Beard Trimmer in the distance

Incoming from GodDaughter2:

Somewhere just downstream of Tate Modern. That kind of area.

It’s the old Big-Thing-in-the-distance-through-a-gap-in-the-buildings effect, which often happens, as here, when the gap is simply caused by a road happening to go straight towards the Big Thing in question. She knew I’d like this, because when we’ve been for walks in the past, I’ve said “Look at that! Wow!” when seeing something like this. I love the vagueness of the Big Thing bit of the image, in contrast to the definiteness of the foreground anonymity.

The official name for this particular Big Thing is Strata, but GD2 described it today on the phone, when I was thanking her for this photo, as a beard trimmer. So from now on, for me, this is going to be the Beard Trimmer.

No definite information about the camera she used, but almost certainly her mobile. Probably an iPhone.

Note also how the tree does not, because of the time of the year, wreck the view.

A ball point pen for eight pence!

Here are two more photos photoed with my Samsung Galaxy Something mobile phone:

I came upon these pens while seeking something else, as you do. I then took these photos because what I was seeing reminded me of a conversation I recently had with Michael Jennings about why the cameras in things like my Samsung Galaxy Something mobile phone are so good. He said that when you are ordering up the cameras for a production run of mobile phones like mine, or for an iPhone or some such thing (Michael J has the latest iPhone (with which he now takes photos like these)) you’re talking about ordering a billion of the things, literally. When you are working on that sort of scale, then the economies of scale really start to kick in. A camera which would have cost five times what the mere phone costs now, if you sold it only to photographers, now costs only a dozen or two quid for my phone, or a couple of hundred for the latest iPhone. He’s not wrong.

Research and development for dedicated cameras has pretty much stopped about five years ago. All the effort now goes into making mobile phone cameras into miracle machines, and that’s really starting to be visible in the results.

I remember thinking, when digital cameras first arrived, that in the long run, cameras would have no reason to look like old school cameras, of the sort that had film in them. But at first they all did, because that was what people felt comfortable with. But now, that long run is starting to arrive. Cameras now consist only of a screen, and what is more a screen that can do a hundred other things besides photo photos.

And the above photos illustrate this same economies-of-scale which can fund mega-research-into-making-them-even-cheaper principle in action down at the bottom of the market, where they thrash out ball point pens by the billion. One pound for a dozen of them! Like I say in the title of this, that’s hardly more than eight pence a pen. And that’s after all the transport costs and retail mark-ups and goodness knows what else have also been paid. Amazing.

Shame they can’t make food and heating and rent that cheap. The one thing that never seems to get any cheaper nowadays is energy, aka the essentials of life. Are we due another human transformation, to go beside this one, when energy gets miraculously cheaper? Nuclear? Fusion? Bring it on.

That previous kink, I recently read in one of Anton Howes‘s pieces, was maybe made to seem more abrupt than it really was by the fact that there came a moment when they finally worked out how to extract and distribute energy on a serious scale, but energy remained quite expensive, hence the sudden kink upwards in the numbers. Actually, life had been getting better for some time, and didn’t suddenly get a hundred times better, merely about three or four times times every few decades.

Meanwhile, things like absurdly good cameras and absurdly cheap ball point pens don’t show up in graphs of how much mere money everyone is chucking around. Which causes people in a country like mine to underestimate the improvements of recent decades. These have not taken the form of us all having tons more money. No. What has been changing is the stuff we can now buy with the same money. Like my latest (mobile phone) camera, and like ball point pens. Provided you have some cash left over after you have fed and housed yourself and kept yourself warm (not everyone does), then life has got lots more fun, given how many and how much better are the toys and times you can now buy for the same money.

Life has not improved much for those who have fun only when the fun they get is too expensive for most others to be able to indulge in. But that’s a thought for a different posting.

Big yellow pipes

Vauxhall Bridge Road is a bit of a shambles just now, because it is being dug up. It’s as if they’ve told whoever it is doing this pipe work that now is the time to doing this sort of thing, or never.

A few days ago, on my way to the shops, I encountered some of these pipes, all gathered together on the road and ready to be buried:

And then, a bit further up, nearer to the junction with Warwick Way, I came across some of these pipes actually being buried:

It was all a big reminder that roads are not simple unchanging surfaces. Rather are they elaborate volumes, volumes that are constantly being tinkered with and rearranged.

These photos were photoed, like the photo of that piano, with my Samsung Galaxy something something Forty. It’s recent rather than the very latest thing, and definitely not the latest iPhone. Yet look how it performs in very limited and completely artificial light. Okay the buildings in the background are more than somewhat distorted, but the pipes are clear as day.

The Wires!!! in Seattle

So I was at Dezeen, checking if there’s been any big architecture lately (only in China), and I saw this photo:

And I assumed we were in Japan. New modernist white box building, yes. The Wires!!! in front of it, yes. Absolutely nothing said in the text about The Wires!!! But all this was happening in Seattle.

Why do I make such a fuss about The Wires!!!? It’s because the phenomenon of The Wires!!! is an extreme illustration of the matter of what is seen and what is not seen. The point about The Wires!!! is that they are literally not being seen. There they are. And the Real Photographers are definitely seeing The Wires!!! They put them centre stage. They are saying to the people who write these extraordinary pieces, about buildings with The Wires!!! all over them: Look, The Wires!!! Write something about The Wires!!! But no, the writers don’t see The Wires!!! Or if they do, their Editors are under strict orders not to see The Wires!!! They delete all mention of The Wires!!!

Cities, in particular, abound with things you are supposed to look at, and things that you are not supposed to look at. Like stage scenery that is there to be looked at, and the equipment that supports the scenery or in some way services the scenery, that you aren’t supposed to look at, or even to see. We all look at cities in this way. I do it. I still try to avoid looking at all the poles, for lighting and for signs, that sprout out of urban pavements. (Memo to self: Photo photos that put these things centre stage, in the manner of the above photo of The Wires!!!))

See also: Roof clutter.

What’s strange about the The Wires!!! phenomenon is that there is a stand-up fight going on between the people supplying the photos, and the people commentating, at Dezeen anyway, on the photos. These Dezeen writers are either forbidden to see The Wires!!!, or, even weirder, they literally do not see The Wires!!!

The above photo, and the commentary on it, is the most extreme example of this phenomenon, of The Wires!!!, that I have so far encountered.

Moonset behind Ely Cathedral

I “follow” all sorts of people on Twitter, but if they haven’t recently posted at just the moment when I look at my Twitter feed, I am liable to miss things.

Things like this photo, by Andrew Sharpe, of a “moonset” behind his beloved Ely Cathedral, which he posted on December 30th:

Outstanding.

If Sharpe hadn’t posted something about vaccines, just when I happened to be doing a little lurking on Twitter, I might never have bothered looking at his latest stuff, and I might have missed this completely.

A quota photo – and why I (and 6k) like quota photos

Rough day today, what with the steroids having stopped. They definitely had a mental as well as physical effect. So quota photo time, this photo has been picked pretty much at random from the archives:

What made me pick it is that that’s not just the Shard, in a general way. It’s the Shard while they were still building it, the photo dating from March 2012.

The quota photo was one of the notions that South African based blogger 6k was kind enough to write about recently in connection with my blogging. And I do indeed think quota photos have value (as does quota blogging more generally). Just shoving up a photo like the one above is hardly going to spoil anyone’s day. After all, a photo can be skipped past in seconds if it does not appeal. On the other hand, it might just pack a bit more punch than that. So what’s to lose? I’m in a rush now, but maybe I’ll manage a comment, with a link or two maybe, to the effect that some of my favourite 6k photos over the years were often first posted as mere quota photos, which he posted just so as to post something. Yet I especially liked some of these particular photos in particular.

Maybe part of it is that a quota photo can be one of those photos that you just like, for no very obvious reasons that makes you want to attach an essay to it. Normally, you might hold it back until you decide what it means. This way, you just shove it up, and then others can like it too.

As for my quote photo above, I have, I think posted various versions of the above, where the Shard is aligned with one of the pinnacles of the Tower of London, but not this particular one.

I like that it includes a crane.

Signs reflected in cars (and other things (like water))

One of the unconsidered visual trifles of urban life is the reflections you can, if you want to, see in the bodies of cars.

Reflections like this:

It’s one of these.

Here are some reflections-in-cars photos that I posted here in 2019. I never managed much in the way of reflected signs, though. Memo to self …

If robot cars ever abolish cars as we now know them, as they well might, the explosion of nostalgia for these shiny old cars, cars that are now largely ignored from the aesthetic point of view by all but a few petrol heads, will be something to see.

You hate the look of whatever threatens to engulf you. You switch to liking it when it retreats and threatens to disappear. Neon signs are now in retreat, it would seem, so this Real Photographer guy in Boston now likes them. The cars are just one of his ways to notice the signs.

Photos by Jim Turney of the Libertarian International World Convention of 1984

In 1984, I was one of many who helped organise a big Libertarian Conference at Royal Holloway College. US libertarian Jim Turney was one of those who attended, and he took these photos, which he has just emailed to me:

Left to right there: the late Chris R. Tame (who was the super-organiser of this gathering); me; Peter Breggin.

Left to right: John Hospers; me again; a guy who wrote and writes regularly for the IEA, and whom I know well but whose name is locked in a getting-old brain cave (anyone?); Nigel Ashford.

Left to right: Hospers again; me again; the guy I know well but … again; Ashford again; and a guy I genuinely do not know after all these years. Sorry if it turns out I should know him. Anyone?

Turney picked out the photos he had of this event with me in them, and there I am, the thin geek in the glasses. You can tell he’s a politician, can’t you? I can’t be the only person whom he has photoed during those long ago times when only Real Photographers had cameras and the half dozen digital cameras in existence all belonged to NASA. Think how precious such photos might be to some people, compared to photos photoed more recently.

I will now email Jim Turney back, thanking him for these remarkable photos, and asking if he has any more of this event, and in particular any more of Chris Tame.

Salisbury Cathedral behind sheep

Another notable James Cook photo of his local and favourite cathedral:

It’s nice how the sheep are mostly looking, vaguely curious but in no way troubled, at the camera.

And note how, in the summer, with all those leaves, the tree in the middle would spoil everything.

Extraordinary tree

Mick Hartley has been checking out the Alexandra Palace part of London. And his basic point in this posting is that real birds perching on the heads of pretend birds is quite amusing. But then he includes this photo, like it was an afterthought that was too good to ignore, which has nothing to do with birds perching on other birds:

So far as I can tell, this tree looks entirely different from how it would have looked if humans hadn’t constantly been decided where each bit of it would go next.

Whether that’s right or not, I for one am very sure that trees are usually much more interesting when they aren’t smothered in leaves. This one definitely is.