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Category archive: Scaffolding

Wednesday October 31 2018

This is the third consecutive posting here based on photos I took, two days ago now, while walking from the Angel to Barbican tube.

The reason for the abundance of photos from that walk was the light.  It was a classic London early evening, when the sky above was getting grey and dull, but when there was a gap in the clouds out west, and the sunlight came crashing through that gap horizontally, light a searchlight, picking out random things that were sticking upwards, above the point at which old London stopped going upwards and only new London protrudes.  Not everything doing this got caught in the beam, just some things.  Behind them or next to them there would be objects entirely unlit and already fading fast into darkness.

Things like cranes:

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That’s a fairly conventional photo for me, because the darkening sky is the background, as it often is when I photo evening sunlight crashing into cranes.

But this next one, taken rather later as I neared the Barbican, seemed to me to be something else again:

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I have a kind of check list mentality when judging my own photos.  I have a list of things I like, and the more such things are happening in the photo, the higher the photo scores.  Cranes, tick, with the evening sun hitting them, tick.  Another is interesting architectural silhouettes.  Of such Big Things as the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkier, the Shard, and so on.  And although those Barbican towers are not the prettiest Things in London by a long way, their silhouettes are distinctive, because of that saw tooth effect you get at the sides.  I also like the understated roof clutter there.

Friday October 19 2018

More and more of my photo-time is spent collating the photos I have already taken.  Last night, for instance, I went looking for (more) photos of London taxis with adverts on them.  There is something especially appealing, to me anyway, about a large number of objects all exactly the same shape, but each decorated differently.  (Some time, I must go searching for my photos of elephants.)

Equally appealing, to me, were those Gormley Men.  In that case, each Man was the same, and undecorated in the more usual and rather bland sculpture way.  But, each one was in a different place and a different sort of setting.  My Gormley Men photos did not need collating, because Gormley had already collated them, by putting all his Men in the same part of London at the same time.  Therefore my photos of the Gormley Men mostly collated themselves.

Not so the elephants, or taxis.  When looking for taxis, I am looking for taxis photoed in the course of all manner of different photo-expeditions each with their own directories.

But my point is that in the course of all this taxi-collating, I was clicking through literally thousands of non-taxi photos, and I kept coming across non-taxi photos that I particularly liked.  Like (kike as in “such as” – this is not a command) this one, for instance, taken last June:

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I like doing modified cliches in writing, and I also like them photographically.  A view, for instance, of some London Thing that has been photoed to death, but put beside or in front of or behind something that is not so usual.  Most photoers would regard the above scaffolding as a problem rather than any sort of solution, to the Eros-has been photoed-to-death problem.

The scaffolding’s wrapping has the effect of clearing away all the usual clutter from Piccadilly Circus and replacing it with something a lot like sky on a dull day.  It puts Eros in an empty field in the countryside, you might say.  And yes I know, I like clutter.  But not always.

Here is another modified cliché photo:

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The Wheel has been photoed to death, and that’s a view I regularly see – and regularly photo - of it, from the point where Strutton Ground meets Victoria Street, looking down Victoria Street towards Parliament Square and beyond.  But that sky behind The Wheel made The Wheel look amazing, on that particular day in January of this year.

Finally, one of many photos I took this year of Battersea Power Station:

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The Power Station and (if you are a craniac like me) its crane cluster are the clichés.  And if you want to take the sting out of a cliché, one way is to reflect it in something.  At that point its extreme recognisability becomes more a virtue and less of a bore.  Its very clichéness becomes helpful to the photo.

This photo was taken from the upstream side of the Power Station, where there is already a big chunk of new flats up and running, with accompanying tasteless sculpture, coffee serving places and the like.  All sparked, I believe, by the new USA Embassy.

This photo of mine turns Battersea Power Station upside down.  I’ve always thought that an upside down Battersea Power Station would make a rather good table.  But, until now I never thought to go looking for such a table on the www.  Here we go.  That took about three seconds, so I bet there are plenty more that are cheaper.  This guy had the same idea, but those two links were all I could quickly find concerning this notion.

Here is another modified cliché photo of Battersea Power Station, the modification this time being smoke.

Come to think of it, all those London taxi photos I’ve been digging up are also modified cliché photos, aren’t they?  London taxi = cliché, adverts = modification.

Tuesday October 16 2018

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again.  Why do I regard most of Modern Art as silly, yet relish real world objects which resemble Modern Art?  Objects like this:

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The above photo was taken on The last really fine day of 2018, just minutes after I had taken the one in that earlier posting.

You don’t need to go to an exhibition of sloppily painted abstract art, when the regular world contains wondrous looking objects like that.  And what is more, they are wondrous looking objects which have worthwhile purposes.  This wondrous object is for supporting and protecting workers as they work on a building.

Here is how that same scaffolding looked, unwrapped, about a month earlier:

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I particular enjoy how the sky changes colour, in my camera, when a big white Thing is inserted into the picture.  (This afternoon, I encountered this, by Real Photographer Charlie Waite.  Same effect.)

Thank you to the (to me) invaluable PhotoCat, for enabling me to crop both of the above photos in a way that makes them more alike in their scope and which thereby points up the differences.  I’m talking about the invaluable Crop But Keep Proportions function that PhotoCat has, but which PhotoStudio (my regular Photoshop(clone)) 5.5 seems not to offer.  (I would love to be contradicted on that subject.)

Despite all my grumblings about how silly most Modern Art is, I do nevertheless greatly like the way that this Big Thing (the Reichstag) looks in the pride-of-place photo featured in this BBC report, an effect which presumably makes use of the same sort of technology as we see in my photo, but on a vastly grander scale:

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I have to admit that this is several orders of magnitude more impressive than my scaffolding.  (Maybe that was the last really fine day of 1994.) My scaffolding looks lots better than some badly painted little abstract rectangle in an Art gallery, but it’s not nearly as effective as the Reichstag, as wrapped by Christo and Partner.

Because this Big Wrapped Thing was so very big, and because it is such a very interesting shape, it really does look like it added greatly to Berlin, in that summer of 1994.  I entirely understand why all those people assembled to gaze at it.  Had I been anywhere in the vicinity, I would have too.  And had there been digital cameras then, I would have taken numerous photos, as would thousands of others.  Thus giving permanence to this vast piece of temporariness.

Because, what I also like about this Reichstag wrapping is that, just like my scaffolding, and just like all the other wrapping done by Wrapper Christo and his Lady Sidekick, it is temporary.  That BBC report calls it Pop-Up Art, and it is of the essence of its non-annoyingness that any particular piece of Pop-Up Art by Christo will soon be popping down again.

This Reichstag wrapping happened in 1994, but is now long gone.  Did you disapprove of what Christo and his lady did to the Reichstag?  You just had to wait it out.  Soon, it would be be gone.

Do you think scaffolding, especially when wrapped, is ugly?  Ditto.

Friday October 12 2018

Somewhat over a year ago I wrote about When what I think it is determines how ugly or beautiful I feel it to be, in connection with this building:

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This is described, at any rate by its owners and its various occupants, as The Peak.

And that photo of mine above, taken from the top of the Westminster Cathedral Tower, is my Peak photo which best illustrates the oddly deceptive appearance of this decidedly odd-looking building.  It looks like a 60s rectangular lump, to which 90s or 00s curvatures, on the right as we look, and on the top, have been added.  But, as I discovered when concocting that previous posting, the whole thing was built all at once.  It looks like a two-off building rather than a one-off building, but looks deceive, or deceived me, for a while.  Two-off good, one-off bad, was how I had been thinking.  It was two-off, so (aesthetically) good.  Organic, additive, blah blah.  But, what was I supposed to think, on discovering that it was really an inorganic and un-additive one-off?

Now, buried in my photo-archives, I find this photo, taken on October 28th 2008, which confirms that The Peak is indeed a one-off, because here it is (here it was), all being built in one go.  There really is no doubt about it:

image

When I took this photo, I was a lot more interested in the anti-pigeon spikes on top of those street lamps, and on top of the railway sign, than I was in the building work in the background.

How I now feel about The Peak, aesthetically, is that I still rather like it, if only because I have paid so much attention to it over the years, and feel sort of proprietorial towards it, as you would towards a somewhat clumsy child that you have adopted.  (That feeling applies, for me, to a great many London buildings.)

Also, whatever else you think of it, when you see it, you at once know where you are.  It is very recognisable, recognisability being a quality in buildings which I appreciate more and more.  “Iconic” is the rather silly word that estate agents and suchlike use to allude to this quality.  But they have a point, even if they use a silly word to point to their point.  That “you could be anywhere” feeling is not a good one, in a city or anywhere else.

“Other creatures” (see below) because of the pigeon scaring.

Wednesday October 10 2018

There is building activity going on at the top end of Horseferry Road, which is near where I live.  And this afternoon, when I sallied forth to enjoy the last really fine day of 2018 and to photo London, this bit of London activity was one of the very first things I photoed.  I really like how it now looks:

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The walk lasted a long time, and that knackered me.  But what really knackered me was the shopping I needed to do at the end of the walk.  The final bit of that being lugging two bags of supermarket purchases up the stairs to my home.  This is not my idea of fun, even if it didn’t kill me and even if it did make me stronger.

So now all I am fit for is a little TV followed by bed.  I photoed many more pleasurable things today besides the above, which is why this posting is called “The last really fine day of 2018 (1)” rather than just “The last really fine day of 2018”.  But all of that will have to wait.  I promise at least one more posting concerning today’s photos, to make retrospective sense of that (1), but no more than that.  Good night.

Sunday October 07 2018

If I had a pound for every time someone’s told me that they like to photo The Wheel from Tottenham Court Road, I wouldn’t have any more pounds than I already have, because it’s just me that likes to do this.  But, I really like it.

I’m talking about photos like this one:

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Great light there, don’t you think?  It could be an oil painting.  Exactly as it came out of the camera, no Photoshop(clone)ing.  That dates from April of 2015.  As you can see, that weird entrance to Tottenham Court Road Tube station was still under construction.

Here’s a couple more, taken in 2016 …:

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... and in 2017:

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That crane there should have told me that something ominous was in the works, but actually I was taken by surprise.

Take a look at what the same scene looked like today:

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That’s right.  The Wheel is about to blotted out of this particular picture.

I moved nearer, which moved the top of the Wheel down to the bottom gap in the structure:

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I took a final close up:

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And that may well be the last time that I ever photo The Wheel from Tottenham Court Road.

Saturday October 06 2018

On Thursday September 27th, I photoed a leaning crane, from the top of the John Lewis Roof Garden.  But that wasn’t all I photoed.  Of course not.  I wouldn’t go to a spot like that and take just the one photo.

A few more views:

imageimageimage
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My usual preoccupations.  Big Things.  Cranes (including window cleaning cranes).  Roof clutter.  Scaffolding.

Can you spot Big Ben?  Clue: scaffolding.

Thursday September 27 2018

This phenomenon continues to trouble me.  Intellectually, I know that the people supervising these circumstances have them all under control.  If ever there was a trade in Britain that knows what it is doing, it is the big city building trade.  Things get done on time, all according to plan, and the results work as intended.  And cranes do not fall over.  (The financing can go all over the shop, which means that plans can change dramatically, but that’s a different story.)

But it still feels to me as if this crane might fall over.  It still feels to me that, at any moment, something near the ground, on the left as we look, just might … SNAP!!!!:

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So, another for the collection.  Photoed by me the day before yesterday, from the Rooftop of John Lewis.

I don’t generally do Photoshop(clone)ing, but some rotation was necessary with this one.  In my original, the crane was completely vertical.  And everything else: not.

Monday September 24 2018

Maybe “art” is putting it a bit strongly, but nevertheless, I do really like this photo ...:

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… which I took in the summer of 2015, somewhere in the City of London.  The directory I found this in is called “Looking4BroadgateTower”, so that tells you roughly where I was.

BMdotcom-wise, this photo has so many boxes ticked.

- First things first: cranes.  In this case, crane towers.  BMmmmmm.

- Reinforcing rods, sticking out the top of the lump like vegetation.  Reinforcement: insufficiently sung heroism of modernity.

- A crane tower shadow, on …

- … that material they shove over …

- … scaffolding.

