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 According to Google Maps it is, but that can often be out of date.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.

Face masks in London – but not because of Coronoavirus

Remember that Hong Kong demo I photoed in January and belatedly mentioned here at the end of last month? Well, to remind you about that, and about what a nasty government they were demonstrating against, here are some more photos I took of that demo:

In Hong Kong, there was widespread use of face masks long before the Wuhan Flu, to resist another sort of threat, namely government surveillance.

I am pessimistic about Hong Kong, in any run but the longest. But it is possible to hope that the huge burst of negative feeling about China’s government may draw more attention to all the other nasty things they are doing, in China and in Hong Kong, and that this may get in the way of them swallowing up Hong Kong. I hope so.

I have long been noticing face masks, on those rare occasions when I saw one in use in London. Assuming I manage to deploy my camera quickly enough, they allow me to photo people, and show the photos on the Internet in a way that keeps faces unrecognisable. This demo was a target rich environment for such photoing, my wishes concerning unrecognisability being in line with the wishes of those I was photoing.

Sadly, face recognition is starting to see past face masks.

The first two photos on the old blog

I have resumed copying old postings over from the old blog to the New Blog. The situation with linking to the old blog has got worse. It used to be that it merely said “Dangerous” in scary red lettering, at the beginning of the link. Now the entire destination is turning bright red. You can still find your way to the old blog if you really want to, but the red screen is decidedly offputting. All the more reason for me to shovel stuff over to here.

This time around, instead of just picking postings at random, or because I wanted to link back to them, I simply started at the beginning. Mostly it is highly unrecommendable housekeeping babble, although don’t let me stop you looking at it if you really want to. But, the first two photos on the old blog struck me as really good and worth another look.

First, this photo, of a photoer, photoing away in Parliament Square, featured in this posting:

What’s so good about this is that (a) the camera is now so antiquated, but that also (b) we can observe a now obsolete tourist habit, that of staggering around London with a camera in one hand and a big old map in the other. Now, all of the above is done, and done much better, with a tiny little thing smaller than the camera she’s using.

There’s even a Parliament Square statue in the background.

I’m pretty sure I chose this photo quite carefully, for the honour of being the first photo on the new blog, as it then was. But even if your opinion of this photo differs from mine, then and now, you’ve got to agree that this second one is pretty cool:

The bridge of the century so far, and no sign of anything better coming any time soon.

Sadly, the third photo is pretty crap.

Armenian Genocide Monument

Another Michael Jennings photo, this time taken in January of this year, and posted on Facebook by him yesterday:

I investigated, and found my way to this:

Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan is dedicated to the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who perished in the first genocide of the 20th century, at the hands of the Turkish government. Completed in 1967, the Genocide Monument has since become a pilgrimage site and an integral part of Yerevan’s architecture. Set high on a hill, dominating the landscape, it is in perfect harmony with its surroundings. The austere outlines convey the spirit of the nation that survived a ruthless campaign of extermination.

Very impressive. Never seen or heard about this before.

Also, at the end of the same piece of writing, this:

Since 1967, every year on April 24 thousands of people have visited Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex, with numbers increasing every year.

Hence Michael posting this yesterday. Blog and learn. And, as Michael says, remember.


Giles Dilnot:

I’m not going to lie, just took this photo in the garden about 10 mins ago and I am ludicrously pleased with it.

Fox in focus, everything else not. Just what you want.

This tweet perfectly captures the sheer pleasure that we unreal photoers get from our better photos. Dilnot is “ludicrously” pleased. He knows that his pleasure is out of all proportion to the achievement, but he feels the pleasure anyway. Snap.

I now feel ludicrously pleased with that “snap” at the end of the previous paragraph, with its artfully deployed double meaning. Snap as in snapping a photo, and snap as in feeling the same feeling as the other guy, when I photo a merely half decent photo of something interesting or pleasurable. I at first merely put “I know the feeling”. But the word “feels” was already in the previous sentence and I didn’t want the repetition. So I tried to think of another word. And found the perfect one!

Perpignan photos

A year ago yesterday I was in St Cyprien, and a year ago today I was in Perpignan. However, I was in Perpignan again on January 9th of this year, when the weather was much better and hence so were my photos. Here is a selection of the photos I took then, there:

Not only was the weather better last January than it had been in April of last year; there was also a temporary Wheel in place (photos 20, 21, 22, 26). And (see photo 9) there was an exhibition on of some photos by former President of France Jacques Chirac. How about that?

A feature of any visit to Perpignan is, or should be, a journey to the department store called Galeries Lafayette (the big white building in photo 18), the views from the top of which are excellent (photos 19-28). The views on the way down from the stairs are pretty good too (photos 28-30).

Other than that, it was the usual. Amusing signs in French, roof clutter, strange plants, pollarded trees, various sorts of sculpture ancient and modern, bridges, left over Christmas signs, a motorbike. All good stuff, and all looking much better in the much better light there was in Perpignan on April 9th. Click and enjoy.

At the top of the Walkie Talkie

In January 2016, I and a friend visited the top of the Walkie Talkie. And in April 2016, I posted one of the photos I took during that visit, the third of these three Walkie Talkie photos. Somewhat later, in September 2017, I posted quite a few more of the photos I took during that same visit, of my fellow photoers, surprise surprise. Galleries were harder to do and to view on the old blog, blah blah, reprise. And now that galleries are so much easier to do and view, here’s another clutch of photos from that day, this time showing what the inside of the top of Walkie Talkie is like.

Getting into the Walkie Talkie was quite a palaver, and I’ll bet that hasn’t got any easier. So lots of people who will never want to endure all this palaver to visit this place themselves might nevertheless appreciate being told what the inside of it looks like. So, here is this next clutch of photos:

When you google Walkie Talkie, you get lots of moaning from a few years back about how terrible it is. I love it. And I continue to tell all my friend, and you lot, that eventually it will be greatly loved. But, this evening anyway, I could find no one who agreed with me.

Quota gallery from exactly one year ago

I’ll be doing a lot less of this sort of thing, just wandering about in London, photoing at will:

And yes, photoed on March 17th 2019, in and around Hay’s Galleria. Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, The Shard, all around there. Across the river, the Tower of London, no less.

The last photo is of that big lump of a building at the southern end of London Bridge, near to the Shard.

Also light fittings. I like London’s light fittings.

I also like that photo-posting here is back, after a short interruption.

March 17th 2019 was a date from that far off time before BMNB even existed, and galleries like this were tedious to do, and impossible for all you readers and viewers to click through conveniently, and above all quickly.

I’ll probably be doing quite a bit of catching up of this sort in the next few months, what with being stuck at home. As of now it looks like old geezers like me will be shouted at by the Fuzz, strictly from a distance you understand, to go home and to stay home.

Shopping for food or medicine will be tolerated. Just meandering about photoing, forget about it.

How mobile phones and headphones looked in Feb 2010

Today I went on a photo-walk in perfect weather and photoed over three hundred photos. But how to choose which ones to show? And how to choose when I just want to go to bed? I know, I’ll fob you off with some photos I photoed ten years ago, in February 2010.

All of them illustrate change. Photo 1 shows how mobile phones used to look, but not any more. Photo 4 shows how video cameras used to look, but not any more. Now they look like mobile phones, which would be because they now are mobile phones. Photo 3 shows a guy photoing, but that’s not the point, not least because we can’t even see his camera. The point is, what’s directly behind him. Nothing. Now, there is a hurricane of building in the blank bit on the horizon there.

Photo 2 shows something you seldom see now, or at any rate not out of doors, which is big old cover-your-ears headphones like that. Now, that guy probably puts tiny bobbles in his ears, with wires hanging down. You only wear something like that now if you want your ears to be a lot warmer than they’d otherwise be.