Shadow on the Shell Building

These pictures, taken about ten days ago, began life as a simple Billion Monkeys shot, of a guy using his mobile phone to take pictures of the wheel. But what he never saw, and what I didn’t see at first, was that the real story was behind him.

Usually I hate the Shell Building, which has now barged its way into undeserved picture postcard prominence through its proximity to the wondrous Wheel. But the evening sun does cast a lovely shadow on it, does it not?

I couldn’t decide which of these snaps showed the effect better, so here are both of them.

At first, these little pictures were going to be clickable on, to get them bigger. But I now think that the effect is clearer in a small picture than in a big one (rather in the way that blurry photos can look quite sharp on the small screens of Billion Monkey cameras), so small is all I show. And I now think, because the shadow is smaller, than the one on the left shows the effect better, but mucking about with this now would be further effort, and I want to go to bed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Blurry squirrel

When is a photo a bad photo? When it’s all blurry?

Well maybe so, but I rather like that blur. I’ve been rootling through my hard disc choosing pictures to print out for Christmas fun, and came across this squirrel cavorting about in St James’s Park. Click to get it a bit bigger, but no less blurry.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Rolls Royces

Is there anyone in the world who reads this blog but not this one? Perhaps, but it seems improbable. On that off chance, this demographic should be sure not to miss this analysis of an epic car chase in one of those Confessions Of movies starring Robin Askwith.

That’s a seventies Rolls Royce going through a brick wall. It seems that Mark Holland also takes pictures off of his telly.

This is not a move I would care to try unless I owned a lot of Rolls Royces, and as it happens I don’t own even one. Frankly I think the wall would, in real life, have given a better account of itself.

But, I reckon the new German Panzer Roller would probably have done exactly that to it. For months I have been watching out for one of these in the streets of London, moving slowly enough for me to photo it. Nothing. Well, one, moving far too quickly. And then a few weeks ago I finally encountered one. It was parked outside the magnificently red bricked Westminster Cathedral (the Roman Catholic one in Victoria Street), ready to take away the Nigerian bride and groom from their magnificent Nigerian wedding. It was the best looking wedding I have ever chanced upon. Great hats. Ascot, forget it. It was as if the entire occasion had been organised for my entire benefit.

I may stick up more photos of that event anon, with hats, but I promise nothing. Sadly the light was not great, which is what has put me off doing this earlier.

I was expecting to find the new Roller overbearing and ugly. But I like it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Sunset in Hampstead

A week ago I was in Hampstead for a supper date with Jackie D and Antoine, and was somewhat delayed in my journey, by a sunset. All had seemed normal and grey and dreary when I set out on my journey from the heart of civilisation to the outer edge of 0207 land. But when I emerged from West Hampstead tube station, I encountered some extraordinary sunlight crashing in across the railway bridge. There was a break in the clouds right where the evening sun was. Out came the Canon S1 IS!

Trouble is, cheap digital cameras, at any rate in my hands, are not necessarily at their peak of performance in conditions like these. The drama in what you see is in the spectacular contrasts between the bright bits and the dark bits, between where the sun is and where the clouds are, or between the bright orange buildings lit up by the sun, and the dark clouds behind them. I’m sure there are ways of dealing with all that, knobs I could twiddle, but I don’t know about them properly.

Here is a photo which illustrates the problem.

Basically I just stuck my camera over the parapet and hoped for the best, and because of all the rails, regularly polished by trains, I got some nice effects. But look at that sunset! Just a blaze of pure white. It was more interesting than that, believe me.

The purple splodge is some kind of camera thingy effect, or so Bruce the Real Photographer told me when he dropped by. A more devoted Photoshopper than I, such as Bruce the Real Photographer, could remove it, but I am a puritan about Photoshop. I think Photoshop is for sizing, cropping, brightness, contrast, and nothing else. Cutting things out is Stalinism. It is also too much like hard work.

However, there were some photographable sunset effects to be observed, which I snapped away at more in hope than expecation, but which did come out quite well.

Click to get any of those bigger.

The light here is coming in under the high clouds and lighting up the interesting low clouds. I know, I know, you’ve already seen pretty sunsets. But for me, this was a little victory, and this blog is all about me and my needs.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Lady photographer doing it in the road

Blatant quota posting, in the form of an intriguing little photography scene right near where I live, in Vincent Square, this afternoon, as I was walking home. Many is the time I have taken photos through those railings, often of things like the sun on the Wheel, or of Big Ben which can be seen above and beyond the cricket pavilion (which you can just see on the top left here) on the far side of the square.

I like how the Vincent Square sign is included. This is the exact picture I took, no cropping, even though I don’t remember giving any thought to that sign. I think it was just luck.

Click to get it bigger.

I like the shoes that the ladies are each wearing.

More opportunist photography from me here. I took that picture only minutes before taking this one.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

An east London photo on the right

More housekeeping, this time to sort out how to have a picture on the right, and text next to it on the left.

First I will just have a picture which isn’t clickable, but if I can, I’ll make it so you can click and get the original and wider version.

For those not familiar with London, and I have to face the fact that I do share a planet with millions of such people, the towers in the distance are the towers of Docklands, and the chair in the foreground is a chair in the foreground.

That part of London is one of my favourite places in the world. The magic of it for me is in the constant contrasts you get between the mundane foreground – industrial estates, chain link fencing, weeds, parked cars, security guard signs, joggers, families on bicycles, pubs, giant rusting machinery like in the last scene of Get Carter (by the sea), and new apartment blocks beyond counting – and the vastness of the distant towers or the distant Dome, which is a wonderful structure even if they have yet to think of anything meaningful to put in it. Because both the towers and the Dome were put there by politicians, rather than being straight commercial bets, there is this constant mismatch between the relatively low key foreground, and the high tech background. These are not objects that thrust up from the seething surface of a city – a city with nowhere else to go except up. They are more like parked spacecraft.

Is that going to be enough chitchat, I wonder? I don’t like it when the picture goes further down than the text.

Well, that is enough text but the problem remains of the gap between the text and the photo. I hoped it would be 10 pixels minimum, but that doesn’t seem to be registering. Until that is sorted, forget about clicking for a bigger picture. A call has gone to my technical staff to get them to put their heads together and sort this out.

Plus, re my liking for that bit of London, I realise I ought to prefer the atmosphere of libertarian type edifices to that of mixed economy edifices like these ones. What next? Preferring Brazilia to Rio de Janeiro? But there you go, that’s how I feel it. At least these towers are a capitalist muddle rather than an identical national socialist matching set, like in Brazilia.

More on the margin thing. In case anyone suggests this as an alternative, I don’t want to stick a margin all around the picture, first because I just don’t, but second, because I also want to be able to put a photo on the left and have text next to it on the right, with the left hand edge of the photo aligning vertically with the main text. I knew you’d be excited.

DONE! It turned out that the answer was to replace “10” with “10px”. As simple as that. As I always say, everything involving computers is easy when you know, and f***ing impossible and f***ing infuriating when you don’t.

By the way, my team of web developers and software engineers have said that they would like to be thanked in person, as well as being paid all the fees I am paying them. They are: Patrick Crozier.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Look what I saw from the airplane

I almost forgot.

About a month ago, I spent a few days in France, with Goddaughter 2 and her family, way down in the south just beyond Perpignan. I sat on the left hand side of the airplane on the way down, and just when I had abandoned hope of seeing anything interesting, look what I saw!

That’s right, the magnifique Millau Viaduct.

My 10x optical zoom lens and anti-shake software, on my new camera, together worked a wonder. If anything, the zoom actually worked too well. This shot shows four towers, but there are seven in all.

This posting may come and go and come again. This is because I will be fiddling about with the size of the picture until the width is exactly right.

I’m still housekeeping, in other words.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog


So. Let me see whether I can contrive to upload a photo.

It seems to have worked.

And I surely cannot be accused of misusing this lady’s likeness, stealing her soul, or suchlike.

However, more work is needed making it smaller, so the box doesn’t get bigger than it should.

Which has now been done. If anything the picture is now too narrow. But too narrow is better than too wide.

Slumps back in chair exhausted.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog