Pavlova dances – backed by a line of cranes

From 2014. Cranes, having spent the day transforming the top end of Victoria Street, relax by going out dancing with Pavlova:

The statue is carefully contrived to look beautiful. The cranes are just cranes. No aesthetics went into them at all. Yet they look beautiful also.

Spot the traffic light.

First photos with the FX150

I can still remember the Great Leap Forward that the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 “bridge” camera was. For me if not for all of photoer-kind. For me, the best “bridge camera” I could have was my perfect camera. Tons of zoom, but no faffing about with different lenses to at once capture whatever sscene presented itself to me, near or far.

I went rootling through the photo-archives looking for some early photos I photoed with this wondrous new contrivance, looking at the first photo-expeditions I embarked upon, along the River, to the Victoria Docks, or just to Westminster Abbey and Bridge, to photo my fellow photoers, to pick out some photos that brought back the shock of pleasurable surprise I had when I first got my hands on it.

But then I realised I was looking in the wrong place. What I needed to see were not merely some “early” photos, photoed days or even weeks after I got this super-camera. What I wanted to see were the absolute first photos I took with this camera, on January 26th 2012.

And the very first one of all was this:

That scene, of my kitchen window and surroundings as seen from my swivel chair around which most of my life revolves, if you get my meaning. (It’s the chair that does the actual revolving.) I am happy to report that the big grey Thing, bottom left, which was for making ice, has been replaced by a slightly bigger black box, which also makes ice, and also looks after food of many other sorts, including in particular ice cream. Otherwise, nothing has changed.

On each side of the window are CD shelves, and the next few photos I photoed were all close-ups of CDs, edge on:

That was when it hit me, and I believe I can still remember this glorious moment. This was the camera I had been waiting for, all my life. The key point was not just that these were successful photos of distant details. I can tell from the numbering of these photos in the archive that there were no failures. None. All of my first dozen or so photos with this new camera came out fine, even the one of my pop music department, which was where it still is, way off to the left and way up near the ceiling.

Only the following day did I photo anything beyond my front door.

The first outdoor photo I photoed with my new FZ150 was this, dated January 27th, i.e. the following day, just before it got dark:

That’s looking across Vincent Square at the building activity in and around Victoria Street, which has been pretty much continuous, one place or another, for the last decade. Mmmmmm, cranes.

Since then, I have upgraded to the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 and then to the FZ330. But they are both really just the FZ150 with frills added. If my current camera, the FZ330 were to be snatched away from me, and I was given another FZ150 and told that this would be my last camera, I’d not be that bothered. Were I told that I would have to go back to the crappy camera I had before the FZ150, that would be a disaster. Soon after acquiring this FZ150, I wrote about it at some length for Samizdata. This confirms what, up until re-reading that, I had merely remembered. The FZ150 really was a huge step forward.

Hurrah for capitalism. It really is ridiculous that the world’s schools are now cranking out a whole new generation of nitwits, an appallingly significant proportion of whom seem genuinely to want to put a stop to this glorious process.

John Duffin painting on Blackfriars Bridge ten years ago

Ten years plus a few days ago, I was checking out the work that was beginning to be done making the new BlackFriars Bridge railway station. And today, I checked out the resulting photos, Here are six of them:

Photo 2: Sampson House and Ludgate House, again. Photo 4: The Shard, just getting started. Soon after those photos, I photoed that black bus.

It was a somewhat gloomy day, and my camera wasn’t as good as what I have now, so I was glad to come across a couple of photos of a painting. And because I took such a good note of the painting, in the form of a photo of the painting and of its title and creator – memo to self: always do this – I was able quickly to track down a better digital version of the painting:

Reminds me of this photo of mine, but it’s far less of a muddle.

John Duffin, it would appear, sees London in the same way I do and, I’m guessing, the way lots of others do. He pays attention to landmark buildings, and all those bridges of course, and kind of recedes everything else more into the background. Cameras don’t discriminate. You have to point them at particular things if you want them to emphasise those things. Otherwise, to emphasise this or that, you have to do bullshit graphics manipulation. Or if you can’t or won’t do that (that would be me), write an essay.

I thought: does John Duffin have a website? Of course he does.

Here are a couple more Duffins:

On the left, many more London bridges, from the Albert (I think) Bridge in the foreground, all the way to Tower Bridge. And on the right, oh look, that’s Lord’s cricket ground. Nice player shadows.

I love how, with a camera, and provided you photoed notes as well as photos, you can pick up where you left off a decade ago.

London Gateway sunrise

Four photos. Couldn’t decide, so …:


Hard to tell from those photos how many cranes there are yet at London Gateway. But in this photo I believe I see twelve. That being a photo of what they say is “the world’s biggest container ship” delivering its cargo of containers. It doesn’t look that big. I mean, not “world biggest” big. The fact it’s so wide is, I think, what is deceiving.

I’ll never know how these things don’t capsize when fully loaded. Presumably there is many tons of weight at the bottom of them, doing nothing but keeping them upright.

Now thrive the scaffolders and the craners

Quota photos, yes, but I trust amusing ones:

That’s the Tate Modern extension nearing completion, photoed by me five years and one day ago. So not really now. But the scaffolders and the craners do now still thrive.

Quota photos because I spent the morning failing to finish another piece of writing which just grew and grew. And now, I have to go out and Do Things, which always tires me out these days, so I wanted to have something here before I went out. More later. Maybe.

I hate not being able to go up that Thing and photo London and photo others photoing London. Can wait until it opens. And will. But would prefer not to be having to.

Reflections from One New Change

Rootling through the photo-archives, as I have been doing a lot lately, I came across a directory devoted to One New Change, and the views out over London you can photo from it.

Views like this:

Clear enough. Sky, very clear.

But then, I came upon this photo:

Weird. It’s some kind of reflection, obviously, but what it is reflected in? What was I doing to get that? I set the problem to one side and forgot about it.

But then, a few weeks later I think, I went back to the same directory, and came upon the answer. Because, here (below) was the same photo, with me merely holding the camera differently:

I photoed the photo where the reflected scene is horizontal from a similar spot, but with the camera turned round about two hundred and eighty degrees from how it looks in one immediately above.

Here’s another version of the above that makes everything clearer, by supplying some context:

That photo also shows how the top of One New Change itself looks.

You know me. I don’t just like to show you my favourite photos. My favourite photos are often puzzles, photos that make you, and for that matter me, ask: What’s that? And I want to find out, by looking at other photos taken at the same time, and then I want to explain them all to you, with all those other photos included in the posting.

Also, modern architecture is shiny.

Zooming in on Millais

In January 2018, I see that I did a blog posting, in which I expressed interest in this camera, the Nikon Coolpix B700, including that link in that earlier posting. Late last year, I bought one of these cameras. This was partly for its x60 optical zoom, but also because the camera is red, and a red camera that looks like it should be black is, I think, cool. Also, it is easy to tell at a glance which of the two cameras I now use is which. It helped that it was going cheap, on Amazon, as I recall.

It proved ever so slightly disappointing, impressive though the zoom proved to be, sometimes. Here are three photos I photoed with it soon after getting it, that show just how powerful that zoom is:

These photos were taken last November, from the top of the steps outside Tate Ancient.

On the left, note the dark building made of three bits, of varying heights, looking a bit like a rude gesture made with the middle finger. In the middle photo, we observe the top of the middle and tallest bit of this building. And on the right, with the zoom going full blast, we see the cleaning crane at the top of the tower.

Technically, I was impressed. But, did I really need to be taking long distance photos of things which I could surely photo just as well by just getting a bit nearer. After all, much of the point of my photoing is to get me out of my home and taking some exercise. x25 would mean rather more exercise, so, the new x60 camera was that most unwelcome of phenomena, the solution to circumstances that were not a problem.

Until a few days ago, when I went out with my x25 black camera and my x60 red camera, and I photoed this photo, with the latter:

That was taken of John Everett Millais, at maximum x60 zoom, from quite a lont way away.

With the result that I was not photoing the underneath of his chin, but photoing him something more like from his level. I was still below him, but the angle I was coming up at him was much smaller. Basically, I wasn’t photoing his adam’s apple.

Compare that with this, which, with apologies for the repetition, I had earlier photoed (and earlier shown here) of JEM with the x24 black camera:

I actually think that the black x25 photo is pretty good also, but given the choice for photoing the faces of statues, I now prefer the notion of using the red x60 camera, or at the very least having that option. There could be statues when its better angle will make quite a difference.

I like human faces, but there are problems with just photoing interesting faces and then shoving them up on a blog. Privacy, etc. I respect that.

I could show lots of photos of my own face, but I fear looking like a narcissist. (I also fear that one of the symptoms of narcissism is the fear of being thought a narcissist, but I’ll set that aside.) But there are no issues with photoing statues, and you can go in as close as you like on their faces. Also, most statues are of very interesting people. So, I like to photo them.

And now, I have photoing equipment that is that little bit better for doing that.

Out near London Gateway

A little clutch of photos of a decaying jetty, photoed just beyond Tilbury on the north side of the Estuary, in September 2013:

From this spot I could also see, in the far distance, the first few cranes of London Gateway. I made several trips to inspect these, around then:

There is nothing else as big as these cranes to be seen anywhere near them, and in their visual impact on their surroundings they remind me of nothing so much as one of those medieval cathedrals, in a town than never got much bigger. (Like Ely.)

According to Wikipedia, there are now twelve cranes up and running. There’ll eventually be twenty four.

One more such expedition to those parts probably wouldn’t kill me. Or then again it might. In London, everything is close together, and there are buses and trains everywhere. Not out there.

One Park Drive – in January 2019 and now

For me, January 17th 2019 began wonderfully, with scaffolding.

I was on my way to meet up with occasional commenter here Alastair James, in Docklands, and it was a great day. Meeting him in Docklands was great, and what I saw afterwards was great too. Highlight: the Optic Cloak, one of my favourite pieces of London public sculpture.

In among those highlights, I also got to see the architectural state of affairs in Docklands. It helped that it was January so the trees helped rather than getting in the way.

I was especially impressed by One Park Drive, which has a real Chicago vibe to it. Right down to “Park Drive”, which sounds very Chicago to me. Definitely USA.

On the left, below, is how One Park Drive was looking in January 2019:

And on the right there is how it is looking now, in a Mick Hartley photo posted on his blog yesterday. He calls Docklands:

A ghost town waiting for the world to start up again.

Which sounds about right. Except that ghosts don’t like hot and sunny weather, do they? (Good news: nor does the Coronavirus.)

I hadn’t realised, when I saw it, how much taller One Park Drive was eventually going to be. Like so many buildings these days, it maybe looked more fun when being constructed than it looks now it’s finished. All those ziggy-zaggy bits of concrete, somewhat smoothed out in the finished Thing.

New Surrey stand and thing next to the Pavilion

And they look like a typical London aesthetic cludge, so I guess they’ll fit right in.

Yesterday evening, I did a posting here which collided cricket (some recent and not so recent dramas) with architecture (how the middle of London was looking not so recently). The abrupt change of subject was signalled, as often here, by the word “LATER”, the photo of central London’s Big Things having been an afterthought of dubious relevance to what had preceded it. The only connection was that the two photos in the posting were both photoed on the same day, exactly ten years ago yesterday.

But this posting combines cricket with architecture by being about cricket architecture. Cricket has lots of architecture of its own and is constantly adding to it.

To set the scene, below is a photo I took last autumn.

Me and my Surrey cricket mate Darren went to a very boring game at the Oval on September 23rd of last year. But we had other plans beside watching the mere cricket. We began by creeping up, unnoticed, to the top of the big new stand that faces the Pavilion, at the other end of the ground. I got to take lots of photos, of the stand and from the stand, before someone came up and told us to leave. You can see a few of the photos I took that day in this earlier posting. Those photos were architectural in that they showed lots of the surrounding London architectural scene that you can see from the top of that new stand. But here is another architectural photo I photoed that day, from that same stand, showing how things were then looking in the vicinity of the Pavilion opposite:

The lighting is not good in that, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the reason I mention that expedition and the above photo is that this morning, the Surrey CCC Twitter feed featured this photo:

They’re adding a new stand and a new clutch of indoor spaces next to the Pavilion. The Pavilion being as fine an example as you could hope to see in London of Ancientism, that is to say ancient in atmosphere even when first built.

What they are now doing will end up looking approximately thus:

As always, because it’s London, I’ll probably get entirely used to it and end up liking it, but as of now I think that’s hideous, an absolute textbook example of how not to add modern architecture to ancient or Ancientist architecture.

What a shame they couldn’t get the money together to have started doing this, which was the plan in 2017:

One more marvel that never was to add to London’s copious collection of such dreams.

However things turn out, and you never really know how they’ll turn out until they finish it and let you see it for real, one thing’s for sure, which is that this view, from the summer of 2015, …:

…, which I used to enjoy photoing whenever Darren took me up to the top tier of the Pavilion, is now a thing of the past.

WIll a similar view be photoable from the new stand, and if so, will random people like me be allowed actually to photo it? Fingers crossed. In other words, the opposite of what you do with your fingers when actually photoing.