Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
itrat batool on Ashes to ashes
itrat batool on Ashes black out
Michael Jennings on Ashes to ashes
Natalie Solent on Victor!
Natalie Solent on Victor!
Peter Briffa on Ashes black out
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Schrodinger's Dog on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Tatyana on Victor!
Most recent entries
- Ashes to ashes
- La Porte des Indes
- Friend on telly
- Sculpture at St James’s Tube
- Digital photographers holding maps
- More photos of things past
- Father Christmas Aerodrome
- How big should these squares be?
- Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
- The Kelpies of Falkirk
- A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
- Polish girls in Moscow doing a selfie
- Music classified
- Quota videos
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: My photographs
Quota photos, I’m afraid, but I like them:
Taken by me at St James’s Park Tube, yesterday. Not really sculpture, of course. But I like the colours that my camera has automatically selected for these images. And I like how the one on the left has the dirt highlighting the shapes, rather like make-up.
I’ve recently been doing a lot of trawling through old picture archives, and in the course of this I found a directory devoted to Digital Photographers Holding On To Their Maps.
So here is an enormous clutch of such photos, with the little squares below all homing in on the maps. Click to see the photographers in action, if you wish.
The photos you get by clicking are exactly as taken, but the little squares involved quite a lot of enhancement - brightening, contrasting, sharpening, etc. - the better to reveal their mapitude.
If you don’t wish to click on any of these map squares, fine, but at least reflect with me on how the age of maps, on paper, like this, is now drawing to a close. The above snaps were snapped between 2005 and 2007. I wonder how many such photographs I’d be able to take now. Next time I go out snapping snappers, I’ll make a point of trying to see if paper maps are still being carried by photographers.
My guess would be, yes, just a few. This would be because the keener you are on photography, the more likely you were to have had a nice camera before the smartphone thing kicked in, and the less likely you might be to get a brand new smartphone, to replace your regular, mapless old phone. So maps being held by people with regular cameras are still, I am guessing, around.
But, nobody taking photos with a smartphone will now be simultaneously waving a paper map. Such a person already has a map.
It’s surely worth me adding that I got my smartphone entirely for its map app. It’s lighter than an A-Z and much lighter than all the A-Zs you’d need if you travelled much, and also much nicer than google maps printouts from my computer, because my smartphone, crucially, tells me where I am. For me, a smartphone is a book of magic maps which also does occasional phone calls and textings, not the other way around.
Going back to the pictures above, it’s not just the map-flaunting that is now looking quaint. So do a lot of the cameras. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. A picture collection is like a well stocked wine cellar. It gets better with age.
More photos of things past
More because I have already done a posting entitled Photos of things past, as I discovered when trying to save the text file I wrote prior to posting this.
I must say, I do find myself missing this Thing. If they hadn’t smashed it to bits, I would definitely be thinking that they should, but now that they have, this kind of Thing is on the defensive, and you find yourself siding with the architectural underdog. I’d certainly not be happy if all traces of New Brutalism were brutally expunged. We need a bit of it to hang around, if only as a warning of how mad architects can get, when they get mad.
This Thing was situated in the roundabout on the far side of Westminster Bridge, now occupied by the big hotel featured in picture 1.3 below. Someone told me a few days back, when I was talking about having posted an earlier picture of it here, that it was a G(reater) L(ondon) C(council) office annex, reached by a tunnel under the road from the main building. So, now that London’s local politicians have moved downstream, to The Testicle, this Thing became superfluous to requirements.
It was destroyed in October 2006, as these photos, taken on October 13th of that year, prove:
On that same day, October 13th 2006, I took other photos, of other things that have moved on, or which soon might.
The first two of these next snaps are of cranes, temporary by their nature. Who knows what that crane cluster (1.1) was building? I could probably work it out, but that isn’t the point. The point is: what an excellent crane cluster! And I think I found another picture I took of it, this time looking along The Strand.
What that blue crane was doing, floating on the river, posing in front of The Wheel, I also can’t remember.
I include the bus (2.1), with its entertaining reflections, because the London Double Decker Bus has now been redesigned, and all other London Double Deckers could soon be Things of the past.
Those wind propellers, on the top of Palestra House, the Big Thing just across the road from Southwark Tube Station, are long gone.
And the final snap there (2.3) reminds us of another kind of temporariness, which is that sooner or later, we all must move on. That snap is of flowers and pictures, placed outside Westminster Abbey, in memory of the then recently murdered (it’s still unsolved) Anna Politkovskaya.
Photoed by me, just under a week ago, in one of the windows of Selfridges.
I am starting to have a real problem with remembering the names of people. (And yes, this is another posting about the process of getting old, of the sort predicted in this earlier posting.) I see him. I know him. Or rather, I know that I should know him, and I do know him. But, I do not know him, as in: I do not know his name, despite have been told that name half a dozen times and more. Nothing is more disrespectful than forgetting someone’s name, yet I keep doing it, to people whom I really want to treat with respect.
The worst recent example of this syndrome concerns a guy who has attended several of my Last Friday meetings. He attended again last night, and once again I got his name wrong. My only defence is that I ask attenders to email me if they are coming. But this is not a condition of attendance, and he never does. So whenever he does show up, as he did last night, it’s a bit of a surprise. But that is a pretty feeble excuse. He’s on the email list.
He is a Spaniard, which I think makes it worse. I ought to be especially pleased when non-Brits show up to my evenings, and I am. So, why can I not do this man the elementary courtesy of remembering who he is?
So anyway, his name is: Victor. Victor, Victor, Victor.
It is my hope that the two pictures below (reproduced here with Victor’s permission) will finally nail Victor’s name (Victor) into my head:
On the left Victor, photoed last night in my kitchen. On the right: Victor.
What’s the betting that next time I meet Victor, I call him Vulcan?
This posting is a test, which will involve great confusion to anyone trying to read this blog now, as I do this. And actually, quite a lot of confusion in perpetuity.
I am trying to work out whether these four squares will fit in the allotted sideways space (500 pixels). Once I’ve got them fitting properly, I’ll tell you what they are, and what that picture at the bottom is.
And right away, we have a problem. The square on the right has shoved itself under the first one, rather than where I was hoping it would be. This requires all the squares to stop being 123x123 (pixels), and must instead be resized to become 122x122. This could take a while.
Okay, all done now. And it didn’t take long at all:
Let me explain. I am planning one of my big photo collections with lots of squares, and before doing that I needed to know how big the little squares needed to be, to fit properly into 500 pixels. Just as well I did this test.
As to what the four squares above are, well, there’s a clue below. They were taken on December 16th 2006, the same day as I took all these photos.
The one on the left, as it turns out, is also in the original mega collection linked to above. I guess there’s just something about a canoe man falling over forewards.
The second … well, how could I have missed this first time around? Two geese eating what is clearly a whole pizza!
Number three is a particularly vivid example of the Things Reflected genre, and I like it a lot.
And I picked out the one on the right, because it is the exact same bridge, and the exact same view of it, as is featured in this posting, except that in 2006 there was no graffiti. So right there, the decline of Western Civilisation, happening in front of our eyes.
And this final picture is what happened on my screen when I was processing that last picture.
Moiré patterns. Because these patterns were the result of the photo and my screen colliding, I don’t know what you will see on all your screens. Maybe nothing, and you don’t have the faintest idea what I am talking about.
Anyway, job done. 122x122 it is.
In that 2006 postings, as with many of my large photo-collections here, there is a horizontal gap between horizontal lines of photos, but no vertical gaps between each photo. I prefer the latter arrangement. If there are gaps, they should be everywhere. Hence this test, beause I have never done a collection which is four little photos wide. Three wide, yes, but not four.
I knew you’d be excited.
This week, I have been in a particularly egotistical and silly mood here. (Which is allowed, because I say what is allowed.) This is because I worked extremely hard (by my pathetic standards of what hard work is) on this posting at Samizdata, and am now relaxing.
It is interesting how the prices of basic supermarket products now seems to fluctuate rather more than they used to. My last stash of Gold Blend also cost £3 a go, for two. Today, I bought three of these packets. For the last few weeks it went up to £4.50, and I held off, waiting in hope of a price drop again. Today, I was nearly out and would have to buy some, no matter what the price. But, glory be, it was down to £3 again.
Could these fluctuations be a consequence of containers? Is it that containers have made supplies of things like branded coffee less continuous, more prone to famine or feast? And are we now enjoying a capitalist version of what happened under communism, in which suddenly a rumour would fly around Moscow saying that a consignment of meat had arrived, and immediately the queues would form. With us, the news that Gold Blend is on offer at Sainsburys flies around on our mobile phones, or in this case is featured on my blog, at which point it’s first come first served.
Or is it merely that logistics geniuses, armed with super-computer-networks, are now able to do sums about the precise prices they need to charge at any particular moment for any particular thing, in order to make maximum use of scarce warehouse and store space? If you get my meaning.
Or maybe it’s a bit of both?
Michael Jennings presumably knows the answer to these questions, because Michael Jennings (see the first two of these comments) knows everything .
Like the space in an Elizabethan court masque that the performers left for the courtiers themselves to step forward and take part, today everyone needs to work out how to create a stage on which the constellation of divas formerly known as the audience will strike their own pose.
That’s to be found under this headline:
The Long View: Bob Dylan and the selfie: The world’s now a stage and we’re all performing
And under this photo:
Are yes, selfies. Says Sidwell, re this new word:
Even as I cling to my old-fashioned desire to take photographs of the things that I see, “selfie” – the new nickname for a photographic self-portrait – has been declared Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year, following a 17,000 per cent increase in usage year-on-year.
I have been long been studying this phenomenon. We may not have had the word “selfie” in 2007, but there were already many, many people doing selfies:
That being one of my all time favourites from my selfies archive.
LATER: Incoming from Michael Jennings:
Taken, says Michael, on a ferry between Greece and Albania in July.
I took this photo on Wednesday evening, on the way back home from one of Christian Michel’s 6/20 talks:
Do you think it is gloomy and grim? Maybe so. But Earl’s Court is London’s Australian quarter, or it was in the days of Barry McKenzie. And today I am Loving the Aussies slightly less, although my reasons for this are this, rather than that.
And here’s a really good photograph, to make up for the really bad photograph in the previous posting. I say really good photograph. What I mean is a photo taken by me that is okay, of a really good photograph, taken by a seriously Real Photographer. Limited edition, perfect paper, perfectly printed, framed, the works, worth hundreds of pounds:
Yes, it’s Dumbledore, making himself smile for the camera.
At the Do I attended last weekend, just after taking the photo in the previous posting, this photograph was one of the items being charitably auctioned.
This is the first charity auction I can remember attending. But, despite my ignorance of how to do such a Do, let me offer you a tip, for if you ever organise a charitable auction. Be sure to hand round a cash bucket immediately after the auction bit of the evening finishes, to enable all those who feel ridiculously guilty about not having bought any of the things being auctioned to part with a manageable amount of cash, without being encumbered with a unnecessary Thing, or worse, a Complicated Experience. If they had done that at this Do, I reckon they might have increased their money by twenty percent or more. They’d certainly have got twenty quid out of me.
It’s a technically terrible photo, back lit, in a way that focusses attention on the dirtiness of the shop window. Reflections everywhere. But, I still like it. It’s a board game:
Photoed by me last weekend, in Tooting, on my way to a Do.
Blog and learn.
Today being Remembrance Sunday, but not having got out and about during it, I instead looked for Remembrance photos past, and came across the archive containing these.
I was struck by one in particular, in which we see the phrase “To All Our Heroes” inscribed on a cross with a poppy on it. That word “heroes” makes me slightly uneasy, especially in the plural. Were they all heroes? Similarly, the way all these dead are so often described as having “given” their lives for freedom, or for their country, or whatever. It must surely be more accurate to say that many of these men were victims, and that their lives were taken from them. It might be rather insulting to describe them thus in public displays honouring their memory, but maybe more accurate.
The cross on which the word “heroes” is inscribed is surely rather more accurate, as a description of what really happened, to most of these dead. I do not deny that there were indeed many heroes, in all these wars. But surely, for most, war, and death in war, were things they endured. That is a kind of heroism, of course, but is not quite what is usually meant by the word.
I lost an uncle in World War 2, although it happened before I was born. He was the victim of a training accident. I respectfully mourned him from time to time throughout my childhood and have gone on doing so ever since. But there was nothing especially heroic about his death, and that has just seemed to me to be yet further cause for sadness. Many times I wished that Uncle John had died heroically, if he had to die at all. But, he did not die heroically. War is like that.
The cross seems to me to be a somewhat more accurate representation of what happened to these countless men than does the word “hero”. This was surely more like a catastrophe which swallowed people up, in the manner of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a flood or a fire. Some who suffer or die in the course of events like that are very properly called heroes, because they did indeed behave, and perhaps die, heroically. Most, however, are merely described as victims. No disrespect is intended with that label, and I intend no disrespect in suggesting that many of these war heroes were really just war victims. Their deaths are no less worthy of being remembered and reflected upon, merely because we describe their deaths that bit more accurately.
A lot hinges on whether you consider the fights and wars that all these dead people died in were worth it. There is something inherently somewhat unheroic about dying in a fight that could not accomplish anything good. Part of being a true hero is that you choose the fight in which you will risk and perhaps lose your life, and that you choose it well.
If anything in the above angers you in any way, the chances are that this is because I didn’t say it right. I’m trying to say something that is somewhat hard to pin down, and maybe said it wrongly. I am not trying to say anything demeaning or disrespectful, either towards the dead themselves, or towards the feelings of those who still, like me, mourn them.
December 6th 2006 was a good photographic day for me. I took these photos, from the top of Tower Bridge. And, as I approached Tower Bridge, along the south bank of the river, I took many other photos, of which one of my favourites was this:
I think this looks a bit like an owl. I’ve always liked this picture, but for some reason, for years, I thought I “couldn’t show it here”, perhaps because it is a bit blurry. But of course I can show it here. I can show whatever I like here.
One of the great technological success stories of our time is the development of glass, a development which has had a profound effect upon architecture. One of many improvements made to glass has been that it has got a lot stronger. One of the ways it has got stronger is that it has got less brittle, and more bendy. And bendy glass results in unpredictable and strange reflections, like the one above.
Do you want to know what that weird shape is? Almost certainly not, but I’ll tell you anyway. First up, it is not an owl. What it is is the NatWest Tower, with the sun shining on it so it lights up like a bar of gold. And it’s the NatWest Tower lit up like a bar of gold, reflected in the new London Parliament building.
On the left here, the same thing again, but with context, in the form of other towers reflected, such as the Gherkin. In the middle, the same thing differently reflected, making it clearer that it is indeed the NatWest Tower. On the right, the NatWest Tower, not lit up like a bar of gold, but so you can see what it looks like.
Are you wondering what the new London Parliament Building is? Again, probably not, but here it is anyway, viewed from the other side, from the approach road to Tower Bridge. Here in London this is known as: The Testicle.
That last photo was taken on that same day, December 6th 2006, so again, no Shard.
More old photos, this time from the time when the Eurostar trains used to depart from Waterloo:
Taken with my old Canon A70, on June 21 2003. So, over a decade ago. I think the sign on the right of these three snaps is something of an exaggeration. That’s about how long it takes now, isn’t it? Not sure about that.
The pictures are all pleasingly worse than the ones I take now, with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150. It would be terrible to think that neither I nor my cameras had got any better between then and now.
Eurostar came and went from Waterloo from November 1994 until November 2007. Since then, not a lot.
In 2012 a new proposal for the future use of the station was made, namely that it becomes the London destination of all the UK’s sleeper trains. This may become necessary as the phasing out of Mk2 vehicles and their replacement with Mk3 will make the trains too long for the platforms at Euston, and construction of HS2 will make the long sleeper dwell times at Euston untenable. If the Paddington sleepers were also diverted this would concentrate all sleeper services at Waterloo International, thus making use of the former Eurostar lounge facilities for sleeper passengers.
I can’t say I quite follow the logic of all that, but at least Waterloo Eurostar-that-was has not been completely forgotten about.
As I keep saying, photos often age well, like wine.
This, of the City of London, was taken with my previous camera but one, from the inside of the top of Tower Bridge, in December of 2006. How time flies when I’m taking photos.
Memo to self. Must go back there, and take the same picture. Things will have changed quite a lot.
LATER: After further rootling, I think I prefer this version:
You get more of a feeling of where you are, as in where I was, when there’s something in the foreground.
And while I’m adding stuff to this posting, here is another view that will look very different, when I photo that one again: