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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

Wednesday April 24 2019

Fifteen years ago today, on April 24th 2004, at the Parliament end of Westminster Bridge, I took a clutch of photos of a guy who was photoing the London Eye from that spot:

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So far so ordinary.  Not so ordinary, however, is that he was using a mobile phone.  This is one of the earliest sightings I have found in the archives of mobile phone photoing, a trend only resisted now by freaks like me who care lots about photoing, but almost nothing about instantly communicating, of photos or of anything much else.

My camera was a Canon A70.

Tuesday April 23 2019

In the part of France where GodDaughter2’s family live and with whom I recently stayed, there are two ways to make a car journey.  You can take what looks like the long route, along two or even three sides of a motorway rectangle, only travelling on little roads when you have to, to get to and from the motorway.  Or, you can attempt to travel more directly, along little roads, by the scenic route.  The scenic route looks quicker on the map, at first glance.  But the motorways are quicker because they always go straight where they’re going.  They don’t wiggle back and forth up and down mountains, or get stuck in little villages.

I was taken on various car journeys during my stay, of both kinds.  The trips involving airports were on motorways, as were others.  But there were also various journeys along those scenic routes.

Here are a few of the many, many photos I took while on such expeditions: 

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The thing is, France is (see above) big.

On one of these expeditions we drove for about four hours, hither and thither, up and down, through kilometre upon kilometre of gorgeous scenery, encountering about three other oncoming vehicles per hour. We crossed over numerous bridges as we switched from going down or up one side of a valley to going up or down the other side of the same valley, often able to see past nearby trees to distant mountains, but often not, passing through and sometimes stopping in towns or villages with orange tiled roofs.

Countryside in England of this desirability, in weather like this, would be swarming with motorists, all making it impossible for each other to have a good time.  In the south of France, where this sort of weather is only average (too cold and windy) and where they have endless supplies of such scenery, we had the entire route pretty much to ourselves.

Also, in England, if you were to drive for half a day at the slowish but steady speed we were able to drive scenically in France, you’d take a visible bite into the map of England.  In France, such a trip doesn’t register, nationally speaking.  You’ve gone from this little place here, to this next little place right next to the first place, here, two millimetres away.  As an exercise in crossing France, forget it.  You have made no progress at all.

It’s not just places like America, Africa and India that are big.  Compared to England, France is big too.

Friday April 19 2019

I like how digital photography has replaced killing, as a way to collect wildlife.  In particular (as I learned when preparing a talk I gave about digital photography five years ago), I like how butterfly collectors now collect butterfly photos instead of dead butterflies.

However, although I regularly wander about photoing photos, I have myself never photoed a butterfly.

Until last week, in France, on the same day as and about an hour after I photoed that Death in France photo, I photoed this butterfly:

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I know.  Not very impressive.  And is that another butterfly, a dead one, upside down on the floor there?  I rather think it may be.

However, a second later, this happened:

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Is that two butterflies shagging?  Do butterflies even do that?  Butterfly necrophilia perhaps?

I have no idea what brand of butterfly this particular butterfly is, but it is rather fine, I think.

A week ago now, I photoed this photo in the graveyard of a little village up in the mountains of southern France called Taulis (already mentioned here).  Today being Good Friday, I thought I’d do a little nod towards Christianity by showing a few crucified Christs, France being very full of these rather gruesome sorts of sculpture.  Everywhere you go in France, or so it seems to me, you see these, and not just in graveyards:

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Even more striking, however, in that photo, are the dead body storage units in the background.  Do we have those in England?  Not that I recall seeing.

They remind me of the dead body storage units that you see in TV police dramas.  Every so often there’s a scene where a grieving relative is asked to identify a cadaver, and a drawer is opened, and closed.  We see grief enacted.

Are police dramas on the telly replacing graveyards and crucified Christs as the main means that we now use to contemplate death?

As I get nearer to death, I think about it more and more.  What will it be like?  Will I know I’m dead?  Will I still be “alive” when I am incinerated?  Will there by bright lights in the distance?  Will it hurt?  Will I be reunited with the enemies of my schooldays?  Will I still be able to write about it here, but in a way that is unpublished?  What, historically speaking, will I miss by a whisker?  Or by decades and centuries?

Maybe France is not so full of crucified Christs.  Maybe it’s just that when I now see them, I notice them.

Tuesday April 16 2019

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection.  All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated.  But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France.  Silly old me.  I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

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Those are the Pyrenees at the back there.  In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy.  Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Monday April 15 2019

An airplane approaches London City Airport.  There are cranes, leaning away from each other, ...

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... which was all I thought I was photoing.  Until I looked at it at home on a much bigger thing; and saw a Much Bigger Thing:

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Yes, the Big Olympic Thing.

Another photo of somewhere, turned into somewhere by the same Big Thing.

Saturday April 13 2019

After I photoed those metal men beside the river; outside the old Woolwich Arsenal, I then walked up river towards the Dome, photoing photos like this:

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However, just before photoing that photo; I photoed this next photo, of a painter, hard at work:

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And here is the photo I photoed of how he was making this scene look:

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The painting above had yet to say this, but that is the Tate & Lyle factory just south of London City Airport.

I asked this artist’s permission to photo his painting, which he graciously gave, but I did not ask him who he was.  The polite way of asking that would have been to say: Do you have a website?  But, alas, I forgot to ask this:  So, no link to any website, Apologies to him if he does have a website, and apologies to you.

Thursday April 11 2019

As earlier threatened.

Here is a tree, photoed by me in Onslow Square, just off the Fulham Road, early last week:

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It’s the way they prune it.

Tuesday April 09 2019

I see this building every time I step outside Highbury and Islington tube station:

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I wondered whether such a photo was worth showing here at all; but a friend saw it and liked it, so there it is.