- That monochrome thing that happens during sunsets.  And – who can say? - maybe even during sunrises.

- The way that sunlight hits crane towers and just lights them up, which I so often try to get and so seldom manage to get.

- Lots of horizontals and verticals, made possible not by Photoshop(clone)ing but by the excellent zoom lens on my nearly-but-actually-not-SLR camera, with its one brilliant super-zoomy lens.

So, lots to like there.  But what and where was this?  This is the kind of thing I like to know.

Luckily, I took informational photos, as well as arty photos like that above.  Always, when out taking photos like the above, take lots of photos which are not for art, but for information about that art.  I need to keep telling myself, because often I fail to do this.

I fail, that is to say, to take photos like this ...:

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… which scores about zero for artistic impression, but which tells me what all that art in the first photo above actually was.

In the above (information) photo we see the same crane towers and the same lump, but viewed side on.  It’s definitely the same stuff.

There’s even a name and a website to be seen, if you crop it, and then expand it to be 500 pixels across, like this:

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So, there we have it.  It’s the earlier stages of this.  Once you have the words to describe what you want to learn about, the internet suddenly starts to work.

This being this:

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My best guess is that the lump of art in the first photo in this posting is somewhere in the middle of the more complicated computerised Thing on the right.

Tuesday September 18 2018

And no, I don’t mean reinforcements for an army.  I mean the kind of reinforcements that end up buried in concrete.

Like these ones:

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All six of these photos also feature one of the more impressive scaffolding arrays near me just now.  The art of scaffolding and the art of creating reinforcements for structural concrete have much in common.  Both involve putting together lots of bits of metal.  Both need to result in a structure that stays put and does not collapse.  Both look pretty to people like me.

But there are also big differences.  Scaffolding is very visible, and it remains visible for the duration of its working existence.  Scaffolding thus proclaims itself to the world, by its very existence.  That we live in a golden age of scaffolding is obvious to all of us, whether we like this fact or hate it.

Also, scaffolding rather quickly punishes those who erect it, if they don’t do it right.  While creating scaffolding, scaffolders make use of the scaffolding they have just been constructing, and they are their own first users.  They thus have a literally inbuilt incentive to do their work well.  And if they don’t, it is not that hard for others to spot this.  Bad scaffolding wobbles.  Such are my surmises about scaffolding.

Reinforcements for concrete are something else again.  By the time they go to work, doing the job they were built for, everyone concerned had better be damn sure that they have done their work well.  But, if they haven’t, the disastrous consequences of that bad work may take years to happen, and even then to be controversial.  Who is to say exactly what caused a building to collapse?  And if the building collapses rather catastrophically, it is liable to destroy a lot of the evidence of what exactly happened, and why.  Investigating such catastrophes being a whole separate job in itself.  So, getting these reinforcements right, with an inbuilt regime of testing and inspection and supervision, all managed by morally upright people whose declarations of confidence in what they have been inspecting can be relied upon, is a whole distinct industry.

But, this is an industry whose products, by their nature, end up being invisible.  We all rely on such work being done correctly, not just “structurally” but also in a morally correct manner.  Yet, we mostly never see this work, only its indirect results.

So, I hereby I celebrate the work, morally as well as merely technically good, that goes into the making of reinforcements for concrete.  I salute the good men and true who make these (I think) beautiful objects, and who ensure that they perform faithfully.  Their moral as well as technical excellence is all part of why I consider such reinforcements to be things of beauty.

I did some googling to try to determine exactly what reinforcements like those in my photos are used for.  The lorry says R. SWAIN AND SONS on it.  But they are hauliers, not makers of concrete reinforcements.  The nearest I got to an answer was this photo, of objects just like those on my lorry, with this verbiage attached: “Prefabricated Piling Cages Made of Reinforced Bars On Site”.  Prefabricated Piling cages.  Piling sounds to me like foundations.  (Yes.) The reinforcing has to be shoved down a hole in one go.  It can’t be constructed bit by bit, in the hole.  It either gets assembled beforehand on site, or, it gets assembled in a factory and taken to the site by lorry, as above.

The reinforcing that a structure needs when it is above ground, on the other hand, can be assembled on site, and I’m guessing that this is what usually happens.

