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…


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.

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…