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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 June 20 2018

More and more, I have come to think of the reflections to be seen in windows as interesting things to photo, alongside the things you see through the windows.

Thus:

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That’s Battersea Power Station and its crane cluster, photoed from a train, about to cross the river into Victoria, earlier in the month.

I know, it has the lights inside the train reflected in the window, and that is considered bad.  But why is this a problem?  I think it makes a rather interesting combination of sights.

I also like very much how the above photo also includes a small mention of the Shard, towards the bottom on the right:

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My camera sees more than I do.

What the above sentence really means is that when I looked at the actual scene, when photoing it, I saw one thing, but when I look at the photo that I took, I see different things.

I now get to see more of that one scene.  At the time I saw the scene, complete with its reflected lights, but then the train carried on moving and immediately showed me another scene, and another, and … .  No wonder I didn’t see as much of the original scene.

Tuesday June 19 2018

On Saturday June 9th, I journeyed to Blackheath’s All Saints’ Church to hear GodDaughter 2 and three of her Royal College of Music comrades in song take it in turns each to sing a few of the songs they had already done or were about to do in their graduation recitals.  It was a fine event for all present, but for me it was particularly special, because, simply, I thought that GD2 sang so very well.  There was a security, strength and beauty to her voice that I’d never heard before, and she sold her songs, every nuance of which she clearly understood perfectly, with just the right amount of facial and bodily gesture, enough to really help, but never to distract from her now amazing voice.

GD2’s graduation recital was still to come, and in the next few days I asked myself if she really had been as good as I thought she had, and whether, if she had been, she’d reproduce this recently achieved level of excellence when there was so much more at stake.

It was this graduation recital that got me, last Thursday afternoon, photoing the statue of Prince Albert outside the Albert Hall (sadly it is easier to scroll down than follow that link).  In that posting, I mentioned, in passing, that I thought GD2’s recital had been very good.  Perhaps you thought that this was mere routine politeness on my part.  No.  It really was very good, indeed.

The recital happened in a rather large hall, way too large for the number of friends and family present.  In the middle, at the back, right in GD2’s eyeline, four RCM judges sat at desks in a silent row, giving her marks out of a hundred and writing comments that would decide her future.  At first, GD2 seemed understandably rather nervous.  But once she got into it, it was like Blackheath all over again, and if anything even better.  This was a far bigger venue to fill than that church, but she did this in a way that suggested she’d do the same in a place three or four times bigger.

Most of GD2’s recent performances that I’ve seen and heard have been in opera scenes, where she was mostly just singing along with others.  Which was fine, but it was hard to judge what personal progress she had been making.

It’s no good asking any of GD2’s fellow students what they think of her singing.  They’re great kids, but all part of what is so great about them is that they never share any doubts they may have about each other’s performing progress or prowess with a mere civilian such as I.  Which means that if they now think that GD2 is as good as I do, they have no way of telling me so that is fully convincing.  My only way of knowing if GD2 is as good as she has suddenly started sounding and looking to me is simply to listen very carefully, e.g. while shutting my eyes, and then to go with what I think I heard.  And what I think I heard, and saw, especially last Thursday, was the sort of singing that would have sounded absolutely fine if I and a five hundred and fifty others had paid to listen to it in a packed Wigmore Hall.

I have always liked and admired GD2.  And ever since she got into the RCM I have admired her even more.  Clearly there were classical singing experts who thought highly of her prospects, and that was hugely impressive.  But it was only at that Blackheath church, and then again last Thursday, that I was able to hear it and see it, fully, for myself.

Here are a couple of photos I took of GD2 last Thursday, in the RCM foyer, after her recital:

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As you can see, I wasn’t the only one photoing her.

There’s still a long way to go before GD2’s name is in lights and on the covers of CDs, and any number of knowns or unknowns could still stop all that.  What she is doing is like running in a marathon.  It’s still quite early in the race and the leading bunch in this marathon is still pretty big.  But, the point is: GD2 is still in that leading bunch.  She’s still a contender.

It helps that her voice, mezzo-soprano, is quite rare.  Regular sopranos, along with bass-baritones, are fairly common.  Mezzos and tenors, not so much, not good ones.

Monday June 18 2018

Earlier this evening I was in the City, checking out the latest Big Things, but this posting isn’t about that.

I care just enough about England doing well in the World Cup to have to try not to care, as opposed to truly not caring.  Countries like Tunisia are getting better at soccer, and countries like England are getting worse, so today’s game, Tunisia v England, was a banana skin almost guaranteed to embarrass England.  I chose early this evening for my City walkabout because the weather forecast was good, but also because if I was photoing in the City, I could forget about this sure-to-be excruciating game.

Fat chance.  For starters, I was constantly walking past pubs full of people crying out in unison and in frustration, at England’s evidently imperfect performance.  Also, I had my mobile phone with me, and it was able to tell me what the shouting was all about.  I tried not to mind when Tunisia equalised with a penalty.  I tried not even to know.  But I did, because I did.

Also, in one of those urban coicidences, I encountered two further soccer reminders, both involving Dele Alli, a Spurs player who also plays in this England side.  These two photos were taken by me within a minute of one another, the first outside Liverpool Street tube, and the second down on the tube platform:

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On the left, an Evening Standard headline, all about how ruthless England must be, against Tunisia.  Sadly, they ruthlessly missed almost all of the many goal chances they created.  Had that other Spurs player, Kane, not scored at the beginning, and then again right at the end in extra time, England would have been humiliated.

And on the right, an advertising campaign which Dele Alli was surely asking for trouble by agreeing to.  He is fronting for clothing brand boohoo MAN.  This is a photocaption waiting to happen.  When England fail to win the World Cup, and they will, quite soon, fail to win the World Cup, Dele Alli will be photoed, a lot, looking unhappy.  And the unhappiest photo of all will have the words “boohoo man” under it, in many media outlets.  This will greatly benefit boohoo, by getting its name talked about, so I suppose, come to think of it, that the prospect of such coverage has already greatly benefited Del Alli.  But I consider this very undignified, even if Dele Alli is already boohooing all the way to the bank.

Sunday June 17 2018

Reflected in a boring building.  WIth cars next to it.

Well I like it:

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Busy day.

I took it in the vicinity of the Walthamstow “wetlands” (i.e. reservoirs), last November.

Thursday June 14 2018

Yes, here is the Royal Albert Hall, photoed by me this afternoon:

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That photo was taken early this afternoon.  I was there to hear GodDaughter2’s graduation recital in the Royal College of Music, which is just down the steps and across Prince Consort Road, south of the Albert Hall.  After I had heard GD2 do her singing, superbly, and after I and all her many other friends and family present had celebrated afterwards with her, I started to make my way home. 

Before leaving the vicinity of the College and the Albert Hall, I took more photos of the statue of Prince Albert that stands at the top of the steps, the other side of the Hall from the Albert Memorial.  In the photo above, you can hardly see the Prince Albert statue.  But later in the afternoon, the direction of the sunlight having altered, Albert was looking a lot better:

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The Royal Albert Hall is looking particular fine just now, because scaffolding.

Tuesday June 12 2018

I love to photo the huge white, often plasticky, sheeting that they now seem always to cover scaffolding with.  You get delightful shapes and patterns, due to the way that this covering sort of shrink wraps itself around the scaffolding, either because it does actually shrink, or because it is stretched when attached, or because of the wind blowing it around, in or out.

Thus:

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When the sun shines through behind, you also get scaffolding shadows.

Thus:

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I make a point of photoing scaffolding and its covering whenever the sun is being directly reflected of it towards me, very brightly, as is happening in the above photo top right.  So I zoom in on such a spot.  When I do that, the automatic light reaction of my camera darkens everything, including even the sky, overdoing things absurdly, and creates a whole different effect, nothing like what I am seeing.  (Photography is light.)

Thus:

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Plus, there is the added bonus that soon, all this will be gone, and instead there will be a building.  This building will almost certainly be far duller than it looked while it was being constructed.

This particular building is just outside the 2 Chairmen pub, where I did my talk last night, and before which I took these photos,all within a few seconds of each other.

A BIT LATER:  I just posted the above.  Until I did, I was worried that these are stupid photos, not worth anyone else’s attention.  But as soon as I stuck them up, and looked at them, in their blogged setting, so to speak, they looked to me very good.

Sunday June 10 2018

Indeed:

image

Taken by me in, I’m pretty sure, Earlham Street, which is one of the spokes that converges on Seven Dials.

The mirror is presumably there for people to see how potential purchases look on them.  But my first thought when I saw the mirror was: Is that for encouraging people to take selfies?  And I was happy to oblige.

Saturday June 09 2018

Yes, in Piccadilly Circus, photoed at the same time as those hair-patting ladies.  And this time, you know, just photoers, just photoing photos.

What strikes me is what a good camera I now have.  The light was not good.  I was there to meet up with someone, not to make the best of some sunny weather, because there was no sunny weather to be made the best of.  In the bad old days, when their were two zeroes in the years, most of these photos would have been an unsightly blur.  But now, the only thing I worry about is if there are recognisable faces on show:

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Once again, I made the selection of what to show here entirely by me liking the photo and you not seeing recognisable faces.  No thought was given to what sort of cameras were being used.  Which means that what cameras were actually being used becomes interesting and informative, like a small scientific experiment.

Once again, we observe the rise and rise of the smartphone as the preferred way for regular people to photo.  There are some Real Photographer cameras to be seen here.  And I think there always will be, because there will always be photoers for whom the best possible photos are the thing they want, and the best that a big old clunky machine can do will always be better that what a smartphone can do.