Life for me just now is complicated, There may be quite a few brief and rather perfunctory postings like this in the next few days.

Monday April 08 2019

These are technically terrible photos, but I had a lot of fun photoing them, and I get a lot of pleasure when I stumble upon such photos-from-airplanes in the photo-archives.  What are these exactly?:

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Well, I cranked up Google Maps, and also maps like the one here, and set to work.  That photos have exact timings attached to them is very helpful when you are trying to work out what photos from airplanes are of.

And yes, those are the four big-name Channel Islands, TopLeft: Jersey, TopRight: Guernsey, BottomLeft: Alderney, BottomRight: Sark.

I reckon that Alderney, from that angle, looks a bit like a hippo.

But for me, the most intriguing puzzle was this:

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What is that?  Turns out, it’s the island of Herm.  Herm’s sales pitch: There’s no place like Herm.  Herm, island of triangular stamps.

Never heard of it, until now.  Photo and learn.  Blog and learn.

Saturday April 06 2019

The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:

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Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men.  That was in April 2011.  It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.

Assembly is the work of Peter Burke.  My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting.  I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before.  Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else.  Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal.  Yes, probably that.  Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.

And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now.  As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me.  But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it.  There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.

A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines.  He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks.  Snap.  Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.

But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all.  Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me.  Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.

What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool.  Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.

Friday April 05 2019

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos.  Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

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KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand ("Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne"), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery.  (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is.  And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space.  Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959.  And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu).  But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space?  Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this.  But in this matter, rien.

Monday April 01 2019

Today, in the spectacular weather that had been promised and which duly occurred, I took a walk along the river, from the Woolwich Arsenal back towards the centre of London in a westerly direction until I got to the Dome, ak these days a the O2.

I saw many things, but I only now have the energy to tell you about one of them.  This:

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Click to get a more panoramic view, with more context.

After much futile searching with Google Maps, I eventually just took a guess that it might be something to do with London City Airport, and so it proved.  (Scroll down there and all is explained.) This is the London City Airport Digital Air Traffic Control Tower.  Thanks to this structure, and thanks in particular to its numerous superzoom surveillance cameras, the people who do the Air Traffic Control for London City Airport can be miles away.  Either they already are or they soon will be:

London City Airport has announced it is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital air traffic control tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. The innovative plans are a flagship moment in the airport’s 30th anniversary year, and mark the start of a technological revolution in UK airport air traffic management.

Working closely with NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services, London City Airport has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 High Definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a full 360 degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airfield and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements.

That announcement happened in 2017.  The tower no longer needs to be a computer graphic, because there it now is.  But, I suspect, only rather recently.  I think the reason I couldn’t find this Thing on Google Maps is that Google Maps has not yet caught up.

Scaffolding is not a category for this posting.  It may look like scaffolding, but it’s not.  That’s it.

Saturday March 30 2019

Photoed by me, recently, in the road:

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I still feel a bit bad about the fact that, laden as I was with shopping, I just photoed this, and then left it there.  Should I have rescued it and handed it in to someone?  Well, I didn’t.

I wonder what the story was.

Thursday March 28 2019

Today, thanks to GodDaughter2, who is a singing student, I got to see a dress rehearsal of a new opera being staged by English National Opera called Jack The Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel.  I had my camera with me, but these places don’t encourage photography, so I was assuming I’d emerge from the Coliseum with only the memories of what we’d seen and heard.

The story was, of course, gruesome, and GodDaughter2 grumbled about the lighting, which was relentlessly dark and depressing.  However, the music was pleasingly tonal, drenched in melodies, and most especially in harmonies, of a sort that seemed, in my youth half a century ago, like they’d vanished from the world of new opera for ever.

Back in that stricken post-Schoenbergian musical no-man’s-land, posh music was thought to “progress”, like science.  And it had progressed up its own rear end into unmelodious, unharmonious, unrhythmic oblivion, and because this was progress, no way back was permitted.  But then, that was all blown to smithereens by the likes of Philip Glass and John Adams.  Iain Bell, the composer of Jack The Ripper, operates in the musical world established by those two American giants.

So even though we were about a quarter of a mile away from the action, up near the ceiling, and thus couldn’t make out anyone’s face, just being there was a most agreeable experience.

And then come the curtaln call at the end, there was another nice surprise:

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That being the final surtitle of the show, to be seen in the spot up above the stage where all the previous surtitles had been saying what they had been singing.  So I got my camera out, cranked up the zoom to full power, and did what I could.

The curtain calls looked like this:

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I was particularly interested in the lady in the yellow dress, on the right of the four ladies (guess what they all had in common), because that lady was Janis Kelly, who is GodDaughter2’s singing teacher at the Royal College.

Rather disappointingly, for me, was that most of the photos I took of Ms Kelly were better of the lady standing next to her when they were taking their bows, a certain Marie McLaughlin:

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But I did get one reasonably adequate snap of Ms Kelly, suitably cropped (the photo, I mean) to remove Ms McLaughlin, whose nose had been sliced off in the original version that had emerged from the camera:

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My camera now has much better eyesight than I do, and the gap seems to grow by the month.  Okay, that photo is rather blurry.  But there was a lot of zoom involved. I only managed to decipher about a third of those surtitles.  One of the key members of the cast was black, but I only found this out when I got home and saw her in one of my photos (see above).

I hope a DVD, or perhaps some kind of internetted video, of this production emerges.  And I think it might, because this is a show full of pro-female messages of the sort that appeal to modern tastes, and featuring one of the most spectacular exercises in toxic masculinity in London’s entire history.

I’m now going to read the synopsis of the show at the far end of the first link above, to get a a more exact idea of what happened.