A walkabout five years ago

I am awaiting warmer weather, in the hope that I will then feel up to taking a photo-walkabout, somewhere in London town.

Meanwhile here are some photos from a walkabout I did, walking (about) from the Angel Tube to the Barbican, as late sunshine was replaced by early moonshine, back in April of 2016:

The final photo there is of how a stretch of Oxford Circus Tube was looking on that day.

The lady seen smiling through a window of reflections (photo 10) is the then only very recently (March 31st 2016) deceased Zaha Hadid (as you can maybe guess from photo 11). This was the lady whose buildings only had straight lines in them at all because people will insist that the floors they walk about on and work on are mostly flat rather than curving up and down. Clients eh? Philistines the lot of them. ZHA has (or had in 2016) a building in Goswell Road, and I walked right past it that day, and also had a nose around in it. I remember being surprised, because I had no idea this place even existed.

See also the photo of another portrait picture, this time of actor Charles Dance, which I photoed on this very same walkabout.

Tiger jacket with reflected bulding

What’s going on in this photo is that I was recently standing on a pavement in the South Kensington area, photoing a fake person who is wearing a real jacket with a tiger’s face on the back of it, but it’s a bit hard to make out the tiger’s face because some buildings across the road, very well lit by the bright sunshine that day are simultaneously being reflected by the window that separates me from the fake man and his tiger jacker:

I really like this photo. It resembles this earlier effort in being a puzzle caused by the reflection in a shop window colliding with what is behind the shop window and in the shop itself. But unlike that earlier photo, this one is a puzzle that is soluble, and one that I can fully explain.

As I have earlier said, I think that one of the features of architectural modernity is that there is now lots of shininess, and consequently lots of reflection going on. Modernity didn’t start out so shiny, because there was lots of concrete and brickwork to start with, and glass was a lot less marvellous then than it is now. But now, architectural modernity has got very shiny indeed. So, scenes like that shown in my photo above are not mere accidents. They capture something basic about the visual experience of living in a modern city. Such images are or a thing that we constantly see, and perhaps even a thing that you constantly notice. I don’t think it’s just me, in fact I know it isn’t.

In the bottom right hand corner of the photo above, part of a parked vehicle is to be observed. Modern vehicles being another characteristic source of modernistic shininess.

Reflections in Vauxhall Bridge Road

I love to photo photos like this:

Chaos! Modern Art, only for real! I think it’s a coffee place of some kind,, or maybe a hairdo place that also sells coffee. There are a couple of Brian Micklethwaits in there, reflected in the window, and in a mirror behind the window. (I photo myself instead of photoing strangers.)

And, there’s this building …:

… which used to be the Office for National Statistics, until that enterprise moved to South Wales. Since then, I don’t know who has been occupying it. Some even spookier government enterprise or enterprises is my guess. Somehow it doesn’t look like the sort of building that would make regular people very welcome. Too much like a Modernistical version of a medieval fortress. It looks like the sort of building with occupants who think that they might one day have to defend themselves against angry mobs.

Underneath it is Pimlico Tube Station.

Backstage architecture

A big part of my life now is my visits to the Royal Marsden Hospital on the Fulham Road. I’m talking about this building:

I show the above photo of the Marsden here. again, because I want now to draw your attention to the big square gap in the middle of this building, behind the main entrance at the front. This used to be an open square, not unlike other London Squares, although admittedly not nearly as spacious. But now it’s all been filled in, with a biggledy-piggledy huddle of small and mostly just rather functional buildings, which they put in the square because these buildings had to go somewhere and this was the only place they could fit them in. Like this:

I’m not going for artistic effect there, just trying to show you the sort of place I’m talking about.

The reason I was in the square was that I was visiting this place …:

… to have my heart scanned. (At the end of the scan, the guy said it seemed to be working fine, which was nice.) And this Markus Centre would appear to be one of the early square-violating buildings, erected as you can see in 1904. It is trying to look architecturally nice, in what now looks rather ancientist but which no doubt looked modern when first built. Nevertheless, this air of architectural show is undermined by the much more functional look of lots of other buildings which have since been inserted into the square, with lots of pipes and ducts showing, because why not? These buildings are here to do important jobs, not to look pretty. See also, the entire design of more recent hospitals.

The front of the Marsden is the usual piece of grandiose Victoriana, and I love it. But these photos I photoed today were of what you might call backstage architecture. Not basically there for show. There to get stuff done.

As with so much recent and especially “modern” architecture, it is very easy to get lost trying to find your way to the bit you want. Luckily the staff at the Marsden are unfailingly helpful when you ask the way. If they weren’t, and if there were not signs everywhere, the entire building would be a Kafkaesque nightmare. And especially this random clutch of buildings stuck down in the middle.

LATER: Actually, I think I may have been in the smaller square, off to the right. Which just shows you how easy it is to lose your bearings in this place.

Quota photoers

With shadows:

Outside Westminster Abbey, May 2017.

Today was a busy day.

It seems that Berlin has its own version of Tower Bridge

Indeed.

This morning, Twitter showed me this map of Berlin:

Until today, I knew nothing of the origins of Berlin. Cities usually begin with rivers, rivers that wiggle about and create a lot of useful territory next to the river which is closer to all the other such places than usual. So, what did Berlin have in the way of water? The above map says it had and has a lot.

Further investigation of Berlin resulted in me discovering a bridge that I had previously never heard of, namely, this one:

That’s the Oberbaum Bridge. Like I say, never seen nor heard of this splendid Thing until today.

Here’s the same bridge viewed from further above and further away, to give us a bit of the context:

And a pretty boring context it is too, I would say. London, metaphorically speaking, can sleep easy in its bed.

I’m intrigued by what I take to be the updated bit in the middle of the bridge. At first I thought the lower part of the bridge, the road bit, has hinges in it to allow taller boats to go through, but so far as I can make out, this bit is also solid, but the change already made quite a difference to what sort of boats could go through. Basically big river barges, heavily laden all the way across rather than merely with stuff sticking up in the middle. You can see two such boats in the distance. And also another, on the right, which is presumably too big to go through.

I love the internet. Somebody should write a song called that.

But, where in Berlin now is the original 1440 bit, and is there anything now left of it? I don’t see anything quite like those waterways in the map of Berlin now.

A favourite photo of Battersea Power Station from the archives

Now is not a good time for wandering about in London photoing photos. And anyway, if you do go a-wandering, is putting the photo-results on your blog the smart thing to do? You need a good story to explain why your wanderings were actually essential. Who needs all that nonsense?

So, instead, I’ve been wandering in my photo-archives, which get steadily better as the years go by and as they record circumstances ever more distant in time.

Circumstances like how Battersea Power Station, one of my favourite London Big Things, was look in the summer of 2004:

Battersea Power Station is now surrounded by flats. No cranes will be seen anywhere near it, once the flats are all finished. And I’ve not seen many boats like that since then, with red sales.

Photoed with my old Canon A70.

A London double decker bus being craned into a pub garden in Fleet Street

This has to be one of the greatest ever London crane photos:

I encountered it on Twitter:

Routemaster bus being craned in to the Old Bank Of England pub on Fleet Street yesterday. To be used as a bar in the back garden when the pub reopens, I believe.

Thank you Lambeth Walker. Whom I am now following.

A shipping container in Vauxhall Bridge Road

Yes, a shipping containing, right there in the middle of a major London traffic artery, at one of its busier junctions (the one with Warwick Way and Rochester Row):

Photoed by me today.

“Forefront” is the enterprise which placed this big metal box in the road. And it would seem to be Forefront which is now digging up just about every road I walk beside these days, what with most of my walking now being done within walking distance of my home. At their website I scrolled down to the bit where they boast, with photos, about all the traffic havoc they are now causing, and four of the six photos there are of the havoc they’ve been causing recently in Victoria Street, which is also a walk away from me but in the opposite direction.

Except that they are not now causing traffic havoc, because there is now so little traffic. Good times for the road-digging industry.

It’s all because of gas and lockdown.

In the background, of the photo above is the tower of Westminster Cathedral. which also featured in yesterday’s posting. This tower looks very good, I think. As does London, when viewed from the top of this tower.

Why my next camera may still be a camera rather than a mobile phone

In a recent posting here, I speculated that my next “camera” might also be my next mobile. Setting aside the question of whether I live long enough to be making any such decision, I think I probably blogged too soon. I did mention zoom, as something a mobile phone might not do well enough, and zoom might indeed be, for me, a deal breaker. Below are three images which illustrate what I mean.

Here is a photo I photoed, in the summer of 2016, from favourite-London-location-of-mine, now shut of course, the top of the Tate Modern Extension:

That photo being favourite genre of mine: Big Things (in this case Ancient Big Things) in alignment with each other. In descending order of recognisability, and going from nearest to furthest, those are Big Ben, the twin towers of Westminster Abbey, and the single but splendid tower of Westminster Cathedral. The little green tower in the foreground is on the top of County Hall.

But here is my camera pointing in the exact same direction, minus any zoom:

I know. You can’t really tell where that clock and those cathedrals even are. Well. the scene in the top photo is to be observed just to the right of the right hand lift shaft of those two lift shafts, and just to the left of the angular glass top of 240 Blackfriars.

If I tried getting the same view with my current mobile, that view would probably look – and here I’m quoting and expanding, so to speak, from the relevant bit of the photo above – more like this:

I love these sorts of alignments and juxtapositions. Often, as above, they can only be photoed with lots of zoom. Just getting closer to the Big Things in question would not be an option, because the alignment only happens if you are in the right high-up spot where you can see it from, and this may be a long way from the aligned Big Things. So, I have to have lots of zoom.

Mobiles achieve megazoom by actually having separate cameras for different amounts of zooming. Will this ever get as good as my present camera type camera? Maybe, but in the sort of time-frame I am looking at now I rather doubt it.