Keeping up appearances with scaffolding and pictures

I don’t know exactly where this was, only approximately. It was somewhere in the vicinity of Leicester and Trafalgar Squares, these being the places where I photoed the photo just before this one and just after this one:

But I do know for sure when I photoed this photo: April 30th 2015. And I know for sure that I like it. I hope you do also.

It’s that we see both the picture they have created, because of it being mostly front lit, and the means by which the painting is suspended, because of it being partly back lit, that I particularly like.

LATER: I also greatly like this, which was photoed about an hour later:

That was then playing at the Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue. It was a musical, apparently. Blog and learn.

Urban picturesque

Indeed:

Photoed by me in September 2013.

I have labelled this photo “NearlyEverything” because for me, it has nearly everything. Scaffolding, roof clutter ancient and modern, a crane, Magic Hour light, the lot. Well, not the lot, there are things I like that are not present in this photo. But a lot of the lot.

There is even present a favourite item of London public sculpture, in the form of the statue of Mercury that adorns a building on the north bank of the River called Telephone House. If you follow that link, you’ll learn nothing about this sculpture being there. But it is.

Googling for “mercury statue” is greatly confused by the fact that a statue of pop singer Freddie Mercury has recently been on display outside the Dominion Theatre, across the road from Centre Point.

When you don’t know it’s temporary

It’s all very well to say, as I often do, that it makes more sense to photo temporary stuff than stuff that will be around for ever. Sometimes, you do know that something will be temporary, like scaffolding. But often, you don’t know that something will disappear until suddenly, poof, it disappears.

Take those yellow river buses, named after various Shakespearian ladies, that once upon a time used to go up and down the River, for instance. Here is one I found in my photo-archives, photoed on a dim and dreary afternoon in February 2003, arriving at its one-and-only London landing spot, just next to the MI6 Building:

Who knew beforehand that this would stop happening, on account of London’s new super-sewer demanding this landing spot for its own purposes?

Says a rather plaintive London Duck Tours:

Please note that we are no longer able to operate our usual range of tours due to Thames Water’s compulsory purchase of our slipway to build the next phase of the Thames Tunnel super sewer.

For the present time, we will offer a selection of entertaining and informative LAND-based (road-only) tours. Please note that these tours do not have a river splashdown and we do not offer individual tickets.

Happily, long before this particular Duck Tours disaster struck, I photoed the above photos, simply because I enjoyed what I was seeing. Fond thanks to my old Canon A70, despite it having had only x3 zoom.

Are these yellow Duck Tours river buses still operating? I don’t recall seeing any of them even on dry land recently. But, what I don’t recall is a very large category nowadays.

An historic weather forecast

I have no idea what it was like storming a Normandy beach, on June 6th 1944. I also don’t really know how they do weather forecasting, but in recent years, because of being an amateur photoer, I have acquired a profound respect for those who do know, and who do this for a living.

So, my D-Day blog posting does not feature warriors. I instead focus on this man:

That’s Group Captain James Stagg, Allied Supreme Commander Eisenhower’s D-Day weather man. Stagg it was who advised Ike that the landings should be postponed by twenty four hours, to avoid filthy weather on June 5th 1944 and to take advantage of what Stagg believed would be an interlude of surprisingly good weather on June 6th 1944. Stagg’s advice was taken. To say that “the rest is history” would be to suggest that Stagg’s superbly accurate forecast was not itself history. It very much was.

Such is the internet and such are modern times that if you now do an internet search for “James Stagg”, you get more pictures of the actor and writer David Haig than you do of Stagg himself. This is because Haig recently wrote a play, called Pressure, about the above-described historic episode, and then himself played the part of Stagg in his own play.

James Stagg, and WW2 weather forecasting in general, deserved and deserve to be made much of, so I don’t blame either Google or David Haig for the odd result of this particular internet search. In particular, on the image front, it seems very likely that quite a few more photos were taken of Haig playing Stagg than were ever taken of Stagg himself.

Cricket at Beckenham

Today I journeyed out to Beckenham, to watch the afternoon and evening sessions of Day 3 of Kent v Surrey.

Warning: do not follow the above link if you are allergic to pretentious writing. When Daniel Norcross writes about cricket he takes pretentiousness to a whole new level. What he is trying to say is that, even by the standards of the average day of county cricket, this day of county cricket was rather boring. But does he say that? Does he Samuel bloody Beckett.

This is how the County Ground was looking:

I photoed many more photos than that. I chose the above photos to give you an idea of how it all looked, in a general, scenic sort of way. That’s how it would look to a non-cricket fan. A cricket fan like me would zero in on the actual cricket, as I did in a lot of my other photos. But unless a camera is told to zoom in on that cricket, it simply gobbles up everything it is pointed at.

Taxis with adverts in the dark

For reasons too complicated and undignified to elaborate upon, I have been sitting at home, waiting for one sofa to be taken away and for another sofa to be delivered, preferably in that order. This has caused me to be stuck indoors throughout most of the daylight hours of the last week or so, which is why I have posted only photos from the archives, rather than any photos taken more recently.

But, I have been able to get out after sofa-moving hours, which I take to end by about 6pm at the latest. And during the hours of darkness I have reminded myself that whereas most things do not photo well in the dark, taxis with adverts on them look quite good. Not as good as they do in bright sunshine, but still quite good.

