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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: London

Saturday July 22 2017

So there I was on Westminster Bridge late yesterday afternoon, and I encountered a pair of Real Photographers, taking Real Photos of The Wheel.  I persuaded them to let me take this shot:

image

It was only when I got home that I noticed that strange object on the top of the camera.

Close-up:

image

What is that?

On inspection, it look like a multiple set of spirit levels, so I typed something about “camera spirit level” into Google, and immediate got offered things like this for sale.

This being:

FOTYRIG Hot Shoe Level Three Axis Triple Bubble Spirit Level For Any Standard Hot Shoe Including Canon and Nikon Digital and Film Cameras

Although the one I saw may not be the exact same brand of triple spirit level, this is definitely the kind of gadget I was looking at.

image

Description:

- Quickly and easily adjust your camera angle so that all your photos come out perfectly leveled.
- The three axis levels provide even greater and precise control. It helps you achieve a finer degree of accuracy in capturing the perfect image.
- Used for panoramic photography, photo stitching, architectural photography, and perspective control.
- A must have when shooting with a tripod! Just slide the bubble level in your cameras hot shoe! - Works with Most of DSLR cameras with a standard hot shoe mount.
- Made of lightweight, clear acrylic.
- Size: 25mm (1") x 25mm (1") x 25mm (1").

Photo and learn.  Blog and learn.

I sympathise about the need for a spirit level when photoing The Wheel.  Unless you are exactly sideways on or exactly in line (so it looks like a tall and thin tower), knowing exactly which direction exactly upwards and exactly sideways are cab be very difficult.  Whatever decision you make can look wrong, and whatever you do feels wrong at the time.

Friday July 21 2017
Tuesday July 18 2017

Again, nothing much here today, but there is something by me over at Samizdata, entitled ”The overheating Samsung S24F356 – and thoughts about why there are so many complaints about capitalism”.

My quest for a new computer screen, alluded to here some days ago, lasted rather longer than I thought it would.  But at least I got a Samizdata posting out of it all.

I also finally managed to finish and submit a short summary of this talk by Marc Sidwell, which I will inform you of again when it is posted.  This talk happened nearly a year ago.  I personally did not take this long to summarise it, but I did take a few weeks longer than I had hoped.  And, I fear, promised.

Monday July 17 2017

Indeed:

image

Photoed just over a year ago.  In the foreground there: the Millennium Bridge.  Looking towards the City.

Busy day.  All my blogging time spent writing other things.

Sunday July 16 2017

I loved the latest cars when I was a kid, and I still love the latest cars when I was a kid.  I loved theose cars then and I love them still, more and more, as both they and I get older.

Cars like this:

image

Which I photoed late in the afternoon yesterday.  I often visit Lower Marsh late in the afternoon on a Saturday, and once again, the above classic car made realise that yesterday was the third Saturday of this month, the day when the classic cars gather in Lower Marsh, from midday until middle-to-late afternoon.  By the time I was there, this and one other car were the only ones still lingering.  Memo to self, get there at 12 noon next time around.

So if I type in all the third Saturdays of the month for the next few months, helpfully listed here, maybe, on one of these dates, I’ll get there in time to see the real show, instead of just the odd late leaver.

August 19th
September 16th
October 21st
November 18th
December 16th

As I say, there was one other classic car hanging around in Lower Marsh when I got there.

This:

image

The point here being that while this Morris Minor Van is an amazingly well preserved classic vehicle, Pimlico Pumbers is an impeccably modern enterprise.

Like I say, they don’t use this van to do plumbing call outs.  It would appear to be a piece of artistic sponsorship:

We also have an unregistered 1966 Morris Minor LCV with only 67 miles on the clock. We purchased it in 1995 in primer paint and have since restored this classic model to its former glory and it now sports Pimlico’s blue and white livery. We have never taken it on the road to ensure that it stays in its original condition. Ted Connolly, Editor of Classic Van and Pick-up Magazine described this van as a museum piece.

But given that this vehicle does show up at classic car gatherings, I’m guessing this is a pretty good piece of business.

Saturday July 15 2017

I love to photo cranes, and one of the effects involving cranes that I especially love is when a bright beam of sunlight hits the crane and … basically sets it on fire.  Trouble is, when I look at the photos I take of this astonishing effect, it just looks like a bit of crane just standing there, in slightly sunny weather.  What I saw gets completely ignored.  And not just by mistake.  The camera is softwaring out this effect on purpose, because it thinks this is what I want.

imageBut every so often I get lucky, as with this effort, the cranes here being part of the magnificent Waterloo crane cluster, now busily surrounding the dullness that is the venerable, post WW2, just pre-brutalist style, Shell Building with much more dullness, even duller dullness than the Shell Building, by the look of things.  Although, you never know with architecture, and I might end up liking it all very much.

Whenever I see something I really like the look of, I tend to take lots of photos of it, one after another.  But the funny thing is, time and again the first photo is the best photo.  So it was with this photo-session.  There, on the right, is the very first photo I took of this delightful effect, and for once, my camera deigned to notice just what an amazing conflagration of light the sun was blasting onto the crane in question.

Undoubtedly, the dark cloud behind was what was making the difference.

There are some photos which look especially good when very small, and this one seems to me also to fall into that category, hence the thumbnail sized rectangle, above right there.  But, of course, you can click on that thumbnail to get a much bigger picture.

Friday July 14 2017

I spent a frightening proportion of my waking hours last week scouring London for the exact sort of computer screen than I wanted, and sorting out the resulting mess caused by one of the screens that I bought malfunctioning and then its identical replacement malfunctioning in the exact same way.  I may write more about that, but threaten nothing.

My scourings took me all over London.  On Tuesday, having had no success in any of the electronic toy shops of Tottenham Court Road and nearby places, like John Lewis in Oxford Street, I journeyed West, to Peter Jones in Sloane Square.  On my way, I had the latest of many goes at photoing the statue of the young Mozart in Pimlico Square, and this time, I quite liked the result:

image

That’s not a very good likeness of the statue, but I quite like the photo, because of all the rather nicely lit greenery, and even despite that strange object in the tree with wires coming out of it.  Something to do with electrical lighting, I think.  Next time I am there I may check, if I remember.  If you want to know more about the statue, you surely know how to do that, now that you know, if you didn’t already, that it’s there.

Peter Jones having not provided me with a computer screen, and me having then drawn a similar blank at PC World in Kensington High Street, I journeyed on Wednesday to Brixton, where PC World has what turned out to be an impressively large super-store.

On my way there, I wasn’t looking for photo-ops but encountered quite a few, including this one:

image

That’s a bust of Sir Henry Tate, in front of Brixton Library, which he founded and paid for.  Also Streatham Library, apparently.  And yes, Tate also founded a big old Art Gallery right near where I live.

To me, one of the intriguing things about my photo is the strange pattern of greenness (copper oxide?) which only partially covers the bust.  Most of the photos you get if you image google for this thing do their best to minimise this effect.  I made a point of capturing it, because it was what first got my attention.

Thursday July 13 2017

Throughout this week I have occasionally had the BBC tennis coverage from Wimbledon on, mostly silently.  My favourite moments so far have both involved Johanna Konta, but on a happier day for her than today.  (Today she was crushed in straight sets by Venus Williams.)

Here, in contrast, we see Ms Konta striding off the court after defeating her previous opponent in the quarter finals, photoed by someone other than just the BBC:

image

And the next screen capture also involves a smartphone taking pictures of Ms Konta.  Moments later, we observe Konta doing the twenty first century version of an autograph, in the form of a selfie, with a Chelsea Pensioner:

image

I am so used to hiding the facial identity of people on this blog that I did the same for Konta in this screen capture, choosing a moment when the smartphone is covering her face.  And while telling myself that if you dress as ostentatiously as that Chelsea pensioner, you don’t get anonymity, or not here.

Oddly, when I did those screen captures, I move the mouse out of the picture, and the stuff at the bottom of the picture, showing the yellow line slowly working its way across the screen, disappeared.  But then it reappeared in the screen captures.

Which is why I show the version of this next bit of BBC coverage in the form of the photo I took of my TV rather than the screen capture of this image.  That latter would have been useless.  Yes, its the view of the Big Things of London, as seen from high up above the Centre Court:

image

Click to get the entire screen.

This primitively twentieth century way of capturing a TV image proved quite successful.  It compared favourably, for instance, with this picture ...:

image

Which I found here, on Flickr.  Click on that link for the original, but I think you will agree that this guy’s photo is actually not as clear the one I concocted with my camera.  It’s the weather.  When he took his photo, it was gloomy.  When the BBC did the Big Things shot that I photoed, the weather was a lot brighter.

Johanna Konta was born of Hungarian parents in Australia and then raised in Australia.  But, what with her family having moved here more recently, and her having got to the semi-finals, she is now British.  Andy Murray, on the other hand, is back to being Scottish.

Tuesday July 11 2017

Having been scouring London, so far without success, for the exact sort of computer screen that I now know I want, I have not had any spare brain space to take photos.  So, in search of something to stick up here this evening without taking up too much of your time by making your read lots of stuff (or having you decide not to read lots of stuff), I went looking in the archives.

And found this:

image

Which I like.  It’s the bright colours, in contrast to the greyness of the background, I think, partly.

Where was I when I took that?  I was in Oxford Street.  I know this because I took a closer look and one of my reflections ...:

image

And I recognised that building behind me.

Here is a photo of it that I took more recently:

image

And behind it is Centre Point, which is at the top end of Oxford Street, and that is where the original sunglasses photo was taken.

I don’t care if buildings are rather silly.  I do care that they are recognisable.  I really like recognisable.

I have a vague recollection of noticing this building when it was under construction, and tracking it down, together with a picture of what it was then merely going to look like.  But I don’t have time for that now.

Monday July 10 2017

Wandering along the Strand towards Embankment Tube, after Turandot had finished, I spied this sign on the inside of a shop window:

image

I had not realised that there are now David Bowie stamps.  Apparently so.  Ten in all.  The ones above, and six more featuring LP covers.

You know what they mean, but the phrase “DAVID BOWIE LIVE” seems rather ... jarring.  What got Bowie onto these stamps now rather than any sooner, was that instead of being live, he is now dead.  Only dead people, or royals, can be on stamps, right?

Not quite.  If you were an England cricketer playing in the 2005 Ashes that England won, you might also have become an honorary royal:

image

Scroll down here, for that picture, together with some rather sneering and very Australian references to Britain’s alleged lack of sporting prowess, which (says the Australian sneerer) explains why so many went crazy when those Ashes were won.  And why the Post Office also went crazy and broke its own rule of us only being allowed, on stamps, to see dead people.

Thursday July 06 2017

Indeed:

image

Normally I’d explain.  Where, when, what, blah blah.  But the heat is so hot that I cannot bear to spend any more time next to my computer stroke fan heater than I absolutely have to.  Commenters are welcome to explain everything if so inclined, which I know they won’t be.  On account of the heat, and on account of not being that bothered.

My bedroom is cooler, and it is to that that I will now repair.

Wednesday July 05 2017

The best thing about seeing Turandot at the R(oyal) O(pera) H(ouse) earlier in the week was definitely seeing Turandot.  But almost as good was what I saw during one of the intervals.

So, do you remember this?

image

The “this” I am referring to is the disembodied rectangular box hovering up near the roof there.  I copied and pasted the sanskrit my blogging system demands for that photo from this earlier ROH posting.  To quote my earlier description in that earlier posting:

I especially like that disembodied clutch of drinkers, suspended up there as if in mid air, but actually in mid mirror.

All of which means that you don’t need to remember it, because I just told you again.

Well, during the interval in question, I found myself stretching my legs inside this aerial box.  From it, I got views like this:

image

Which was all very fine, although I can’t really tell how good or bad this photo is, because I only have this terrible little replacement screen to look at it on.

But then, things got even more interesting.  I looked through that big semi-circular window, and saw other interesting things.  In particular I saw this:

image

That is one of London’s finer assemblages of roof clutter, made all the more magnificent by being anarchically perched, like a tiny shanty town, upon one of London biggest and blandest and most geometrically severe pieces of sculpted Big Thingness from the Concrete Monstrosity era.  Namely: One Kemble Street, which used to be known by the much cooler name of Space House.

If you image google for One Kemble Street, you get a deluge of photos of One Kemble Street, but just about all of them are taken from below.  It’s like they’re ashamed of that marvellous roof clutter.  But why?  It is magnificent.

Here is another view of part of this roof clutter:

image

That was taken in December 2014, on the same day I photoed the floating bar in the sky, in the first photo, above.

Memo to self: check it out again, and try to photo the whole thing, in nice weather like that.

Tuesday July 04 2017

Yesterday I attended a Royal Opera House Covent Garden dress rehearsal, of Puccini’s Turandot.  Never having seen Turandot on stage before, I learned a lot.  The singing was pretty good, especially the choral singing, but maybe I say “especially” about that because I generally prefer choral singing to “operatic” solo singing.  The staging looked appropriately splendid and exotic.

But the best fun of all was, afterwards, finding this bizarre piece of writing by Michael Tanner, for the Spectator.  What is bizarre is that Tanner disapproves of the characters and he disapproves of the “happy ending” at the end of Turandot, like some myopic Victorian moralist objecting to King Lear because of what sort of people they are and because of what happens at the end of that.

Turandot is obviously a very wicked and tyrannical ice-queen type of a woman.  But Calaf earns Tanner’s special condemnation.  This is because Calaf, being from Asia in olden times rather than the Home Counties of England now, prefers conquest, sexual and political, to the love of a good woman.  He is going to subjugate Turandot, sexually and politically, or die trying, and damn the consequences.  But in Michael Tanner’s world tenors are not supposed to think and behave like that.  Their job is to embody virtue, not watch while the slave girl who has been in love with Calaf throughout the opera is tortured and then commits suicide to spare herself more torture. After which Calaf carries right on with subjugating Turandot.  But the fact that Calaf is not the sort of person whom Tanner would want marrying his sister is rather beside the point.  Or to put the same point a quite other way, it is exactly the point.  It isn’t just the setting of Turandot that is exotic.  These are profoundly different sorts of people to those that Michael Tanner, or for that matter I, approve of.

This is like denouncing the Ring Cycle because Wotan is a god rather than a geography teacher, or because the dragons in the Ring Cycle do not behave like hedgehogs.

Calaf was also criticised by Tanner for standing still and just singing, instead of doing lots of “acting” in the modern style.  But Calaf’s whole character is that of a would-be ultra-masculine tyrant.  And tyrants instinctively exude power and strength, for instance by standing still in a very masculine chest-out pose, and singing very sonorously, rather than by doing lots of fidgety acting.  It is their underlings and victims who do all the acting, by re-acting to people like Calaf.

However, it often happens that critics who denounce works of art in rather ridiculous ways nevertheless understand them very well, and often a lot better than the people who say that they like them.  They absolutely get what the artist was doing.  It’s just that they don’t happen to like it.  I recommend Tanner’s piece as a way of understand how very different Calaf and Turandot are from their equivalents in, say, La Boheme.

Monday July 03 2017

More photos of photoers.  I knew you’d be excited.

Ever since the Tate Extension opened about a year ago now, I’ve been popping up to the top of it every so often, to check out the changing scene that is to be seen from there.

But I have also discovered a whole new genre of photo up there, provoked by the big dots on the glass screens that divide the inside of the top from the walkways outside, where you do the viewing from.

Often, these dots give me something to focus on, while still capturing, out of focus, the postures and gestures, rather than the facial likenesses, of the objects of my attention.  Or, the dots, themselves out of focus, provide some visual diversion.

Almost always, the photoers are in silhouette, again good for avoiding facial identifiability.  Also, silhouettes show up pretty well on my current crappy little computer screen, which I think I will soon be replacing.  So now is a good time to be doing this posting:

imageimageimageimageimage
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imageimageimageimageimage
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Occasionally, the light behind the photoers is enlivened architecturally, which I like.  But as often as not, not.  And as it happens, I think my favourite of these is 2.1, which features no architecture at all.

But I also like 2.3 and 4.1, which do feature architecture, because of the architecture.

Sunday July 02 2017

One of them being taken by the people in my photo, and the other being taken by me, of me:

image

Taken on Westminster Bridge, in March of last year.

I’m standing in their screen, behind them, in case you were wondering.  MeaIwhile, I am wondering if they photoed me photoing them.  I don’t know what the V sign gesture is about.

I surmise that one of the many differences between photoers like me and Real Photographers is that Real Photographers abhor any trace of themselves in the photos they photo, whereas photoers like me rather like it when you can see me in the photo,although preferably rather dimly.

I am off socialising now.  I find that having already done my duty here makes socialising a lot more fun.