Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Rocco on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Six Thousand on Some batsman – some neck
Darren on Some batsman – some neck
Michael Jennings on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
Rob Fisher on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
James on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Brian Micklethwait on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Golden Gate being built – Severn Road Bridge ditto – C20 photography – Hitler's paintings
Most recent entries
- BMdotcom What if? of the day
- Move over CND
- Photographers - photographers with hats (one of the hats being rather scary)
- “Real Democracy Now” in Parliament Square this afternoon
- Big cats jacket
- Drugs drones
- Some batsman – some neck
- Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
- BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
- Two pictures of the Shard behind some railings
- Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
- A feline Friday at Guido
- Hand done photos
- Another place to look out over London from
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Category archive: Architecture
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.
Yes it’s another Immaculately Modernistical Japanese House Posting at Dezeen, where the pictures are full of The Wires …:
… but where the text never mentions The Wires.
They don’t see the anarchy. They see only the Order.
I also like this one, of the Wembley Arch, seen from the Wheel.
Busy day today, so another from the I Just Like It directory:
It’s the head of Hymn by Damien Hirst, when it was outside the Tate in 2012.
Behind it, we see that the Shard is nearly ready, but not quite.
Last Monday I was in the Covent Garden area. Having a little time to kill before the event began which had brought me there, I naturally took photos.
The one I like best that I took at that time was this one:
Forget that balustrade in the foreground. I’m interested in that big round building behind it, and in the contrast between the severe repetitiousness of vertical wall, and the picturesque jumble of functionality that has erupted on the top of the building.
I’m getting out of chronological order with this next one, because I took this shot after attending the event that had got me to Covent Garden. But never mind about that, because this is yet another study in repetitiously good mannered vertical walls, topped off with yet more rooftop anarchy:
Nothing would make me happier than to think that the planners and the architects will continue for ever just not seeing all this rooftop anarchy.
But now take a look at the top of this building (which I photoed, from the other side of the river and with much zooming, on the same day (October 25th of this year) that I took these Shard pictures):
Because of the new fashion for making walls which are not quite vertical, and roofs which are not quite horizontal – roofs which are consequently, from a distance, from some angles, clearly visible – all roof clutter has been banished. To be more exact, the roof clutter has been covered up. An indoor place has been found for it. Anarchy has been eradicated.
When it’s finished, it will look, according to the picture on the outside of the site (which is an outdoor hard copy of the first picture here), like this:
Here is what it and its surroundings will look like from above. My home can be found in that picture, this Thing being only a short walk away from it.
But, as of now, in contrast to the above simulations, it looks like this, which I think I somewhat prefer (what with all that lovely scaffolding):
Hang on. Is that a Christmas tree I see up there (in among all that lovely scaffolding)? Yes it is:
After I started taking photos of this Thing Under Construction, together with its Christmas tree, one of the men doing the constructing made “stop doing that” gestures. I was standing on a public pavement. They were building a small skyscraper with a Christmas tree on the side of it. Did they think they could keep this secret, and impose martial law for a quarter of a mile around all this? I just laughed out loud and carried on, and of course they did nothing about it.
Can you spot why “Sculpture” is included in the category list below?
This morning I had reason to be in the vicinity of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, at about 10 a.m. Later you will learn why, but in the meantime, just to say that this uncharacteristically early-in-the-day expedition enabled me to reacquaint myself with an old friend, in the form of the delightful footbridge that allows the ballerinas of the Royal Ballet School to make their way to the Royal Opera House, without having to risk being damaged by traffic or by the public:
The ROH is on the right there. I like how the squares in the bridge echo the strong right angles of the building and its roof details.
I also like the blue sky. But, you think that’s a blue sky? That’s not a blue sky.
This is a blue sky.
I just chanced upon this list of London’s twenty tallest buildings. What I particularly like about this list is that it includes date of construction.
No less that sixteen of these tall buildings were built during this century. The other four are: One Canada Square (the pointy Docklands one), “Tower 42” (aka the Natwest Building), the “South Bank Tower”, and the Guy’s Tower (aka the ugly little monster now dwarfed by and right next to the Shard). Those are all twentieth century. All the rest are twenty first century.
That last one, the Guy’s Tower was, when first perpetrated, the tallest building in London. I did not know this. Now it holds the number eighteen spot.
That’s a picture I took of the middle of the Shard and of the top of Guy’s Tower from Blackfriars Station (the one on the bridge) when both that station and the Shard were still being constructed, in 2012. I chose that picture because in it, the Guy’s Tower looks particularly ugly and bedraggled and stained and horrible.
I recently speculated that the Guy’s Tower might have made the Shard possible, by destroying all concerns about aesthetic suitability in its area. Now I am starting to suspect that it may have had an even more profound effect, on the whole of London. I mean, if that horrid Thing is the tallest Thing London has, then the sooner we build lots of other taller Things the better. That’s what I would have been thinking in the seventies, if I had been thinking about London Things at all at that time.
What I am saying, to spell it out, is that if that Guy’s Tower had not been built at all, then the subsequent architectural history of London might have been very different, and far less interesting.