Two geese

Ever since I first got a digital camera, I have taken occasional “wildlife” photos, of the not-actually-very-wild-at-all animals of London, mostly ducks and geese, and cats and dogs (especially cats), and occasionally squirrels. Very occasionally, I get something worth showing, here (that cat being a French cat) or somewhere. Mostly I prefer inanimate objects to the other sort, because inanimate objects keep more still. And in the case of those living creatures called digital photographers, they also are good at standing very still.

The last time I photoed a pair of birds, they were intensely aware of my presence and very angry about it. But the other day, just after I had been photoing that Christmas tree, I came across a pair of birds who were utterly oblivious to my presence. They were very well turned out. And they were doing all manner of photographically interesting things. They were standing asleep on one leg, waking up and stretching their wings, doing coordinated dancing, shagging, more coordinated dancing, and then they hopped down off their perch and and onto the grass to have breakfast, or whatever it was. (All this happened at about eleven in the morning, so if it was breakfast it was a late breakfast.) I took over a hundred and fifty snaps of them. Below is a ruthlessly edited selection:

The point of showing all these snaps is not just to enable you to click and enjoy at will. It is also to make the point about how totally indifferent to my very close – not to say downright voyeuristic – presence these two handsome birds were.

I was still calling these these two birds ducks when I uploaded all those pictures. They looked all scrunched up and small when doing that asleep-on-one-leg thing. But actually, I think they’re geese. Whatever. They are Londoners.

The only reason I was out and about that morning was because I was walking with GodDaughter 2, who was on her way to France, to Pimlico tube. As it turned out, I contributed nothing to this first leg of her journey, not even helping her lug her luggage down the steps into the station. But I am still very glad I took this walk.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Christmas tree with scaffolding

When it’s finished, it will look, according to the picture on the outside of the site (which is an outdoor hard copy of the first picture here), like this:

Here is what it and its surroundings will look like from above. My home can be found in that picture, this Thing being only a short walk away from it.

But, as of now, in contrast to the above simulations, it looks like this, which I think I somewhat prefer (what with all that lovely scaffolding):

Hang on. Is that a Christmas tree I see up there (in among all that lovely scaffolding)? Yes it is:

After I started taking photos of this Thing Under Construction, together with its Christmas tree, one of the men doing the constructing made “stop doing that” gestures. I was standing on a public pavement. They were building a small skyscraper with a Christmas tree on the side of it. Did they think they could keep this secret, and impose martial law for a quarter of a mile around all this? I just laughed out loud and carried on, and of course they did nothing about it.

Can you spot why “Sculpture” is included in the category list below?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photo-drone wars to come

In October, I posted this, provoked by seeing a drone in a London shop window. I said stuff like this:

Something tells me that this gadget is going to generate some contentious news stories about nightmare neighbours, privacy violations, and who knows what other fights and furores.

What might the paps do with such toys?  And how soon before two of these things crash into each other?

I should also then have read and linked to this piece, published by Wired in February. Oh well. I’m linking to it now.


Sooner or later there will inevitably be a case when the privacy of a celebrity is invaded, a drone crashes and kills someone, or a householder takes the law into their own hands and shoots a drone down.

Quite aside from privacy issues, what sort of noise do these things make? That alone could be really annoying. (Although that link is also very good as a discussion of privacy issues. Noise is only the start of their discussion.)

My guess? These things will catch on, but at first only for niche markets, like photoing sports events, or, in general, photoing inside large privately owned places where the owner can make his own rules and others then just have to take them or leave them. Pop concerts. If they’re not too noisy, they might be good for that.

This is always how new technology first arrives. Ever since personal computers the assumption has tended to be that the latest gizmo will immediately go personal, so to speak. (Consider 3D printing.) But actually, personal use is, at any rate to begin with, rather a problem. At first, the new gizmo finds little niche markets. Only later, if at all, do things get personal.

Which is why, I think, the first two sightings I have made of photo drones have each been in shop windows, the first in the window of Maplins in the Strand (see the link above), and the most recent, shown below, in the window of Maplins in Tottenham Court Road:

And a creepy Christmas to you. I guess this is the gadget of choice of “Secret Santa”.

Which reminds me. Now is the time I start taking photos of signs saying “Merry Christmas” to stick up here instead of sending out Christmas cards. Will I find a weirder “Merry Christmas” than that? Quite possibly not.

I am looking forward to photoing one of these things out in the wild.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog