Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Michael Jennings on the likely progress of the Cricket World Cup
Alan Little on The rise of (interest in) 3D printing
Andy on Aerobots
Rob Fisher on Is 2007 old enough?
Rob Fisher on The Leaning Stonehenge Tour Bus of Salisbury
Rob Fisher on Miniature photographic fakery
Michael Jennings on The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
Michael Jennings on The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
Brian Micklethwait on The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
Rob Fisher on The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
Most recent entries
- Michael Jennings on the likely progress of the Cricket World Cup
- Why quota photos?
- Another from the I Just Like It directory
- How bet hedging explains the perpetual terribleness of everything
- The rise of (interest in) 3D printing
- AB mayhem
- At the top of the Monument - in 2012 and in 2007
- I said it twelve years ago
- Pete Comley talking about inflation on Friday February 27th
- Is 2007 old enough?
- January newspaper pages
- Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
- Shadow photography (again)
- The Leaning Stonehenge Tour Bus of Salisbury
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Category archive: Architecture
That’s the new Blackfriards Bridge railway station, with its ziggy zaggy solar panels roof. Taken just under a year ago.
What you get when you click on the above horizontal slice is actually a whole lot better, despite the fact that this horizontal slice is what makes the picture as a whole such a nice picture.
It often happens with me that, while rootling around in the archives for one picture, I stumble across another which strikes me as worth showing to the massed ranks of BrianMicklethwaitDotCom’s readers.
Pictures like this, for instance, which I took at the top of the Monument, in November 2012:
Small, blurry, totally recognisable. Definitely a Big Thing.
As for all that wire netting (which I believe dramatically lowers the cheese content of the above shot), well, here is another shot, of how matters at the top of the Monument used to be not so long ago:
I took that in July 2007. (Note the pleasingly dated camera.) The change from prison bars to wire netting, which happened soon after that, was presumably because of different versions of health and safety. Originally there was neither, just some waste high railings. See this hand-done photo “by Canalleto (after)”, whatever that means. (His production line, but not him, maybe?) And see also this picture.
Yes, just back from a talk at Christian Michel’s. Didn’t drink “too much” wine, but did drink a lot, far too much to still be sober.
Cat news? You want cat news? Okay, the cat news is that lots of people have got into trouble of various sorts because they have too many cats, or killed too many cats, or something along those lines. Google “cats” news, and you can find the details for yourselves.
Meanwhile, here is news of a new Big Thing, in London:
This is the replacement for the Pinnacle.
Everyone commenting on this is angry about it. But then, everyone commenting on new Big Things is always angry. It’s ugly! It’s a joke! It’s random! It’s …
Excuse me while I eat a Sainsbury’s Basics egg bite. Several, actually.
… something else terrible!
But give it a few years, and we’ll all be complaining about how the next London Big Thing is spoiling the view of this Big Thing.
First, the BMdotcom headline of the day:
These drones are being used to “monitor”, not for bombing or shooting. Nevertheless, interesting.
In other drone photography news, have a look at the new Apple Headquarters, as it takes shape. This particular movie seems to be friendly, so to speak. Apple would appear to have agreed to it. But what of drone photos and drone movies that are not so friendly?
I first realised that drones would be a big deal when I saw one (with a camera attached) in a London shop window.
Thank goodness for the I Just Like It! file. Today was yet another long and annoying day doing other things besides blogging, and yet, I want to stick with the habit, without being insultingly brief. That’s when some here’s-some-I-prepared-earlier snaps can come in really handy.
So here are a few snaps I picked out about a month ago from the archives, but never got around to posting at the time. The common theme is dancing. Two are males, dancing by mistake. The other two are of females, dancing on purpose.
Every now and again, I recommend that someone do a ballet about digital photography. All that posing both by photographers and the people they are photoing.
Although, one of the blokes is playing with a frisbee rather than a camera, and one of the dancing ladies is a statue. And a favourite object of my photographic devotions, as it happens. This time, though, with added airplane exhaust. And scaffolding.
Taken in November 2006, July 2008, September 2008 and February 2012. The one top right, July 2008, would, I’m pretty sure, have featured a very big Shard in the background, had it been taken more recently.
Yes, the talk this evening went well, I think. Lots of people said they enjoyed it, and they didn’t have to do that. They could have said, as my mother said about things I did that she didn’t like, that it was “interesting”. But they didn’t say it was interesting. They said they enjoyed it. I’m guessing they really did. I did.
However, in the course of the talk, I alluded to a clever question asked by Ayumi Meegan, after a talk given by Richard Carey at my home a while back, and instead of calling here “Ayumi”, I called her “Mayumi”. Twice. She being present this evening, and me identifying her, by name, wrongly. Not good. I hope that a correction can be added, as and when any video of the talk appears at Libertarian Home. I am grateful to meetings organiser and Libertarian Home Supremo (and video man) Simon Gibbs for telling me that I had made this mistake, twice, so that I was able to apologise to Ayumi immediately. Ayumi Ayumi Ayumi.
Also, I hope Simon will add the name of David Mitchell, the comedian to whom I alluded in my talk while failing to remember his name, at all. I didn’t even get that wrong. I mentioned a clever short video lecture by Mitchell that was mentioned by Rob Fisher in a comment on this posting here.
No doubt if I ever do get to watch this performance on video, I will learn of even more serious blunders in what I said, but those will do to be getting on with.
Meanwhile, for the benefit of anyone who heard the talk and is now checking out this blog, hello, and here is something I quite like to do here, quite often, which is to post quota photos. These being photos put up here simply to ensure that something gets posted here, each day, as it almost always does. I mentioned this rule of mine in the course of the talk. Although, I suppose these particular photos aren’t really quota photos, because without them there would still be the ramblings above here today.
Whatever,these particular photos are of three of London’s Big Things, namely the BT Tower, the Gherkin and (when it was still under construction) the Cheesegrater:
The twist here is that all these Big Things are in a state of photographic blurriness. The focus is instead on mere things, in the foreground. Yet, the Big Things are still entirely recognisable, which is one of the key qualifications for being a Big Thing in the first place. For the same reason, Big Things are instantly recognisable from a great distance.
Click on these little pictures to get them a lot bigger, and also a lot blurrier, even though all they are is the same thing only bigger.
Recently, circumstances took me up from the South Bank walkway onto Waterloo Bridge. As I recall it, the idea was to walk across the bridge to one of the District Line tube stations on the north bank. But before I did that, I took pictures from the south end of the bridge, from which a lot can be seen. This isn’t the half of it, but it is some of it:
Time was when I’d have taken only pictures like that last one, of Big Ben through The Wheel. Note that all the other pictures contain things that will soon pass. Cranes. And two adverts for entertainment, one for this and one inside the Thing the advert is on the outside of. Also, in among taking these shots, I also took this one, which was very temporary indeed.
That Big Ben shot is through a gap between, I think, the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery. Between two of those South Bank concrete lumps, anyway. I do like gaps. And then I moved a few yards south, and through the same gap between the lumps, or maybe through another gap, I saw this:
Here are two pictures I took a few days later, to explain what the above roof clutter is, both taken outside Westminster Abbey:
As you can see, the spikey bobble is on the top of Methodist Central Hall. And the roof clutter is one of London’s great roof clutter clusters, on top of top of New Scotland Yard. As so often with roof clutter, such a bland facade. With such a crazy hairdo.
The man scratching his back is, I think, St George, commemorating the Crimean War. But that could be quite wrong.
As I get to know London better, I learn to connect distant views to close-up views, not just of obvious stuff, but of everything.
This posting is a bit of an experiment, because the two pictures embedded in it may not be small enough, to start with, and may have to be made smaller, after all those of you who hang on my every posting, and see it immediately, have seen it immediately. Also, I want to put them on both sides of the posting, and that may not work either. So, patience everyone, and be ready to endure graphic juggling, because these are the kind of things that my posting software is bad at showing me. I have to see evertything in situ, to be sure.
So, to get to the point, what this is about is the way that very small pictures sometimes look quite different to the exact same pictures, but larger, a theme also explored in this posting. And the idea is that the two pictures will go, on the left and on the right, at the top of this paragraph. De-dum de-dum de-dum, computer crap computer crap. Well, touch wood, this is working. There was a bit of fiddling with the instructions about putting pictures on the right or on the left, but I finally cracked that and made it happen.
The point of all this is that the pictures, when small, look quite similar. The only very obvious difference is that on the left there are rather more verticals in the railings to be seen. But click on the pictures and get them ten times larger, and you will see that the focussing is quite different. In the one on the left, the railings are the front are in focus and the Shard is barely discernible behind them. On the right, the big picture shows the Shard quite clearly while the railings are very blurry. Okay, the small pictures are not identical, and alert viewers may have detected the very difference that I say is so unclear in the small pictures, but the small pictures are much more similar to each other than the large ones are.
