Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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- Sunny Croydon
- Bridge in Germany with houses on it
- A day in BMdotcom heaven (5): My belated photo-tribute to Kumar Sangakkara
- Quota Shard with quota cranes
- There’s a spiral staircase inside the Testicle
- Dernbach decisive again
- Windows in bright light
- When welfare means lavatories
- Another place to photo London’s Big Things from
- Crane with roof attached
- Another fine day at the Oval (4): Scoreboards old and new
- Street dogs
- Keeping their distance
- Millenium Bridge with boats
- Asian wedding photoshoot
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Category archive: Architecture
Today I was in Croydon. Not for long, but I was in Croydon. While in Croydon I took photos.
Like this one, of No. 1 Croydon:
And like this one, of a buildlng which was being modified, but whose name I did not catch:
Why was I in Croydon? I had my reason. More tomorrow, or some day, or maybe never. I promise nothing.
So I did something I haven’t done recently. I went to BLDGBLOG, and right at the bottom of this posting, which consists of a collection of weird photos that aren’t quite photos but are something else somewhat similar, I found this classic bridge:
But that isn’t the picture at BLDGBLOG. I went looking for another, and found it here.
I like bridges, and I especially like bridges with buildings on them, buildings which don’t match, like the bridge is just a street rather than a single unified structure all designed and built at one time.
I also very much like the look of the picture at the top of this posting. which, for reasons I do not understand, is entitled “Critical Engineering Summer Intensives”, but which ought to be entitled “When Roof Clutter Catches Fire”.
Taken from the top of my block of flats, in April:
The cranes, of course, are quite close. The Shard is way over on the other side of the River. I’m not sure what the building is.
I think it’s the colours that made me pick this one to show here. The near white of all the solid objects, and the dark grey of the sky.
Or to give it its official name, City Hall.
I took this photo of City Hall in April of this year, from the other side of the river, outside the Tower of London:
Until this evening, I thought of this photo merely as the most flattering photo I have taken of this mostly rather ungainly, and frankly, frequently rather dirty looking building.
But, I just noticed that quite aside from it being such a flattering view of this edifice, my photo reveals that there is a spiral staircase in there. I’m right. Look closely, and you’ll see it too.
And here, by way of further proof, is a very artistic type photo of this same staircase, taken by Aaron Yeoman. You have to scroll down quite a lot at the end of that link to reach this photo, so if you want quickly to see it bigger, click on this instead:
If you are outside a building, this is the kind of thing you only see at dusk, when natural light and artificial light are in a state of approximate equality. You wouldn’t be able to see that staircase in the bright light of the day, because you wouldn’t be able to see the lights inside the building.
Plus, with me, you need to allow a few months for me to realise. My camera sees far more than I do, and I discover new stuff in my old photos months and often years later.
So far as I can work out, from looking at the what you can visit bit of the City Hall website, regular members of the mere public are not allowed to go up this staircase to the top. But you never really know about things like this until you actually go there, and ask. Next time I’m there, I might drop in and do exactly that.
My blogging time this evening was totally bent out of shape by – surprise, surprise – a game of cricket. This went on for longer than I expected, and it seeed and sawed hither and thither. Sangakkara scored a brilliant hundred. Jade Dernbach also did important things for Surrey. And Surrey won. It was like I was there!
Sangakkara’s brilliance is well explained in this report of the game. But Dernbach deserves a bit more immortalising than his performance might otherwise get. First off, he took three top order Northants wickets, including those of Levi and Duckett, both dangerous, for small scores. And just as in that game in 2015 against Notts, the penultimate over that Dernbach bowled, and the contrast between it and the penultimate over of the Surrey innings, also involving Dernbach, proved crucial.
In the penultimate over of the Northants innings, Dernbach conceded just two runs, after the over before that one had gone for eighteen. And he got the wicket of his opposite number – the Northants number eleven, Azharullah – with the last ball of that penultimate over, thus ending a troublesome last wicket stand, and denying Kleinveldt one final over of tumultuous hitting, because thanks to Dernbach getting Azharullah there was no final over. Kleinveldt might have got a century, and Northants might have got three hundred. As it was, Kleinveldt had to be content with 76, and Northants with 276.
But whereas Northants had scored two off their last two overs, with one wicket left at the beginning of the second last over, Surrey, also with only one wicket standing, found themselves needing twenty four off the last two overs to win the game. Dernbach was batting alongside Sanga, and thanks in no small part to Dernbach, Surrey did win. Dernbach scored eight, including a much needed boundary during that penultimate over, and the rest of his runs in singles of the sort that got the strike back to Sanga. And Sanga did the necessary slogging and won the game for Surrey with an amazing six during the last over and a four off the last ball of the match. But Dernbach’s support was vital. He played a few shots and did not get out.
Here is a not very dramatic picture I took of Dernbach at the Oval, at the game I attended last month, just after he had taken three top order Gloucester wickets in that game:
And here is a rather better picture that I took, during that game in 2015, of a picture someone else took of him, along with the Shard and a crane and a gasometer:
Perhaps one reason Dernbach played so very well in this evening’s game is that he is now, what with being quite old, a one-day specialist. If Surrey had lost this game, I’m pretty sure that that would have been the end of his season, because Surrey would have been knocked out of this fifty overs tournament, and have already been knocked out of the twenty overs tournament.
Here are three pictures, on the left below. On the right below are the pictures that explain the real pictures. On the left: artistic impression. On the right: what’s going on that enabled me to photo the artistic impression.
Top, in Victoria Street. I have never noticed this particular effect (left) before, but in the bright sunlight the other day, I did.
In the middle is a way to decorate a wall of windows that I’m not sure I like the look of, except in photos. On the right there, we see that the building in question is next to The Monument.
The photo on the right, bottom, I took out of a train window, as I journeyed towards the Horniman Museum. No rotating needed. Good shot. Photoing out of a train window works well in bright light, so long as you get no reflections.
Note the big things - Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Walkie-Talkie, lurking behind the blue building, on the left as we look.
Another example of bright colours in modern architecture, which is a trend I am noticing quite a lot.
As with photo 2, I’m not sure I like the building, but I do like the photo.
Recently a friend told me that you can see the Big Things of London from the grounds outside the Horniman Museum. The place is a walk away from Forest Hill station, so today, I checked this out. You can. I did. Picture:
Somewhere on the www there must be a complete list of all such places. But every list of these places that I have ever seen excludes at least one Big Thing watching place that I personally know of.
I could go on, but the last few postings here have been rather complicated, so I am keeping this one simple.
The category list includes “Bridges” because away to the right, you can see the tops of Tower Bridge.
When I took this photo, about ten days ago (on the same day I took all these), …:
… I thought that all I was doing was enjoying the dark clouds in the background and the brightly lit buildings in the foreground, an effect I am very fond of. And the crane.
However, when I took this photo …:
… I remember being intrigued by that other crane. Not just the bright red crane, looking so cute against the bright blue sky (like in the first picture here). No, I mean the crane that has appeared from out of the roof of the building, the sort of crane that reaches out beyond the roof it resides on, or in this case in, and allows men in a box to lower themselves down the building and clean its window.
The crane with a sort of random frame on the top of it. What is that? So I photoed the puzzle, and looked at it when I got home.
Here it is in close-up:
The frame on top is a bit of the roof, permanently attached to the crane. When the crane is working, it wears that bit of the roof like a long hat. When the crane is resting, that hat turns into the perfect thing to fill the hole in the roof, the hole from which the crane emerged.
Here, by way of contrast, is the corresponding close-up of the picture at the top of this posting, of what the roof looks like when the crane based inside it is resting:
When the crane is doing stuff, there’s no way that the roof can avoid looking cluttered. But when the crane is resting, the aesthetic proprieties are restored. The crane disappears inside, and flattens the roof.
The thing is, this roof is not flat. Flat roofs are considered invisible, which they are, from the ground. Flat roofs have lots of similar cranes resting on them, and they just sit there, cluttering up the roof. Which is fine. That’s the rule, for flat roofs.
But for a roof that is at an angle, which thereby becomes visible from the ground, then aesthetics apply. Clutter cannot be allowed. When clutter is not active, it must somehow be smoothed out, decluttered, tidied up.
And look what I just found. Here is a picture which I took back in April of the same crane as is discussed above, but before it got its hat attached to it, and looking like a regular crane of this sort:
Note how the light is completely different again.
I think that it was because I had already registered the existence of this crane, looking as all other cranes of this sort look, that I was so intrigued and puzzled by its hat. I suppose I thought that there might be some kind of closure for the roof, when the crane was not busy. But I did not foresee that the closure would be attached be attached to the crane.
Indeed. Photoed by me yesterday, inside the original bit of Tate Modern:
Actually, if you look carefully, you see that these people aren’t exactly the same distances apart. The ones further away are a bit further apart. Which only adds to the effect.
More fundamentally, my picture shows people, but no Art. The contrast, between the bigness of these buildings - Tate Modern, Tate Modern Extension - and the almost complete absence of Modern Art in most of these huge spaces, is truly bizarre. Modern Art dwarfed by Architectural Modernity, you might say. There are these pokey little collections of stuff in medium sized spaces, off the big main spaces, and I looked in on one of these shows. I thought it was downright pathetic. Not offensive or nasty, you understand. Just feeble and totally underwhelming. It looked like a few giant toys, that someone had forgotten to tidy up, lying about in a giant nursery. And I don’t think it was just me. I heard others commenting along similarly underwhelmed lines.
The only popular enthusiasm that I observed was being expressed for the view from the top of the new Extension building. London is as fascinating and variegated to gaze out upon as Modern Art, to judge by the stuff I saw, is dreary and banal.
Yesterday here featured a photo (of a photographer photoing a new marriage) which all happened on the Millennium Bridge. Today’s photo is of the Millennium Bridge, with three boats all within a few yards of it, as seen from the viewing gallery at the top of the new Tate Modern Extension:
Although I promise nothing, I hope to show more snaps snapped from this most excellent vantage point here, in the nearish future.
One day, I will collect together all the photos I have from over the years, of … this kind of thing:
I love it when Asians get married and have a photoshoot to celebrate, in London. Quite when and where they get married, I don’t know, but this is definitely a Thing that they love to do. I took the above photo this afternoon. On a bridge. With a Big albeit Ancient Thing in the background. Weird reflections.
And because they are making such a spectacle of themselves, and doing it so very delightfully, I feel it’s okay to put my photo of one of these photoshoots here.
My today has been complicated by me having to wait to get my computer back, and then having to do other stuff with it. This left blogging, if not to the last minute, to about the last hour or so.
Last Friday I mentioned an advantage to you of me posting photos here, rather than words, which is that photos take up less of your time if you decide you don’t like the look of them. Another advantage, to me this time, is that posting photos is probably easier, for me, when I am knackered. Writing when tired involves dozens of things that might go somewhat wrong, but posting photos is a simple matter of doing an easy task, or failing to. There are no degrees of success or failure involved. With each photo, I either get one out of one or nought out of one, and even when I am tired, getting one out of one, although tiring, is entirely doable, and getting nought out of one is entirely correctable. If these words are confusing you, somewhat, this is because I am now tired.
The above photos were also taken last Friday, just before that earlier one was taken, of beautifully covered and nicely lit scaffolding.
The crane in the first picture (1.1) is the same crane as in the last picture (2.3). The scaffolding in the first picture (1.1) is the same as the scaffolding in the third picture (1.3). The picture featuring lots of chimneys and TV aerials was taken from near Victoria, but the crane and the new Big Thing in that picture are both on the other side of the river.
That day out that Darren and I had at the Oval a week ago now, was not quite as supremely great as the earlier day out we had at the Oval, last year, but by any other standard it was a great day out. Besides which, setting aside the boring matter of which day out was merely better, the differences between these two days out were, to me anyway, very interesting.
Just as happened on September 7th 2015, Darren began by taking us up to the top of the Surrey Pavilion. I love this building, which was (I just learned) completed in 1898:
That is a picture I took of this Pavilion, later in the day, when (again just as last time) we descended from on high to view the second half of the game from another level and another angle. In the foreground we see the Surrey team, who have just come out to field, and the Gloucester openers, who are beginning Gloucester’s reply to Surrey’s 323-8.
But my concern in this posting is not the cricket, very diverting though that was. What I want to focus in on is the exact spots we were sitting in during the Surrey innings, and the contrasts in what I was able to see and to photo from those two spots.
Let me draw the attention of honourable readers to the seating up there:
On September 7th 2015, Darren and I were seated pretty close to the front, at the top there, about two rows back, if the picture in this posting is anything to go by. And from that spot, last September, I also took this photo, off to my right and your left, of the Big Things of London:
When we got up there last Wednesday just before play was due to start, Darren said: Where d’you want to sit? And without thinking very much about it, I said: up here. By which I meant several rows up and back from where we had been earlier.
And from that spot, I took this photo, off to my right and your left, of … well, this:
I have denied myself any face-saving rotation there, in order to include the tiny bit of nearby building that we see, top right. That marks the edge of what I could see of central London. And I couldn’t see nearly so much, Big-Thing-wise, as I had last September, because I was sitting further in. No Strata (the one with three holes at the top). No Shard. No Walkie-Talkie. No Cheesegrater. And because I couldn’t see all these Big Things, I stopped thinking about what I wasn’t seeing, insofar as I gave it much thought in the first place, and instead photoed other things. Like the cricket.
And like lots of other architectural stuff that I could still see just as well as last time. But, I’ll end this posting with a view of some architecture that was rather nearer. Since I have been discussing stands, here is the new and rather dramatic stand at the Oval, the “OCS” Stand:
This being the dramatic stand that has made the Oval playing area dramatically smaller.
Indeed. I find sunsets hard to photo effectively. Photography is light, but the more that light, the thing itself, is what I am trying to photo, the less my pictures seem to see the amazing thing that I personally just saw. A sunset of truly spectacular vulgarity and garishness presents itself to me, and I snap away. But the snaps, although vulgar and garish, tend to have none of the extreme vulgarity and extreme garishness that I remember actually seeing.
Towards the end of last month, however, while awaiting a train at Bermondsey South railway station, I observed a sunset of an extremity so extreme that this extremity managed to communicate itself to my camera.
Here are two of the eight or so pictures I took of it.
Also involved was … a Shard …:
… and a crane and a BT Tower:
Actually, the crane and the BT Tower can also be seen in the top of these two snaps, the bottom one basically being a closer-up version of the left of the top picture, homing in on the BT Tower, and ignoring the Shard. The reason I include both is because they actually present two distinct takes on the sunset. In the top picture, we get that weird slab of purple cloud, and the Shard. In the bottom picture, there is no Shard, and that’s not good, but by zeroing in on the weirdest bit of the sunset, I show you that in all its weirdness.
I regularly photo sunsets, as I say, but I seldom show the results here, partly because my photos just don’t seem to do the sunsets justice, but also because sunsets are routinely photoed by far better photographers than I am, who give far more thought to the technicalities of photoing sunsets than I do. Type “sunset” into google, specifying that you want images, and … well, you get the pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. What on earth can I add to all this? Very little indeed. However, the above two sunset photos of mine do not look out of place in this company.
It is noticeable how the most effective sunset photos often have other things on show besides the mere sunshine, clouds etc. Often the things in question are animals of some sort, in silhouette. Or trees. Or people. My silhouetted things are of course a couple of London’s Big Things. And a crane.
Indeed. I don’t believe I ever got around to showing this snap, which I snapped at the same time I snapped this snap:
I have taken many photos of this statue, both before the above snap and since, and what I have learned is that photoing this statue in front of cranes and sky and stuff is easy, but photoing her in front of a solid building works far less often. You just can’t see her. But the above snap does work, I think.