A colour photo taken over a century ago of one of my relatives

This remarkable photo dates from 1903.

I recently encountered it at BabelColour, which I follow, and where I learned who it was:

It shows Rear Admiral William Acland (1847-1924) & was taken by his sister Sarah 117 years ago using the Sanger Shepherd process.

Follow the first link above for a bit more about the Sanger Shepherd process.

This got my attention in quite a big way because I am distantly related to this Admiral Acland. He wasn’t a direct ancestor, or I don’t believe so. But the maiden name of the mother of my grandmother on my mother’s side was Acland, and she was the daughter of someone just like this Admiral. I possess a book entitled “Aclands and the Sea” which I acquired when my mother died and I cherry-picked the books in the family home where I grew up, and in any case I recall that my mum’s family were related to various Aclands, including, for instance, this guy. Although I couldn’t find in this Aclands and the Sea book any references to Aclands and their daughters, it’s the sort of book you only have if there’s a family connection. Not quite, so to speak, a real book. So, that Admiral Acland is like a first or second cousin of mine, about five times removed, or some such thing.

I haven’t linked to where I confirmed that my granny’s mum’s maiden name definitely was Acland, because, well, because I didn’t. What I will say is that one of the many things the internet does is tell each of us, as and when we ever get interested in such things, lots of stuff about our forebears and relatives, without anyone having to spend weeks grubbing away in libraries. That’s quite a change. I don’t know what it means exactly, but surely something.

On reflection, it may be more significant that we can, should we wish to, research the relatives of people we bump into and get curious about. That never used to be easy but now is. We now live, that is to say, in a world where uncongenial relatives have become that little bit harder for us to forget about being related to.

Some more e-scooter photos

If obliged to select just one of the many photos I have photoed during Lockdown and before Lockdown was over and done with (i.e. now and for the foreseeable future until all this nonsense ends and we can get back to whatever the new normal turns out to be), I think I might well choose this one:

The big point about the photo above, photoed earlier this week, is the state of the road that the e-scooter is travelling on. No other traffic. London is still in a state of semi-Lockdown, of a semi-voluntary sort. Roads like the one you see above are often empty, and into this emptiness several dozens of e-scooters have raced joyously, as shown above. But if and when anything resembling normality returns to this road, it will fill up with regular traffic, and it will then change from the total safety you see above to a state more like “you almost certainly won’t die today”. For an e-scooter, it will be like being in Bomber Command during the war. Your chances of surviving the next trip will be quite good. Surviving a tour of two dozen operations, not so much. Commute every day for ever and you’re doomed to severe injury or worse.

A few dozen minutes later, in Parliament Square, I saw something with much more of a future, namely a fully functioning bicycle road, both ways, with a white line in the middle, just like a regular car road. And all this in a spot which has been a shambles for about half of the last decade, on the Parliament approach to Westminster Bridge, with Big Ben up on the right as we look:

And then, on this same cycle road, an e-scooter:

That arrangement has a future, because this is a glimpse of the new normal. E-scooting and bicycles seem to coexist very happily safely. This is especially so if the e-scooters make a point of going at the same speed as the cyclists, whenever overtaking would be any problem. The point being that e-scooters can go much faster than bicycles, but often shouldn’t.

I was going to show a couple more e-scooter photos, but a blogging rule I constantly forget but have remembered now is: if you can separate out your points into separate postings, it’s probably best to do that.

So, I’ll end on this point. Bicycles and heavy motorised traffic don’t go together well. But bicycles and e-scooters, with the heavy traffic removed, that works very well.

Just as bikes flattened the roads to make way, literally, for the first cars, so too now, bikes are now narrowing their roads, to exclude those same cars and to make way for e-scooters. I believe “History” to be in the category list for this posting with good reason.

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.

Window pane sucker

Today I did the longest walk I’ve done in a month. I could show you a photo from that, but honestly, it would be quite the effort, after all my earlier efforts.

So this, when I got home, was a very nice surprise. GD2S, whom regulars here may recognise from that acronym and who for the benefit of irregulars is a lady friend of mine, sent me this photo that she had photoed, of men at work, with a window pane sucker and a crane:

Manhandling big sheets of glass into place on the outside of buildings is central to what the latest architecture now is, as anyone who pays attention to these things will already know. Typically, these days, the outside of a building is covered in sheets of glass so big that getting them up inside the building would, as likely as not, be impossible. So, the skills you see being applied in the above photo are doubtless finely honed. Especially when you consider how expensive, in cash and confusion, a mistake would be.