Here is a clutch of taxis with adverts in the dark, taken during the last twelve months, but mostly more like during the last two or three months:

The seventh (3.1) of these twelve advertises Huawei, who have been in the news lately, for being a front for Chinese state skulduggery. Other than that one, these are just regular adverts, on taxis. I particularly like the one for The Phantom of the Opera.

But they keep changing, and I’m thinking that my next taxi advert posting might come from me going back to when I first started noticing taxi adverts, and photoing them.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Old and cross

Photoed by me, on the same day that I most recently photoed Bartok:

As I get older, I find myself, every so often, getting crosser. Not all the time, you understand, just in occasional eruptions.

But I am not cross about this photo. That is exactly how it came out of the camera. No cropping or Photoshop(clone)ing. Just as was. I love that light, as I have been saying here for about a week now.

I love that effect when the light is very strong and almost exactly in line with the wall but not quite, at a just sufficient angle to light it up, and at the slightest excuse cover it in big shadows. If it didn’t say: “City of Westminster”, you’d think you could be in the South of France or some such sunlit place.

More about the Compton Cross.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The performing horses of Warwick Castle (2): After the show

Remember those performing horses of Warwick Castle, galloping up and down on a thin rectangular arena, telling the story of the Wars of the Roses. Course you do. I showed you a spread of photos of them, but wasn’t that impressed with how those photos came out.

Well, after the show, all of us friends and family of one of the performers went backstage, so to speak, to shake hands with the guys in their armour and to say hello also to the horses.

And the photos I took of the horses seemed to me rather better:

It helped that the horses were standing still. It also helped that the background was much easier to choose and mostly looked quite different from the horses heads.

I also prefer the way horses look when they aren’t wearing complicated costumes. There’s nothing like quite like a horse, unclothed, in sunshine.

That hoods that a couple of the horses are wearing are not cruel. They’re to keep the flies off their eyes.

The actual war horses that fought the Wars of the Roses would have been a lot stockier and heavier than these horses. These ones are retired race horses. Which is okay, because they are actors.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The performing horses of Warwick Castle: Nice legs – shame about the faces

Over the summer, a friend of mine was performing in a show at Warwick Castle about the Wars of the Roses. And early last August a gang of her friends and family went there to see this, me among them. It was a great show, albeit wall-to-wall Tudor propaganda, and a great day out.

Warwick Castle is quite a place, being one of Britain’s busiest visitor attractions. It’s No 9 on this list.

I of course took a ton of photos, and in particular I photoed the horses in this show, the crucial supporting actors, you might say. The stage was out of doors, of course, and long and thin, the audience on each side being invited to support each side in the wars. Long and thin meant that the horses had room to do lots of galloping.

None of the photos I took were ideal, but quite a few were okay, if okay means you get an idea of what this show was like:

The basic problem, I now realise, is that the horse heads were at the same level as the audience on the opposite side to my side. As Bruce the Real Photographer is fond of saying, when photoing people, you start by getting the background right. And I guess he’d say the same of horses. Well, this time, for these horses, I’m afraid I didn’t.

So it was a case of nice legs, shame about the faces. (That link is to a pop song from my youth, the chorus of which glued itself to my brain for ever. I particularly like the bit where they sing: “Shame about the boat race”.)

I recommend the show’s own Real Photographer, for better photos, potted biogs of the leading historic characters, and a little bit about the enterprise that did this show.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Pavlova in front of “Portland House”

Yesterday I was in Victoria Station, and as I emerged from it into … that mess of activity outside the front entrance, I noticed that the light seemed particularly appealing. At first what got my attention was the combined effect of the mess in the foreground, in the dark, and the assorted Medium Sized Things in the background, totally mismatched and just jambed down together in the London style, all illuminated. (See photos 1.1 and 1.2 below.)

But then, I found myself zeroing in, yet again, on Pavlova. What got me noticing her was that, finally, I seemed to have found the right moment to photo her with that big concrete lump that calls itself “Portland House” behind her. I have done this a lot, but it has never worked until now. This time, there was a shadow behind Pavlova, while Pavlova herself, and the dwarfed-by-modernity theatre on the top of which Pavlova dances, were both picked out by the light, a combination of circumstances I have never before encountered, or if I did I didn’t notice.

I took many photos of this effect. Partly because I can’t decide which one I like best, and partly because I think these photos look good when small, here are 3×3=9 of them:

Maybe the Wikipedia entry for Portland House does say who originally designed this unlovely edifice, but if it does, I couldn’t find that. Wikipedia does note, however, that Portland House is a miniature rip-off of the Pan Am Building in New York, now called something else.

Further googling got me to a piece by Mike Higginbottom entitled Pan-Am’s London sibling. He rather likes it. Plus, he name checks the now pretty much forgotten architect of said sibling: Howard Fairbairn & Partners. Modern Movement hulks by big name modernists sometimes have a certain in-your-face impact and memorability about them. But this hulk has always seemed to me to epitomise Modern Movementism at its dreariest. It’s not even “brutal”, just big, bland and boring. I greatly prefer Nova, the red diagonalised Medium Sized Thing nearby, which is also to be seen in photos 1.1 and 1.2 above.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog