Crowd scenes by the River a year ago

On June 30th 2019, I was out walking, beyond and then on Tower Bridge, then back along the south side of the River, and then across to Embankment Tube and home. Here are some photos from that day, of crowd scenes:

At the time, I often thought I was photoing something quite other than mere people, in a crowd. At the time, the mere fact of lots of people all bunched up together didn’t mean much. It does now.

Thumbnails for a Remainer demo

I have been struggling with posting “thumbnails” here. Thumbnails are small photos, which if clicked on, result in us viewing a different and bigger photo, of which the thumbnail was only a smaller bit.

Finally, I have had a little success:

Each of the above squares that you see are thumbnails. Click on any one of them, and you get to the bigger picture from which that thumbnail was cropped. Also, click on any one of them, and right or left click on that, and you get the rest of the big original photos, just as you would with any other gallery here.

So, progress. Trouble is, if I tell WordPress to have only four thumblnails to a row, instead of the rows of five that you see above, big gaps of white start appearing between the thumbnails. So, a way to go before I’m on top of this, but it’s a start. Until today, I couldn’t do any of this, despite several tries. Now, I can do a bit of it.

This is what our century is like. Disentangling little conundrums like this. There are plenty of people who could probably have helped with this particular concundrum, but I am not sorry to have done this little bit of sorting myself. How else do you learn?

The photos above were of a Pro-Remain demo, which I chanced upon in Parliament Square in February 2019, one of the many too-much too-late eruptions of Remainer political sentiment that followed the Referendum that the Remainers had lost. The thumbnail thing, where you crop out one of the messages being waved by demonstrators, works rather well for showing galleries of such photos.

Note in particular the one that says “No-one voted for this mess”. I must admit that once Leave won the Referendum, I though leaving would be easier than it has been. But the more of a mess leaving turned out to be, the more I favoured leaving, on the grounds of EUrope being the sort of arrangement it was so very messy to get out of, even though we’d voted to do this.

New River walk with GodDaughter1 from Bounds Green to Enfield

On April 2nd 2016, GodDaughter1 and I went on a photo-expedition along the New River. It was most enjoyable, and I prepared another of those big photo-clutches that I could seldom bother to do on the Old Blog, so that you can now, if you feel like it, click-click-click through them on this New Blog. But I also wanted to link back to an earlier posting I did about a rather exotic looking duck that we had encountered that same day.

For reasons explained in this posting, all postings on the Old Blog linked back to from this blog have to have been transferred to the New Blog. So, here I am linking back to What sort of duck is this?

But, problem. That posting itself linked back to a posting about Trees pruned into strange sculptures, because GD1 and I encountered a really strange piece of tree surgery (photo (6.2), on that same expedition.

Which, in its turn linked back to Losing the leaves in Victoria Park, because, well, because it did. So that had to be transferred across too.

When I put it like that, it all seems pretty simple. But following the link chain backwards and then forwards again, opening up each posting about four times over, was the Grandma of all muddles that I had not seen coming, and muddles you do not see coming can get really muddled.

Anyway, it’s all sorted now, and here are all those photos I mentioned, at the top of this:

My favourite is the plate-shaped foliage that has been emptied upside down into the water (photo 28 (4.4)).

There’s lots more I could say about all these photos, but this posting has already gone on far too long, and I confine myself now to saying: See also the plaque about Sir Hugh Myddelton (photo 37 (5.5)), who designed the New River. Designed? You don’t design rivers. They’re just there. But yes, he designed it. The point being it was designed and built, to supply London with fresh water, right at the beginning of the seventeenth century. So, at a time when so many stupid things were in the process of happening, something truly creative also happened.

Well, one other thing: the occasional interpolation of extreme urbanness (e.g. a newspaper headline about Ronnie Corbett (photo 27 (4.3)) and the van covered in stickers (photo 21 (3.5)) is because when you walk along beside the New River, it sometimes dives underground and you have to go up to regular London, until you get to the next bit.

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.

Lockdown chat with Patrick

On June 2nd, Patrick Crozier and I had another of our recorded conversations, this time about Lockdown.

In the course of this, I refer to a photo that I did take, and a photo that I didn’t take. The photo that I did take was this:

That being me, and another bloke, recording the fact of empty shelves in Sainsburys. The photo that I didn’t take, but talk about with Patrick, is the one I should also have taken of how the shelves laden with less healthy food – crisps, chocky bickies etc. – were crammed with yet-to-be-sold stuff, a lot of it offered at discount prices.

Patrick, in his posting about this chat, mentions something he thought of afterwards but didn’t say during, which is that what may have been going on with the crisps and bickies was not that people were shunning unhealthy food, but rather that they were shunning party food, on account of there suddenly being no parties being had. Good point. In my photo above, you can see in the distance, the drinks section. Plenty of drink still to be had also.

I remember, when I used to do chat radio, I used to regret not having said things I should have said, either because I had them in mind but forgot, or because I only thought of them afterwards. But, in due course, I realised that what mattered was what I did say. If that was reasonably intelligent and reasonably well put, then I did okay. People wouldn’t say: Ooh, but he forgot to mention blah blah. They would merely decide whether they liked, or not, what I did say.

Well, this time around, I think there was a huge elephant in the virtual room that we didn’t discuss, which I am sure some listeners would expect us to have at least mentioned. Sport. As in: There hasn’t been any! Patrick and I are both sports obsessives. He is a Watford fan. But he has had no Premier League relegation battle to warm his heart during the last few months. I love cricket, not just England but also Surrey. Likewise for me: nothing, despite some truly wonderful weather at a time when it’s often very grim. But, not a single sporting thing, other than ancient sportsmen reminiscing about sports contests of yesteryear on the telly. Yet we never mentioned any of that. Since a lot of the point of our chat wasn’t to yell at politicians and scientists, hut rather just to remember the oddities of our own lives now, this was a major omission. We talked, as we always do whether that’s the actual topic or not, about war, this time in connection with the question of which economic policy attitudes will prevail during whatever attempts at an economic recovery start being made in the months to come. Yet sport, the thing that has replaced war in so many people’s lives, got no mention by us.

Blotting out the face with reflections at the top of the Tate Modern Extension

Here are some photoer photos I photoed almost three years ago now, at the top of the Tate Modern Extension. They are all of the same person, taken one after another:

I think that what she’s doing here is a selfie with the Big Things of the City of London behind her. It’s because it’s a selfie rather than a straight photo of the view that she is facing us.

When photoer photoing, I am always on the lookout for ways for faces to be blocked out. The camera itself, smartphone (as above) or just a regular camera, often does this by getting in the way. Bags and coats often oblige. Lately, of course, there have been masks. Simplest of all is just photoing from behind the photoer. But simple can be ever so slightly dull, and that particular dullness was avoided this time.

What blots out this lady’s face is that she is behind a window, and the reflections in the glass of what is behind me do the job. Well, mostly. If you knew her already you might recognise her from the last one. But I doubt a face recognition computer could make much sense of it.

This Tate Modern Extension summit is a fabulous place for photoing, for me. Other photoers, great views out over the middle of London, often combinable in the same photo. Terrific. And with windows on three sides of the room at the top, and the viewing platform all around the outside, the reflections and combinations and complications are often mind-boggling. Just explaining what’s going on in the above photos would take another screen’s worth of prattle, and you’d probably be none the wiser.

And don’t get me started on those big spots on the windows. They add a whole extra dimension to everything.

The only way to explain all these complications and ramifications is to have a mass gallery, with lots of photos of photoers and of the place itself, to the point where you can all see for yourselves what’s going on, and why everything looks the way it does. But not today.

B-1B selfies

If I were Senior Airman River Bruce, I’d be mighty proud of this photo:

Those are mechanics, so it makes perfect sense for them to put themselves in their photos. And well done Senior Airman Bruce for including them in his. Or hers, maybe? Air-man suggests his, but what do I know? Either way, it’s a great photo, which underlines how many man hours go into keeping one airplane like that flying.

With thanks to Austin Bay.

LATER: One thing did puzzle me. What was all this talk of “BONE”? Simple, it’s a One thing. B-One.

No shininess at Eltz

Nudged, I’m guessing, by this posting of mine, Michael Jennings earlier this month Facebooked this closer-up photo he had photoed of Eltz Castle:

A classic of ancient adhocistical anarchy, I think you’ll agree. The very definition of picturesque.

But I also show this photo of Michael’s because I think it illustrates the opinion I expressed in this earlier shininess or architectural modernity posting. There is no shininess in the above photo, not even in the windows on show. (The things I like best are always the things that tell me how right I was, I find.)

An obvious reason for that is that the windows seem all to be recessed from the surfaces of buildings. But there seems to be another reason. Take a look at this Eltz Castle photo, this time an interior shot (one of those here):

Very lavish, but that’s not my point. Which is: Look again at those windows, the ones with all the circles. They look like Ancientist fakes to me, but Ancientist or genuinely ancient, what those windows illustrate is that glass existed for a long time before they worked out how to make its surface smooth and flat. Above all, they took a long time to work out how to make big sheets of glass, such as we moderns now take for granted. And it’s that total absence of large and smooth and shiny surfaces that does so much to explain the different atmosphere radiated by ancient architecture.

At Eltz, you might get occasional flashes of light, little splinters. And you can see great stuff in old windows, from the inside, as the above photo also illustrates lavishly. But you’re never going to see anything reflected in glass like that, outside. Not any Thing, that you can recognise.

Book Warehouse bag lady photoer

When I photoed this photo on Westminster Bridge, way back in 2007, well, you know what I was interested in:

But now, it’s the bag that gets my attention.

Oh, I was interested in a general way in the phenomenon of photoers photoing while carrying shopping bags, often in way that hid their faces, which I was already watching out for. But particular bags were of less concern.

But look at the list of addresses on this bag, of Book Warehouse branches in London:

Now, only one remains.

I loved those places. There was one that was only a walk away from me, the one in Strutton Ground. There’s nothing like a remainder bookshop to find unexpectedly interesting titles, old and new, at prices that make them worth it the way full prince never would be. Best of all, if you like the look of a book, you can have a leaf through it, and can soon find if you’d really like it, the way you can’t on the internet without relying on other people’s opinions. In Book Warehouse you could suck it, so to speak, and see.

When Gramex was in its final address in Lower Marsh before closing, that was in a basement right underneath the Waterloo version of Book Warehouse, which itself had had to move. But as Lower Marsh went up market (they should now start calling it Upper Marsh), it went beyond the reach of such places.

Memo to self: When all this Coronavirus nonsense is over, make a pilgrimage to Golders Green to check out the last resting place of Book Warehouse. If it is even still there. According to Google Maps it is, but that can often be out of date.

More and more, I now suspect, my prodigious archive of photoer photos will be of use at least as much for what else is in the photos, besides photoers.

The shininess of architectural modernity

One of the biggest architectural trends of the last half century has been the relentless replacement of rough and unreflective surfaces with smooth and shiny surfaces, concrete by glass, old school stones and bricks by glass or shiny bricks held up by regular bricks. Glass is now omnipresent, even as much of it is deliberately arranged not to be seen through. Glass has got a lot smarter, meaning better at making light do exactly what it wants light to do, and a lot stronger and less accident-prone.

As a result, reflections now abound in cities, including reflections in see-through glass, because you actually don’t want see-through glass being perfectly see-through, because then people would keep walking into it and breaking their noses or skulls. So, the surface of see-through glass has mostly been kept deliberately shiny.

If you think about it, the difference between rural picturesque and urban is the difference between rough and smooth, between not-shiny and shiny. Shininess in hitherto impeccably rural settings can be particularly grating. It’s the shape of architectural modernity that causes the most offence, in architecturally ancient or Ancientist settings. It is its typical surface. Its shiny surface.

And it’s not just glass. Even the most mundane of building materials have tended to get shinier. The latest stronger-than-before materials tend to have smoother and shinier surfaces. Modern materials just seem to turn out like that. But also, smooth and shiny surfaces are so much easier to clean. Dirty stones or bricks have to be cleaned with industrial scale toothbrushes and savagely powerful hoses, which tend to rip off the old surfaces of the stones or bricks and make them even rougher and more likely to get even dirtier, later, again. Rinse and repeat until there is either a cripplingly expensive restoration job to be done, or else hardly anything left. A shinily modern surface can just be hosed down more gently, from a distance, with no lasting damage being done to them.

So, lots of reflections. Lots of images bouncing around off urban surfaces, and mingling with the images already on or made by those surfaces. If you are a Real Photographer, being paid to photo some very particular Thing, with no distractions please, this must often be maddening, the ultimate humiliation being when you yourself and your camera end up in the damn photo. But for the likes of me, urban shininess arrived just in time for us to be able to run about photoing it, with joy.

This aesthetic sermon began life as the mere intro to a clutch of shiny photos, but the rule with blogging, often broken here I’m afraid but at least sometimes not, is: keep it simple and keep it brief. Let one link suffice (note in particular the second photo in the Maier set there), by way of (prophetic) illustration. Here endeth the lesson.