Just guessing, you understand.  My first guess actually was: for an above ground structure, until I came upon the photo I just linked to, and not foundations.  But, what do I know?

Tuesday September 11 2018

If you step outside Sloane Square tube station, and immediately look to your left, you see this:

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This is one of those phenomena which doesn’t photo very informatively.  By which I mean that if you are there, it is far easier to see what is going on.  So let me now tell you what is going on.  This is the inside of a new building, but covered up, while they’re completing the building, with a sheet.  This sheet has another building painted on it.  And there is light coming at the sheet from behind.  When what is behind the sheet completely blocks out light, we see the picture on the surface of the sheet.  But when light comes at us from beyond the sheet, the picture on the sheet is overwhelmed, and we observe either light, or any shapes (in this case steel structure and scaffolding) in silhouette.

What I like about this effect is both its temorariness, and the fact that it ends up looking so much more interesting that it was intended to look.  The idea was that we would only see the picture on the sheet.  What we actually see is a whole lot more diverting.

Here is another photo I took of the same thing, this time including a bit more context:

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It’s a little more clear, in that photo, that there is a picture on a surface as well as all kinds of excitements behind it, on account of the sheet consisting of surfaces at an angle to one another.

Best of all, you can now see that one of the excitements behind the sheet - to be more exact, one of the structures behind the sheet - is a crane.

Monday August 27 2018

It was a moment in London’s construction history which has always intrigued me.  My photos of it were taken in March 2012:

imageimageimage

That’s right.  Those strange ghost columns were, for a few short months or years (I don’t recall), being used as so many tiny building sites, supporting the construction of the Blackfriars Bridge railway station.

I regret that some more permanent use could have been found for these ghost columns.  Maybe some sort of pedestrian bridge?  But I suppose these columns are distrusted for anything but the lightest use, such as we observe in the above photos.

If you read this, you will learn that these ghosts used to come in threes, rather than in the twos we observe now.  The inner columns became part of the new bridge.

But if those columns were good enough to do that job, why cannot their brethren be made more use of?

It seems a shame.  It seems like a missed opportunity.

I think I may have said something like this here before.  So be it.  It bears repetition.

Sunday August 26 2018

June 8th of this year was a good day for roof clutter.  In Pimlico:

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It’s the variety I like, and the mixture of the ancient (the chimney pots (including some quite superior ones)) and the modern (aerials), that I like.  The chimney pots are often very decorative on purpose, while the more modern technology is only decorative as a throw-away consequence of how it needs to be to do its various jobs.

In one of them, there is scaffolding.

It helped, at lot, that the weather was so nice.  In my opinion, almost anything looks good in really nice weather,

Saturday August 04 2018

If you do four photos, adding very little in the way of verbiage, are they still quota photos?  Probably, but what the hell.  Today was hot, and this morning’s England v India test match finale was very tense.  So this here’s your lot:

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The Battersea Power Station is now smothered in cranes, so you’ll at once realise that the top two of these photos were taken earlier.  1.1, 2005, is a favourite view of many photoers, from Ebury Bridge, at the far end of Warwick Way from me. 1.2, 2012, was taken from the south end of Vauxhall Bridge.  2.1, 2016, how it from the top of Westminster Cathedral, in 2016.  2.2, 2017, is closer up, when I was checking out the beginnings of the work to extend the Northern Line, in 2017.

Whether you like Battersea Power Station or not (I happen to like it a lot), you’d surely agree that it is a very recognisable edifice, and I can understand why many regret that it is about to be surrounded by apartment blocks, of a similar height to the main body of the Power Station.  But, that’s London for you.

Sunday July 08 2018

It’ll probably be quota photos every day here for as long as the heatwave lasts.  Certainly that’s how it is today:

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On the day I took this photo, I was so proud of a goose couple that I also photoed, a lot, that I hardly noticed this photo, of cranes and scaffolding.  But when I was clicking through the archives, the way I do from time to time, this one stopped the clicking.

It’s the little bits of colour in a basically monotone photo, the strip of red on the crane, and in particular that little bit of yellow, bottom right, that made this photo particularly appealing.  To me, anyway.  I hope also to you.