Sunday, August 31, 2014

Towers of the winds

click photo to enlarge
Many years ago I visited Athens to look at the architecture of Classical (and later) Greece. One of the many buildings that I viewed was the Tower of the Winds, a 12 metre tall octagonal structure in the Roman agora, that was built in the period between 50BC and 200BC. It features the eight deities associated with wind and has a sundial on each of its faces. It was, essentially, a clock tower.

The other day I was standing in a public space at Canary Wharf in London where there are several clocks indicating time at different locations. We were debating where to sit to eat the lunch that we were carrying. That question was important because, though the sun was shining and the temperature was generally quite pleasant, it was windy and we knew that sitting in the wind would soon result in us feeling cold and uncomfortable. However, it was difficult to find such a place because the tall towers that dominate the location cause the wind to swirl in many directions. We eventually settled on a bench in a well planted area by some water features.

As I ate my sandwich I recalled an article I read recently about a tall tower in Leeds that caused the wind to increase in speed at its base to the point where it often knocked people off their feet, and caused a death when a lorry blew onto a pedestrian. The piece described how structures were being erected at ground level as baffles to reduce the wind velocity. It occurred to me that Canary Wharf's towers were "towers of the wind" too: the gusts definitely seemed to be stronger among them that in the open space by the river. But, the people who work there seemed to know the best places to sit at lunchtime and enjoy food and a break, so I took the opportunity to photograph the be-suited people enjoying their moments of mid-day leisure.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 140mm (210mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On