APEROL brightens up Bankside

When I met up with GodDaughter2 last week at the Blue Fin Building I got there a bit early and had some time to kill. Which of course I did by photoing, one of the photos I photoed being this:

What appealed to me was how over-the-top colourful this fake-floral display was, so far over-the-top that it quite triumphed over the unseasonal and deeply gloomy weather that day. (Today has been a bit better, or at least a bit warmer.)

But what, I wondered, is “APEROL”? At first I thought APEROL was the name of the indoor place behind this display. Turns out APEROL is a drink, which has been putting itself about lately, and that the above sign was because APEROL was sponsoring a pop-up, whatever exactly that may be. See categories list below, which I now realise must include “Getting old”. No doubt someone can – and perhaps even will – explain. I’m guessing it’s an outdoor eatery or drinkery of some sort which isn’t so much built, but rather simply assembled in a hitherto public spot big enough to accommodate it, made into a trend by Lockdown. If that’s right then I assume that money changed hands, in the direction of the local authority concerned.

Fine by me. The architecture surrounding this sign (we’re a place that calls itself “Bankside”), is, especially at street level, as modernistically dreary as you could ever hope not to see, and anything that brightens up the area, like a piece of colourful product placement, is to be welcomed. It certainly cheered me up.

Architects are soon going to get over their obsession with black, white, brown and grey, and generally pale and lifeless shades of boring – even the Blue Fin Building isn’t properly blue – and start doing proper colour on the outside of their now boring buildings, big time. This is a stylistic pulse that I do happen to have my finger on, unlike the pop-up thing, and I know whereof I speak. And it can’t come too soon, I say.

Also, to fly off at something of a tangent, expect people to start saying that they’re starting to like Nova, instead of everyone just carbuncling on about how trashy they think it looks. At least that adds a bit of real colour to the London skyline.

I miss proper light bulbs

One from the I Just Like It directory:

March 2019. A sure sign of a true Big Thing is that you recognise it even when it’s out of focus. Well, even if you don’t, I do. Plus, is that a photoer on the bridge there? Maybe it’s just two people.

Now the above photo just makes me angry about how lightbulbs have degenerated into these bullshit bulbs that look pretty, but don’t give off enough effing light. Why didn’t I buy a lifetime’s supply of the old ones, that worked properly, when I had the chance?

Facadism ten years ago

On May 20th 2011, in other words a decade and three days ago, I photoed these photos, of a fine example of facadism in the process of being contrived. That is, an old facade is preserved, but an entirely new modern interior is inserted behind that facade:

I don’t know exactly when I started noticing this phenomenon, but these photos prove that I been doing this for over a decade.

Sadly, the resolution of these photos, photoed with my ancient last camera but about five (about six if you count the new mobile), a Canon S5 IS, is such that although there are street names to be seen in some of these photos, they are too blurry for me to read them clearly. So, I don’t know exactly where this was. The only other photos photoed that day provide no clues.

On the day, I would appear to have been at least as much interested in the crane.

What I mostly now note from the above photos is that in May 2011, the weather was the sort of weather that May weather should be. Our current May may get some nicer weather just before it ends, but that is still only a hope.

Views from and of the Blue Fin Building

GodDaughter2 has been doing a job in the Blue Fin Building, which is just behind Tate Modern. About three quarters of the way up this building there is a roof area you can walk about in and sit at tables in, and also an indoor sort of bring-your-own-food canteen with views out on outside this roof area. And yesterday, she arranged for us both to go up there are sample the views. Sadly, the weather was pretty filthy, and entirely lacking in the sort of bright sunshine illuminating everything that I so much prefer for photoing. But of course I photoed anyway:

What the above photos all have in common is that they combine views of London beyond the Blue Fin building with close-up views of this or that aspect of the building itself. Sometimes the Blue Fin foreground dominates, but often you just see a bit of the outside of the building, like the big transparent “wall” that stops you accidentally walking off this roof to your death, but which, because it is transparent, actually makes me (and GodDaughter2) scared to go near the damn thing, because transparent walls at the top of cliffs are not things that humans have all evolved not to be freaked out by. If you get my drift.

The best you can say about the weather was that it wasn’t raining all the time, just spitting some of it.

Michael Jennings tells me more about mobile phone photography

Today Michael Jennings, the creator and still technical curator of this blog, who was in my area for the first time in quite a while, called round and we went out and had drinks. In a Pimlico pub. Indoors. Unmuzzled. With quite a few other people also present. This being the first time that either of us had done this with anyone for … quite a while:

I photoed him and his Lockdown hair, and he told me more about how photography on mobiles is developing. He has an iPhone, which you can just see bottom right of that picture. My mobile only has one camera two cameras (see comments 1 and 3), but Michael’s iPhone has three, thus making variable and quite impressive zoom possible.

Michael speculated that it may not be long before the whole of the back of his next iPhone but three with be covered in cameras, like: well over a dozen.

The limiting factor on this sort of multi-camera is not the cameras themselves. The problem is processing power. Making sense of the output of such a large camera array will take a lot of that, and also lots of ultra-clever software as yet still being contrived.

And there we have the ongoing story of digital photography, better explained than I have ever heard it before. All that processing power attached to an old-school camera would presumably triple its price. But mobiles already have all that processing power, or soon will, so it makes sense for your camera to be part of your personal pocket Kray computer, that you use for all your other mobile computerising.

Several years ago, the big Japanese enterprises who decide these things decided that they would spend no more money making regular dedicated cameras better, which is why these things haven’t changed in the last half decade. They decided to throw all their photography money at mobile phone cameras.

What I had not realised was how very, very good the mobile phone “camera” (quotes because it will really be cameras plural) is going to be, and how inexorably it will go on improving. 3D images? Oh yes, said Michael. The processing power applied to these camera arrays will make imagery possible of a sort that no single dedicated camera, no matter how complicated and costly, could possibly now contrive.

Which means: that old school cameras, even of the most sophisticated sort, will ever so slowly but ever so surely fade into the history books. And actually, do so really rather soon. In historical time, in the blink of … a camera.

Which further means that the best of all those photoer photos that I’ve been photoing for the last two decades will just keep getting better and better, like old wine. Plenty of other people have photoed such photos, but I know of nobody else apart from me who has made a point of doing this on such an industrial scale.

Here are thirty such photos I photoed in July 2006 and which I displayed here last January. There are plenty more where they came from.

This entertaining photoer habit, on the other hand, looks like it will be with us for a while.

E-scooters big and small – safe and unsafe

I get emails whenever e-scooters are mentioned on the internet, but the problem with these emails is that they often refer to very different sorts of vehicles.

E-scooter can mean this …:

… which is a photo I found in a piece linked to in today’s google email.

Or, perhaps more commonly, e-scooter means this …:

.. that being a lady I photoed e-scooting along Vauxhall Bridge Road last week.

Another piece linked to in today’s e-scooter email was to this report which says that hired e-scooters are to be tested in various parts of London from early next month.

This piece claims that:

In the U.K., the electric kick scooter is classified as a PLEV, or Personal Light Electric Vehicle, and these are illegal on British roads or pavements.

That sentence includes two verbiages I’ve not encountered before, “electric kick scooter” and “personal light electric vehicle”, in an only moderately successful attempt to clarify that they are talking about e-scooters like the one in my Vauxhall Bridge Road photo, rather than about something heavier like the Honda photo above. The giveaway being that they still felt the need to include a photo of an e-scooting person standing on an e-scooter like the one I photoed, to make it entirely clear which they meant.

As for the notion that these contraptions are “illegal”, well, in London, they fall into that category of “illegal but actually allowed”, along with such things as possessing marijuana, or big left-wing demos during total Lockdown. As all Londoners know, e-scooting of the second sort above is regularly to be observed on London’s roads and bicycle lanes and footpaths. And as my photo also illustrates, this is not only being done by dodgy looking male teenagers in hoods but by respectable looking people like the lady in my photo. I could of course be quite wrong, but something about how she has arranged everything in her backpack, and her all-round appearance of sartorial organised-ness, to say nothing of her womanly as opposed to girlish figure, says, to me anyway: “steady job”. Which I believe she was engaged in getting home from when I photoed her.

I remain very curious to see how this story plays out, post-lockdown. My understanding is that the rulers of the world won’t be happy until they have entirely banished all private cars from all places like London, and that if any e-scooters get mown down by old school internal combustion type traffic, the traffic will be blamed rather than the maimed or killed e-scooting persons.

In my opinion, e-scooters like the above Honda are basically okay in the current traffic regime, but that to accommodate “personal light electric vehicle” type e-scooters will require a major rewrite of the traffic rules, and a massive amount of physical re-arranging. This is because, in my further opinion, e-scooters like the above big scooter are more or less safe, so long as you are careful, whereas e-scooters like the above smaller scooter are deaths and maimings just waiting to happen. I have talked with several random members of the “illegal” e-scooting fraternity (“Excuse me, I write on the internet about transport matters, I wonder if you could tell me about these machines …”), and they seem to feel that, appealing though these things are as an idea, they are not, as of now, nearly as safe as they’d like them to be. My guess, as I say, is that they will eventually be made to work safely, but only after what amounts to an urban transport revolution.

We shall see.

The beavers of Oxford Street

In 2017, I photoed the shadow of an Oxford Street beaver, and in 2015 (scroll down a bit) I photoed one of the actual beavers, from a great distance.

Well, yesterday, I photoed all four actual beavers:

I was in Oxford Street, shopping and then taking a walk from Carphone Warehouse Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Circus Tube, and there they were.

“587 tall buildings in the pipeline in London …”

This fake photo appears at the top of a piece about new building in London, this being how Nine Elms is about to look:

If you regularly travel by helicopter anyway.

Also adorning the same piece is this next view looking upstream at the same point in London, also including the now rather small looking box that seems to have sparked all this building excitement, the recently relocated US Embassy:

The style is incoherent modernism, i.e. the effect you get when you design your tower to be modernistic, and quite tall, and functional in shape rather than weird (which is rather too expensive to always be doing) but in no other way in harmony with the nearby designs. Many hate this non-style, but to me it seems all of a piece with London’s ruling ethos, to the effect that when in London I pursue my business and you pursue your business, and there is no boss of the two of us telling us to do our business is the same way, even though we are right next to each other.

I never trust these fake photos of buildings. This is one of those times when the fact that the internet never forgets can get a bit confusing, because the internet remembers all the various shapes each future building takes as it ducks and weaves its way from initial idea to planning permission to actually getting built. Rather than spending lots of time trying to guess exactly what will be built, I prefer simply to wait and see.

And as it happens I have been recently seeing some of these towers as they rise up, without me making any great effort like going to the river or even crossing the river and seeing it all close-up. My now regular journey back from the Royal Marsden typically sees me getting off the tube at Victoria and doing a bit of shopping, by walking south along Wilton Road to Sainsbury’s.

Looking back towards Victoria, I see Nova, with its weird-style red shape spiking upwards. This is the Carbuncle Cup style that I so relish, …:

… a style that is now being superseded in Nine Elms by a reversion to the more functional verticality of, for example, Docklands (although in Docklands there has been a tad more harmonisation of style between different towers).

Here is what I see when I look south from the same spot:

Which is a bit boring, but as I walk towards Sainsbury’s, things start to liven up, especially when the sky looks the way it did that particular day:

I only photo what is there to be seen. So, that bit of London at any rate continues to build, and continues to contain busy cranes.

And according to this report, that’s about to be the story all over London:

Love them or loathe them, it looks like despite a significant slowdown in building skyscrapers during the spring and summer in 2020, there was not the downturn feared because of the pandemic.

According to New London Architecture’s annual review of skyscrapers over 20 storeys or more, there are 587 tall buildings in the pipeline in London – with 310 granted full planning permission and 127 under consideration. A total of 35 tower blocks were finished last year.

That’s some pipeline. Although I wouldn’t call these new Things skyscrapers, exactly. The sky can sleep unscraped in its bed. More like Things of a Certain Size.

Nevertheless, I love all this. Not because the buildings will be much good to look at. They won’t be, although sometimes in combination they may add up to something quite dramatic. What I like is what they mean: lots and lots of people all living and working right next to each other, and gathering in restaurants and bars to schmooze with each other and to contrive new ventures and adventures, as befits a great city that is still growing as fast as ever it has.

Eat your pretty little heart out, Paris.

Masked beast outside St Ermin’s Hotel

There must be a million statues with masks on them these days, given what these days are still like, but here’s the first one I have actually encountered on my recent photo-travels:

Yet another photo-souvenir of the times we have all lived through (apart from those of us who didn’t).

That particular beast (what exact sort of beast it is I can only guess – Dragon? Bear?) is the one holding a sign, saying nothing at all, outside St Ermin’s Hotel, which is near to St James’s Park tube, which is one of my local tube stations.

One of the arguments I am looking forward to learning more about, as time goes by and as the Covid books start appearing, concerns just how little good and how much harm these muzzles have done, and, crucially, how soon they knew, or should have known, such stuff.

Strange pavement marks

A while back I started noticing occasional strange pavement patterns, which put me in mind of an old toy I once had, way back in the middle of the previous century:

Photoed by me earlier this week. I just did some Photoshop(clone)ping (contrast, sharpening) to make everything clearer, although it was pretty clear to start with.

I’m guessing these marks are made by a machine doing cleaning of some sort. I further guess that something has to be a bit wrong for this to happen. I particularly note how the pattern is in no way impeded by the joins of the pavement slabs, which suggests that quite a lot of power is being applied, by a quite heavy machine which cannot be easily deflected from the path it has been set on.