Come to think of it, here is a photo I photoed late this very afternoon, illustrating the exact trend I’m talking about:

There, in one photo, is that trend. In the foreground, we see Architectural Modernism from the Concrete Monstrosity era, with its windows all of a manageable size and uniformity and frankly not looking that expensive. Lose one of those window panes and getting another wouldn’t have been much of a bother. But in the background, rising up in the new new iconic style, is One Blackfriars, entirely covered in sheets of no doubt fabulously expensive glass, each sheet a different size and shape, capable of resisting all that the weather can throw at it. I presume that a fabulously more elaborate version of what is to be seen in the first of these photos is how all that glass got itself into place.

But, as of now, I am too knackered to pursue the matter, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Whatever the real story, I still very much like that first photo there. I don’t know where it was photoed Somewhere in London, with an iPhone, is all I can tell you.

I really like all the reflections in that photo, in the regular windows, and in the new window that’s just arriving.

Flying with geese

Tim Skellet:

OK, folks, I’m off to see a man about some geese.

Not with a view to buying them, but with a view to flying with them a short while. Will explain later. Wish me luck, it may not work out at all.

Later:

this is what I want to do, why I’m here. Hoping I get to do it. My photo yesterday:

Vekica says:

Fly Away Home!

Just what I was thinking. I’ll be that movie triggered a lot of this flying with geese stuff, putting it up there with swimming with dolphins.

So much better to fly with birds that to shoot them with guns like so many used to and some still do.

The only house Zaha Hadid ever designed

Zaha Hadid Architects interests me because, Zaha Hadid having herself died, it is now run by a libertarian, Patrik Schumacher. People like this are rare, and we libertarians must make much of them. Also, they are interesting.

So, this house interests me:

That looks rather small. Rather disappointing.

But look at this:

That being, I presume, a faked up photo beforehand of how it was going to look. Now you’re talking. Because of the rather odd procedure I found myself using to get that photo from here (where I found the above two images) to here, I found myself emphasising the darkness of the place where this house was going to be built, making it look even more like a spaceship than, I presume, it actually does.

The bit at the top is not the Bridge of Starship Enterprise. No.

The 36,000-square-foot home, formally dubbed “Capital Hill Residence,” has many unique features, but one of the most outstanding may be its narrow tower, and what it supports — namely, the master bedroom, situated over 100 feet high. The tower’s supporting column includes a glass elevator and staircase.

Now that’s a Master Bedroom. Feminists: cower in terror. I love that it’s a woman that designed this. Would any male architect now dare to create such a thing? I also wonder, did Zaha Hadid ever have any run-ins with feminists? That would have been fun to see.

I particularly enjoyed the bit where Zaha Hadid first got the job, from the Russian oligarch who paid for all this:

“She drew a sketch on the napkin and I said, ‘You’re hired.'”

Classic Because-We-Can! architecture. In my version, La Hadid does her sketch on the back of a restaurant menu, but otherwise, it’s just like I said.

A sound file with sound advice about photography

Testing testing:

Wow, that worked! First time. A long line with progress on display, just like the real internetters do. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting anything that good. Go WordPress.

The sound file is of me picking the brain of my friend Bruce the Real Photographer. His advice about photoing is very clear and down to earth. I did a posting on BtRP way back in 2006, which included this interview. Now I’m trying to transfer that posting across from the old blog to this blog. It’ll be a while yet before you see that, because the photo-presentation angle of that is complicated. But meanwhile, ff you fancy the idea, have a listen.

Urban picturesque with Shard

Same formula as the previous post. Ooh that’s nice:

But puzzle. What is it? We see the Shard there, but where are we? What direction are we looking at the Shard from?

Context:

We are at the Dome end of the Dangleway, looking across the Greenwich Peninsular towards the towers of Docklands, with central London beyond. The City cluster is not visible, but the Shard is.

I still don’t know what that blob in the middle of the sky is. Mercifully, it isn’t to be seen on any of the other photos I photoed at this time.

The tall pole with sticking out bits in the original photos is for hanging banners, saying things like: “London Olympics 2012”, 2012 being when all these photos were photoed. Now, there are Machines-For-Living-In Things in the foreground, next to and just south of the Dome, and a great many more bigger Things in the Docklands Tower Cluster.

The photo on the right, featuriing the Dome, was photoed as I began a Dangleway journey across the River to Victoria Dock.

I love that part of London. An essential part of that being because it keeps on changing.

This is the damage a tiny speck of space debris can do at 15,000 mph

This:

I did a piece a while back for Samizdata about that foolish equation people sometimes still make between “the age of exploration” that happened about five hundred years ago, when Europe, until then a backwater, globally speaking, started to connect itself with the rest of the world out there, and space exploration now. Like I said, rather foolish.

The above is one of the many ways in which space travel, unlike those early sea voyages, is profoundly different from anything before attempted by humans. Not saying we shouldn’t do it. Am saying: watch out for very big surprises, often very nasty ones.

I have had that tweet open for over a month, and it refused to let itself be closed. Too interesting. Too dramatic. Too destructive.