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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: Sculpture

Wednesday April 06 2016

I like trees without leaves for many reasons.  One is that you can put them in front of Big Things and still see the Big Things.

And another is that without leaves in the way, I get to enjoy the peculiar sculptural effects contrived in and on trees by the pruning process.

Consider this photo, which I took this February, looking across Vincent Square towards Parliament and the river:

image

Ignore the wheel with the bobbles on it.  Forget the pointy tower on the left.  Consider those trees, and the strange shapes of their branches, caused by pruning.

A particular effect that such pruning causes is when a quite thick branch is lopped off, and the result is like a fist, holding lots more much thinner branches.

Here is another photo, taken down by the river in 2010, which shows that effect:

image

Again, forget about the spiky footbridge in the middle of the picture and that crane behind it, which is obviously what I thought I was photoing at the time, with the trees as a mere frame.  Look at the trees, with their big thick branches, that suddenly stop (because of pruning) and then burst out in all directions with lots of much smaller branches.

The photo I’ve been able to track down in my archives that best illustrates this effect is of some trees at the junction between Rochester Row and Vauxhall Bridge Road:

image

I seem to recall that Rochester Row has lots of trees thus truncated, which I also seem to recall photoing, several times.  But I was unable to find any such photos.

What this particular snap shows very well is how the tree, once pruned, sometimes sort of blows the end of itself up into a balloon, before the new branches finally manage to burst out, hence the fist effect.  I’m thinking especially of what happened on the right in the above picture.

The reason I went rootling through my archives for snaps of this sort was that when walking along beside the somewhat distant-from-London reaches of the New River, in the vicinity of Enfield, with GodDaughter One last Saturday, we encountered the most extreme example I have ever seen of a tree that has been pruned into a different shape to the one it would naturally have adopted.

Feast your eyes on this:

image

Is that not one of the weirdest things you have ever seen?  It looks more like something for swimming in the sea than like a tree.

This snap was snapped at one of the entrances to Enfield Town Park, or Town Park as they call it in Enfield.  You can see the New River in the background.  Had we succeeded in sticking closer to the New River at that particular point in our wanderings, we would have missed this.

What was the pruner thinking, I wonder?  Did he think that he had ended this tree’s growth?  If so, shouldn’t he or someone have painted over the top, to stop it growing some more?  Or, was he actually going for this effect?  Was this some kind of experiment?  Who can say?  Whatever the explanation, I’m glad that this was done and that I got to photo, and to bring it to the attention of the world, this remarkable effect.

Wednesday March 30 2016

Indeed.  While searching through the archives for this picture, I came upon this one:

image

I’d just seen a Superman v Batman poster in the tube, so this 3D Batmovie advert jumped out at me, metaphorically speaking.  The photo was taken in May 2008, so anyone who cares can work out which Batmovie that would be.

I like the highly appropriate architectural background.  That being, I think (supercommenter Alastair may want to correct me), County Hall.

Here’s a Superheroine, photoed moments later:

image

I’m guessing that’s Lara Croft.

Later I took this snap, of the appendages of a slightly less superheroic figure:

image

The South Bank of the River Thames abounds with people dressed up in strange costumes, soliciting money.  I say not so superheroic, but these figures do at least remain superheroically immobile.

Now that the weather has at last changed from wintry to springy, I am about to go out to take more snaps, and I wanted my blogging duties here done before all that.  And now they are.

Sunday March 20 2016

Last Thursday, I said I would be checking out the Big Olympic Thing, and I did.  The expedition was very satisfactory.  I got there.  I purchased, from a human, a one-year season ticket for a tenner.  I ascended to the top.  I took photos.  I came home again.  And I shall return to the B(ig) O(lympic) T(hing) and take better photos, from it if not of it, or at any rate different photos (see below).

First sighting of the BOT, as I emerged from the Westfield Shopping Centre:

image

Scaffolding, good.  Trees mostly without leaves, good.

I still wasn’t sure how to get there exactly, but I was, as the sportsmen say, in the right areas.  I asked around, and found my way, and while on my way photoed this part of a bigger map, concentrating on the area I was in at the time:

image

My destination is described on this map as “Arcelormittal Orbit”.  It’ll never catch on.

Photoing maps when on photo-expeditions is very good, especially if the map says “you are here”, somewhere in it, which alas this one does not.  Even so, this map shows where I went pretty well.

I started at the DLR station, in the clump of transport signs to the far right.  I went through the pale blue expanse that is the Westfield shopping centre, along “The Street”, and then along “Stratford Walk”.  Then I emerged into the open and negotiated my way past the “International Quarter”, following that big red arrow that points towards the stadium, and by then it was pretty clear.

Neither the area around the BOT nor the BOT itself is finished.  There is a notable lack of any enterprise selling food or drink, and the whole place now has the air of a holding operation.

Here, for instance, was the seething mass of humanity with whom I competed for space on the lift to the top of the BOT:

image

Next, I’m looking out through the top of the BOT to the Big Things of the middle of London, which as you can see are actually quite a way away.  Below is the Olympic Stadium:

image

I took closer-up shots, of course, of which this is my favourite:

image

The reason this shot is my favourite is that it aligns two Things you don’t often see aligned, namely the towers of Tower Bridge and, right behind them, the three-eyed Thing that is the Strata.  At the time I thought I was photoing only the Strata.  It turns out I was photoing an Alignment of the sort I so much like, but by mistake.  I love it when that happens.

6k, in a comment on my earlier BOT posting, asked about The Slide.  He’s talking about this, which is a graphic I saw at tht top of the BOT just as I was leaving.  I left in rather a hurry because the BOT was closing, hence the rather sloppy nature of this snap:

image

But, as I often like to say about my pictures, you get the picture.  That is what The Slide is going to look like.  More about that in the Dezeen posting about the BOT Slide that 6k kindly linked to.

6k asked if The Slide is finished yet.  Answer: It has hardly started.  Not started at all in any way you’d notice.  See the next picture but one below.

Meanwhile here is another graphic that I photoed, at the bottom of the BOT, on the outside:

image

What we see there is how the view from the top of the BOT looks when the sun is off to the side rather than straight ahead, as the sun was in all of my photos of those Big Things.  And when a Real Photographer is on the job.

Memo-to-self: Some time quite soon, I shall be consulting the weather forecast and making a trip out to the BOT again, in the morning.

Second-to-last shot, showing the total absence so far of any Slide action, and the Olympic Stadium, soon to be occupied by West Ham United:

image

Note once again the insane competition from massed humans for the facilities on offer.  Not.

I will end with a shot of the BOT and a crane, snapped from just outside Pudding Mill Lane DLR, which is one of my favourite DLR stops if only because of its name.  This makes the point yet again that this whole area is very much work in progress rather than finished.  The Slide is yet to come, as is a lot of other stuff:

image

See the very bottom of the map snap above for the location of Pudding Mill Lane.  As you can see from that snap, even despite its truncatedness, there is a lot of Olympicness for me to explore that I did not explore on this particular expedition.  Like I say, I shall return.

Thursday March 17 2016

Getting properly out and about again after my winter hibernation, as I did earlier this week to Victoria Park (it’s easier to scroll down past yesterday’s Gulf Stream posting than to follow those links), reminded me that there are other major viewing spots in London I have yet to check out.

Such as, for instance, this Big Thing:

image

I have photoed this Thing many times, but have yet to actually visit the Thing.

Yes it’s Anish Kapoor’s Big Olympic Thing.  Now that all the Olympic fuss has died down, and most of the people who fancied visiting this Thing have visited it, and they’ve finally finished making it as good a Thing as they can, getting into this Thing and up this Thing and to the top of this Thing may finally be a buyer’s market, rather than a hell of queueing and crowding and barging.  I tried the website, to see if I could buy a ticket remotely.  But as so often with me, I couldn’t make it work.  So, I will go there this afternoon, and see if I can buy some kind of ticket, from a person.  If that doesn’t work, then I think I recall seeing a phone number I could ring.  I also seem to recall the webiste mentioning an Old Git season ticket for an entire year that costs hardly more than a single visit.  That would be great.  I do love to go back to places, after I have looked at the first lot of photos and worked out what I was actually photoing.

Whether they will sell me a ticket face-to-face or not, I will still get to check out the fascist expanses of the Olympic Park, or whatever it is they call the big pointless spaces outside the Olympic Stadium.

Part of the top of which is visible in the above photo, which I took from the footbridge at Hackney Wick Overground Station, on my recent trip.

Tuesday February 23 2016

Indeed:

image

Late this afternoon, looking up Victoria Street.  Taken, I rather think, from the middle of the road, to get the cloud behind her in the right spot.

If I die trying to take a photo, so be it.

Friday January 29 2016

Indeed:

image

Also, on her right, some of the new buildings at the top end of Victoria Street.

It’s already deep into tomorrow morning, after my meeting.  It went well, but (or and) I am now very tired.

Sunday January 10 2016

For the purposes of this posting, bike fishing means fishing for bikes.  Not: fishing while on a bike.

As already noted here before Christmas, Amusing Planet has become a regular internet spot for me.  I especially liked this report, complete with photos like this:

image

Favourite line in the report:

Bike fishing has become one of Amsterdam’s unique tourist attraction.

My immediate reaction was: So, anyone can do it?  Do you need a license?  But what they really mean, presumably, is just standing there and watching while somebody else does the bike fishing.

A bike fishing competition might be really something.  And it still might be if it was fishing while on a bike.

Other recent favourite Amusing Planet posting: The Lady of the North.

Thursday December 31 2015

I spent a lot of today doing an elaborate Samizdata posting with twelve photos in it, and now I am doing the same here.  Most of these ones are just of the I Just Like It sort.

Whether I have the time and energy left after posting the photos to say something about them remains to be seen.  Anyway, here they are, one for each month, in chronological order:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

Okay, let’s see if I can rattle through what they are, insofar as it isn’t obvious.

1.1 was taken outside Quimper (which is in Brittany) Cathedral, where they were selling that sugary stuff on a stick called I can’t remember what.  I stalked the guy for ever, until he finally obliged by sticking his sugary stuff on a stick in front of his face.  Never clocked me, I swear.  Although, when others stalk me when I’m photoing, I never notice them.

1.2 is the amazing coffee making equipment owned by the friend also featured in these earlier pictures.

1.3 is the men’s toilet in the Lord Palmerston pub, near Suicide Bridge, photoed soon after I took those.

2.1 explains itself.  2.2 is Anna Pavlova, reflected in the House of Fraser building in Victoria.  2.3 was taken on the Millenium Footbridge.

3.1 is 240 Blackfriars.  What I like about it is that in some photos, such as this one, it looks like a 2D collage stuck onto the sky, instead of a 3D building in front of the sky.

3.2 is the new entrance to Tottenham Court Road tube/crossrail station, outside Centre Point, seen from further up Tottenham Court Road.

3.3 is the Big Olympic Thing, seen from Canning Town railway and tube station.  A tiny bit of it, anyway.  To me, unmistakable.  To you, maybe an explanation needed.

4.1 shows me photoing shop trivia, in this case a spread of magazines dominated by the scarily intense face of one of British TV’s great Tragedy Queens, the actress Nicola Walker.  I first clocked her when she was in Spooks.  Now she’s in everything.

4.2 and 4.3 are both film crew snaps.  4.2 features a London Underground Big Cheese, who is a bit put out to find himself being photoed by the wrong person instead of by his own tame film crew.  He was drawing a lot of attention to himself, so I reckon him fair blogging game.  4.3 is another film crew, in Victoria Street, just loving the attention, who will be ecstatic when they hear about how they have hit the big time.  I like how there’s a movie advert on a bus right behind them.

There, that wasn’t so bad.  Although there are probably several mistakes that I am, as of the smallest hours of 2016, too tired to be fixing.

Happy New Year to all who get to read this.

Tuesday December 29 2015

In the summer of 2012, there was lots of sculpture made with plastic milk bottles in and around the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Part of it looked like this:

image

I remember greatly enjoying this at the time, when I chanced upon it on June 9th 2012 (which happens to be the same day I took these photos of Cannon Street station and St Paul’s and its surroundings, and this photo of a lady wearing sunglasses and holding two cameras).  It helped me enjoy this sculpture that I did not know what I know now (through following the link above), which is that this was in aid of the Olympics.
I came upon this while searching for Wicked Camper vans.  More about that later.  Maybe.  I promise nothing.

Monday December 28 2015

About a week before Christmas I paid my brother Peter a visit, to see him, but also to check out his new home.

But before talking to him at length, and before taking much of a look at the place he now lives in, I got a pleasant surprise, in the form of these:

image

These being geometrical objects made of cocktails sticks.  This stick object habit was one that I first acquired as an architecture student at Cambridge.  Then, when I switched to doing “social studies” at Essex, I had the time to indulge in stick object construction on a grand scale. It is amazing how many such things you can fit into a small student room, if you are careful about things like swinging your arms or getting out of bed.  The volume over the bed was filled with these things, as I recall.

Peter must have gone to a lot of trouble to contrive for these few surviving objects to be transported, from the family home that he has been guarding for the last year or two to his new abode.  I am flattered that he thought this worth doing.

The above photo, believe it or not, is one of the better photos of any of these things I have ever taken, in the sense of showing the world what they look like.

When a person looks at these things, he jiggles his head around a tiny bit and thereby gets the 3D picture.  But cameras don’t work if they jiggle.  They don’t “build up a picture” inside their heads.  They don’t have heads, and all they do to a picture is “take” it, in 2D.  Again and again, I have photoed my ever-dwindling collection of these (to me) fascinating 3D objects, and every time, all I got was indecypherable 2D shapes and patterns.  Sometimes the shapes and patterns were quite pretty, but that is all they were.  Their origin was absolutely not clarified, only obscured, more or less completely.

Also, as a result of trying to light them better, I would get lots of shadows.  The above photo is exceptional in not featuring lots of shadows.  I didn’t plan this.  It was a fluke.  A Real Photographer would know how to photo these things.  But I am not one of these personages.

Somewhere, I possess a collection of black and white slides I took of these things at the time I made them.  I should take a look at those again, if there is anything left to look at.

Here are two more snaps of another of these objects:

imageimage

As you may note, behind this thing, on the right, is a person.  That would be my brother, and that picture was an early attempt to get a portrait of him, with blurry bits of stick object in the foreground.

Like this:

image

That is included here with Pete’s permission.  So now, people will accost him in the street, with cries of: “Hey, you’re BrianMicklethwaitDotCom’s brother, Pete!”

I find some people very hard to photo.  But whenever I photo Pete, I seem to get something good.  A lot of my pictures of these stick objects often look like that picture, but without a person in them.  I don’t know what the white blob on the right is.

I was intending to include something in this about Pete’s home.  Nothing personal, you understand, just general stuff about what new homes seem to be like these days.  (Basically, very good.) But I’ll leave that for another time.

Friday December 25 2015

Happy Christmas, as and when you get around to reading this.

The weather this Christmas has been terrible.  Warm, yes, but relentlessly cloudy and rainy.  It seems like it’s been raining in London ever since I said here early last month that in London rain is quite rare.  Wednesday was a brief respite, which the weather forecasters duly noted beforehand, but yesterday and today it’s back to mostly cloudy and rainy.  So here is some Christmas photo-cheer from just before Christmas last year, when the weather was mostly what it should be around this time, suitably cold and frequently bright and sunny.

I mentioned earlier my intention to focus of a Friday on non-deline as well as feline members of the animal kingdom.  This fine beast was to be seen last Christmas outside the old Covent Garden Market, where they used to sell fruit and veg - all that having moved to this place - and where they now sell stuff.

image

And here are two more photos, of the beast’s head, with a dose of that proper Christmas weather behind it, and of the sign at the beast’s feet, about how you mustn’t molest it in any way:

imageimage

BrianMicklethwaitDotCom would not be BrianMicklethwaitDotCom if I hadn’t photoed photoers and stuck some of the resulting photos up here, so here are some of the many other photoers who photoed this reindeer.  The first two have the reindeer on their screens:

imageimage

And my favourite one didn’t have anything on her screen that I could see, but did have reindeers on her excellent woolly top.

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Relevant website.  Like I said, stuff.

Wednesday December 23 2015

I love these modernist sand castles by Calvin Seibert, featured today at the blog of Mick Hartley (to whom thanks).  Hartley picks out five of them for his blog.  I pick out another for mine:

image

Many more here, as Hartley adds, at Calvin Seibert’s My “Sand Castles” Flickr site.

Here, I think we can say with confidence, is another impact of digital photography.  Seibert doesn’t say in his short introductory spiel (click on “show more") how important digital photography is in preserving something of these castles before the incoming tide or human destructiveness or accident claims them.  But it obviously is.  Would he have developed this way of sculpting, if he had had no convenient way of recording it?

And my other thought is that the website where Hartley learned about these castles, which is called Amusing Planet and which I had not previously heard of, will be well worth making regular visits to.  It says in this post that Amusing Planet has now been in action for nearly eight years.  I must have been there before.  But, I didn’t pay any attention to the surroundings of whatever posting I was looking at.  I should have.

Friday December 18 2015

I am happy for all those who enjoy such postings, but recently I have found myself visiting Colossal rather less than I used to.  The Art featured there typically now strikes me as excessive in its laboriousness-to-effect ratio.  I only went there today because guided to this by David Thompson.

