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.

The photo with the ingredients of the Photo and the actual Photo

The photo with the ingredients of the Photo:

The actual Photo:

What we have here, photoed five years and a day ago, is one of those window cleaning cranes, and the Moon. In the first photo there, we see all the ingredients, but this is not the Photo itself. It is merely the photo with the ingredients that went into the actual Photo.

Very little is said about window cleaning cranes, and the aesthetics of window cleaning cranes. Yet they often become the biggest feature in a particular scene.

I just wrote the sentence: “There is nothing temporary about them”, concerning these window cranes, but that’s not right. Sometimes they reach up out of their buildings, spread themselves, and dominate the scene. But somethings they fold themselves up into almost nothing. Or, they literally hide themselves inside their buildings, and become nothing.

They are invisible to some, because if you pick the right moment, they are invisible, nearly so or completely so.

They are not invisible to me.

Nova again – and from a distance

Back in October 2017, I was at the top of Westminster Cathedral. I was also there in even further back, January 2016, when I photoed this photo, of Nova, while it was under construction:

I had photoed Nova quite a few times before then, and have photoed it many times since, especially since they awarded it the Carbuncle Cup. This being a fairly typical example of the genre:

What do you reckon on this photo?:

Photoed by me later on the very same day, in August 2016. Not good? Well, I was about fifteen miles away, so I reckon it’s not bad either.

I mean, here’s the place I was photoing from:

That stuff in between and above the trees is … central London. Nova is to be seen in among that, if you have a zoom lens. What you see there is a walk up from Epsom Race Course.

But you’re right, we probably need something in between close-up and too far. Like this:

That was photoed just before I came across these silly signs. From the same direction, but a bit nearer.

I like Nova. Not least because it adds a dash of colour to the London Skyline. Not may Big Things do that.

Quota gallery of views photoed from the top of Westminster Cathedral Tower

Photoing big collections of photos like this, photoed in October 2017, …:

… is one the many things I now miss doing. I can’t tell from this if you can actually do this again. No mention of Covid, which there surely should be. I suspect this website could use some updating.

I think they get more interesting as what I’m photoing gets closer,

There are a couple of apparent duplications, but in each case, the lighting was very different.

Keeping up appearances (however odd they were) just off Sloane Square

Here are a couple of photos I photoed earlier in the month, of a rather handsome building just off Sloane Square, just past the tube station as you leave, in the direction of Pimlico, Victoria and such places:

A moment later, I tried photoing a detail at the top of the building, of where the top of the tower seems to collide with the big rectangular chimney under a row of chimney pots. Seems being the word, because you cannot tell from my photo, any more than you can from looking at the photos above.

But my closer-ups didn’t solve the problem. They merely magnified it. Memo to self, blah blah. Go back and check it out.

Well, today I did just that. I was in a bus and in no mood to get off it. I wanted to be home. But luckily for me, the state of the traffic stopped the bus and I was able to photo the exact detail that I earlier didn’t photo properly. It helped that this time around, the light was in the right place:

There was photoshop-cloning in both of the above, but we’re not talking my prowess as a photoer, we’re talking architectural detail, and my photoshop-cloning made things clearer.

I don’t know quite what to make of this. Best guess, the chimney basically has the right of way, because without it the machine-for-living-in that this building is doesn’t work so well. But, that little top-of-the-tower thing has nowhere else to go except to bury itself in the chimney, while actually, in reality being brushed aside by it. Whatever exactly we are looking at, it’s decidedly odd.

It is also unclear whether this is an old building or a fake old building, or maybe a hybrid in the form of a painstakingly restored-exactly-as-was old building.

I say this because a year or two ago, this is how it was looking. This being posting with photos that show a lot of activity going on in what became the inside of this new building. I’m guessing, although it’s only a guess, that they only got planning permission if they left the previous exterior untouched. But this was very hard to contrive, give what they wanted to do behind that exterior. In short, a lot. So they said, can we smash it all down and then build a new building with an exterior that looks exactly like the old one? And that was okay, provided it was exactly like that. So that’s what they did, right up to and including the way this chimney collides with this roof top thingy.

It’s a bit unfair to call this “roof clutter” (as I do in the category list below), but what else can I call it? Maybe a new category is due called Rooves? Or is it Roofs?

On further reflection, I think that what this strange little circumstance shows is that chimney pots have swung wildly back and forth from being just severely practical, towards being highly ornamental (as well as practical) and then back again. Which means that umpiring between a plainly decorative tower top and a chimney gets very … odd.

Or something. Not sure. Just amused.

When the view out my kitchen window was interesting

Being so restricted in my movements just now has got me pondering the view from my kitchen window. It doesn’t change from day to day, or now, from year to year. But, oh, there was a time, a time when it would change from hour to hour:

Those were photoed between October 2015 and February 2016. I show some because they show what was going on. and others for artistic effect. You decide which is which. What they were doing was converting the building opposite it something different and taller, in which more living and working could happen than before.

The one that got me interested in these photos was the silhouette of the guy with the machine. But now, the ones I like best feature the reinforced concrete being destroyed. I love that effect.

The netting that you see in some of these photos is to stop pigeons crapping in the courtyard. It didn’t help with the focussing, but it does create an effect.

Memo to self: Dig up the old posting where a crane unfolded itself in this very spot.

A gallery of mostly mundane things – unmundanely lit

As I spend less time accummulating photos and more time contemplating the ones I have, I more and more see that. for me, light is everything. Photography is, I find myself telling myself more and more often, light. For me, bad light equals bad photography, the sort of photography that involves lots of pressing of things like the “sharpen” button in my not-Photoshop programme. Good light presses that button for me.

October 21st 2018 was a good light day. In the days after it I did several postings based on photos I photoed that day. I did my favourite ever photo of Centre Point that day. I photoed how very blue the blue sky was that day. I photoed Bartok. I photoed Chinese lanterns. I photoed Compton.

I spent some of October 21st 2018 in the area around and to the north of Centre Point:

One of those photos, number 22 (of 25), requires a bit of an explanation. I like to photo the BT Tower. And I like to photo the reflection of the BT Tower in the big building at the top end of Tottenham Court Road. That photo is one of the few times I managed to photo both these things at the same time.

I think my favourite of the above photos may be number 2. Scaffolding, lit in a way that makes it, I think, downright magical. I also particularly like number 3, where you see both a reflection and a shadow, of the same pointy building.

If your are inclined towards enjoying such things, then enjoy. Click click click. It needn’t take you long.

Is “unmundanely” a word? It is now.

How the old version of New Scotland Yard used to look before they knocked it down

In that posting I did yesterday, it would have made sense to have included also a photo of how the old New Scotland Yard building used to look, given that I showed photos of how the place where it stood looked after it had been demolished and what is now there instead.

So, here is that old New Scotland Yard building, viewed from the roof of my block of flats, in 2016:

Not an especially distinguished building. Just a Brand-X Modernist box. I was fond of it because of its gloriously exuberant roof clutter, in such delightful contrast to its austere and repetitious facades. (The red spike in the foreground is the red spike on the top of the Headquarters of Channel 4 Television.)

Here is an earlier photo I photoed back in 2010 of this same building, from, of all out-of-the-way spots, the platform of South Bermondsey Railway Station, which is a substantial train ride away from my home off to the far side of London:

Yes, there it is, between the “other” Parliament Tower, the one with four spikes rather than just the one (plus a clock), and the Big Thing at the Elephant and Castle with the three holes in the top (seen sideways on).

Don’t believe me? Zoom zoom, crop crop:

That’s definitely it, I think you’ll agree. I didn’t realise I even had this photo until quite recently. I love these accidents of visibility, involving London’s Big or in this case not so big Things. It is a constant delight to me when out and about just what you can see, from just where.

Presumably you can now see the new Towers that they have built there instead, from that same South Bermondsey platform. Memo to self: Go back there and check that out.

East India DLR station

Yes, it’s 2017 again, April, and I’m on my way home after a hard afternoon’s photoing out east. I get to that moment when suddenly, snap, my energy is all gone, and I just want home. So I drag myself to the nearest rail station. And this time, that rail station was East India:

Something to do with the East India docks, I presume.

Why show photos of that? Well, London can’t be all spectacular Big Things and lavish world renowned river views. Much of the secret of great cities is the amount of humdrum and utterly replaceable stuff they contain, and replaceability equals growability. A city can’t be great if it’s not growing, and it can’t grow if everywhere in it is finished.

As for the architecture, if that’s the word, of places like this DLR station, that’s now reached that awkward spot of being too new to be old and picturesque, but not new enough actually to be new any more, like pop music that your elder brother likes.

Which means it’s architecture that nobody (apart from me) thinks worth photoing. People just use it constantly, and forget about it. But there it is. One day some of it will be old and picturesque, and there will be complaints about it being torn down to be replaced by further humdrummery, or perhaps by resplendent and finished Big Things.

Meanwhile, I find that such railway stations are not only deserving of themselves being noticed, but are often, because of being elevated (to enable their tracks to go over existing roads) very good spots for noticing other things. Like the Shard (8), or that building rather cheerfully tricked out in yellow, green and blue (7). The building in (4) was trying hard to look good also, even if I reckon it failed. Or how about that strange bus stop road colouring that looks like a carpet has been unrolled (6)?

I’ve never understood those strange rolls of wire that you see beside railways (11). Is that for if they find they need more wire, which they can then pull towards them through tubes? That would make sense.

I do understand selfies, and the hair pats that so often go with them (12). I reckon they were lining themselves up with the Shard.

Perhaps most diverting of all, to me anyway, is the contrast between the extreme fussiness and complexity of the main body of this thing (1) (2) (3), with all its “expressed” structure (think of the just-that-bit-earlier-than-this Lloyds building in the City), with the relative banality of what the fuss is all in aid of (5). The architects of these places had their heads full of bigger, more award-winning Things than they were allowed actually to build, as architect heads so often are.

Good vapour trail – evil vapour trail – hybrid vapour trail

This posting began several evenings ago as a quota photo post, with this pretty little scene being the beginning and the end of it:

But then I again got thinking about how significant it is that, typically, vapour trails look at they do above, but do not look like this, below:

That evil vapour trail (there’s another dimmer one further away) is made dark and evil by a line of cloud in the distance, in the evening, allowing the sun to continue lighting up the sky, but throwing a huge shadow over the vapour trail itself. This combination of circumstances, with everything all lined up just so, is rather rare.

Finally, here’s a fun photo, where the shadow from the evening cloud doesn’t engulf all of the vapour trail, merely some of it:

I know I keep banging on about how air travel wouldn’t be so popular if vapour trails typically didn’t look so pretty, but I really think this is true.

Equally significant is that the nastiest internal combustion engine pollution is now invisible. Just about all the actual smoke, certainly in London (where all of the above photos were photoed), has been done away with. If you do see smoke in London, chances are something’s on fire, in an undeliberate way.