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Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
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Category archive: Architecture
More photos of things past
More because I have already done a posting entitled Photos of things past, as I discovered when trying to save the text file I wrote prior to posting this.
I must say, I do find myself missing this Thing. If they hadn’t smashed it to bits, I would definitely be thinking that they should, but now that they have, this kind of Thing is on the defensive, and you find yourself siding with the architectural underdog. I’d certainly not be happy if all traces of New Brutalism were brutally expunged. We need a bit of it to hang around, if only as a warning of how mad architects can get, when they get mad.
This Thing was situated in the roundabout on the far side of Westminster Bridge, now occupied by the big hotel featured in picture 1.3 below. Someone told me a few days back, when I was talking about having posted an earlier picture of it here, that it was a G(reater) L(ondon) C(council) office annex, reached by a tunnel under the road from the main building. So, now that London’s local politicians have moved downstream, to The Testicle, this Thing became superfluous to requirements.
It was destroyed in October 2006, as these photos, taken on October 13th of that year, prove:
On that same day, October 13th 2006, I took other photos, of other things that have moved on, or which soon might.
The first two of these next snaps are of cranes, temporary by their nature. Who knows what that crane cluster (1.1) was building? I could probably work it out, but that isn’t the point. The point is: what an excellent crane cluster! And I think I found another picture I took of it, this time looking along The Strand.
What that blue crane was doing, floating on the river, posing in front of The Wheel, I also can’t remember.
I include the bus (2.1), with its entertaining reflections, because the London Double Decker Bus has now been redesigned, and all other London Double Deckers could soon be Things of the past.
Those wind propellers, on the top of Palestra House, the Big Thing just across the road from Southwark Tube Station, are long gone.
And the final snap there (2.3) reminds us of another kind of temporariness, which is that sooner or later, we all must move on. That snap is of flowers and pictures, placed outside Westminster Abbey, in memory of the then recently murdered (it’s still unsolved) Anna Politkovskaya.
My attention has been drawn to some excellent photos by Michal Nuniewicz.
I, of course, particularly like this one:
A classic, in the genre recently referred to here.
Sub-genre: group selfie. An important sub-classification, I think.
… in among all the stuff that does not.
Foster’s flaccid Gherkin used to advertise erectile dysfunction treatment. Personally, I don’t think the Gherkin looks like a penis, more like a vibrator. Certainly not a gherkin.
And: Synthetic creature could “save nature” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. Has this woman never seen any horror movies?
Related: Will Jellyfish Take Over the World?
December 6th 2006 was a good photographic day for me. I took these photos, from the top of Tower Bridge. And, as I approached Tower Bridge, along the south bank of the river, I took many other photos, of which one of my favourites was this:
I think this looks a bit like an owl. I’ve always liked this picture, but for some reason, for years, I thought I “couldn’t show it here”, perhaps because it is a bit blurry. But of course I can show it here. I can show whatever I like here.
One of the great technological success stories of our time is the development of glass, a development which has had a profound effect upon architecture. One of many improvements made to glass has been that it has got a lot stronger. One of the ways it has got stronger is that it has got less brittle, and more bendy. And bendy glass results in unpredictable and strange reflections, like the one above.
Do you want to know what that weird shape is? Almost certainly not, but I’ll tell you anyway. First up, it is not an owl. What it is is the NatWest Tower, with the sun shining on it so it lights up like a bar of gold. And it’s the NatWest Tower lit up like a bar of gold, reflected in the new London Parliament building.
On the left here, the same thing again, but with context, in the form of other towers reflected, such as the Gherkin. In the middle, the same thing differently reflected, making it clearer that it is indeed the NatWest Tower. On the right, the NatWest Tower, not lit up like a bar of gold, but so you can see what it looks like.
Are you wondering what the new London Parliament Building is? Again, probably not, but here it is anyway, viewed from the other side, from the approach road to Tower Bridge. Here in London this is known as: The Testicle.
That last photo was taken on that same day, December 6th 2006, so again, no Shard.
As I keep saying, photos often age well, like wine.
This, of the City of London, was taken with my previous camera but one, from the inside of the top of Tower Bridge, in December of 2006. How time flies when I’m taking photos.
Memo to self. Must go back there, and take the same picture. Things will have changed quite a lot.
LATER: After further rootling, I think I prefer this version:
You get more of a feeling of where you are, as in where I was, when there’s something in the foreground.
And while I’m adding stuff to this posting, here is another view that will look very different, when I photo that one again:
Sunrise from my roof
Rob Fisher asks, in a comment on the posting immediately below, whether my photography at dawn yesterday went as intended. Yes it did. Yes the weather was every bit as good as forecast. I took many photos, but will confine myself to five. The delay showig them is because the effort of getting up earlier enough to take them knocked all the stuffing out of me for the rest of the day, and had to confine myself to essential business.
What I had in mind was to photo this …:
… but behind this …:
Or to put it another way, this …:
… behind this ...:
… or even this:
In November, not possible. The sun rises way to the right of the Shard, let alone Parliament.
But if the door to the roof remains open, I will return on an equally clear morning in late June of next year, and see what happens then.
Nevertheless, where the sun did rise, in late October, was pretty good. Thanks to the presence of cranes.
I was up there before dawn, which was 6.50 am. As you can see, it was at least 7.30 am (see Big Ben) before I went back down home again. So, I took many other snaps besides these few, and (although I promise nothing) I may show more of these at a later date.
When I managed to get out onto my roof, I made several more afternoon visits to it. But then I got up earlyn to take photos at dawn. But it was quite cloudy, and since then I’ve been waiting for a morning that the weather forecasters were saying would be clear. Tomorrow looks like it might be:
So, early night tonight, and early morning tomorrow morning.
They said it would blow a bit last night, and it did. Now they say it will be bright tomorrow morning. Should be. But will the timing be right for me to see an actual sunrise? That looks close.
I need to check, today, that they haven’t locked the door yet.
Increasingly, I am coming to think of the summer as the photographing season, and the winter as the time when I look back through what I’ve got and tell you good people about some of it, and generally try to catch up with myself.
So, this summer, obviously, there was The Wedding. But there were also other weddings. Weddings serendipitously encountered, at places like Westminster Abbey (Aug 19) …:
… or in the Kings Road (Aug 31):
Am I entitled to steel the souls of other people’s weddings like this, by not only photoing them but also by sticking up some of the photos on my blog? I say yes, and I am the one who decides because if I decide yes, nobody stops me. Probably someone could stop me, but nobody does. And how can you stop photoing outside Westminster Abbey? Can’t be done.
The way I see it, if you make a big public show of yourself like this, in a public place, you are fair photographic game. The guests are all snapping away, so why shouldn’t a stranger join in? And more to the point, how would anyone Official be able to decide, right then and there, who is a digitalised guest and who is merely a digitalised wedding crasher? Can’t be done.
So, there the photos are, of the brides, the grooms, and of course of the photographers, Real and digital.
These two sets actually make a nice contrast. In the first, we see the Real Photographer in action, waving his arms around to telling the bride and groom where to stand and how to stand and what to look like they are feeling, like the whole show is for his benefit, which this bit of the event sort of is. And the bride and groom pose anxiously, communicating love as best they can, but actually looking more like dutiful than adoring.
And in the second, we see the wedding party emerging from Chelsea Town Hall, to confront a digital scrimmage, with all concerned looking thoroughly relaxed and happy and celebratory.
I recently read a piece, somewhere (sorry about no link – commenters?), about how in the Old Days, i.e. the days when there was Extremely Real Photography (tripod – stand very still) or no photography at all, people made a point of looking severe and grim in front of the camera, on those rare occasions when they encountered one, because if they relaxed they risked looking like a total prat, in what might well be the only photograph that anyone ever took of them or ever remembered them by. As a result we now get a relentlessly false picture, literally, of what life was like for these people in times gone by. We, on the other hand, treat any particular snap that someone snaps of us as no big deal, and we grin away to our heart’s content, and trust our mates mostly to pick the picture that makes us look okay. The whole idea of the Uptight Victorian, said this piece I read, compared to relaxed and happy us, is a consequence of the changing nature not of life itself, but of photography. Interesting idea, I think.
And I further think that these two sets of photos illustrate this contrast rather well.
Last night, in the post immediately below this one, I said that photos get better with time because the things in them change. The illustration, a shop that is a shop no longer, was pretty feeble. But after posting that, I went looking for better pictorial proof, and I think I found it:
This picture is of a big London building, in the middle of the big roundabout across the river from Parliament. This building no longer exists. I then went looking for one of the numerous photos I have taken since of the swanky new hotel that has replaced this old, brutal, Brutalist monstrosity, but of course I could not find one. Follow that link to see what the new Thing looks like.
And my picture also features a bendy bus. These are likewise no longer with us.
The photo was taken on March 10th 2004, with my now antique Canon A70. I also, while on my travels through the archives, found other particularly choice old digital cameras in action. Some of them soon, probably, possibly, I promise nothing.
This is a memo from me to me, and also an email to a friend, about another great photo op that I don’t want to forget about until I’ve done it.
The friend wants us to meet up at this, which has excellent views of both the Gherkin and the Shard, from approximately as high up as they are. This is me saying yes I very much want to do this. I am always on the lookout for such lookouts, and further suggestions are always very welcome.
Located on the 38th & 39th floors of the Heron Tower, SUSHISAMBA delivers a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, culture, music and striking design to the City of London.
Yeah yeah, foreigners cooking and overcharging for it. I get it. But what can I see? What can I photograph?
Europe’s two highest dining outdoor terraces flank the restaurant, offering unparalleled views of the City to the west and the Olympic Park to the east. Award-winning architects Cetra Ruddy designed the restaurant’s 13,423-square-foot (1,247-square-meter) space, which has direct access via two scenic lifts from a dedicated entrance on Bishopsgate. The venue is open daily for lunch and dinner, offering outdoor dining, a bar and lounge, and premier event space.
Scenic lifts. Sounds terrific. Even better if you get stuck in the scenic lift for ten minutes (not for ten hours), two thirds of the way up.
SUSHISAMBA’s menus offer an inventive culmination of three cuisines. Guests will be treated to Brazilian Churrasco and Moqueca, Peruvian Anticuchos and Seviches; and Japanese tempura and sushi.
With any luck, the lack of proper meet+2veg food, which does not taste like it was assembled in an explosives factory, will put enough people off going to this place to give me a reasonably free run of it, and plenty of photo ops. But that might be hoping for too much, and anyway, you only ever really find out what’s what with a deal like this when you actually go there, which I most definitely intend to do.
A link to this posting will go to the friend. I find that this personal blog is good for writing emails to people. What I have found myself doing recently is writing the email as a blog posting, and then emailing them the mere link, introduced with a brief summary of it. That way you achieve email brevity and say what you really want to say about whatever it is, and you get more readers for what you have written, in this case a not quite so tiny trickle. (I’ve sent the link to this posting, about how I want a new sofa/bench, to all sorts of people.)
The merging of the public and the private, which is a big story of the century so far, and which I will definitely be writing about some more, in other blog postings but not this one.
Good news sometimes comes in a disguise.
Yesterday afternoon, I paid a visit to my toilet, but was disturbed from my evacuative task by a steady dripping sound. The dripping sound was drips. Coming from the flat above. I placed a bowl under the drips. Then, I ran upstairs and banged on their door. No answer. There were water-related noises coming from above the flat upstairs, so I did the same to the door of the flat above the flat above. Again, no answer. And still the watery-related noise seemed be even higher up. So I went up more stairs, only to discover that the flats had run out. All that remained was the door out onto the roof.
Which is now always locked, or so I thought. A few years ago, I went out on the roof to take photos. But slightly fewer years ago, I tried to do it again, and the door to the roof was locked. And again a few months later, and I gave up on trying ever to get out there ever again.
But, yesterday, this door was ajar. I went out onto the roof. Was amazed at what I saw. Ran downstairs again, noted that the dripping had now stopped, grabbed my camera and ran upstairs again, in case an invisible Worker might soon shut it. This afternoon, the door was still open. More photos. I’ve been on some really good photo-expeditions recently (concerning which I hope to write more but promise nothing), but these two excusions were right up there with the best.
The number of Big Things you can see from this anonymous London place is amazing.
There is Big Ben, and the other Parliament Tower with the four spikes and The Wheel (1.2), Westminster Cathedral tower (1.3), Methodist Central Hall (2.1), St George Wharf (the ones with the winged roofs – 2.25), Millbank Tower (3.1), Big Ben again (3.2), that big tower in Vauxhall just past St George Wharf that the helocopter crashed into the crane of (4.1)), Millbank Tower again (4.3), the Vauxhall tower again (5.1), the Shard (5.2), Battersea Power Station (6.1), Millbank Tower again (6.2), and again (6.3). And that’s only the Big Things that made in into my picture selection.
Plus, there are cranes beyond counting to be seen.
But even better, this place is Roof Clutter heaven, as you can see, both because of the Roof Clutter right there, and because of all the Roof Clutter you can see from it.
I have also shown the open door (2.3), because that’s how it all happened. This afternoon, I kept checking to make sure nobody had shut it, because if they did, I’d have been stuck up there.
They’ve painted the floor white, since I last visited.
Yet again I trawl through the photo-archives for diverting stuff to do here, quickly. These two date from August of this year.
First, in Great Peter Street, SW1, a particularly choice piece of Roof Clutter:
Well, I like it. This is my blog, and if I decide I want Roof Clutter, Roof Clutter there will be.
But this next one is truly bloggable, because truly weird. It was taken just minutes before the one above, and is a particularly choice example of the Other Person’s Screen genre that I have always been fond of, and now like even more because some photo-screens have suddenly become so very big:
That’s that pub in Victoria Street, with the new radar-invisible 62 Buckingham Gate behind it.
Yes more cranes, which I spotted yesterday afternoon, at the top end of Victoria Street. So again, very near to Victoria Station.
I’m afraid that, yet again, I had to do some twisting to get that vertical and horizontal. I am cursed with the desire to photograph verticals and horizontals, but not to be able to get them looking right straight out of the camera.
Cardinal Place has a pointy end, which is basically just two huge windows, so you can see right through that. Below this paragraph, on the right, a photo from the exact same spot in the exact same direction, but with the zoom not operating, so you can see better what this is of.
Perhaps there are some readers wondering what the hell is so fascinating about cranes. Well for one thing, they’re cranes, with all that this entails, in terms of structural magnificence, aesthetic beauty, functional just-so-ness. Also, cranes mean new Things, coming soon. Not necessarily good Things, but … Things. Cranes are a vote of confidence in whatever place they are operating in. Cranes in London say: hurrah for London.
Also, cranes are, unless something has gone badly wrong, temporary. It will be great fun to stand, in two years time, in the exact same spot, and see how different things then look.
Taken by me this morning.
File under “I just like it”, although I don’t have a category for that. Maybe I should.
In May of this year, I visited something called Burgess Park, which is in South London. It’s a terrific place and it was a terrific day. I was on my way to Michael Jennings’s home, to watch a cricket match on his big telly, if I remember it right.
And while in Burgess Park, I of course took photos. It is a fine place from which to observe the Big Things of the City.
Trouble is, on that day, I suffered from a regular photographic disease of mine, which is a tendency for all my pictures to be twisted at bit, clockwise. Whenever I photo a Big Thing, I try to make it entirely vertical, using the grid on the picture feature for instance. But when I get home and see the pictures on my big screen, the Big Things, as likely as not, will be leaning over to the right. Alex Singleton pointed out that my photos, as chosen and shown here, also have a tendency to do this.
This is caused by some combination of my eyesight, the glasses I wear to correct my eyesight, and the little twiddly screen on my camera, which I think causes me to miscalculate such things as verticals and horizontals.
Answer: Photoshop, or whatever I use instead of Photoshop. Rotate. Crop. Easy.
Well, yes, when only one photo is involved. The rotate thing is easy, and cropping is not a problem either, because it doesn’t matter what the ratio is of width to height for the resulting picture. But, if I am doing a whole clutch of photos, the only way I can make all the small photos I show here, using my Photoshop clone, is to make square exerpts from the big pictures. Which is fine. But I would also like to be able to make small versions of the originals. And if the originals are no long exactly 4x3 in proportion, that means the small version won’t be either, and hence won’t be the exact same size as the other small photos.
What I needed was not just the ability to crop exact squares of whatever size makes sense, but also to crop with a rectangle that retains its exact proportions. This, my Photoshop clone does not have, or if it does, I have not been able to find it.
I wanted, some time in late May or early June, to put up a clutch of those Burgess Park photos, but since so many of the otherwise most suitable snaps were suffering from clockwise twist, I gave up and then forgot about it.
However, recently, in order to do video (I hope to tell you about this later but promise nothing) but also in order to be using the programme that the rest of the world also uses for photo-manipulation, I purchased Adobe-Premier-and-Adobe-Elements, Adobe Elements being the down-market (plenty good enough for me) version of Adobe Photoshop of the sort now used by pro designers and photographers. And my version of Photoshop Elements does have a proportional cropping (if you get my drift) facility.
Which means that I can now rescue pictures like this, good, but twisted, ...:
… buy doing this to them with Photoshop Elements ...:
… resulting in this picture looking like this, good, and not twisted, or at least not nearly as twisted as it was:
Hurrah. I can now show you a great clutch of pictures of and from Burgess Park. Which I will not do now as this posting is already a posting and postings should, as a general rule, say just the one thing.
The Big Thing on the left that looks like a kitchen refuse tub is the notorious Walkie Talkie, notorious because it recently got itself into all the papers by frying nearby shops.
I am now making use of three distinct photo-manipulation programmes, which is ridiculous but there it is. That’s what is happening. I use my Photoshop clone because I do, and it works. I use Paint.NET because I can’t make my Photoshop clone do screen captures, like for the middle picture above. So I use Paint.NET only for that, and save the captured mega-image as a .jpg and then sort it out with my Photoshop clone, because I am used to that. And now I use Photoshop itself, for the reasons explained above.
The twenty-first century is complicated.
Now that I look again at the photo above, having done everything above this paragraph several hours ago, I suspect this picture needs to get ever more untwisted before it’s exactly right. I now suspect another cause of me getting this kind of thing wrong, which is my tendency, due to the local vicissitudes of my desk, to not look at my big computer screen from exactly in front of it, but instead a bit from the side.
The twenty-first century just got even more complicated.
LATER: The above rotation was just the one degree.
Here is the result of rotating two degrees:
Better, I think. Though this time, I just used The Clone, because I know my way around it, so the proportions got shot to hell. But at least I think The Big Things may finally be pointing exactly upwards.