One of my meetings in Tokyo took place in the Akihabara district. The company had a cafeteria on one of the higher floors of the building which served food and beer after work and they invited us up there. Aside from having an enjoyable meal and fun company, we also got to enjoy the view of the city as the sun went down. Tokyo is a city that is lit up at night and it looks beautiful. I took along a camera because that’s what I do and grabbed a few shots of the view. It would be good to have set up a time lapse as the sun went down. If I ever get invited back, maybe I’ll try and get that done.
Looking out of the window of my hotel in Minato, there was a pond behind the building. It took a while to work out what it was but, on the weekend, it was easier to see. This is a fishing pond. It is in between all of the hotels and, even on a hot and steamy day, there were plenty of people fishing. I don’t know what the pond was stocked with and what the rules are once you catch something but I was more taken that this existed at all.
Vibrant cities are constantly changing. It is over ten years since I left London so it is no surprise that the skyline has changed a bit. The City is always prone to change. The architecture of the new buildings is always supposed to be distinctive and the buildings get names that reflect their appearance. I’m sure the Swiss Re building did not intend to be known as The Gherkin but it is. The tallest of the new buildings has embraced its shape. When first conceived it was known as the Shard of Glass. Now it is just The Shard.
I first saw The Shard a couple of years ago when taking a helicopter flight over the city. I blogged about that trip in this post. At that point I was looking at the building from an elevated position. On this trip we wanted to check it out from up close. Like any really tall structure (and it is currently the tallest in Europe) there is a market for people to go to the top and see the surrounding view. We met up with my brother to see what it was like.
We visited at the end of the afternoon. This meant the light to the east was very nice but the view towards Westminster was a little compromised by looking into the sun through the usual London haze. This wasn’t a problem but it did limit some photographic opportunities. Then again, the layers of glass are not great for avoiding reflections anyway.
A few years ago I was on the roof of the Sears Tower for sunrise and got to watch the shadow of the building move across the landscape. I wrote about that here. We were able to do something similar this time. The shadow of the Shard is a neat point which, while we were there was pointing straight at Tower Bridge. A nice effect!
London is a city that is built around railway lines. They weave through many parts of the city and London Bridge station is directly below The Shard. In the evening light, the tracks reflect the sun in a way that makes them very visually interesting. Only when the trains come along do you remember why they are there. From that height you can see several of the different rail routes into the city. Even though it was Sunday evening, there was still plenty of traffic moving along the tracks. Weekday mornings are very different of course.
A high vantage point gives such a different perspective on what would otherwise appear large. The various buildings in the City are all below you. Tower Bridge looks like a toy. The Tower is dwarfed by the buildings around it. Monument is easily missed in amongst the multitude of large structures that came after the calamity it recalls. The London Eye – previously one of the best spots to view the city from – is well below you.
If you look further afield, you can see the old Maritime School at Greenwich or the Olympic Stadium in one direction or Wembley in another. To the south you can see Crystal Palace and on to the North Downs. (Yes, they are south of London but at least they are north of the South Downs!). You can see small housing areas squeezed in between the commercial buildings. Even small parks and sports grounds show up. There was even a tall ship coming up the river under sail. I was curious as to whether it would come up to the Pool and have Tower Bridge raised or not be we didn’t have enough time to wait and find out.
It took a while for us to work out that there is a second level to the public area. We went up the stairs to the area that is open to the air. It was quite interesting that they had this spot without enclosure. Sadly, apparently people do try launching stuff out of the gap. Not sure what piece of brilliance they think this will achieve but there you go. Having the fresh air is a nice feature though.
Once we were done we headed off to dinner. I couldn’t resist getting a few extra shots as we went away. Once it was dark, I took a few more because it looks pretty dramatic in the dark. Overall, a cool addition to the city I think.
My niece spent some time with a friend of hers in San Francisco while she was staying with us. They went to Twin Peaks and Sara told me how cool the view was and that I should definitely go. I am an obedient guy so Nancy and I took a trip up there. Sara wasn’t wrong. Being at one of the highest points in the city does provide a great view and having a clear day made things even better. We weren’t alone enjoying this either. Indeed, it was quite fun seeing some of the footwear on women climbing up to the top of the hills!
You have a view around to the Golden Gate in one direction all the way to Candlestick Park and beyond in the other. The downtown is ahead of you and the line that Market Street cuts through the city is readily apparent. The whole outlook is made for panoramas and I have had to cut them down to make them fit on screen. Early morning and sunset seem like times when a return visit will be in order so don’t be surprised when this location shows up again in future posts.
I watched the Trump Tower being built a few years ago since it is directly across from where we were living. Aside from a visit when the spire was being completed, I hadn’t been in again since. I then was asked to carry out a shoot from the terrace on the 16th floor so ended up checking out the view. The 16th floor is a long way from the top of the building but its terrace has a great view of the river and surrounding area.
I was able to get a few local shots while waiting for the shoot to start and then once it was over. Having seen this terrace out of my window for years, it was nice to finally be there. I probably should have gone at some point but I finally made it just before leaving the city. One more thing checked off the list.
A meeting in the heart of San Francisco meant a bunch of our team were meeting downtown. A few of us got there a little head of the meeting and, with a couple of minutes available, I wanted to check out the City Hall building since it was only a couple of blocks away. As an old City, San Francisco has some classic architecture and this is no exception. For some reason, despite the numerous times I have been to the city, I have never been to City Hall before.
A group of school kids were playing some orchestral music in the main hall and plenty of family members were there. I wandered around taking a look. Since I didn’t have my normal cameras, the phone had to serve duty. Fortunately, that also allowed me to try another one of the 360 panoramas. I suspect I shall be carrying another camera with me when I am next in the area.
When you live in a city that has a bunch of recognizable landmarks, you start out by taking a lot of pictures of them. After a while, you figure that you have done all of that and move on. However, you have never done everything you could and so, every once in a while, it is worth trying again with something familiar in case you come up with something new.
So it has proved to be with Marina City. These two towers (also colloquially known as the corn cobs) are just a couple of blocks from where we live. When we first moved here I certainly shot them a lot. Recently, I was wandering back along the river and decided to pay them a quick visit. I was going for a couple of shots when I got there. One is to crop in close on the structures to turn them into something more abstract. The other was to get between them and shoot straight up to turn them into something different.
I had a wide angle zoom and a fish-eye with me, both of which can have advantages with these types of shots. The access to the buildings is very good so I had a lot of opportunity to mess around with variations on the theme. In the end, the ones you see here are some of those that I liked the most from the effort. I shall now ponder for a while whether there is something different I should try next time.
You might be a bit bored with me playing with time lapse video. If so, look away now! Here comes another one. We had guest visiting for the New Year and one of the things we took them to see was the scale model of the city. The Chicago Architecture Foundation has a shop on Michigan Avenue and the building in which the shop is located has a large atrium. In this atrium is a model of the city.
All of the buildings in the Loop and some of the surrounding areas have been accurately recreated using stereolithography. This is a technique using resin and lasers that builds solid objects one minute slice at a time creating a solid object of great complexity. If you are interested in the technique, head over to YouTube and search for the term and you will come across a number of videos showing it in action.
The model is set up in the atrium with custom lighting. Apparently, the lighting is designed to recreate the pattern of the sun from sunrise to sunset over a 15 minute period. I had been to the model a number of times and had shot details of it before. This time, I decided I wanted to get a time lapse of the light progressing across the model to see how it came out. Since I had the plan ready in advance, as soon as we got to the place, I set up the camera and then went back down to join the rest of the crew. There is enough in the model to keep people interested for 15-20 minutes so I wasn’t going to delay everyone. It did mean, however, that I had to carry a bunch of stuff around with me for the rest of our walk!
Enough of the back story. Here is the video that resulted. To be honest, I don’t think the lighting effects are as obvious as I had hoped that they would be. However, you do get to see some of the movement of the light.
Aside from the visit to the zoo in Indy, we also too the opportunity to look around some of the city center. We were staying close to the canal and the capitol in the downtown area so were able to take a wander around without having to drive anywhere.
The canal seems to be a popular area with a bunch of development having gone on around it. I imagine it has been developed in stages since some of the areas seemed very new while others had obviously been around a bit longer.
There were some nice fountains, cafes, residential developments and bridges along the canal. It was nicely laid out and seemed to be popular with people riding bikes and running along the banks. Obviously not just tourists like us taking a look.
There are a couple of monuments along the canal. One is for medal of honor recipients and another is for the battleship USS Indianapolis which was lost with a heavy loss of life towards the end of the Second World War. Both where simply done but very interesting.
We also wandered over to the Capitol and the surrounding area. One part of it is something that I have seen many times whenever the Colts have a home game and the TV crews show surrounding city shots between plays. Interesting to finally see something for real that has been on TV so many times before.