It is the sundrenched late afternoon of April 21st 2009, and they’re busy building something:
What I’m getting at with the above imagery is:
(1) This is a construction site, and these people clearly know what they are doing. Constructions almost always turn out exactly as planned.
(2) Look at the state of it!!!
I recognise various individual bits of tech there, like the reinforcing rod tubes, and that big blue propeller for digging holes, to put such things as reinforcing rod tubes in. But all that stuff jammed together in a confined space like that? It looks like someone’s attic for goodness sake.
Yet, it was from this outdoor attic that there duly emerged … the Shard.
I like this photo, which I photoed in the summer of 2013, somewhere in the vicinity of Victoria Station, Victoria Street, or some such place:
I like it for lots of reasons, including that it is a fine example of the modified cliché photo. What could be more banal than a bloke photoing a guardsman, in the Buckingham Palace part of London? Yet the manner in which this scene is presented is most unusual.
Like I say, I like it. But I don’t understand it. How – and for that matter why – was that effect created, behind an office door of impeccable dullness and insignificance? They are clearly not shadows of an actual photoer and an actual guardsman, standing behind me as I photo, because where is my shadow? Are the photoer and the guardsman cardboard cut-outs? If so, the cardboard of the guardsman’s bayonet is very thin and vulnerable.
Are these just big bits of paper, stuck on the inside of the windows? Is it that straightforward? But if so, how come the shadows of the two guys seems of the same sort as the shadow of the two poles with the rope hanging in between them? Which appears to be a real shadow of a real thing, see below the shadow.
Are the two guys 3D sculptures? But if so, why? Why go to all that bother in such a place?
And what is that strange ghost-like thing, just to the right of the photoer?
I like puzzle photos, but I prefer it when the puzzle is soluble.
My life and the world are both a bit of a mess at the moment. I’ll spare you the details of the former, by just saying that these details are indeed messy without in any way being life-threatening. The mess the world is in you know all about, even as you and I may well quarrel about who’s fault it is and what needs doing about it. Just so you know, I’m right about that and if you disagree you’re wrong, but I see no need and now feel no desire to elaborate on that basic truth.
So, escape, in the form of yet more happy memories from The Time Before All This:
This was a game of cricket at the Oval, a walk across the River from me, in July 2016. I was originally only going to post the one with the silly hat and the artistic one, with the shadows, photos 8 and 7. But then I thought, have a good old wallow. Thank you again Darren. Darren being my friend Darren, the Surrey Member, who gets me in with him as a guest.
Photo 1 is the first ball of the match, between Surrey and Gloucester, hit by Jason Roy, pictured there, to the boundary. Photo 9 is the end of the match, with Surrey having won at a canter. All the others are the sort of photos of sporting events that Real Sporting Photographers ignore, but which I really enjoy. All the incidental stuff. The signs and commemorations. The groundstaff and their equipment. The crowd and their various habits and antics, fuelled by drink.
I can wait to go to the Oval again, to see another game. But only because I will have to. Can’t come too soon.
I am happy to note from my site stats system that a posting I did here about Jeppe Hein‘s Modified Social Benches has been receiving a regular trickle of visitors, as has this posting of photos of these red benches done more recently, during Lockdown, with consequent silly plastic tape all over them.
So, here are some more photos of these red benches, photoed by me on the very first occasion that I saw them, or at any rate the first time I properly noticed them, on May 22nd 2017:
As you can see, they were still working on their installation. But already, you could see that they were being well received. I now realise that the biggest one to be seen in these photos, the one in photos 3, 6, 7 and 8, was only there for a short while. It doesn’t appear in my later postings, so it had to have been gone. I would not have missed it otherwise.
In the first posting above, the photos were all done in rather dim weather, which emphasised how colourful these things are. The above photos, done in bright sunlight, are no less colourful, I hope you will agree.
There were statues to be seen nearby, but there were bigger things, Big Things, further away, on the other side of the River:
Photo 1 uses the clutter associated with getting on and off of a boat to frame the Wheel. All the rest are entirely of more distant stuff.
I like the colours, warm cream when the sun hits stone or concrete, dark glass, the perfect blue of the sky. My camera makes the dark glass, of such buildings as One Blackfriars (aka the Boomerang), all the darker by not wanting bright sunlight directly reflected to look too bright.
And once again with the shadow of the Wheel (for once London “Eye” works very nicely) on the Shell Building, but this time with the shadow seeming to be the wrong way round, as seen most clearly in photo 6 and also in photo 7. It is of course the shadow of the opposite side of the Wheel.
And in the further distance, in gaps, the Shard (photo 9), and a rather handsome view of 22 Bishopsgate (photo 5) looking like a more coherent shape than I am used to seeing, a bit like a ship, front on. Move along a bit, and we then see the Cheesegrater as well (photo 8).
These strange alignments all take a bit of getting used to when you first see them. This is because, like so many rivers in the middle of great cities, this river twists and turns, that being a big reason why the city got built here in the first place. By twiddling this way and that, the river brings valuable riverside spots closer to each other, and stirs up a lot more commerce than a straight river would. (See also: Paris.) But these kinks play hell with your sense of direction, or with mine anyway. I was on the north bank of the river, but, although I was looking straight across the river, I was nevertheless looking due east, rather than south. And back across another kink in the river again when seeing 22 Bishopsgate and the Cheesegrater, which are both part of the City Big Thing Cluster, which is on the north side of the river.
It is all part of London’s charm, and the charm of its Big Things. When out-and-abouting in London you can never be quite sure which Big Thing you’ll see next, through some gap in the foreground, or from what direction you’ll see it.
Photo taken by a friend earlier today, of the Shard from downstream:
Photoed with an iPhone 11. Pointed straight at the early afternoon sun. I’m impressed that the iPhone software managed to make so much of a distinction between on the one hand the Shard and its’s Guy’s Hospital smaller companion, and on the other the buildings in the foreground. Not sure my camera would have done so well.
In general, I love that blue-ish colour of the Shard and Guy’s. Again, don’t think mine would have managed this. I would have managed something, but it would have looked different.
What my friend saw when looking at this scene while photoing it was, I am sure, very different.
For all kinds of reasons, including the camera contrast but many others besides, my photos never seem to look quite like that. Strange that something so automatic should end up being so individual.
A while back, I showed photos of The Broadway being built, which, because of the weather, looked like black-and-white photos. Here is that same Broadway last Wednesday, nearer to being completed, in sunshine, and therefore in colour:
Photo 1 is the first view of these new towers that I get when I walk along Regency Street and look towards Victoria Street. In that photo, and in photo 4, we clearly see those coffins, which I first mentioned here way back in July, near the bottom of one of these towers. Now, there are also coffins at the top of that same tower. Odd choice.
Photo 5 shows the games that light plays with the big sign facing Victoria Street. “A dynamic new residential quarter redefining …” what? I probably have other photos in my archive telling me what, but frankly, I don’t care and would be amazed if any of you did either. In photo 5, which is a detail of the same scene, you can see through this sign that 55 Broadway will, in you stand in the right spots in Victoria Street, be visible from there. Good. That’s now what happened when New Scotland Yard was in this same spot. The fake photo here shows this gap in The Broadway very clearly.
Photo 7 shows that the other two towers on either side of the coffin tower will sport a slightly different, although closely related, decorative plumage. Too thin to be coffins.
Photo 9: cranes. And in photo 9, I am looking back up Victoria Street from the other side of Parliament Square, at the same cranes, which look pleasingly tumultuous, I think. I really hope that the era of such tumultuous crane clusters is not about to end. Or, to put it another way: I wonder if these apartments will sell at anything resembling a profit?
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.
I haven’t managed many London photos here recently, or at any rate not as many as before You Know What. But here are two, of the same scene, differently lit, and both elaborately cropped to make them cover the same visual territory:
On the left, how it Boudicca and her daughters and her horses and her chariot, with the Wheel and its shadow behind her, were looking on a sunny-with-clouds day back in February 2016, and on the right the same stuff quite recently, on the same day I photoed this dramatic skyscape, just over a week ago now.
On that same day on October 10th, with its dramatic sky, I also photoed another version of the shadow cast by the Wheel upon the Shell Building, shadows of all sorts, and those particular ones especially, being something of an obsession of mine. This is partly because it goes to how people see, compared to how cameras see, which is another obsession of mine. We see shadows one way, and cameras see them another way. Even as we look at shadows, We sort of unsee those shadows, so that we can grasp the reality of the shapes in front of us, and discount those light contrasts. We project what we know is going on in front of us, past the shadows, so to speak. Cameras just gobble up the contrasts created by the shadows and report them faithfully.
A somewhat nicer way to apply colourful decoration than what’s in this photo, I think. Besides which, applied colour need only be temporary, so all tastes can take it in turns. If you want to make it permanent, photo it. Photos like that one of the painted butterfly will last longer and better than the painted butterfly will.