Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Large number of jobs
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6000 on Gherkin in splendid isolation
Brian Micklethwait on Bird – and bird close up
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Michael Jennings on A Docklands footbridge about to be put in its place
Most recent entries
- Another fine day at the Oval (1): Vans
- Busy days
- Modernism now works
- Did the ghostly Blackfriars Bridge columns make the new station more buildable?
- Another London Big Thing alignment
- Shard and Walkie-Talkie from the top of the Cheesegrater
- The hottest day of the year (5): Old Citroens in Roupell Street
- The hottest day of the year (4): An antique view from Waterloo
- Large number of jobs
- The draw that turned out not to be
- Ghostbusters sculpture advert at Waterloo Station
- On the connection between drinking lots of coffee and living a long and healthy life
- Spraycan with moon
- Gherkin in splendid isolation
- Bird – and bird close up
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Category archive: Cranes
Last Tuesday was ferociously hot by English standards.
The first thing I noticed, when I stepped into the inferno that was outdoors, were those windows which are not windows. (1)
I was at Waterloo because my officially designated destination was to check out the state of this view:
I took that photo in July 2004, with a now antique Canon A70, through a window, hence those unfortunate reflections.
Because it was a rather dirty window, this photo also emits a rather antique-photo atmosphere, like it was taken in the very earliest days of colour photography, an atmosphere greatly reinforced by the subject matter. Right in the middle of that snap is a bunch of back-to-back terrace houses. Where are we? Somewhere in The North? No, we are looking out on a little bit of London near Waterloo Station, a strange clutch of houses left untouched by either bombing or Modern Architecture. All around this antiquated patch of otherness, Modern Architecture is springing up, beating its chest and yelling for attention. But the thing itself is an unsullied little set of dwellings that would not be out of place in a DH Lawrence TV adaptation.
Here is how the same view looked last Tuesday:
No dirty window, no reflections, because I managed to get my camera through a small window opening out into the open. Also, my latest camera takes a broader view of things, which means that the stubby tower in the 2004 photo has become slimmer, and more of the horizon is to be seen. The Oxo Tower, for example, has moved into view.
The most obvious change is how 240 Blackfriars now blocks out so much. Tate Modern, Tate Modern Extension, and a large chunk of the City, all blotted out.
The place where I took these photos, from the outside, in 2004 as now, looks like this:
Just before taking the new version of the back-to-backs view, I took another photo, through another window off to the right of the ones you see in the above photo, the one of the Wheel and the cranes and the clutter in this earlier posting about a cricket match. (3) Which makes this the forth posting involving photos taken on that expedition.
My entire day today was bent out of shape by a cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire. Surrey were trying to bowl out Hants and win, but the pitch was a belter and a draw was the likely result all day long. Nevertheless, every time the day looked like it had died, Surrey took more wickets. It reached six down, and Surrey were in with a chance. But then there was yet another long stand, by two Hampshire guys, in a match distinguished by long stands. The game had begun with a stand of over two hundred by the Surrey openers, and the Surrey first innings ended with another two hundred stand, unbroken, between the Surrey wicketkeeper and the Surrey captain, Gareth Batty. So today, Hampshire six down, with the game nearly over.
But then, Batty suddenly got a couple more wickets in the same over, bringing his total for the innings to six and his total for the match to eight, and then Stuart Meaker got another, and suddenly Hampshire were nine down. Could Surrey finish it? Earlier in the season, they got another side nine down but then got beaten by a big tenth wicket stand, so nothing was done and dusted until it was done and dusted. But then Meaker got the final wicket, and it was done and dusted.
The two photos I showed at Samizdata were chosen for their content, not their artistic expression. Here is one of my favourite photos, from the artistic expression point of view, that I took yesterday:
Mmmmmm. Cranes. And roof clutter. And The Wheel.
While out and about taking snaps like that, I was also following the Hampshire v Surrey game on my mobile. When I left my home, Hampshire were nearly all out in their first innings, and Surrey were on course to get them in again and get stuck into their second innings. But while I was drowning my sorrows in photography, Hampshire’s last wicket pair were frustrating Surrey for the last hour and a half of the day, and Hampshire still hadn’t lost their last wicket at close of play. This morning, the stand went on, only ending with a run out. Like I say, this was a match which Surrey always deserved to win, but you never thought they actually would. And then: they did.
Yesterday, I was opining that you shouldn’t let yourself be at the mercy of popular culture, to the point where you start getting angry about sequels and remakes, in this case the remake of Ghostbusters. But this is the fate of every true sports fan. He is at the mercy of events entirely controlled by others, and is doomed to constant disappointment. But, I suppose, there are enough good days, like today was for me, to make it a satisfactory bargain.
And I really am a true Surrey fan. While Surrey were piling up the runs on the first day of this game, England were busy being bowled to defeat by Pakistan. And while this was happening, I was wondering how many Surrey wickets I would surrender to cancel out England wickets. It turned out: hardly any.
So here, to celebrate, is another photo I took, last year, when I actually went to watch Surrey play:
That being Gareth Batty. Man of the Match, and Surrey’s Man of the Season so far.
LATER: Cricinfo agrees:
Batty was not so much leading from the front as picking up those around him, yapping under the helmet and then getting the job done himself. A century in the first innings began his work before two for 78 in the Hampshire reply was bested by a sensational six for 51 in the follow-on. Throw in Stuart Meaker’s reverse swing addled 18 overs of four for 40, and you wonder where the doubt in obtaining a result came from.
But with 10 overs left in the day, hope had all-but gone. At the end of Batty’s 24th over (56th of the match) he walked duck-footed to mid off, shoulders slunk, cap in hand, dreading what might be. Of all long-form cricket’s gut punches, the handshakes after a drawn fixture take the most out of a skipper who has spent the last few hours on top. And Batty’s side had been ahead for the last three days.
Summoning one last push, Batty returned to take two in his next over. Lewis McManus, having started the day with bat in hand, looked like he would finish it, too. But, after six hours and 21 minutes of crease time across both innings, he was finally dismissed to a fast arm ball. Three balls later, Andrew’s outside edge was found with a perfect off spinner. It was left to Meaker to finish things off. Late movement into the right hander did for Gareth Berg, before Mason Crane was the recipient of a bouncer that would haunt the most weathered opening batsmen, let alone a 19-year-old number 10.
Surrey currently sit outside the relegation zone, 10 points away from Nottinghamshire, who have replaced them in the bottom two. Even if Hampshire were to win their game in hand with full bonus points, they would only go one ahead of Surrey. It bears reiterating: rarely will you see a side work so hard to achieve a four day win of this magnitude.
Read the whole thing.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there I was, making my first visit to the Tate Modern Extension, and photoing from the top of it: Big Things, cranes, roof clutter, bridges, churches dwarfed by modernity, and so forth and so on, but I made no mention of other photographers. Did I perhaps ignore them?
This was the first picture I took of the new building when we arrived in its vicinity, not of the whole building, but of some people at the top of it, taking photos:
And when I got to the top myself, I was keen to photo more of my fellow photoers, and I did:
The first and last of those nine photos are of people taking photos of the building. All the others are, as you can surely see, of people taking photos from the building, from that excellent top level aperture.
Almost entirely smartphones. I didn’t pick them out that way. That’s just how it turned out. The only non-smartphone camera is in the top picture, the one taken from the ground, and even he has a smartphone snapper next to him.
There are some excellent photos of the new Tate Modern Extension to be found here, this one being number 3 of the big pictures at the top of that posting:
As that picture shows very well, they’ve stuck a big lump onto the back of the Original Tate Modern, which is the Big Thing with the big tower on the left as we look. Tate Modern itself calls this new lump, on the right, the “Switch House”, which may or may not catch on as the real name of this thing. We shall see.
The new lump is a sort of cross between a modernistic erection from the Concrete Monstrosity era of Modern Architecture and a Crusader Castle. The structure is concrete, but the surface is brick, just like Original Tate Modern. And very handsome it looks, to my eyes. Those thin windows suggest to me people who want to be able to fire arrows at you, while being much harder to hit themselves. An appropriately belligerent metaphor for the still somewhat fraught relationship between Modern Art and the surrounding culture.
What that set of pictures at Dezeen does not wallow in is what you can see from the new Tate Modern Extension, and especially from that bigger opening at the top, the one without glass. That is indeed what it looks like from below. It is a viewing gallery. I never quite believe arrangements like that until I have personally sampled them. What will it cost? Do you have to book? Is there a lot of airport security crap to get through? Etc. But all the answers were good. It’s free, there is no security theatre to contend with, and the viewing gallery was everything that it promised to be.
I was up there with GodDaughter 2 last Sunday afternoon, and trying not to ignore her completely. Plus, the place was about to close. So I was very much in we’ll-look-at-it-when-we-get-home mode. But I got some good snaps, which at least inform you of the sorts of views you get up there, even if they don’t always hit the spot for artistic impression:
Big Things. Cranes. Roof clutter. Bridges. Churches dwarfed by modernity. BMdotcom heaven, in other words. Click at will.
LATER: Or, even better (much better actually), click on this.
That being the name I have given to this photo, taken yesterday afternoon:
Pride of place in all the temporariness goes to Centre Point, currently having some kind of makeover. But there are also cranes, crane shadows, flags, and all manner of urban thisness and thatness, including a big face on the back of a Boris bus, advertising Coca Cola.
Why the Union Jacks I wonder? Was the idea that, following the vote for Remain that was obviously going to happen, there would always be a Britain? Tourists, this place is still its good old British self? Leavers, bad luck, this is your consolation prize? Remaining doesn’t mean that Britain will be gobbled up by Europe? (Even though that is the plan.) Seriously, I wonder what the thinking was there.
Whatever, it makes for a pretty photo, I think. Also, good light.
6k writes about the long journey from journeyman amateur snapper to Artist:
I don’t pretend to be a photo ninja. I can point, and I can shoot, and sometimes the results can be pretty good. Very occasionally, they can be startlingly good, but only very occasionally. I need to work more at not just pointing and shooting to increase the percentage of those startlingly good shots. We’ll get there.
There follows a picture of a bird spreading its wings. In other words, the capture of a fleeting moment.
6k photos his family quite a bit, as they do things like explore the spectacularly beautiful coastline near where he lives, in South Africa. Photoing your loved ones is also a matter of capturing the exact right moment.
With me, I think I get nearest to Art when I’m lining things up with each other. I have a mental list of things I like, and a picture counts double in my head, if I can line a couple, or maybe even more, of these things. The most characteristic of such alignments over the years have typically involved a digital photographer, with a London Big Thing in the background.
Here are a couple of efforts I might pick out to enter a competition, if someone told me I had to do that:
In these two cases, there is also an element of me waiting for the right moment, or more accurately me snapping lots of promising looking moments and picking out the best one.
Those two are from this huge collection of unrecognisable photographers, which I doubt many of you scrutinised in its entirety. So there are two of them again. I particularly like the one with the blue balloon.
And here is another exercise in lining things up, captured just a few days ago. This time, the object at the front is a plastic water bottle, resting on the anti-pigeon netting in the courtyard outside and above my kitchen window. Behind the bottle is a thing that regulars here will know that I like a lot, namely: scaffolding! This being the scaffolding at the top of the big conversion job that’s being done across the courtyard from me:
That picture involves something I don’t usually like to do, which is cropping. The original snap was rather bigger.
I don’t know what exactly I’ve got against cropping, but it feels to me like only one or two notches up from cheating. Maybe I take rather excessive pride in (the Art of) getting the snap I want to emerge straight from the camera, no muss, no fuss, no photoshop. The truth, of course, is that cropping is itself very much an Art. But because I don’t do cropping that much, I probably could have cropped this photo a whole lot better than I actually did.
Usually, I do quota postings in the small hours of the morning. Today, I am doing my quota posting in the big hours of the morning, to get it out of the way before a rather busy day, at the end of which I do not want to be fretting about doing a quota posting. Although, actually, this posting has now turned into something a bit more substantial than that, and I changed the title to something more meaningful. So anyway, yes, cranes:
Ah, cranes! Those structurally perfect votes of confidence in the sky. Those cranes were snapped from the south bank of the river, looking across at The City, on the same day earlier this month that I snapped yesterday’s quota photo. What that new Moderately Big Thing is, that some of the cranes there are ministering to, I do not know, but I like how it looks, in its incomplete state.
With Brexit, will the cranes vanish for a few years, until London sorts itself out and finds itself some new business to be doing? Crexit? (You can always tell when a word has well and truly caught on, because people immediately start trying to apply the same verbal formula to other things. Brexit, verbally speaking, is the new Watergate. Frexit, Swexit, Thisgate, Thatgate, etc. etc.) I thought that the cranes were going to depart after 2008 and all that, but the money people managed to keep the plates spinning on their sticks, and London’s cranes carried on. How will it be this time?
Here is a very pessimistic piece about Britain’s prospects, for the immediately foreseeable future. Does this mean that my crane photo-archive will, in hindsight, be the capturing of a moment of the economic history of London that will now pass? If the cranes do go, how will they look when they return? When the new cranes move in, in ten years time or whenever, will cranes like those above look strangely retro, like digital cameras circa 2005?
Or, will the cranes never return, but instead be replaced by magic electric guns which fill the air with muck and sculpt a building out of the muck, 3D printing style, all in the space of an afternoon?
Here is a photo taken by a friend with her mobile, of a construction site in New York, complete with cranes:
I love it when friends send me snaps of things they know I will like.
I am particularly glad to see New York construction cranes in action. After doing that posting about how there has been no construction in the southern end of Manhattan, mentioning absence of cranes as evidence of no construction, I started to wonder if, in New York, they do things differently. I wondered if they built skyscrapers without using cranes, but just lifting all the stuff up the building, as they built it. Or something. But of course they use cranes in New York, same as everywhere else.
Just to be quite sure about that, I googled “construction cranes new york”. And I was greeted with scenes of crane carnage like you would not believe.
Apparently cranes in New York occasionally fall over, and this is the one time when the average person is interested in them. As a result, the average person has a totally distorted idea of the positive contribution made by construction cranes to modern society.
The new US Embassy – from my roof
New Thin Things in New York (but not in Lower Manhattan)
Incoming imagery from Antoine
Using your crane to protect your cement mixer
Another walk along the river
Sickness and sunset
A crane folds itself up
Checked out: The Big Olympic Thing
How cranes might not keep falling
White vans in Kentish Town
148 to Burgess Park
Orange coloured London
Matt Ridley on Epicurus and Lucretius
Less heat and more light
Remembering the summer sun
Very local fog in London
Man on horseback – and cranes
BT Tower with cranes
Crane on fire
A day in BMdotcom heaven (4): A tale of two penultimate overs
Some quota reflected cranes and a quota white van
Rainbow over Millbank
Photoing down by the river
Cranes and a bridge (but not in a good way)
The light outside the Proud Archivist on the evening of July 22nd
Golden Cheesegrater with cranes
With GD2 in Richmond Park (1): Views of London
Photographers by the river
Smoke over west London
A very distant and yet very good view of the Big Things of London
Big Thing alignments from the top of Westminster Cathedral
The new Wembley Stadium under construction plus a white van
Ballerina and crane
The view from outside Waterloo Station
How Centre Point is looking just now
Viewing the clutter at Centre Point
A weird view of the Wheel - and cats in Tiger
The wrong kind of cranes
Christmas Day photos
In the City with Gus
I just like it
Sunshine - construction work - artificial rain
The ballerina and her support act
Ballerina with cranes again - this time with added spy cameras
Quota ballerina with cranes photo
A tumult of cranes (and the Spraycan)
My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
Big Things through a gasometer
Smaller Old Thing in front of Big New Things
A Sunday ramble
Big Things in the sunset
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
Pavlova with cranes
I see cats
Me and the first cranes at London Gateway last September
Other things last Wednesday
South Bank Architects?
The ROH from the ME Rooftop Bar
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night on the impact of digital photography
Digital photography as telepathy
Ice sculptures in Docklands – Big Things from Docklands
Battersea crane cluster
Quota crane and quota plane
Ballerina with crane
More photos of things past
The Kelpies of Falkirk
I need to photo this again
Sunrise from my roof
My own personal Big Thing viewing platform with close-up Roof Clutter
Cranes seen through Cardinal Place
Another picture from yesterday
Birds on a crane
Two favourite photos from September 5th
Baltimore: cranes - a bridge - scaffolding
London Gateway from above
Shard with roof clutter and a crane
There are cranes and there are cranes
Wandering about afterwards
Art without Artists
Giant cranes made in China for new London super-port in Thurrock
Four crane photos
Progress with the Vauxhall crane
New crane up
A new crane has already arrived
Close-up of the ruined Vauxhall crane
In Borough High Street
Cranes over Vincent Square (again)