The highly positive laboriousness-to-effect ratio is one of the things I especially like about photography.  Click, and it’s done.  Often with an effect that echoes on for decades.  Wow!  Look at that!  And the Wow! in question took almost no time at all to produce.  Okay, there may have been lots of creeping about, and many hours spent learning exactly where and how to creep about and exactly when to go click and what to click at, but you surely get my point.  There’s a basic efficiency about photography that is often lacking in Art.  With Art, it can take ages to contrive the effect, and then you look at it, and, well, yeah, okay, quite nice.  And that’s it.

I agree that digital photography and the internet have between them greatly increased the effect side of the equation.  Without those influences a lot of Colossal Art simply could not and would not have been done.  But the effect still feels to me fleeting, given the amount of time and effort appears to have been expended.

What distinguishes much Colossal Art from the more usual sort of Art that currently hegemonises is that it is not typically done to outrage, but rather to amuse, intrigue and entertain.  The bourgeoisie are not being epatered.  Rather are we being indulged.  A lot of it is the sort of stuff you buy in “gift shops”, just a little bigger and somewhat more complicated and expensive.

And as with the stuff in gift shops, I often like to photo it, or, for a while, take a look at it on the internet.  But I don’t buy it.

So, how about the photography department at Colossal?  Alas (for me), here also we encounter elaborately contrived fakery.  Here too are, mostly, not wondrous moments snatched from the jaws of reality itself, but not-that-wondrous moments faked-up with great effort.  Pass again.

But, and to finally get to the point which got me started on this posting, I did like these photos, for here Mother Nature has done all the work:

image imageimage image

Friday is my day for matters feline.  But recently I gave a Friday mention to some other non-human creatures, and I think I will carry on doing that.  There may even, although I promise nothing, be other non-human, non-cat postings today.

Wednesday December 16 2015

Indeed.  Hardly slept last night, but had to get up at a sane hour this morning as have things to do during the next few days.  Can’t afford for the internal clock to be totally deranged.

So, quota photo time.  From the trusty I just like them! directory, taken five years ago but some things don’t change:

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Most of the usual Wheel views have been photoed to death, but that effect is a bit out of the ordinary, I think.  I hope.

That’s the Shell Building registering the shadow, by the way.  (Er, no.  It’s not.  See comment.) I never normally like it (i.e. the Shell Building - which that isn’t - no wonder I like this picture but not the Shell Building - it all makes sense.) It (the Shell Building) is about to be joined by more lumps.  Which may - we can hope - not be so lumpish as the Shell Building.

ALSO (and also later, like the above corrections)… I like this picture of the Wheel, which I took way back in 2007:

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If that’s not the Wheel hiding in there, then I give up.

Monday December 14 2015

Yes, number 1.2 here is not taking, he’s making, and I photoed his screen instead of him.  (This would seem to explain the (to me) decidedly off-putting not to say offensive slogan on the back of his costume.)

Although quite late in the day, which was in April of this year, the light is still fairly bright, so no pictures on electrical screens.  Just faces from behind (IYGMM (if you get my meaning)) and faces front on, but with cameras in the way:

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I am well aware that my obsession with photoing strangers photoing is somewhat creepy, this being why nobody ever seems to comment on these postings.  Even to comment is to get too close to the obsession and to risk being thought to share it, or just to reckon it not creepy.  But I happen to believe that willingness to be a bit creepy is a major slice of photoing talent, and I regularly risk this.  Although I do definitely care what people think of me, I care even more about getting good photos.

And I reckon that, what with me having now done so much of this kind of photoing, the best of these photos that I take now are indeed getting to be pretty good.  Of those shown above, I particularly like 1.3, with its intriguing contrast between the manliness of his pock-marked yet handsome face and the girlified phone he is using to take his photo, of his pock-marked yet handsome face, with the four-pointed Parliament tower (actually it is probably Big Ben in his photo) in the background.

The skeleton being photoed by the guy in 2.1, in case you were wondering, is an attack on capitalism, as the Guardian explains.  But if this has to be explained, and it does, then it’s not much of an attack, is it?

I can’t make out what type of camera the guy photoing the skeleton is using.  But of the seven other cameras, four appear to be mobile phones, and the other three to be quite big and quite expensive hobbyist cameras like mine.  Mobile phones would appear to be gobbling up the small, cheap-and-cheerful digital camera market.  All phones are now cameras.  How soon before all cameras are phones?  (See the graphs in this earlier posting here.)