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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: My photographs

Tuesday October 28 2014

Today, blogwise, has been one of those days.  By that I mean not that I have been too busy to do any blogging.  I merely mean that I haven’t felt like doing any, and have in fact not, until now.  I have had plenty of time to blog.  I just haven’t used any of it to blog.

So, it’s just as well that, I now discover, there has been an incoming email from Michael Jennings, entitled:

If you want to ride a really old bus, here is your chance.

Which reminds me that, recently, when mostly photoing photoers photoing Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, I found myself photoing, instead, this:

image

He wasn’t taking photos.  He was checking through photos he’d taken earlier.

I can remember when buses like that were the latest thing.

LATER: More about those Tower of London poppies.  I read that Guardian piece before I discovered Guido was already on to it, and I thought it was weird too.  Like one of the commenters, and Guido, said: clickbait.  Plus, as another commenter said: yeah, the general public likes it, it means something, no wonder the Guardian art critic can’t be doing with it.  Let’s hope Natalie Solent gives the piece a good fisking like it’s 2004.

image

I know what you are thinking.  That there is no connection between a big red historic thing which people just never forget about and a big red thing about an historic thing which people just never forget about.  Something along those lines?

Saturday October 25 2014

It’s one thing to see a photo-drone reviewed in DPReview, and costing the best part of a thousand quid.  It’s quite another to see one in the flesh, in a London shop window, on sale for less than four hundred:

image

Photoed by me through the window of Maplin’s in the Strand, late this afternoon. 

Here are the details of this gizmo, at the Maplin’s website.

Okay, that must be a very cheap camera, but even so, this feels to me like a breakthrough moment for this technology, if not exactly now, then Real Soon Now.  Note that you can store the output in real time, on your mobile phone.  Something tells me that this gadget is going to generate some contentious news stories about nightmare neighbours, privacy violations, and who knows what other fights and furores.

What might the paps do with such toys?  And how soon before two of these things crash into each other?

Thursday October 16 2014

I am rather ill, so will be brief.

I have opened a Bald Blokes Taking Photos photo file.  So far, my favourite bald bloke taking a photo photo is this one, taken in July of this year:

image

I like (a) the Shard in his picture.  There are other photos in this file of equally good bald blokes, and some of them have come out even better, with more detail.  But you can’t tell from the photo what they’re photoing, which I rate a drawback.

And I like (b) the amazing sort of horizontal rift valley at the back of his head, that many bald blokes have (some of them more than one).

Enjoy.  For me, it’s back to being ill.

Wednesday October 15 2014

It’s that time of the year when I go into one of my local supermarkets and immediately start taking photos, like that, or like this:

image

Yes it’s Halloween.  And the shops, in this case Sainsbury’s, are full of Halloween crap.  And I photo it.  I wouldn’t buy any of it.  Oh no.  I am far above that sort of thing.  But, I photo it.

Except, how about these rather cute buckets?  Just the thing for my Last Friday of the Month meetings, to put crappy food in:

image

Only 50p per bucket!  I got two.  And I just might go back for more.

image

Not that.  I wouldn’t want one of them.  That’s my picture of Sainsbury’s, having the last laugh.

Tuesday October 14 2014

A few days ago I purchased a small loaf of sliced bread of my favourite sort, namely Hovis Original Wheatgerm.  And I found something rather strange about it:

image

Not all the slices were like this, but most of them were.

I’m guessing that what happened here was that part of the previous loaf inside whatever space this loaf was cooked in got left inside, and hence incorporated into the next loaf, my loaf.  And, it would appear, it got cooked twice, or at least rather more than the rest of the loaf, and before the rest of the loaf was inserted.  And then everything sliced and sold to a supermarket, and bought by me, just as if nothing odd had happened at all.

I happily ate the resulting hybrid loaf, which seemed fine, even if the darker bits were a bit drier.  This is not a complaint.  If Hovis want to send me more sliced bread, they are welcome, but that is not my purpose with this posting.  I’m just trying to entertain, with an oddity.  Because, odd, don’t you think?  Never seen that before.

On a slight tangent, I believe that I am becoming a better photographer with the passing of the years.  By this I do not mean that I am getting technically any cleverer, although mercifully my cameras are.  What I mean is that now, I realise that this is the kind of thing that needs to be photographed, before it is merely consumed.  A few years ago, I might have eaten this, and then only later realised that I would have liked a photo of it.

Just to emphasise that my improvement as a photographer still has some way to go, I vaguely recall trying not to get any shadows in this photo.  But, if I was so trying, I failed.  You can make out the shadow of my photoing finger, towards the right.  Apologies for that.  You get what you pay for here.

Saturday October 11 2014

Indeed.  You don’t see this kind of thing every day:

image

But I did.  Today.

As a general rule, I don’t advise combining ice cream with photography.  Do one or the other.  That is the rule I recommend.  But these guys were doing an excellent job of merging these two things, and they weren’t just eating their ice creams and doing photography.  They were photoing their ice creams.

I congratulated them for the excellence of their photographic imagination, and they were really pleased to hear this.  I asked if I could photo them.  Yes, they replied.  And when I said “photo”, I meant, as they surely understood, photo them and put pictures of them up at my blog:

image

I also took lots photos of a demo outside Parliament by Kurds, demanding help from Britain in their battles against ISIS.  Maybe (I promise nothing) I’ll put some of those snaps either here or on Samizdata, perhaps tomorrow.

Friday October 10 2014

The lion statues in Tragalgar Square are famous, and they deserve to be.  But there is another lion statue in London that I am also fond of, namely the one on the far side of Westminster Bridge from the Houses of Parliament.  I like, when I walk along beside the river next to St Thomas’ Hospital, to photo it lined up with the Wheel.

Here is how it looked, on the day I also took these photos, and these, and these:

image

I really liked this when I saw it.  You wouldn’t want a guide lion, but, that’s the joke.

And this other guy liked it too:

image

I couldn’t wait for Friday to come round so I could show these snaps to you people.  Inconveniently, I took them on a Saturday.

The BBC have been doing cats, in a three part documentary, and the papers are all over it.

It turns out that with us, cats are cats.  Then they go outdoors and become lions.  They get on better with us than they do with each other.  They have evolved to manipulate us into feeding and sheltering them.

With the arrival of the internet, the evolution of cats has entered a new and more intense phase.

LATER: Although guide lions probably wouldn’t work, here’s a 2012 story about a guide cat, who guides a dog.

SUNDAY: I was back there yesterday, and that bit of yellow writing wasn’t there when I first photoed this guide dog lion:

image

And they have also sorted out that strap around the lion’s front.

More about what is going on here, here.

Wednesday October 08 2014

I have started a file of photos called “I Just Like Them”, for those days (very frequent) when I have left blogging for the day to the last possible moment and beyond.  The idea is to have a plentiful supply of quota photos, ready to hand.

Here is the kind of thing I mean:

image

That was taken from the top of the Monument on November 18th 2012.

I could drone on for several paragraphs about what is so very nice about that picture (were I to do this, the redness of two of the cranes there would get a particular mention), but the simple truth is: I just like it.

Tuesday October 07 2014

Busy day.  Quota photo time:

image

Red crane tower.  Yellow staircase made of scaffolding

There is lots of building going on in the Victoria area right now.  That photo was taken in Victoria Street, on the same day that I photoed yesterday’s bag ladies.

And this other photo was taken of the same construction job.  It isn’t really raining.  But something watery was being done up at the top of the building (washing something maybe?), and water was descending from there, down through the bright sunshine:

image

Rain is, I find, hard to photo (although sometimes I get semi-lucky – see photo 2 in this posting).  The best way is usually to photo it at the place where it lands.  Photoing it in the air as it descends seldom works for me.

This is usually because when it is raining there is no bright light in action to pick out the descending drops.  It is amazing how much difference sunshine makes to photography.  The eye adjusts, and doesn’t see that huge difference.  But the camera gets everything exactly so on a sunny day, but dulls everything down on a dull day.  If you are photoing rain, bright sunshine blasting through that rain is what you want.  The above wasn’t really rain, but it was like rain - although descending more slowly, which also helped, and the sunshine was, as you can see, at full throttle.

However, you probably need to click on it and make it bigger to register the effect at all clearly.

Monday October 06 2014

Last Saturday the weather was vile, in the morning.  But, trusting as I always do in the excellence of Britain’s short term weather forecasts (see in particular the final comment there), I prepared myself for a late afternoon expedition with my camera, confident that sunshine would be abundant.  Exactly as forecast, it was.

I took many other photos of photographers besides those I took, during that same expedition, of the photographer who took photos of Gramex CDs, including, in particular, these, of bag ladies taking photographs:

image image image

Well, not really bag ladies.  More ladies also carrying big bags.  All three are using the same technique for carrying their various bags, namely putting their entire arms through the bit which would normally only be clutched by a hand.  If you think about it, this technique only works when you are pointing your arm upwards.  Point your arm downwards and the bag doesn’t stay put.  This means you only carry your bag like this when you are taking photos.  Which makes this a classic item of Digital Photographer Behaviour, alongside such things as the Waving About of the Fifth Finger (to avoid it finding its way into the picture (as demonstrated by the lady with the next bag)).

Click on any of the squares, and you will get to the exact same square only bigger.  These pictures have been thus cropped in order to avoid showing the faces of people standing nearby, in ways that would be easily recognisable, either by people or by machines.

Saturday October 04 2014

Yes, there I was, relaxing in one of the big old armchairs that Mr Gramex reckons have made him so much money over the years, and this guy shows up at the door wanting to photo the CDs.

Mr Gramex has no objection, so, he does.  And I photo him.  This is what this looked like:

image image image

I thought I was the only one who did things like photo CDs in CD shops.  Why was he doing this?  He was evasive.  My guess is some kind of project photoing lots of different stuff in lots of different London shops.  Or, maybe wherever he goes, in life, he photos stuff in shops, the way I photo photographers.  He said he was from Turkey.

Mr Gramex was very keen that Mr Turkey should also go outside and photo the window display, which he did.  Even if he actually cared nothing for this window display the marginal cost of digital photography is zero and if that was how to keep in with Mr Gramex, fine, he’d do it.  Which is when I took the photo on the right.  Click on that photo, and, in the event that you care at all, you can see me photoing, reflected in the shop window, bottom right.

The bike in the middle picture belongs to Mr Gramex.  As you can see from the reviews here, Gramex does not suit everyone.  But it suits the people it suits very well.

Thursday October 02 2014

Earlier this evening I attended a talk given by Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown in Southwark.  Read Michael’s background briefing about the things he talked about further this evening, either here, or here.

I have friends who seem to revel in having their photos taken, but Michael is not one of them.  He entirely lacks vanity, and tends, when being photoed, to have the look of a man worrying about how bad he fears he will look in the photo.  So it was that, having earlier been asked for a photo of Michael by Simon Gibbs, the organiser of the meeting, I was only able quickly to find one that was remotely good enough.  (You can see it at the other end of the second of the above links.) This evening I made a particular effort to correct this, and here is one of the better shots that I took of Michael this evening:

image

The most dramatic moment in the evening came when the Putin-echoing stooge Russian lady in the audience (there always seem to be one such stooge at any public event mentioning Russia and its current policies) tangled with Michael on the subject of Poland.  Why were the Poles so paranoid about Russia and so keen to join NATO?

Michael replied with a short history lesson that was brief, and crushing.  Nazi-Soviet Pact.  (The stooge later denied that this had even happened, so Michael later told me.) Katyn Massacre.  Warsaw Uprising.  (Stalin parked the Red Army outside Warsaw and let the Nazis crush it.) An imposed Communist government, that the Poles would never have chosen for themselves, for the next half century.  Final sentence, something like: “If fearing Russia after all that means you are paranoid, then yes, I guess the Poles are paranoid.” Applause.  With any luck, this little interchange will be viewable on video, along with the talk itself of course.

Earlier, the lady stooge had waxed eloquent to me, in the socialising period before the talk, about the superiority of Russian education over English education.  She had a point.  Russian children are indeed made to work far harder at their lessons than English children are these days.  But what if the lessons they learn are a pack of lies?

See also this, recently at Samizdata.

On a happier note, I harvested several names and emails of various young, clever libertarians to add to my Brian’s Last Fridays list.  A couple of them being, so it seemed to me, of exceptional promise.  (I hope that doesn’t sound patronising.) I was particularly impressed by this guy.

Tuesday September 30 2014

Indeed.  Photoed by me this afternoon:

image

I don’t know what went wrong with this one.

Googling reminds me that there were a lot of complaints, the summer before last, about Boris buses getting too hot.  Has that been sorted?

In general, I am suspicious of these new buses, on two grounds.  First, as its nickname makes clear, this is a very political sort of bus, being the Boris Johnson answer to Ken Livingstone’s Bendy Bus.  When politicians push technology, expect trouble.  I’m not saying they always get things wrong, because they don’t want to look like prunes, and when they push things that go wrong, they do.  But, they are still tempted to push, because, in defiance of what you often hear, politicians are typically very short-termist, being unable to look beyond their next election.  Businessmen, at any rate businessmen of the sort who preside over the design of buses, tend to look further ahead, and not unleash their buses until their are truly ready.

Second, it was designed by a “designer”.  By Thomas Heatherwick, who designed that cute roly-poly bridge in Paddington and also the bridge Joanna Lumley wants to have built across the Thames.  If you want a bus not to malfunction too much, the kind of designer you want designing it is a bus designer, who is thoroughly familiar with the particular problems that buses can get engulfed by and knows all the tried-and-tested recipes for avoiding such problems.  This Heatherwick bus smells to me of change for the sake of it.  This is okay if you are designing something small enough to fail without too much expense, like a chair or a spoon or an iPhone case, or a rather pointless roly-poly bridge.  But buses are serious.  When they go wrong it can cost millions.

And when a “designer” is involved, mistakes do tend to happen, because designers are brought in precisely to design everything.  And when you try to do everything anew, you make mistakes.

And if that happens to a politicised design, such as this bus, other political things cut in.  Politicians and their supporters don’t suffer financially when their pet projects go wrong.  They can start fighting the wrongness by just chucking money at it, and just pass the bill on to the rest of us.  If unlimited money doesn’t sort out the mess and instead becomes part of the mess, then their next impulse is to try to cover things up.  If that fails, Plan C (we’ve reached about C, I’m guessing) is to find someone or something else to blame.  Does that also fail?  Plan D: just walk away from the mess, refuse to talk about it, and insist on talking about something else, anything else, everything else.  Change the subject.  In politics, in the end, all there is is “the subject”.  If politicians keep winning, then they “succeed”, no matter how much havoc in the form of things like crappy buses they leave in their wake.

I’m not saying that these Boris Buses are guaranteed to fail.  New designs, of the sort driven by politicians, can be a triumph.  Sometimes, they even triumph economically.  Look at the Volkswagen Beetle.  And nor am I saying that one bus attached to a tow-truck is evidence of complete failure.  I’m just saying that this particular bus has a lot of bear traps to get past.

LATER: By pure coincidence, favorite blogger of mine 6k right now also has things to say about Boris.

Quote:

He’s a law unto himself, but if you believe that there’s nothing behind the apparent buffoonery of his outward image, I think you’re mistaken. You don’t get where Boris is by being a buffoon. Acting one, perhaps – being one, no.

Spot on.  The British toff classes are full of people like this.  I had an uncle who behaved exactly this way.

Monday September 29 2014

As revealed in this earlier posting, I recently visited Tate Ancient, which is only a walk away from where I live.  I should go there more often.

One of the big reasons being that it is a wonderful place, not just to learn about Art and all that kind of stuff, but to photograph photographers.  All who frequent this blog know that photographing photographers is an obsession of mine.

Photographers like these two:

image image

The blue-haired lady on the right was photoing the sculpture that can be seen more clearly, behind the man on the left.

Note that neither of the cameras seen in action here are of the old school and conventional sort.  No, they are iCameras.  There was a lot of this going on, not just picture making, but note taking.

Saturday September 27 2014

Earlier I showed you a old facade being carefully preserved.  Here is another:

image

But where exactly is this facade.  The photo was taken in May 2012, and I didn’t take any note-taking shots of where this was.  And I cannot now find any mention of it on the www, only a website of the enterprise that constructed it.  (This I learned by taking a closer look at the stuff at the bottom of the picture than I am according to you.  My original pictures are really very large.)

I like to think that I am becoming a better photographer as the years go by.  What I mean by this is not so much that the photos are getting technically better.  They are, but that is largely down to the cameras I use getting better.  What I mean is that I am, I hope, getting better at deciding what to photo, and better at recording what I photoed.

Maybe that is an idle boast.  But maybe what is now only a boast will, because I have here written it down, will become an influence on actual practice in the future.