One of the many morals to be drawn from this is that the bigger the screen on your camera is the better, because the bigger the picture, the easier it is to tell exactly what that picture looks like. This is yet another reason why people who take pictures with tablets, the cameras with the biggest screens of all, are being very sensible. They are the ones who know exactly what they are getting, exactly when they are getting it.
In the end, the only cock-up that early readers were subjected to was that in the heading, I at first put that the Shard was in front of the railings rather than behind them.
Dezeen reports that the Walkie Talkie Sky Garden is now open:
This feature helped the project win planning permission, despite being outside the City of London’s main skyscraper cluster.
It seems that I am not the only one who believes that new buildings like the Walkie Talkie are good not only because they improve the views by being in the views, but by being a new place to look at the views.
And to repeat, I especially like how the Walkie Talkie looks from a distance. The point being: it looks, not just like any old anonymous lump, but like the lump that is the Walkie Talkie. The Walkie Talkie is, just like the Shard and the Gherkin and St Paul’s and Big Ben and the Wheel, recognisable, this being why it needs a special jokey name. That means that it makes me happy whenever I see it. It makes me feel at home. It may not be beautiful exactly (although from nearby I happen to think that it is very beautiful). But neither is the rest of London beautiful exactly, and I think the Walkie Talkie fits right in.
LATER: Diamond Geezer is way ahead of me.
From time to time I go looking for pictures of bridges, preferably new ones, but seldom find anything I don’t know about. And then, quite by chance, while clicking through these old photos, I chance upon this:
It’s the Golden Gate, being built, in 1937.
I recall doing a pen-an-ink type sketch (as opposed to something theatrical like a comedy sketch – odd double meaning that), when in my teens, of the Severn Road Bridge, when it only had a chunk of road in the middle, suspended in glorious isolation, going nowhere in either direction (like in the photo here). This photo reminds me of those times.
I never actually drew any decent pictures, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about composition, by which I mean that I chose quite good pictures to do, but actually did them very badly. Now I take good pictures, rather less badly. How I wish there had been digital cameras when I was a teenager. My cycling expeditions around France, and then Scandinavia, and then Iceland, would have been far more fun, and now far easier to remember. The old cameras, with “film” in them, were ridiculous. You had to “develop” all the damn pictures, very expensively, just to find out that about three of them weren’t total crap. But you tell young people this nowadays they think you’re mad. And if you did all this, guess what, you were mad.
I have never shared the contempt that most people show - or pretend to show - for Adolf Hitler’s paintings. Okay, so they aren’t Rembrandts, but even so, I would have loved to have been as good hand-done picture-making as he was. Could it be that people just can’t bear to accept that he ever did anything well or anything good? Just a wild guess.
At the end of November 2014 (on the day that I also took these photos) I made a small pilgrimage to Tower Bridge, the excuse being that I might be able to photo up someone’s skirt through the observation floor that they had recently installed at the top of that bridge, and the reason being that I simply like to go on random pilgrimages in central London, for the sake of what I might see on the way there, there, and on the way back.
As often happens with these small pilgrimages of mine, I got there not at midday, but towards the end of the day. By which I mean just before and during the ending of daylight. And the ending of daylight is a very good time for taking photos, especially with a digital camera that is good in low light conditions, and especially if you are someone who likes taking pictures of other photographers in ways that don’t show their faces but do show the screens of their cameras. At dusk, those screens tend to show up particularly well, as a number of these photographer photos illustrate:
The more I photo, the more I find myself liking to take categories of photos, photos in sets. At first, my photos of photographers were just photos of photographers. But soon I was subdividing that huge category, into photographers taking selfies, photographers looking at the photos they’d taken. Recently I have found myself making further subdivisions, often of photos I have been taking for some while but which I had not been putting into a separate category in my head, if you get my meaning. So, above, in addition to all the photos of photographer’s camera screens, we see contributions to the photographers taking selfies category (subdivision: couples taking selfies), to the photographers looking at the photos they have just taken category, but also a good addition to the bald blokes taking photos category, and two for the photographers with interesting hats category.
And of course, there is that vast category that has hove into view in the last few years, of people taking photos with their mobile phones. No less than seven of the above twelve snaps are of people doing this. This was not a decision on my part, merely a consequence of me picking out nice photos of people taking photos.
My favourite photo of these is the last one of all, bottom right. The light is nearly gone, but that means that the view of the shot he is taking (with his mobile phone) shines forth splendidly, as strongly as what he is photoing. And I love that I got what he was photoing as well as his screen picture of what he was photoing.
It was the essentialness of posting that one photo, very late but not never, that made me, while I was about it, also stick up the others, all twelve having already been subdivided into a separate little directory.
The world is very full of ugly modern buildings, which would be greatly improved, I think, by a dash of colour. Accordingly, I am always on the lookout for brightly coloured modern buildings, either because they have been coloured much later, or because they were like that to start with. See also this posting, about white architectural modernism is so black and white..
So, I like this, in Tokyo:
There are street wires to be seen, but not very many, and in only one of the photos.
My thanks to Tony, for his and his family’s hospitality during the last week and more, and for this photo, which he took in Quimper recently, and kindly emailed to me a few days ago. I couldn’t then pay attention to it, but it was waiting for me when I got home:
What this shows is how Quimper Cathedral looked before they put two big(ger) spikes on the top of it, in the nineteenth century, thus making it look how it looks now.
I can find nothing about this transformation on the internet, let alone any repro of this actual map. Odd. Odd, that is, unless it is all there and I merely couldn’t find it. That would not be odd at all.
In Quimper, as opposed to the world, the Twin Towers still stand, in the shape of the two identical spires of Quimper Cathedral.
When out and about in Quimper, and in among photoing roof clutter, I also made a point of trudging up the shady, frigid side of the long hill that overlooks the river valley that is Quimper, to try to photo Quimper and its Cathedral from there.
I have tried this before, but have only previously been here in the summer, when the trees are all smothered in foliage. I had been thinking about this since before I came here this time around. This time around, I thought, I might be able to really see Quimper and its Cathedral properly, with branches and twigs intervening somewhat and rather decoratively, but with no leaves to spoil the view. I earlier photographed the Cathedral in gaps between the leaves, but this time I wanted to get both the Cathedral, and its place in the entirety of Quimper.
And I got it:
Branches and twigs intervening decoratively, but no foliage to spoil the wider view.
I didn’t want you people thinking that the only thing that interests me about foreign places is foreign roof clutter.
Also: see this piece about all the speakers I had at my Last Fridays, last year. I had to step on it a bit yesterday, because you have to do end-of-year pieces like this before the year ends, even if nobody besides Paul Marks reads them until several days later. It’s the rule. But despite all that, and actually somewhat because of it, I have had a very Happy New Year so far, and I hope you are having one also, and that your happiness continues.
The gap between my eyesight and the eyesight of my camera grows and grows with the passing of the years, as my eyes inexorably dim and as my cameras inexorably improve. Even I can regularly manage quite decent shots with my latest camera. As a result, I become ever more immobilised by having to choose good ones from the enormous piles of decent shots I often come back with, after a day out.
Yesterday was a bit different. I went to the home of Michael Jennings for a Christmas Day lunch, picture 1.1 being the most striking thing I saw from out of his front window. The day was lovely, but the light, though wonderful, was fast fading, so Michael and our mutual lady friend and I went out for a short (by my photographic standards) walk to take advantage of it. Which meant that I took, by my standards, only a few pictures. Which made it easier to choose and stick up a few half decent ones.
Picture 1.2 is my favourite of these. Thank God for London’s religious diversity. Much as I loath what Islam says in its holy scriptures, and much as I am critical of people who go through the motions of worshipping these writings, either because they truly believe what those writings say (very wicked), or because they don’t but think that they it doesn’t matter or that they must (also wicked – yes, I mean you, Moderate Muslims – stop saying that you believe stuff that you also say that you don’t believe), I do like that having Muslims in London keeps shops open and taxis running on days like Christmas Day. Michael fixed a couple of Uber taxi rides for me, and both the drivers had Muslim sounding names.
I don’t know what the church is in 2.1 but it looks pretty behind that leafless tree. And Tower Bridge always looks pretty to me.
Re those two Tower Bridge shots, I’ve always liked how digital cameras do the opposite of the human eye, and turn urban skies bluer and brighter as they actually get darker. It’s all those orange-coloured artificial lights, burning relatively brighter as the sun sinks, together with the actual darkness on the ground, impinging upon the Automatic setting.