Open House - Part 2

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Open House - Part 2

Another of the sites made accessible during London Open House over recent years was the famous Battersea Power Station.  Located in SW London on the Thames, its iconic chimneys make it one of the most recognizable sites in town looming across the river from Pimlico and Chelsea.  Despite not having produced electricity since 1983 the station has become a bit of a pop-culture icon as the incredible art-deco interior and overall structure  sat idle and decayed for many years, while appearing in art of all kinds from album covers to t-shirts and posters sold to tourists.    

Since closure a number of developers have looked at refurbishing the site and the building and re-purposing it into something new, while retaining as much of the old structure as would be possible.  The government in particular demanded that the chimneys be preserved as part of any conversion; this demand and other restrictions made redevelopment a not so easy task and one that was to fail several times.  After years of starts and stops a Malaysian group finally took control of the site and began redevelopment for mixed office and residential use with completion scheduled over the next several years.  

As a result, the City decided to open the building to the public one last time before it was closed indefinitely for reconstruction.  Open only a few days during the London Open House weekend, lines stretched out of the site and into neighboring areas and I actually didn't even make it it the first day despite spending several hours waiting only to be told there was no point in doing so!  Coming back bright and early the next day we were able to see a fair bit of the old plant including at least some of the art-deco bits and the now very decayed shell, making for excellent shooting conditions.    

It was a truly unique experience and I was thrilled to be able to investigate the complex before it goes on to provide further service in its second life.  

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Open House - Part 1

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Open House - Part 1

Finally getting around to processing age-old shots...and finding some stuff I really like.  This set comes from the London Open House an annual Sept event, where the public is invited to run around and explore all manner of buildings off limits to the public on most days.  Some quite famous and some lesser known locations included.    

This is London City Hall, a particularly impressive building that sits down on the river next to Tower Bridge.  A controversial design when it was completed in 2002 it like most London buildings it has a variety of nicknames that range from "Darth Vader's Helmet" to many less appropriate for polite conversation.

The open house allowed us into the middle of the building where one can appreciate the fantastic spiral staircase that slowly leads the visitor back down to river level.    


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Bends and Straightaways

One thing that becomes perfectly clear in driving around the South Island of New Zealand is how amazing many of the road journeys tend to be.  Not to say there aren't a few stretches of monotony, but seriously NZ appears to have perhaps the best vista per/km (VpKm) ratio of nearly any place I've ever been (Greenland would be close if it had many (any!) roads!).  

The problem of course with any place with such a high VpKm is that you have to stop constantly to enjoy and shoot all of this great scenery, which naturally means one doesn't make great progress during one's trip, complicating itineraries, and forcing lots of night driving to catch up.  

These two shots were taken during one of my frequent driving breaks both slightly north of Queenstown and I think well illustrate the point!  Would you be able to drive on through these areas without pulling over?  So, you've been warned...if you go tour NZ plan on doubling the amount of time actually needed to get from A to B and of course enjoy the ride...   

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Transit Views

During my visit to New Zealand I had to make only one truly difficult choice, that being whether to venture out to the infamous Milford Sound down in the SW corner of the South Island and if so how to do so.  Based in Queenstown for this part of the trip, getting to Milford isn't particularly straightforward.  One can climb aboard a tour bus and drive for 7-8 hrs, one can pay a fair bit of money to fly direct in a helicopter (which is amusing as Milford is actually right across a nearby mountain range and so very close by air (much farther by indirect roads), or one can use one's rental car and drive there hoping to improve on the ponderous pace of the bus, while not getting too many speeding tickets!  

Already having the car and being American and thus somehow inherently pro-vehicle I naturally chose option 3, which turned out opportune.  While it did ultimately take me the entire day to get to Milford Sound and back, and while I did in fact get pulled over for speeding at one point, what the car also offered was the chance to stop at my leisure to shoot the road to Milford, a road that may be the most stunning in the country.  The vistas are just incredible, with the below shots giving some taste of this.  Whether it be the beautiful mountains opening up on broad plains or checking out the famous mirror lakes, my suggestion is if you find yourself with this conundrum in Queenstown...choose option 3! 

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Hydro Powered

One day on my travels through the South Island of New Zealand I opened the guidebook and found out that there was a hostel of sorts available to stay in in what can only be considered a "unique" location.  That location turned out to be the former workers camp of the Waitaki Hydroelectricity Scheme begun in the 60s and 70s.  The camp, and in fact the town itself, called Twizel, were built from nothing in order to provide a convenient base of operations for the workers building 50km of canals, two dams, and several large power stations over several years.  All was temporary in the town of Twizel, as it was fully expected to be dismantled and returned to farmland once the project was finished.  Everything from buildings to roads to power and telephone lines were all built so as to be as easy as possible to dismantle and remove once the time came.  As it turned out the town's residents rather liked the location and became a bit more permanent than expected, successfully fought to stop the dismantlement, and the town was spared its ignominious fate. 

Once I heard that I could not only stay in this beautiful area, but also in some kind of shock worker project camp, I had to do it.  The camp itself is very much frozen in 1977 or so, and you stay in these crazy old-fashioned rooms with communal showers and toilets and lots of use of browns and oranges so popular in those days.  As crazy as it might sound I actually rather enjoyed the experience, and ended up having nearly an entire wing to myself for the evening.  

Driving around the area the next day I began to visit some of the power infrastructure installations, and the many miles of Caribbean blue waters that had been routed through the turbines and generators.  The scale of the project is quite impressive and the moody clouds, occasional snow showers, and fantastic mountain backdrops generated numerous shooting opportunities, some of which you can see below.          

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