I don’t know whether it’s the weather or my camera

I have a new camera, and I am not as happy as I would like to be about the photos I am photoing with it. They often seem vague and blurry, as if seen through a mist.

But then again, the humidity levels during the last week or two have been very high. Maybe the views have all looked as if seen through a mist because they were seen through a mist.

Here, for instance, is a photo of a favourite building of mine, the big decorated box that is the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, as seen from Westminjster Bridge, which is quite a way away:

But I got to work with my Photoshop clone, and beefed up the contrast, and darkened things a bit.

Thus:

Which looks a bit better. I’ve chased away some of the mist. The trees look greener. The details of the ROH’s exterior decoration are clearer.

I have a vague recollection of trying to reset my camera, so that it did things more darkly and more contrastingly. Maybe at that point, I contrived to do the opposite of what I thought I was doing.

But then again, not long after taking that photo, I took this one, of the giant 4 outside the Channel 4 headquarters building at the top end of Horseferry Road, a short walk away from where I live. I often go past it on my way home after an afternoon of wandering, and so it was that day, nearly a week ago now:

That looks bright enough and clear enough, doesn’t it? That’s without any zoom, i.e. space filled with blurriness. And without this weather making its presence felt, the picture doesn’t look like it needs any artificial editing attention. So maybe the camera is fine, and it has been the weather. And I just made the weather better.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Guess what this is

I’ve been meaning to post this image here for some time:

Guess what it is. If in doubt, look at the categories list below. Then go here, to confirm what you must surely have worked out.

Many have described the event at which this happened as historic, but not because of this. But I reckon what you see in the above picture is what historians will end up being most impressed by, about this event, because it was a very public manifestation of a very impressive sort of technology, which is going to have a very big future.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

New Tricks is popular because it is full of old people and it is mostly old people who watch telly

While channel hopping in search of an entirely different TV channel earlier this evening, I happened to catch this snatch of dialogue, from the TV show New Tricks:

“When you’re looking for something, it’s always in the last place you look.”

“That’s because when you find it, you stop looking for it, you berk.”

Well, I laughed. And I reckon it’s an improvement on any of these.

I didn’t know New Tricks was such a success in foreign parts:

These curmudgeonly coppers, baffled by new technology, hating modern policing methods and clearly in no state to mount a rooftop chase, proved gripping to viewers across the globe.

Actually, it’s pretty obvious why New Tricks is so popular with TV viewers everywhere. It’s because TV viewers everywhere are mostly the same age as the curmudgeonly coppers in New Tricks, and at least twice the age of all the other cops on television.

Speaking as an oldie myself, I can tell you that jokes about not being able to remember where you put things speak to me, very loudly. Yesterday, my oldie friend was helping me with my Ryanair checking in (another thing not all oldies to put it mildly are very good at sorting out) and during this my debit card was required. So I produced it, from my wallet, and two seconds later I placed my wallet … into a black hole, and couldn’t for the life of me find it anywhere. It just totally vanished into thin air, into a parallel universe, with its entrance portal on the far side of the moon. And then it reappeared, on top of the plastic sugar jar.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Recent taxis with adverts photos

Yes, I’ve been continuing to photo taxis with adverts. Here are half a dozen of the most recent such snaps.

First up, further proof, if you need it, that the internet has not abolished television. People still like to be passively entertained, surprise surprise. But the internet is in the process of swallowing television, so that they end up being the same thing:

Next, become an accountant! Note how they include the word “taxi” in the advertised website, presumably to see whether advertising on taxis is worth it. Note to LSBF: I have no plans to become an accountant.

Note also the Big Things picture of London, something I always like to show pictures of here, and note also how out of date this picture is. No Cheesegrater, for a start:

Next up, a taxi advertising a book. I do not remember seeing this before, although I’m sure it has happened before:

Next, Discover America. I thought it already had been:

Visit a beach. I didn’t crop this photo at all, because I like how I tracked the taxi and its advert, and got the background all blurry, and I want you to see all that blurriness. Nice contrast between that and the bright colours of the advert. A little bit of summer in the grey old February of London:

Finally, a snap I took last night, in the Earls Court area. And now we’re back in the exciting world of accountancy, this time in the form of its Beautiful accounting software:

As you can see, it was pitch dark by the time I took this. But give my Lumix FZ200 even a sliver of artificial light and something solid to focus on, and it does okay, I think. A decade ago, that photo would have been an unusable mess.

I am finding that taxi advertising changes very fast these days. All of the above photos, apart from the one with the beaches, was of an advert I had not noticed before.

Which means that in future years, these taxi photos will have period value, because the adverts will have changed over and over again with the passing of only a handful of years.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Rooftops

As regulars here will know, I am constantly fascinated by what goes on at the top of London’s buildings. I love the Big Tops that are built to impress, like the Shard, the Strata, the Gherkin. I love all the decorative stuff done in earlier centuries. I love chimney pots, which used to come in all shapes and sizes. And I love all the anarchic clutter that electronic communication of various sorts has placed at the top of otherwise utterly bland and forgettable blocks.

So here are some recent snaps, celebrating all that:

Those are shown in chronological order of me taking them.

1.1, 1.2 and 3.2 are are all quite near to me, taken in the vicinity of Warwick Way.

1.3 is the kind of thing you see when a big building site gets into gear, and then of course stop seeing when the work is done.

2.1 was taken in Lower Marsh, I think.

2.2 is Strata, also taken in Lower Marsh ish, peeping over a roof with a decorative knob on it.

2.3 is a bit indistinct, being roof clutter reflected off a big glass fronted building, but the clutter is there if you look.

3.1 is a bit of a cheat, because it is the umbrella that makes the picture, not the decorative roof (Parliament) behind it. But again, the roof is there.

3.2 includes the top of the big tower on the other side of the river from me, i.e. on the south side.
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3.3 is a big lump in Park Lane, as viewed from just inside Hyde Park, near Hyde Park Corner. I went with a friend to Hyde Park yesterday, hoping to view a statue of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, emerging from the Serpentine. No luck. Gone. Or maybe just not where we looked.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

It really is about bloody time Jonathan Davies learned how to pronounce Jauzion

Yes I’m watching the rugby again (France v Italy), and okay, you can forgive Jonathan Davies for not knowing everyone in the French team. Nobody does, because it’s now a different French team every time.

But Yannick Jauzion has played enough, and been mispronounced often enough by Davies, that by now you’d have thought he’d have gone away and learned how to say him right. You would have thought, indeed, that somebody at the BBC would have bloody well told him to do this.

Jauzion is not some incidental selection. He’s a great player. He scored a try against New Zealand when France knocked them out of the recent World Cup, and the commentators were talking him up before this France Italy game as a key player, for heavens’ sakes. Davies himself was saying what a key figure he might be.

Commentators are always going on about the errors of the players, but for a commentator not to be able properly to say the name of one of the universally acknowledged star players of France really is contemptible. Players have a fraction of a second to avoid error. Davies has had days to avoid this particular error. Years, in fact. And it’s not like it’s a hard name to say.

This France Italy game is a whole lot of fun to watch, though, unlike the stalemates of yesterday, and I promise you I’m not just saying that because England lost. It’s France, running it from everywhere, who are responsible for this.

“Jow-zion” from Edwards, again. Dear oh dear.

LATER: “Jow-zon.” He can’t even make up his mind how to mispronounce it.

LATER: Guess what. “Jow-zion” (we’re back to that again) has scored a try! The other commentator, some Scottish bloke chosen for his commentating ability as well as his mere rugby expertise, was saying it right, of course. And then Davies said it wrong, again, and the other guy corrected Davies, and then – miracle of miracles – Davies said it right! It won’t last though.

LATER: Told you. After the game, won by France 25-13. “Yah-zon”. Bloody hell.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog