Tower Traffic

Tower Bridge London

I love Tower Bridge. Since visiting as a child, I’ve always been attracted to the combination of the Victorian engineering and Gothic style. At night, it becomes quite magical, although it’s such an icon, it’s hard to find something original to photograph. I decided to try to get a sense of the amazing lines of the bridge, and wondered if capturing the lights of the traffic might add something to it. A passing London bus added a few more interesting red lights…

Under Westminster Bridge

Thames-Westminster-London

It’s always important to keep an open mind and learn from other photographers. While in London, I took a walk along the South Bank and noticed another photographer crouched in the passageway under Westminster Bridge. He had found the perfect angle for the situation and I took over his spot after he left. The low winter sun bouncing off the warm stone gave a lovely glow and the view of the Palace of Westminster through the archway was very nice. I didn’t have my tripod, so this was a handheld shot at 100 ISO and f6.7, with a shutter speed of 1/90. Usually that is too slow, but I braced myself on the wall behind and tried to hold my breath as I took the shot. To my surprise, it turned out reasonably well. I tried to bring out the warm tones a little in LR and overall, I really like the end result.

Misty Morning

Westminster-Morning

The Thames is at its best on a misty December morning. This section of the river has always attracted me for some reason. I don’t know what it is about it, but perhaps it’s something to do with the contrast between the vibrancy of the South bank and the pomp of the North.
Anyway, I was lucky enough to have some free time on a business trip to London so I took the Tube to Piccadilly and walked through Soho and down through Trafalgar Square looking for inspiration. Although it was after 10, I noticed that there was still quite a lot of mist around so I headed down towards the Thames and found a good spot on the Golden Jubilee Bridge on the Westminster side of Hungerford Bridge. There was still quite a lot of cloud around but the sun was starting to break through. I quickly got a few shots before the light changed. This one was taken on Aperture Priority at f11 and 100 ISO to try to keep the noise down, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/500. The light and mist seemed to evoke memories of Victorian London, and so I tried to bring out those slightly sepia tones in Lightroom.

Gotham Grand Front

Osaka Grand Front Umeda Night

Between the big buildings
I sat like a flea crouched
In the stopped works of a watch

– W.S.Graham

For some time now, I’ve been following Jimmy McIntyre and his particular style of cityscapes is quite inspiring.

http://www.throughstrangelenses.com

I wanted to try out some of his techniques and I thought that perhaps the skyscrapers in the Umeda area of Osaka might be a place to try. There’s something about Osaka that is strongly reminiscent of Bladerunner, Gotham or other dystopian visions. It’s ironic really, as it’s quite a nice place, if a little impersonal. Anyway, after looking at various angles, I came to a crossing beside the Grand Front South Tower and it seemed to have the atmosphere that I was looking for. It’s sad that with all this amazing architecture in the area, few people seem to look up; a few people even seemed to be confused about why I would want to photograph it…
I set the aperture to f16 to give me a wide depth of field and put the camera on a lightweight tripod to allow me to set the camera at 100 ISO to keep the levels of noise down. That gave me a shutter speed of 10 seconds, and although at meant that the people at the bottom of the shot blurred out a bit, I don’t think it detracts too much from the shot. The building has a very futuristic look to it, so I tried to bring out some of the blue/grey tones in Lightroom while keeping a little more warmth towards the bottom of the frame. Overall, I’m reasonably happy with the result, but it’s just a first attempt at this kind of thing and I think there is plenty of room for improvement.

Gion Corner

Gion Night Kyoto Japan

This is one more shot from the same evening visit to Gion. Most of the buildings in that area are very dark in color so this red restaurant stood out. It is unfortunately on a very busy street, and on this Sunday evening, there were a lot of tourists and locals in the area. I set up the tripod and set the sensitivity to 100 ISO with an aperture of f11 to ensure a good depth of field, which meant a shutter speed of 20 seconds. I waited until there were fewer people and cars and then tried to get the shot. It took several attempts, but I finally got a reasonably clear shot and the few people who did walk past simply turned into ghosts and disappeared…

Evening in Gion

night in shirakawa gion kyoto japan

I have wanted to take night shots in Kyoto for some time, but only having a heavy Canon 50D and a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod meant carrying a lot of gear a long way. In the summer, after much research I finally made the transition to mirrorless and in particular to a Sony a6000, paired with a Manfrotto Compact Light (MKCOMPACTLT) tripod that only weighs 810g. Since making the change, night shots have been a much more practical proposition as the camera and tripod together weigh less than 1.2kg, which is less than the 50D with a standard lens. This shot was taken on one of my first trips to Kyoto with the new pairing and I was very happy with the result. It’s hard to beat mirrorless for portability, and the best camera is always the one you have with you…