I’m back from my photo-walk and it was every bit as physically knackering as I feared. But, what with me having done more than one posting here each day for the last few weeks now, here is another quota photo.
Despite the effort, it was a fine expedition nevertheless. My better photo-walks often begin with fun photos as soon as I step out the door, and today’s was like that:
That scaffolding has been there for ages, what with The Plague. There being at the mini-roundabout where Great Peter Street meets the top end of Horseferry Road and the southern end of Strutton ground. They’re doing something to the fire station there. But what? I’m waiting to see.
In the summer of 2012, I was on the far side of Tower Bridge, about to cross it and walk back home along the South Bank, and my photo-archive tells me exactly what I was seeing, and thinking about it.
I started noticing how the sun was catching the pigeon scaring spikes:
And then came the kill shot, the artistic climax, the one where it was all effect and no context. Don’t bother clicking on any of the other photos in this posting if you’re not inclined, but at least feast your eyes for a few seconds on this:
It’s not regular sculpture, but it is sculpture, I think. I also photoed the nearby girl and dolphin, which is regular sculpture. I prefer the anti-pigeon spikes.
Because I knew that this could actually use a bit of context, here are three more of the photos I photoed, after that best in show shot above:
I also photoed a couple of pigeons, that had apparently not been scared, but you all know what pigeons look like. It’s those spikes that were so photoable.
These spikes are now a feature of London life. They’ve put spikes on top of my block of flats.
Natalie Solent mentioned this strange phenomenon in a Samizdata piece entitled Solving the problem of dogs stuck to the ceiling. Natalie quoted a commenter saying, ironically of course, that this is a serious problem which We Should All Seriously Think About, and herself commented on that comment thus:
Although the writer did not try to make any political capital from this issue, it did lead me to wonder what other problems in modern society are conceptually similar to the plight of these dogs.
Natalie’s point being that some problems are only problems because you are looking at them the wrong way. In this case, the wrong way up. It’s quite a profound piece. She says that the “gig economy” is such a problem, and I agree. There are definitely problems associated with the gig economy, like people not paying for work by the date they promised they would. But just making the gig economy illegal would make everything far worse for the gigsters. There already is a law saying payments have to arrive when promised, but it is no use to the gigsters at the lower end of the gig economy. They’d rather do work that they do eventually get paid for, probably, and in the meantime not antagonise such a customer. Their solution is to get more and better customers, not to sue. One of my best friends (the one who photoed this bird, and also the ducklings in the previous posting just below this one) is a gigster. As was I a few years back.
Like I say. Quite profound stuff.
But I only paid Natalie’s piece proper attention after David Thompson had linked to it, while mentioning that he got it via Samizdata. In his Friday ephemera, he likes weirdnesses of all kinds, and likes libertarian messages also to be smuggled in in among the weirdness. So, this was all perfect for him.
The same friend who photoed this bird, photoed these little birds, in Clissold Park, two days ago, again with an iPhone:
One duckling in particular, really.
Guns didn’t cause birds to become more friendly, because the ones who did get friendly also tended to get shot. But birds survive being photoed, and are evolving rapidly into creatures that are no longer scared of us. Photoing birds may steal their souls, but they don’t care about that. They care about their next meal, and humans often supply this. Even humans with cameras, sometimes.
In January 2018, I see that I did a blog posting, in which I expressed interest in this camera, the Nikon Coolpix B700, including that link in that earlier posting. Late last year, I bought one of these cameras. This was partly for its x60 optical zoom, but also because the camera is red, and a red camera that looks like it should be black is, I think, cool. Also, it is easy to tell at a glance which of the two cameras I now use is which. It helped that it was going cheap, on Amazon, as I recall.
It proved ever so slightly disappointing, impressive though the zoom proved to be, sometimes. Here are three photos I photoed with it soon after getting it, that show just how powerful that zoom is:
These photos were taken last November, from the top of the steps outside Tate Ancient.
On the left, note the dark building made of three bits, of varying heights, looking a bit like a rude gesture made with the middle finger. In the middle photo, we observe the top of the middle and tallest bit of this building. And on the right, with the zoom going full blast, we see the cleaning crane at the top of the tower.
Technically, I was impressed. But, did I really need to be taking long distance photos of things which I could surely photo just as well by just getting a bit nearer. After all, much of the point of my photoing is to get me out of my home and taking some exercise. x25 would mean rather more exercise, so, the new x60 camera was that most unwelcome of phenomena, the solution to circumstances that were not a problem.
Until a few days ago, when I went out with my x25 black camera and my x60 red camera, and I photoed this photo, with the latter:
That was taken of John Everett Millais, at maximum x60 zoom, from quite a lont way away.
With the result that I was not photoing the underneath of his chin, but photoing him something more like from his level. I was still below him, but the angle I was coming up at him was much smaller. Basically, I wasn’t photoing his adam’s apple.
Compare that with this, which, with apologies for the repetition, I had earlier photoed (and earlier shown here) of JEM with the x24 black camera:
I actually think that the black x25 photo is pretty good also, but given the choice for photoing the faces of statues, I now prefer the notion of using the red x60 camera, or at the very least having that option. There could be statues when its better angle will make quite a difference.
I like human faces, but there are problems with just photoing interesting faces and then shoving them up on a blog. Privacy, etc. I respect that.
I could show lots of photos of my own face, but I fear looking like a narcissist. (I also fear that one of the symptoms of narcissism is the fear of being thought a narcissist, but I’ll set that aside.) But there are no issues with photoing statues, and you can go in as close as you like on their faces. Also, most statues are of very interesting people. So, I like to photo them.
And now, I have photoing equipment that is that little bit better for doing that.
Here we go. Colourful Modernism is on the up-and-up:
Design education “brainwashes” students into rejecting colour, pattern and ornament, according to Adam Nathaniel Furman, who said a group of London designers is finally overcoming bias against their use.
Furman named the movement “New London Fabulous” and described it as “design and architecture as a visual and cultural pursuit, which is highly aesthetic, sensual and celebratory of mixed cultures”.
The thing you have to understand about “architecture” (as opposed to just shoving up machines for living and/or working in) is that famous architects do most of it, and you have to work long and hard to become one of these people. What designers and architects aged around 35-40 are fantasising is not what gets done, except on a very small scale.
Architecture is not like Art. Art, you can actually do, now, whoever you are. You don’t need a room full of old people to all agree to spend a huge amount of money on it. (It helps that in addition to costing nothing, Art doesn’t have to “work”, as in: not collapse and not leak, and so forth.) But “architecture” needs just this sort of tedious functionality. So, you need to have spent a life-time impressing the clusters of old people who matter, persuading them that you are a safe enough pair of hands as well as a genius, blah blah. Your contemporaries with proper jobs, basically. So, you spend your life doing architectural propaganda and publicity. You do manifestos, books, essays, and little design jobs that attract disproportionate attention, given their often humiliating size (i.e. lack of it). Like Adam Nathaniel Furman is doing. Then, when you’re about sixty, the old men may pick you from the ranks of all the propagandists and visionaries, and let you build a bank headquarters building or an apartment tower or a museum, and that’s your chance. If that stays up, doesn’t leak, and attracts tourists and sells in miniature form in tourist shops and on postcards – if it is declared to be “iconic”, you then have the rest of your life to go on doing “architecture”. You become, as we now say, a Starchitect. Main rule to follow then: stay alive as long as you can.
Notice how Furman is both turning his back on “Modernism” and yet not doing this. His stuff, if and when he ever builds much of it, will still look “modern”. It is merely that he is utterly rejecting one of the founding principles of Modernism. He embraces colour, and also “pattern and ornament”. As he points out, “Modernism” as originally proclaimed, was often quite colourful. But the colours were just painted on. Colour was not stuck on, in an obviously colourful way. “Applied ornament” was an object of hatred and contempt for the original Modernists, and in practise, as we know, they and their followers mostly shunned bright colours also. Furman intends to apply ornament with colourful abandon.
But, not the old sort of ornament that the Victorians liked to do, and against whom the original Modernists reacted with such disgust. Furman is proposing enough of a change to enable architecture fans like me to see something big happening. What he is not saying, merely because Ancientists also like “pattern and ornament”, is that he actually wants to be an Ancientist himself. Perish the thought. He wants to “celebrate all cultures”, rather than just ours as it used to be.
Personally, I find Furman’s “fabulous” designs more than somewhat garish and over-the-top. But then, I almost always dislike strikingly new architecture, until I see it and get used to it. And whether I personally end up liking whatever Furman builds or not, in London it will fit right in. Why shouldn’t it? Everything else does.
A little clutch of photos of a decaying jetty, photoed just beyond Tilbury on the north side of the Estuary, in September 2013:
From this spot I could also see, in the far distance, the first few cranes of London Gateway. I made several trips to inspect these, around then:
There is nothing else as big as these cranes to be seen anywhere near them, and in their visual impact on their surroundings they remind me of nothing so much as one of those medieval cathedrals, in a town than never got much bigger. (Like Ely.)
According to Wikipedia, there are now twelve cranes up and running. There’ll eventually be twenty four.
One more such expedition to those parts probably wouldn’t kill me. Or then again it might. In London, everything is close together, and there are buses and trains everywhere. Not out there.
The previous posting being about photoing facial features in a way that’s clear, this posting is about how sometimes, what with the Plague we’re having, that can’t be done:
Those photos were photoed on March 31st, with MI6 and related edifices to be seen on the opposite side of the River there, across Vauxhall Bridge. A lot of their jobs just got harder.
So, this Lockdown thing has actually been going on for quite a while now, around two months. And it’s been time to unlock it for quite a while now. Trouble is, most people are so thoroughly scared now, if not of the Plague itself then of being thought indifferent to it. And, keeping Lockdown actually seems to feel good to many. It’s a chance to show one cares by just doing nothing. It won’t feel so good when, for those not already fretting about such things, all the bills come due.
Get back to work, world. And please world, keep the public spending splurges to the minimum. It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression.
Yesterday, I had another go, since I was passing that way, at photoing the Millais statue behind Tate Ancient, following an earlier effort last week (number 2 of these).
The light was the same as then, unhelpfully perfect. But this time I knew to try photoing the great man in close up, as well as from a distance with the whole statue visible. The distance ones were pretty much silhouettes, but one of the close-ups was quite good:
I tried to find a picture (for instance by googling Millais self portrait, or for that matter a photo, of Sir John, to put next to the photo above, to see how much they agreed. But nobody does regular pictures from the angle I photoed that statue photo from, so there didn’t seem any point.
I intend to go back there when the weather’s less good. The great thing about statues, from the photographic point of view, is that, like buildings, they don’t change from one day to the next and they stay where they are.