I’ve come to the end of one of those days where everything took far longer than it should have, including my first shot at doing a blog posting here. So here is a piece of pure quota frivolity from earlier this year, at the end of June, beside the River:
I like how I’m looking straight down, so to speak, on the top of the head of the girl doing the V sign. Well, it’s another way to be unrecognisable.
Slightly cropped, to exclude the face of the boy on the left as we look, of whom we now only see an arm.
Five years ago, to mark the centenary of the outbreak outbreak of World War 1, poppies surrounded the Tower of London
Like many others I photoed the poppies, and I photoed a few of those photoing the poppies.
Above are four poppy photos I photoed of photoers using tablets to do their photoing. The second is, I guess, the strangest one. But all it is is a man showing his wife (?) the photo that he has just photoed.
My impression is that tablets were used to photo at that time a lot more than they are now.
Or then again, it could just be that the number of photoers of these poppies was so huge that there were bound to be a few tablets on show. And by their nature (them being big) I noticed and photoed all the tablets that were being used in my vicinity. Maybe photoing with tablets was as rare then as it is now.
But, for whatever it may be worth or signify, I don’t think so.
There is nice history, of things like tablets and digital photoing. And there is not so nice history, of things like World War 1. We should pay respectful attention to both sorts of history, I think.
Contrary to English myth, and myth elsewhere for all I know, it doesn’t actually rain that much in England, and when it does, it doesn’t usually rain that heavily. The reason we fret about rain so much is that there is just enough for it to be a nuisance, and not enough for us to get properly organised to deal with it effectively. See also: snow.
Photoing rainy weather is a whole speciality in itself, caused by such things as the fact that rain makes things shinier and more reflective. Personally I don’t enjoy photoing in the rain. The light is less good, and you are liable to get rain all over the front of your lens. And yourself. For which I will not (see above) be properly organised. So, showable-here photos photoed by me, taken in rainy weather, are rare.
Nevertheless, here is a recent rainy weather photo that I photoed that I quite like:
This was photoed the same day I photoed that lady photoing her ice cream. This lady was photoing her mere companion, so not so fascinating on that front, but I do like the umbrella, the wheely-suitcase and the all round shininess of everything, reflecting the various colours bouncing around in that part of Soho, which is where I was. (Hence the massage advert top left.)
You can even see the green bike reflected in the smooth but wet pavement upon which it stands.
But the mere fact that this lady was content to have her suitcase out in the open like this is proof that this was not serious rain.
It’s been raining for about 12 hours now, it’s still raining, and we’re already approaching an incredible 100mm. The pool is overcapacity, the gutters overflowing, the drains overwhelmed and the beagle is …
Well, it turns out the beagle wasn’t that bothered, because he was indoors. But you get the point. There’s rain like in London, in my photo. And then there’s rain, like that.
All the photos below were taken some time during 2003. I don’t know the exact date, because either my then camera couldn’t remember such things, or I didn’t tell it to remember this particular thing. Probably the latter. (Yes, the latter. Other photos taken later with the same camera do have dates attached.)
Photoers, of course, in and around Westminster – the Abbey, Parliament Square, the Bridge:
All those clunky old cameras, with their tiny screens. And vast and elaborate video cameras. There’s even one (photo 9) where the camera bit does the twiddling, and the screen is part of the main body of the camera, where all the sums are done, an idea that came but then went.
Not a mobile phone to be seen.
Categories for this include “Food and drink” and “Signs and notices”, because pancakes, and signs about pancakes, are involved (photos 6 and 7).
You can already see me worrying about not showing faces, often by letting the camera block out the photoer’s face (photos 4, 7, 10, 12), or just by photoing the photoer from behind (photos 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9).
My clunky old camera with a tiny screen was a Canon A70. Which I still remember with pleasure even though the screen didn’t twiddle.
LATER: I realise that I have labelled all these photoers “PhotoersApril2004”, but this was before I realised that (because of other photos in the same batch of directories) they had to be earlier than that. Whatev, as the young folks say nowadays. (Good word that, I think.)
Yesterday I met up with a friend in Kings Cross, and afterwards, what with the victoria Line being all over the shop, I walked along the Euston Road, to places where other tube lines could be easily reached.
Here are a few of the photos I photoed:
My usual preoccupations are on show. Signs (ph4 ph5), sculpture (ph5), things that look like they could be sculpture but are not, like scaffolding (ph8) and like those strange yellow things (ph7). There’s even a photoer photo (ph3), outside St Pancras. And a taxi advert (ph2, about how you can “ID yourself”.
ANPR, I now learn, refers to Automatic Number Plate Recognition, which it would appear that motorists don’t need to have explained to them. But what are the strange yellow things? Weights to stop the fences being pulled over, is my guess.
Plus, note the surveillance camera, top left, in the last otherwise oh-so-pretty photo.
More pleasingly, I like how that glass penthouse-like (pentoffice?) addition has been added to the slightly older brick structure (ph6). The opposite of roof clutter. A lot of architecture is about adding stuff to already existing buildings these days. Which makes a nice change from smashing everything down every time, which they of course still do a lot of.
Adding stuff includes adding paint, to an already existing building (ph1). That building always amazes me whenever I see it. It’s a bank. There seems to be an architecture rule that the more flamboyant the building, the duller the institution that occupies it. Vice versa often applies too, I think.
It is easy to be cynical. We might dismiss these photos as brazen self-promotion or a symptom of millennial self-absorption. Headlines like “Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie” and “Instagramming Millennials Are Burying the World in Food Waste” capture the standard sentiment. Slurs such as “foodgasm” and “food porn” often taint these photos with the suggestion of lechery. Perhaps, though, a more sincere explanation is possible. As odd as it sounds, I do not see pornography in these images. I find prayer.
I believe these pictures are a new incarnation of an ancient instinct: the ritual of tableside grace. Derived from the Latin gratia for “thanks,” grace is a specific type of prayer given before or after a meal to express gratitude and to invoke a blessing. It is an exercise in devoting reverential attention to life’s bounty, and through this enriched attention, achieving an expanded sense of belonging. “It becomes believers not to take food … before interposing a prayer,” Tertullian wrote in the third century, “for the refreshments and nourishments of the spirit are to be held prior to those of the flesh, and things heavenly prior to things earthly.” Grace is more than gratitude — it is gratitude ascendant, aimed above the earthly appetite toward a higher vocation. The Catholic Catechism defines prayer as “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” Thus grace gives our gratitude wings that lift the mind from the necessities of the flesh toward the nourishments of the spirit. For many people, photographing their entrées fills the same social role as grace: a ritual of aspirational attention that elevates bodily sustenance into spiritual refreshment through the simple power of a genuine “thank you.”
I often find myself describing my fellow digital photoers as “worshippers”. They see something which seems to them meaningful and express that feeling by photoing whatever it is. I do this myself of course, constantly.
On the other hand, this piece also helped me to understand the widespread annoyance at the way food photoing is such a big part of social-media-ing. Saying grace is fine. But it’s a shared moment for those present (God included, if you think He’s the one to be thanking), and then you get stuck in. Do you record this expression of gratitude and then expect your friends to listen to it? No.
But on the other hand, two of the things that twenty-first-centurions now have to learn are: not to pay attention to everything that your friends put out there; and: not to expect your friends to pay attention to everything that you put out there. If a friend posts lots of food photos and you think it’s too much, just pay less attention.
And while I’m on the subject of food photoing, take (or not (it’s entirely up to you (if we are friends, our friendship will not be affected))) another look at what I think is one of my best-yet food photos, here.
This photos were all photoed in a regular stamping ground of mine at that time, outside Westminster Abbey and then on into Parliament Square and the across Westminster Bridge.
This being a quota gallery, just to have something up here today, my thoughts on these photos will be brief. I have two.
First, no mobile phones. Mobile phones for photography had already arrived, but they had yet to drive out all those little old digital cameras, of the sort we still see in many of these photos.
Second, my own camera was pretty rubbish. Rubbish, given how I used it, and certainly compared to the ones I have enjoyed since, which I used in exactly the same way but with better results. The photos are okay from the composition point of view. I only cropped a couple of them, and that was only to avoid displaying recognisable faces. But too often, the focusing is just too, well, unfocused.
As you can tell from the umbrellas in the very first photo, it wasn’t that bright a day. I love brightness. Photography is light. Well, it is for me.