Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: My photographs

Wednesday August 26 2015

Just had another rootle in the photo-archives, and I encountered two nice (if rather cheesey (but I don’t care)) photos, which had in common that there were not entirely nice, but that if I cropped a couple of squares out of them, they became a lot nicer.  The one on the left is the bottom right hand corner of the original.  The one on the right is two thirds of the original with the left one third omitted.

imageimage

Taken in Jan 2007 and Feb 2008.  (Feb: no leaves.)

Monday August 24 2015

I’m concocting a short Samizdata posting which will need, if and when it ever materialises, its readers to be able to read what it says in this:

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Samizdata readers!  If you need this bigger to read it, click on it!

Sunday August 23 2015

When I first started noticing new architecture about fifty years ago, glass figured prominently in the ravings of Modernist propagandists, being the means by which buildings made themselves transparent and thereby proclaimed their structural honesty and modernity.

This same glass was routinely hated by those obliged to live or work behind it.  Glass was the means by which unfortunate inmates of Modernism were fried in the summer, frozen in the winter, or had their skirts looked up through by passing oglers.  The heating and air-conditioning bills could be stupendous.  Often, inmates shoved cardboard behind this glass, to diminish its worst impacts.  Glass in modernistic buidings regularly got broken, often deliberately, not least because first generation modern buildings, at any rate in the UK, often brought out the worst in those subjected to it.

How times have changed, by which I mean: how glass has changed.  It is far more varied now, far more cleverly made, far stronger and less breakable, and far more carefully used in buildings.  Which is not surprising given that glass has only grown in importance, and in the percentage of the surface area of buildings that it now covers.

What follows is the whole of a short report, by Chris Jarvis of Sheppard Robson, of a round table conversation in which he participated last May, about the use of glass in building, organised by the Architect’s Journal.

The prose is sometimes rather businessy and clunky, but I found the content fascinating:

Design process

The conversation was focused on the specification of high-performance glazing. More specifically, how fundamental changes within the industry – which include shifts in legislation and the drive for efficiency in our built environment – have resulted in the specification of glass being determined much earlier in the design process.

Glazing is no longer an adjunct that is decided upon once a concept design is complete and planning has been granted. Issues such as orientation, shading and air-tightness need to be considered in the early stages of projects along with the specification of the glass to ensure the target energy performances can be met. Rigorous energy modelling is also important to enable the right glazing option to be chosen for project, site and client.

Availability of data

One of the key challenges in the specification process is the availability of the necessary rigorous data on materials. Currently, there is a feeling across the industry that the level of detailed product information is not readily available across the board. This provokes the question of how can technology be harnessed to collate the necessary technical performance and cost data - which architects, façade engineers and contractors can use - to make the right choices earlier in the process.

New products

A holistic approach needs to be taken to assess all of the above criteria and select the most appropriate single, double or triple glazed units to meet the performance requirements, whilst staying within budget. Triple glazing is not currently a widely used material to boost performance, mostly due to the cost of the product. However, over the next few years this is likely to change: as triple glazing products become more widely used and technology develops to decrease the weight of the product, it will become more viable for projects and client budgets.

However, the use of more advanced, highly tuned technology requires more monitoring after completion to access the efficiency of the product over the lifespan of the building. Currently, rigorous data of how glazing performs after 10 and more years does not exist; how can new products help the industry close the ‘performance gap’ and alert us to poorly performing glass that is ultimately having a major impact on the efficiency of our built environment.

I chanced upon this at the Sheppard Robson website after photoing one of their buildings, the new headquarters of the Salvation Army, near St Paul’s, and then looking that up on the www:

imageimage

It looks good, even if custom build HQs often spell trouble for the organisations which move into them.

While I’m on the subject of glass, several incoming emails have wanted to be sure that I had clocked this:

image

That’s a swimming pool made of glass.  I yearn to photo oligarchical mistresses frolicking about in it, but, no chance.  This will be inside a very gated community, in the vicinity of the new US Embassy in Battersea.  I am optimistic, however, that we might all eventually catch a glimpse of such a thing in a James Bond movie, complete with frolicking oligarchical mistresses.

The above picture, and further details, here.

Saturday August 22 2015

Recently, here:

I hate leaves.  All over London there are great views, totally ruined by leaves.

I always regard it as a sign that I am onto something when 6k notices me noticing whatever it is, and he did notice that.

This outburst was prompted by the experience of photoing the lovely Pavlova, twice, and once through trees of the sort which, had the photo been taken later in the year, like now, would have been totally clogged up with leaves.

Here is another photo of this sort:

image

Take a careful look at that (perhaps by clicking on it to get it a decent size).  Look how many Big Things would be invisible if all the branches and twigs there all had leaves stuck on them, as happens during the summer.  The photo would be nothing.  Just a station sign, and lots of damn leaves.

Or how about this?

image

That’s Vincent Square, which is a two minute walk from where I live.  Both the above photos were taken in March of this year.

Several Quite Big Old Things there, along with The Wheel of course.  And although leaves wouldn’t totally blot all that out, they’d also do severe damage to that view.  The top of Big Ben would still be visible, but The Wheel would be half gone and the Other Parliament Tower almost totally so.  If – the horror - TV aerials sprouted leaves during the summer, that would do for the other half of The Wheel and most of Big Ben, because there is a little clutch of TV aerials right between them. 

Despite being very London, I do not object to this picturesque view, even though it is so classically England countryside in its effects.  You can almost smell the warm beer.

Friday August 21 2015

Photoed by me, outside Earls Court Tube, last night:

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Click on that to get the bigger, truer, duller, original picture.

Thursday August 20 2015

On a sunny afternoon in June, this was the big picture, complete with Big Things, and a bridge, in the background:

image

I homed in on that photosession, down by the river there.

There were making a bit of a spectacle of themselves, so their recognisable faces would have been fair game, but I took lots of pictures of them, and am able to show you only faceless pictures like these:

imageimage

My favourite faceless photo being this one:

image

There was a big crowd looking down on all this.  They really can’t complain, and I don’t believe they will, in the event they see those pictures.

Happy day.

Wednesday August 19 2015

Indeed.

When I took this snap, this afternoon, ...:

image

... all that I thought I was snapping was a selfie session, done by two ladies with conveniently face-hiding hats of agreeably contrasting colours.

When I got home and saw the above photo on my giant home screen, I got two nice surprises.  First there was the surprise of how well the photo had come out on such a dull day.  But there was also the surprise of what that clip-on thingy is on the iPhone.  As so often, my camera saw more that saw.

A little googling soon got me immediately to such places as this.  That’s right, a clip-on, fish eye lens.  £10.99.

Only a smartphone camera is thin enough for a lens to be just clipped on like this.  Did you see that device coming?  Me neither.

I’m guessing that taking a selfie with such a lens makes it much more likely that you will be in the picture, which is presumably quite a problem if you can’t see the picture you are taking.  It also gives you a panoramic view in the background.

I wonder if they clocked the bloke photoing them, in that background.

Tuesday August 18 2015

Or maybe that should be “pedicab”.

I’m somewhat surprised that I don’t see this more often:

image

By this, I mean the short of slim, attractive woman whom you regularly see paying to exercise on a stationary bicycle, through the windows of exercise parlours.  So, why not put all that peddling to good use, and why not get paid for it?

Something tells me that this is just too much exercise, and of the wrong sort.

But, interesting lady, I think.  I wonder what the rest of her life will consist of?  Something quite interesting, would be my guess.  What she is doing requires not just an above average physique but also a certain independence of mind, to just not be bothered about all the surprised and “admiring” looks she must regularly get.  (To say nothing of all the photos.)

My photo of her is recent, taken earlier this month in Victoria Street.

Monday August 17 2015

A lot of my postings just now involve me showing you photos I took quite a while back, and this one is also one of those.

What happens is, I rootle through all my past photos, and then sometimes get an idea for a posting about a certain category of thing or human conduct or mode of transport or some such thing, and I start gathering photos to illustrate this, in a separate directory.  I am careful to copy photos into the new directory, rather than just transfer them there.  One of my rules is, keep all the photos you took on a certain day on a certain expedition all in one place.  But, no harm in copying from those directories into other ones which are about particular things rather than particular trips or particular times.

However, what often then happens is that I forget about it all.  So, the directory sits there, sometimes for years, and then years later I come across it again.  This happened last night, when I encountered a collection of photographs, assembled in 2010, of photographers who were also holding guide books.  I could tell that I had never used them in a blog posting, because when I do that, I always give photos different names.

Here are four of those photographers-holding-guide-books photos, all of which involve guide books with the word “Londres” on them:

imageimageimageimage

Click to get the bigger pictures.

I’m guessing that both the French and the Hispanics spell London as Londres, with the French calling it Londr and the Hispanics calling it Lon Drez.  But that’s only a gez.

And, yes (google google), I gezzed right:

Londres, the French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Filipino language name for London, capital of the United Kingdom and England

The guide book while photoing thing always appealed to me, not least because even then I was looking for ways to not photo people’s faces, and guide books often achieved that outcome for me very nicely.  But the phenomenon is also interesting because, slowly, it is fading away.  You do still see photographers flaunting guide books, but it is rarer now.

Instead, the smartphone is the new guidebook.  And, of course, increasingly, the new camera, for people like those shown above.  Makes perfect sense.

As for the lady above (in the picture bottom right) whose face I do here display (if you click), well, she was wearing a T-shirt saying, in London’s own language and therefore to attract the attention of Londoners like me: “believe me… i’m incredible”.  Somehow I don’t think it was “incredulous”.  Ergo, she was attracting attention with her own attention-attracting behaviour, ergo she was and is fair game for her face to go up, totally recognisably, (but nearly a decade later) on my blog.

Nearly a decade later because these photos were taken by me in 2006 and 2007.

Sunday August 16 2015

Last month, on the 22nd (thank you my camera), a friend took me to see a show consisting, in the first half, of improvised comedy, and in the second half of pre-written sketch comedy.  This was at a venue called the Proud Archivist (thank you me for photoing the sign saying that).

The core skill of the performers who were performing that night was improvisation, and it showed, part two being a rather severe disappointment after the often considerable excellence of part one.  The sort of sketches they did in part two needed to be done with detached and unrealistic faithfulness to the text, Footlights/Monty Python style, almost like you are reading the lesson in church, not “realistically”, as these performers tried to do.  But all it sounded like was that they had forgotten the damn words.  (I heard later that they included some improvisation in some of the sketches.  That was when this dire effect was at its most severe, or so I presume.)

But best of all, which as far as I was concerned made the entire expedition totally worthwhile, was the extraordinary light outside, for a few fleeting minutes during the interval, outside being where I went during the interval.

Here are two of the photos I took from just outside the Proud Archivist, next to the canal, during that interval:

imageimage

Okay, what was photoed there is nothing out of the ordinary, with the second picture just being a close-up selection from the bigger picture displayed in the first.  But the light!  Photography is light, and that is light! Or, it was.  Do you at least get a hint of what it was like actually to have been there, then?  Hope so.

Saturday August 15 2015

Time today only for three rather antiquated Citroens.

First, a Citroen DS23, photoed by me in Lower Marsh this afternoon, 3.45 pm:

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Second, a second Citroen DS23, photoed by me in the Kings Road this afternoon, 5.06 pm:

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To see one of these beauties is a beautiful thing.  To see two, within the space of less than two hours, is to be doubly blessed.

I know they were both DS23s because I also photoed where they both said they were DS23s, at the back.

And then, before the two hours were up, I also snapped this:

image

It just turned off the Kings Road, right in front of me.

Magnifique.  J’aime Londres.

That last one reminds me that I also took this photo, earlier in the week, in Strutton Ground:

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A form of transport that is even more antiquated than are the automobiles pictured above.  See also: this.

By the way, I rather enjoyed it when I just image-googled automobile.  All I was doing at first was checking the spelling.

Friday August 14 2015

That’s not my punctuation.  That’s their punctuation:

image

This is sort of a wedding photo, in the sense that I took it just before the wedding of Ayumi and Richard, last Saturday, just outside the Church, where there is a market.

There was nobody manning this particular stall, selling miniature pub signs.  And I have a rule about signs that say No Photos, or for that matter No Photo’s.  That rule is: I take a photo of all such signs that I encounter.  Their rule: No Photos.  My rule: Photo of their rule.

I’m guessing that what they mean by a photo is a carefully composed photo of just one of these signs, so I don’t believe that, in the unlikely event that they find out about me posting this photo here, they’ll care.  Besides which, maybe they have discovered that if they exhibit all their signs for sale, and stick “Sorry! No Photo’s!” in among them, they get free publicity from photographers like me.

I didn’t really compose the shot.  I just grabbed it, on my way into the wedding.  But I do like how it says “Queen Vic” and then “England”, right at the top.  And, top left: “London”.

This had to go up today, because as you can see, cats are involved.  And my rule about sometimes having stuff here about cats on Fridays has mutated in my head into a rule that says that I may only mention cats on Fridays, otherwise they’d overrun the entire blog.

Speaking of cats, I also recommend this video, which I found when I visited, after long absence, Norman Lebrecht’s site, this morning.

And see also: Fossils reveal felines drove 40 species of canines to extinction after arriving in North America.

And: An actual exhibition about cats and the internet, just opened in New York.

Thursday August 13 2015

Yesterday’s posting was about, among other things, a photo I failed to take.  But not long after that failure, I succeeded in taking these snaps.  Which were a lot easier because nothing was moving:

image imageimage image

Not long ago, I photoed another selfie stick clutch.  But the selfie stick clutch above came out better, I think.  Less clutter in the background.  Better light.

That joke card was obviously composed and printed and sold by people who take it for granted that it is the government’s job to make you rich, because the implication is that government cuts make you poor.  But if you have an honest job, then government cuts will make you richer, especially if they knock it off the income tax.  And the graphic design should have been more deadpan.  As it is, it rather draws attention to itself and spoils the comic effect.  But I like it anyway.  Not enough to want to buy it, you understand.  But enough to photo it.

Strictly speaking, that scaffolding is not in Oxford Street, merely visible from Oxford Street.  But when it comes to scaffolding, rules don’t apply.

Tuesday August 11 2015

Photoed by me this afternoon, in Victoria Street:

image

That’s right. You can drive straight at us pedestrians and we will always see you, because we look both ways.  We pedestrians have eyes in the backs of our heads.

Many signs exhort people to be more vigilant, or else disaster will ensue.  But here is a sign that says: relax.  When it comes to cars in their vicinity, pedestrians are omniscient.  There may seem to be a problem, with cars driving about, seeming to threaten pedestrians.  But actually, no.  No problemo.

Seriously?  What this sign shows is that sometimes, just sometimes, exclamation marks have their uses, not just to enable you to shout in writing, but to say something different.  Without punctuation, this sign is a bit ambiguous.  It does the job, but maybe it could do that job better.  To a pedant like me, it suggests that what merely should happen, is already happening.  With punctuation, the sign could be made unambiguous.

Pedestrians!  Look both ways!

Trouble is, that would set a precedent, for using shouty punctuation even when it is not needed to clarify meaning.

Sunday August 09 2015

Indeed.

On the left (June 2007), one from the Bald Blokes collection.  He is photoing me through a bit of abstract sculpture that regular walkers along the South Bank, between the Wheel and the Royal Festival Hall will recognise.  And I photoed him.

imageimage

And on the right (June 2015), well, it’s me photoing me in a mirror.  But what I like about this photo is not that it is a self-portrait, The sight of me I can take or leave.  No, what I like is the contrast between the colourfulness of what we see reflected in the circular mirror, and the much more muted reflections to be seen in the shop window behind which the mirror rests.  Neither on their own would create much of an effect.  Put them together, and you have something, I think.

Click on each to get the big pictures.