also.
Sangakkara hit 19 runs off Surrey’s penultimate over of batting. Notts, needing 19 to win in their last 2 overs, could only manage 5 and a wicket off their penultimate over, bowled by Dernbach. The wicket was Notts captain Chris Read, bamboozled by Dernbach’s disguised slow ball. Read is the kind of batsman who could have got Notts home with balls to spare, but Dernbach did him. Those two penultimate overs were the difference between the two teams that day.
As for me, I photoed the first of these two penultimacies:
But when I should have been photoing the equivalent scoreboard description of the second penultimacy (you can read about it by scrolling down here), I was instead busy taking this photo:
Which just goes to show that photoing cricket matches, like photoing anything else, is a skill. Everything you have to do - which actually means everything you have to remember to do - at the right time and in the right order - is easy and obvious, just commonsense really. But, doing seventy three bits of commonsense at the exact right time and in the exact right order adds up to uncommon sense. Or, as it is commonly known, knowledge.
I digress. But the point of my digression is that I also digressed in my photography at that cricket game, at what was clearly, at the time I digressed, a critical moment. There really is no excuse for the above photographic omission, except for me to say that I have not photoed very many cricket matches and am not very good at it.
After my day at the Oval, I am now strongly tempted to correct that, given what else you can see from the place, if you are a member. A crane and a Shard are a bug, when you should be photoing the scoreboard. But normally they would be a feature.
LATER: In other sports news, Perry de Havilland has a strange dream, and I had the exact same dream myself.
It’s been a very bad last few days here at BMdotcom. First there was the domain name fiasco, and then last night and into this morning there was another interruption, caused by a power cut in a totally different part of London to me, which was in its turn caused by all that rain we had recently. And then the interruption was prolonged by the mishandling of this power cut by my rather creeky and out-of-date version of Expression Engine. The two events were unrelated. I think there’s a Macbeth quote that deals with this kind of thing. One of those plays about a king for whom things are starting to go badly wrong. But rest assured that there is no sign that BMdotcom is about to be dethroned permanently.
So anyway, here is one of those photo-postings made quick and easy by my “I just like them!” directory.
I just like this, taken in 2007:
And I just like this, taken a month ago:
That second one was already edited and ready to post, with its new name, but I don’t believe I ever got around to actually displaying it. If I did, well, take another look.
I do not promise more substantial stuff tomorrow, but I do hope for it.
Just under a week ago, last Wednesday, there was rainbow weather over London. I was in my local laundrette, which is just at the corner where Horseferry Road stops going at a right angle to the river and does a sharp right towards Victoria Street. But even thought I was lugging a big bag of shirts with me, I followed my camera rule, which goes: always have it on me. Consequently, I had my camera on me, and was able to take photos.
Not as pretty a foreground is it might have been, and must have been for many others who were out and about in London at that time, or who were told to get out and about by others. But: cranes, scaffolding, a tree with no leaves cluttering it up, that chess board building I like, the Millbank Tower and its classic roof clutter (see the right hand one of these photos). I wasn’t complaining:
Whenever I photo a rainbow, I am pessimistic about how good it will end up looking in my pictures. This is partly because a rainbow is pure light. There are no sharp edges for your camera to grab hold of, and inevitably the original somewhat blurry thing tends to come out just that fatal bit more blurry, and to look fatally less striking than the original did.
But, even more fundamentally, everyone knows that a rainbow is a photo op. Indeed, I saw several other people taking photos, and the only reason I didn’t photo them photoing was that we all had our backs to the same wall, and I couldn’t get behind them, in such a way that I could have got them and the rainbow in the same snap.
Anyway, my point is that because rainbows are universally regarded as ultra-photogenic, rainbow photos are really rather mundane (because so very common), compared to actually seeing the thing itself.
The best photos tend to show you things that you are not already used to seeing in photos.
But, I enjoyed myself. And I certainly like that in the final one, bottom right, you can make out a second and much fainter rainbow, above the main act.
On a sunny afternoon in June, this was the big picture, complete with Big Things, and a bridge, in the background:
I homed in on that photosession, down by the river there.
There were making a bit of a spectacle of themselves, so their recognisable faces would have been fair game, but I took lots of pictures of them, and am able to show you only faceless pictures like these:
My favourite faceless photo being this one:
There was a big crowd looking down on all this. They really can’t complain, and I don’t believe they will, in the event they see those pictures.
6k writes about a Fairly epic disaster video:
Cranes and bridges. I know who’ll like this one…
That would be me.
But it’s not a happy crane and bridge video. It’s a bit of a disaster…
So I watched the video, and then read 6k’s commentary underneath it, in that order. 6k’s commentary described my sentiments exactly:
Look, because of the title of this post and the title of the video, you know that things aren’t going to end well. But it’s the way things happen almost in slow motion and the lack of any sort of discernible panic that makes this so entertaining.
So slo-mo was it that I checked that the people moving about as this was happening were moving at a realistic speed. They were. Which meant that the cranes really did descend this slowly. It was almost like when the Twin Towers collapsed, in that way if in no other way.
I’m not good at putting up videos here, so you’ll have to follow the link at the very top of this to watch this video. However, this disaster having been videoed at the time, there was no way the www was not going to supply follow-up stills of the resulting wreckage, and here is an aerial snap that I quickly found, which tells that story very well:
Click on that picture to get it bigger. Follow the link above if you want to see where I found it.
I’m guessing (only guessing mind) that the fact that the cranes were on a boat may have been the straw that caused the camels to fall over onto those houses.
Commenter number one there spells it out, and he says that the water aspect of things was more like a bale of straw:
There is an example of this exact situation in the maritime crane operation safety textbooks. Obviously, they didn’t read those.
Here’s a quick list of safety violations:
1) None of the vehicles were secured on the decks
2) Barges stability was not ensured in any way
3) The cargo was not stabilized from swinging & windage by lines
It’s easy to sneer about how hindsight is easy, blah blah. But this guy sounds like he might have been able to stop this, had he been directly involved.
Last month, on the 22nd (thank you my camera), a friend took me to see a show consisting, in the first half, of improvised comedy, and in the second half of pre-written sketch comedy. This was at a venue called the Proud Archivist (thank you me for photoing the sign saying that).
The core skill of the performers who were performing that night was improvisation, and it showed, part two being a rather severe disappointment after the often considerable excellence of part one. The sort of sketches they did in part two needed to be done with detached and unrealistic faithfulness to the text, Footlights/Monty Python style, almost like you are reading the lesson in church, not “realistically”, as these performers tried to do. But all it sounded like was that they had forgotten the damn words. (I heard later that they included some improvisation in some of the sketches. That was when this dire effect was at its most severe, or so I presume.)
But best of all, which as far as I was concerned made the entire expedition totally worthwhile, was the extraordinary light outside, for a few fleeting minutes during the interval, outside being where I went during the interval.
Here are two of the photos I took from just outside the Proud Archivist, next to the canal, during that interval:
Okay, what was photoed there is nothing out of the ordinary, with the second picture just being a close-up selection from the bigger picture displayed in the first. But the light! Photography is light, and that is light! Or, it was. Do you at least get a hint of what it was like actually to have been there, then? Hope so.
I spent the morning not doing anything here, and then the later morning making sure that there were no Ashes mishaps. Then I spent from the middle of the day almost to the end of the night attending a wedding. I took about eight hundred pictures, but for now, one must suffice, not very wedding related, other than it was taken from where the reception took place, namely from the upstairs bar and terrace of Doggett’s Coat and Badge.
I am often out and about in London as the sun sinks, but seldom in a place like this, a crucial few dozen feet higher up than usual. I think this affected the effect of the sun on the Big Things of the City.
Although, it could just be that I was in a good mood and the view was slightly unfamiliar. After all, I was high enough to see over the new Blackfriars Bridge Station, and thus see those Big Things from an angle I’m not used to.
I am not used to the Gherkin being totally hidden by the Cheesegrater, which in this shot it just happens to be. Perhaps that is what is making the Cheesegrater look so good, to me, today. There is no bulge bulging out from behind it.
As you can see, one of the cranes was on fire with the light of the sun.
Most of the things I tell you about at this blog are the sort of things that will keep for a month.
This view, for instance, looks exactly the same today, apart from any weather differences, as it did on the day I photoed it, nearly a month ago. Okay, weather does make a difference, so these Things probably did look quite different today to how they looked on July 7. But, they won’t have moved:
G(od)D(aughter) 2 wanted to visit countryside. And I wanted to visit Richmond Park. At Christian Michel’s, on the July 6 manifestation of his 6/20 meetings, I had had a Distant Views of London’s Big Things conversation. Hotel ME, Parliament Hill (click on that to see what a huge difference different weather can make, in the space of a few minutes), this rather hard to describe one, that kind of thing. Richmond Park, said this most obliging woman. Have you tried that view? No, said I. You should, said she. So, Richmond Park was the perfect spot for me and GD2 to visit. GD2 wanted rurality. I wanted a new and exciting view of urbanity.
The picture above is a rather extreme case of a good photo taken badly. (I will return some time Real Soon New and take it better.) But I like it, because it records the moment when I first saw that the woman the night before had been spot on. Wow. There’s London. Mission accomplished.
But soon, the views got a bit better, and so did the photos:
That’s a photo taken with my now maximum zoom (maybe this will get zoomier some time soonish). The next two are me easing off on the zoom, to show not only London itself, but how London looks from Richmond Park, by including a bit more of Richmond Park.
I like these snaps so much that I took a long time pointlessly fretting about how exactly to display them here. In the end, I just did what Hartley always does. I just piled them up vertically.
The Walkie Talkie looks particularly fine in these snaps, I think. However, it is becoming harder defend this building, even though I am determined to go on doing this. Not content with firing death rays down onto the street in front of it, this building, it is now being said, is doing terrible things to the local weather. The death rays were easily corrected, but changing these wind effects will be much harder. Basically, those on the receiving end will have to get used to it, one way or another, which might include more architecture.
This is the kind thing that happens when you build a building which is a different shape to all previous buildings. You find out that there are reasons why people mostly don’t build buildings this shape. No, that’s not quite it. You find out that whereas regular-shaped buildings, having been built a million times, have had all the bugs ironed out of them, this is not true of your building. Simply nobody know exactly how to build it. Not you, not anybody.