But, thinking about that some more, is that right?  Will there actually soon come a time when all photoing is done by little things the size of a biscuit?

And will there then be a Great Grumble from all the Real Photographers – a category which is maybe starting to include me - similar to the one when digital cameras first got going?

Friday June 08 2018

Indeed:

image

Photoed by me in the West End yesterday afternoon, prior to attending Lohengrin.

Other creatures don’t get any more other than that.

Wednesday June 06 2018

I did a Samizdata posting today about the architect Patrik Schumacher, and his opinion that cities ought to be more created by market choices, and less by planning, than is customary today.

So, London.  Is it planned, or did it just happen?:

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That looks like a fairly happening sort of place, to my eye.

I love those little splashes of colour, in the middle.  Thank you Renzo Piano.  Here’s a photo, of (someone else’s photo of) Renzo Piano, which I took way back in 2007:

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I wouldn’t trust just any architect, merely because any architect is an architect.  But I would trust Renzo Piano.  The above colourful offices.  The Shard.

Shame they didn’t allow this.  A case of planning meaning preventing.  Which is mostly what it does mean, I suspect.

Tuesday June 05 2018

Yes, one of the more endearing things that lady photoers and their companions do just before photoing themselves is pat their hair:

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Next time you see a lady taking selfies, watch out for this.  Chances are she’ll oblige.  It never makes any difference, but they almost always do it.

I took those two photos at Piccadilly Circus yesterday.afternoon.  I like the scaffolding.  Not good enough to be worth photoing in its own right, but a nice background to those hair-patters.

Sunday June 03 2018

One of my favourite public sculptures in London goes by the official name of Assembly.  This, or perhaps it should be “these”, stand outside of the Woolwich Arsenal, on the south side of the river, downstream of the centre of London.

I photoed these militaristic characters a while back.  Here is how they look, in their local context:

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I did a posting here about them.

Here is one of the photos I showed in that posting:

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That’s actually the inside of the head of one of these men, but your eye is telling you that this is a regular head, rather than any sort of concaveness.  Yet concaveness is what it is.  Your brain insists on telling you it’s a regular head, and you can’t successfully tell it any different.

Here’s another of these head-shaped holes, and this time it is a lot easier to see what is really going on, because there is a bit of context.  Also present is a spider’s web, visibly flat, which couldn’t be if the head was sticking out like a regular head.

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And now here is another photo which makes everything clear, by turning the head entirely black:

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No chance, therefore, for the brain to misinterpret what’s going on.

The reason I was reminded of these sorts of optically illusional images is that I am currently reading this book, which is about how the brain in particular sees things, and in general makes sense of things.  This was recommended by Alastair James, commenting on this earlier posting.

The point being that it isn’t just the brain that “makes” all this sense.  The process of “making” sense takes place at all levels within the brain/nervous system.  Your retina, for instance, is already prejudiced, so to speak, in how it looks at things.

Put it this way.  The phrase that has kept on rattling around in my head while I’ve been reading this book is the title of another book, by Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations.  We don’t just passively soak up information, and then only a bit later “make” sense of it.  Our sense organs are all the time imposing intelligent guesses upon what we are experiencing.

That summary probably isn’t that good.  But I’ve only on page 40 and I’ve been finding it pretty hard going.

The last photo above reminds me of the picture in this Samizdata posting that I did a year ago.

Saturday June 02 2018

Indeed:

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Usual story.  Started to write a piece for here.  Realised it would go better there.  Carried on writing it anyway.  So, here?  That.

Tuesday May 29 2018

The photos here were taken in nicer weather, by a much better photoer than me.

But my photo is better, because my photo has … cranes:

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I have visited this place several times in the last few days, each time in the evening, each time attempting to buy a certain CD at nearby Foyles.  Twice I was frustrated.  First, because I misidentified the closing time of Foyles, on some obsolete website I think it must have been.  Then, I forgot that yesterday was a bank holiday.  Finally, today, I got my CD, and several other cheaper ones from their second-hand collection.

And, this evening, I finally got the photo I wanted of this tube exit, and its cranes.  The key to it was: I had my camera ready to go when I stepped onto the escalator.  And then when I wasn’t sure I had what I wanted, I went back down again, and up again.  The trick was, taking the photo from near the bottom of the escalator, so that both cranes were included.

In addition to being willing sometimes to look like a perve, a photoer must also be willing sometimes to look like a prat.

Monday May 28 2018

A few hours ago, the Waterloo crane cluster was lit up by the evening sun, in front of dark clouds, an effect I love:

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That was taken from the downstream Hungerford footbridge, just outside Embankment tube.  Minutes after that it was chucking it down.  And there was more thunder.

A fine night for the BBC to be showing King Lear.

I had already set the TV recorder.