Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Scum?
Jackie D on Plan as energy
Drone Misfits on Van – grey but very interesting
Drone Misfits on Droneverts
Michael Thomas on The art of taxi advertising
Mark Rousell on Views from Waterlow Park
6000 on Some more lighthouses for 6k
Michael Jennings on Don't be fooled by the smallness of the building
Gerry on I never thought that we could win
Brian Micklethwait on Strand Palace Hotel footbridge
Most recent entries
- I am knackered
- Packaging that is too good
- Tidying up
- To Tottenham (1): A fine day (especially for scaffolding)
- Quota Citroen DS
- Plan as energy
- One mobile phone photoer now
- Somebody needs to invent electronically changeable paint
- Clocking clocks
- What indeed?
- Sunlight on sea
- Some more lighthouses for 6k
- Views from Waterlow Park
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Architecture
The first of my two trips earlier this week to Tottenham was on Monday, and, as soon as I stepped beyond the front door that I share with my neighbours, the weather put me in very a good mood. It was exactly as had been prophesied, namely: perfect. Sky, fifty shades of blue, depending on what else you put next to it, thus:
All of these photos involve scaffolding, which is a thing I love, along with cranes. (Also bridges.) Scaffolding says that Men Are Working, building a better future for us all. Scaffolding says that Men With Money think that here, there is more money to be made, selling or renting new or newly refurbished places. Cranes say the same. (Bridges say: here are two places worth connecting.)
On a day such as Monday was, scaffolding can look especially fine, because Monday was the kind of day when just about anything was looking fine.
1.1 is of some home improvement going on as seen from just outside my front door. 1.2 and 2.1 are both of the building going on across my courtyard, where they are turning a posh office into posh flats. And 2.2 is of some scaffolding to be seen in Vauxhall Bridge Road. (Although there seems to be disagreement between the sign in my photo and the only relevant website I could find, concerning what number to ring to get Superior Access Scaffolding.)
And all of this before I had even arrived at Pimlico Tube. It was an auspicious start. The rest of the day did not disappoint.
People taking photos with their mobile phones, now more commonly known as smartphones because of all the other things they can do also besides phoning people when out and about, is now something you see everywhere. Above is a typical such photoer, whom I photoed at the top of the Big Olympic Thing last Tuesday, just before it got dark, on the same day I took these photos.
1.1 and 1.2 both show classic finger-work, of the sort I have long been familiar with, but which I nevertheless never tire of seeing and photoing. These shapes always make me smile.
2.2 is a classic screen shot, with everything on the screen very visible, as it is often not. Normally I like bright, outdoor light, but when it comes to photoing other people’s screens, the worse the light is the better.
Perhaps 2.1 is the most interesting one, because it shows what dirty windows there are up there. The human eye doesn’t see through dirty windows very well, but cameras do this better, unless the camera is photoing the dirt, in which case it really photos it.
Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.
This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:
There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed. It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours. This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid. In Spain they like bright colours, right?
But, what bright colours? The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth. In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it. That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone. All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest. Eventually, a winner may be declared. Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.
That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.
So, techies, get to work. What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.
Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.
Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over. Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.
Memo to self. Whenever you see a clock, photo it. Why? Because that will ensure that you actually know what time all those photos that day were taken, what real clocks moving back and forth but my camera’s clock: not. I usually get the date right. The time, often not.
One day, when a clutch of my photos taken several years ago are crucial to establishing or destroying an alibi for a criminal suspect, knowing the exact time could turn out to be very important.
It helps that I like clocks and tend to photo them anyway. Now I will try to make a habit of it.
This clock …:
… is to be found at the top of a rather intriguing building in nearby Victoria, now the National Audit Office, but which used to be an airline terminal.
I photoed this clock from the roof of my home, on the same day I took these photos.
For the last week or two or more, I have been unable to reach the 6k blog, which is one of my favourites. I’ve been able to reach everything else I wanted to, but not 6k. Odd. My computer has been behaving strangely in recent weeks, so it’s almost certainly me rather than him. Or maybe, as The Guru suggests, it might be my internet provider. Whatever the reason, it’s been a frustration and a worry.
But today, for no reason that I can think of, I clicked on 6k yet again, and back it came, like it had never been away.
To celebrate, here are some more lighthouses, something which 6k likes, and which in a more ignorant and casual way I do too:
That’s a crop from the middle of a hastily snatched shop-window shot, full of reflections and general confusion. Memo to self. Next time I visit my friends in Brittany: better lighthouse shots. Of postcards, of toy lighthouses like these ones (I seem to recall entire walls of lighthouses in tourist crap shops), and of actual lighthouses.
6k likes lighthouses so much that the little square graphic at the top of the window where his blog is windowed, or whatever is the word for that, is a red, white and blue square from a red and white lighthouse picture.
I then went on to explore nearby Waterlow Park. Since it was only March, the trees in that park were unencumbered by leaves, and I was able to take pictures, from Waterlow Park, like this …:
… and this:
Very nice, I think. So why didn’t I show any of these pictures here at the time? It was, I think, indecision. Which ones should I show? Just the above two? Or perhaps this one, which combines the two above scenes?:
But then again, so does this one:
Could I show lots? What if they were too similar to each other?
I had got as far as collecting some of the best photos I took from Waterlow Park that day, in a special subdirectory, together with a few other shots of the park itself. I probably then expanded the posting in my head, to include some thoughts about the history and origins of Waterlow Park, and about Waterlow himself, and about the general principle that nice public places can be established by private individuals. But it all got too complicated.
Only now am I remembering Waterlow Park.
Ah the countryside, where the other creatures - other than cats, I mean - live:
And contribute about as much to the world as most cats do, by the look of them.
Actually this is not really the countryside. It is north east London. To be more exact, it is the gap between the King George’s Reservoir and the William Girling Reservoir, which is named after William Girling, who was the Chairman of the Metropolitan Water Board at the time of the reservoir’s opening.
I found myself in this spot in the summer of 2015, and don’t worry, I had a destination in mind that was nothing to do with horses. I was on my way to Yardley Hill, to take photos like this:
As I made my way towards Chingford Station, I also came upon a horse, wondering whether to kick a dog or run away from it. And I also encountered an Indian elephant, outside an Indian restaurant:
But I kept well clear of the cattle.
A few days back, I did a posting about a plan to illuminate London’s bridges. What, I think, will make this new plan different and striking is that all the bridges will be lit up, all at once. So, for instance, it will be possible to see them all lit up from above, from places like the Shard, and like the top of the Hotel ME.
Because, as some have told me recently, it is not as if London’s bridges, one at a time, have never been lit up before.
Proof of which observation comes in the form of another photo I took in 2006 (while seeking mobile phones being used as cameras), of London Bridge, looking upstream from Tower Bridge. And London Bridge is all lit up:
Okay, it’s only in one colour, but it’s still lit up.
I’ve already shown a very similar picture of this building …:
… at this blog, in this posting. The above photo is only very slightly different, in that it includes the Spraycan on the right, but excludes the Walkie-Talkie. Also, I was able to compose it because I was on the platform of Battersea Park station, rather than in a train and just taking a chance.
I show another shot of this thing, because, well, I just like it. There’s something about the way it gets lighter at the top, and how photos of this thing end up looking like they’ve been faked up by an architect’s office before the thing has even been built. Photos of it don’t look real. They look like Photoshop.
When I started doing this posting, I had it in mind for tomorrow (which is a busy day), having already done a rather perfunctory posting about a cat, Friday being my day for cat-blogging. But it turns out that this blue building is also all about cats and other creatures. I tried googling it for that earlier posting, without success. But I just gave that another go, this time typing “"blue new building Battersea” or some such word combo into the great computer in the sky, and this time it worked. This blue building is the recently opened Battersea Dogs (and now also Cats) Home Veterinary Clinic & Centre of Excellence.
Blog and learn.
A few days ago, the weather was gorgeous, in the early morning. Forewarned by a typically omniscient short-term weather forecast, I got up early and went up to the roof of my block of flats. I particularly wanted to photo the progress of the building work opposite, and more distantly, the progress of the new US Embassy over towards Battersea, which happens to be very visible from this spot. But I also photoed roof clutter, near and far:
1.1 That building, on the far side of Victoria Street from me, used to be New Scotland Yard, but the Metropolitan Police are moving (to a building right next to the original Scotland Yard), and it seems that one of London’s finer roof clutter clusters will soon be no more, to be replaced by these new towers. Blog and learn.
1.2 Some of the scaffolding opposite, mingling with aerials, and with an older kind of aerial for tuning in to messages from the heavens, otherwise known as a church spire.
2.1 Clutter at its most cluttered close up. Is that stuff in the foreground maybe something to do with mobile phones? In the distance, Battersea Power Sation, with one of its chimneys yet to be completely reconstructed.
2.2 Me photoing a satellite dish, and my shadow photoing the shadow of the satellite dish.
Tomorrow’s weather is also due to be gorgeous.
Another photo from last Wednesday, in Battersea, down by the river, of a fellow photoer:
Me being an amateur is why the Spraycan is now the Leaning Tower of Vauxhall.
The human eye comes with a brain attached, a brain which continuously works out what is actually there, as opposed to how things merely look. But the camera is stupid. It sees everything but understands nothing. It does not cut out what doesn’t matter.
So, when a camera takes a picture like this ...:
… it shows the sign, but it also shows all the stupid lighting effects that are messing with the sign.
It also shows weird lighting effects above and beyond the sign, which perhaps you hadn’t noticed, until I told you to look for them. Your brain may have cut that out, because it doesn’t have anything to do with the sign and you were concentrating on the sign.
But now do what I did next, when I realised what was really going on here. Having acquired the photography habit, I have become visually stupid, which means that I now see more, almost like a camera does.
Feast your eyes on this:
I am not sure if the above photo was the best I took of this effect, or the below photo. So I post both:
This was, I think, the single most remarkable thing I saw on my walk from Battersea Park station back to my home, last Wednesday afternoon.
From the above photos, you may be able to deduce what is causing this, but I’ll save you the bother of working it out. Here is the next photo I took:
And here is another photo which makes everything even clearer, that I got from the internet:
It’s the curvature of the surface off which the sunlight is bouncing that does it. That separates the blobs of light from each window into distinct columns, creating a parthenonic magnificence that would, with a flat wall of windows, have been just a big jumble. That would have been pretty good, but what we actually see is something else again. And yet, when I was photoing this, I was the only one paying attention to this amazing light show. Everyone else just walked past it, like it wasn’t there. This was because, thanks to their brains, it actually wasn’t there.
The internet ought to be able to correct such failures to notice. But the strange thing is, if you google the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, all you get is a lot of stuff about dogs and cats. No mention at all of this amazing special effect. The modern world has its priorities badly skewed.
I have photoed similar lighting effects before, such as the one reported in this posting. But that one is put completely in the shade by this one.
Categories below include Transport. That’s because all this drama was to be seen on a manky old railway viaduct. Which I actually think made it look better. (All everyone else saw was a manky old railway viaduct.)
Today’s expedition happened pretty much exactly as guessed at yesterday. I went by train from Victoria to Battersea Park, then wandered back towards Vauxhall, and finally took a bus back across the river and home. I took over five hundred photos, including many that were really quite diverting. On the right is one of these photos. Just the one. Click to get the picture twice as big.
One of the many things that holds me back as a blogger is that I think of an idea for a blog posting, but the thing gets too big and complicated, and it never gets done. The trick is to say just one thing, not all the things that also relate to or are provoked by that one thing, just that one thing. The other things can follow, in further blog postings.
So, on the right there is what the Spraycan looks like, when reflected in some of the windows of the new US Embassy at Nine Elms, the one that they are building to replace the one in Grosvenor Square.
To remind you of which one the Spraycan is, here is an earlier picture I took of it, next to the moon.
Well, it looks like the shape and size of this photo demands that I now say some further things, of the sort that relate to or are provoked by this one thing. How very inconvenient and contradictory. Clearly, a photo shaped like this was absolutely not the right way to illustrate the need to say one simple thing. All of which is complicated by the fact that my inputting software doesn’t tell me exactly how the final postings will look. So, there’ll probably be too much waffling towards the end of this posting.
In an earlier manifestation of this posting, this paragraph was identical to the one above. The explanation of that circumstance being explained in the next paragraph. There should now be about the right amount of waffle here.
I’ve had a rather tiring day.
The weather forecast says that tomorrow will be a beautiful day, and I intend to spend it: out. But where?
I promise nothing, but at present I am inclined towards visiting one of those delightful roof level London railway stations, along which one may perambulate, lining up Big Things with each other, namely …:
I’ve not been there lately. As you can see if you look at that carefully, and if you know your London Big Things, that photo was photoed quite a while ago, when the Gherkin stood in isolated splendour, uninterrupted by such things as the Cheesegrater, and when the Shard of Glass was but a concrete stump. Six years ago, to be more exact.
After hoovering up all the views to be seen from there, I then have in mind to wander back toward Vauxhall, past all the new US Embassy and Battersea Power Station excitements, towards the Oval and surrounding parts, and see what I see.
There is a park there, south of the Oval, that I’ve never checked out before. Parks are also good for seeing Big Things, because parks, if you stand on the far side of them, have no big intervening objects between you and the distance.
I already showed here some pictures I took in August, in and from Epsom.
Here is another, which shows the whole of central London:
Click to get that original size, 4000 pixels across, but the sky, as above, removed.
Most of the well-known views of London are from the north looking south or from the south looking north. This is from the south west looking north east. Given that quite a lot of the river, the bit between Vauxhall Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, actually flows south-north rather than east-west, you get some rather unfamiliar ordering amongst the Big Things, with the Post Office Tower, for instance, being quite a way to the left of most other Big Things, on account of it being further “north”, but actually a bit away to the north east. I knew you’d be excited.
Here is what the original shot looked like, with the sky kept in. Not a cloud in the sky. Ah, summer. It’s amazing how abruptly the summer seems to have ended. One moment it’s daylight until nine in the evening, now it’s dark at six, and the clocks haven’t even gone forward yet.