Home > Assignment > Capturing the Capital

Capturing the Capital

by Coole Photography on June 10, 2014 Leave a comment

As promised in my last blog, I am continuing to shoot some of the UK’s best known locations, and what place is more famous or draws in more tourists than our capital – London. As a northerner I am aware there is a certain marmite situation surrounding London, some people love it and some people can’t stand it. There has always been a daft North South divide in the UK but it mainly exists for fun (in my eyes anyway), that and being able to mock friends both sides of this imaginary border! I adore London though, always have and always will. There is a real buzz around this huge city and if the sun dares to show its face, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

Harping back to life as a working travel photographer, you really do need to extensively cover major locations. This means multiple visits and multiple shoots in the same places. As you’re all probably aware, I am a total perfectionist and so perhaps I revisit more than most, however in this hugely competitive market, I like to think that quality will always stand out. Another reason for my return was to play with my new toy – the LITTLE stopper.

My trip began with a sight I hadn’t seen for quite some time, a blue sky! The sunnier the day the busier the streets and so I decided to try and capture some of the crowds around Trafalgar Square. Entertainment was provided by the groups of street performers and everyone seemed to be enjoying the sun, making shooting this very touristic spot easier than usual! As I mentioned at the start I always try and cover as many angles as possible, as you never know if the client wants landscape or portrait, wide or zoomed!

Tourists around The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square within the Westminster borough of London.Tourists around The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square within the Westminster borough of London.Tourists around The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square within the Westminster borough of London.
Tourists around The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square within the Westminster borough of London.Tourists around The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square within the Westminster borough of London.Tourists around The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square within the Westminster borough of London.

From there I thought I really should make the most of the weather and headed over to More Place, where City Hall, Tower Bridge and a wealth of other landmarks were standing pretty against the unusual blue sky. Here might be a good place to give a little explanation of how a working travel photographer works; time is money basically and the more you can capture in any day the better, and because of this I really do work every minute when on trips, I only had 3 days in London and I was determined to come away with a good collection covering as many tourist hot spots as possible.

The iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic City Hall building, the home of the Greater London Authority, located in the Southwark Borough of London.
View of London as seen from More London Place, located in the Southwark Borough of London.Modern architecture situated around More London Place, located in the Southwark Borough of London.Modern architecture and signs situated around More London Place, located in the Southwark Borough of London.

I had decided earlier in the day that my blue hour and sunset shooting would be around the Millennium Bridge with St Pauls in the background. I know I go on about planning but sometimes you just get lucky and this particular evening I did. Not knowing anything whatsoever about tidal schedules or the like, I walked over to my location to find the Thames incredibly low, low enough in fact to walk down on to the shore and shoot from water level, something I had not even thought of. So with my LITTLE stopper and grad filters at the ready I began the battle of under the bridge! The battle being that every time a large ship sailed past the waves it caused rushed around me, and at one point knocked over some other poor photographer’s tripod…

A view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge which crosses the River Thames, located in the City of London.A view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge which crosses the River Thames, located in the City of London.A view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge which crosses the River Thames, located in the City of London.
A view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge which crosses the River Thames, located in the City of London.A view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge which crosses the River Thames, located in the City of London.

With day one over it was time to catch the bus back and start planning for day two – a day which turned out to be a half day as the rain stole the first half from me entirely! The hostel where I was staying was right next to Borough Market and so once the torrential rains had died down I set off in search of both lunch and some foodie shots. I’ll only put a couple on here but I took a lot more, there was just so much to shoot and even more to eat – a thoroughly enjoyable experience all round.

Produce for sale at the famous Borough Market, a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, Central London.Produce for sale at the famous Borough Market, a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, Central London.Produce for sale at the famous Borough Market, a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, Central London.

After Borough Market I decided to head back to More Place to try and get some longer exposure shots of City Hall whilst the clouds were nice and dark. So once again I set myself up with all of my filters and began my shoot, really pleased with the colours that were being picked out of both the building and the clouds. I was to be treated yet again by a surprise, unbeknown to me a ship was due to go under the bridge and so up it went, something I have never seen before let alone shot, sadly I only managed the one shot (given the length of the exposures) but it came out great and I really do love it!

The iconic City Hall building, the home of the Greater London Authority, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic City Hall building, the home of the Greater London Authority, with Tower Bridge over the River Thames in the background, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic City Hall building, the home of the Greater London Authority, located in the Southwark Borough of London.
The iconic City Hall building, the home of the Greater London Authority, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic City Hall building, the home of the Greater London Authority, with Tower Bridge over the River Thames in the background, located in the Southwark Borough of London.

As the sun set I decided to try and fire off a few shots of the various stages of blue hour at Tower Bridge to finish off my day, and then it was time to get back and plan my final day of shooting.

The iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames, located in the Southwark Borough of London.The iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames, located in the Southwark Borough of London.

After yet another showery morning the weather gods decided to be kind and blue sky once again ruled the skies. I decided to spend most of my remaining time trying to capture the iconic red buses of London and wanted to show the hustle and bustle of the streets, for this I attached my now trusty LITTLE stopper and set to work. Considering how many buses there are around this area it was surprisingly difficult to get the buses to obey my thoughts, the issues you face trying to get these types of shots are huge, everything has to line up at the right moment and the traffic has to be going at the right speed – quite frustrating when it’s all out of your control. Perseverance once again prevailed and I think I did a fairly good job at blurring these buses!

Traffic around Trafalgar Square, which is located within the Westminster borough of London.Traffic around Trafalgar Square, which is located within the Westminster borough of London.Traffic around Trafalgar Square, which is located within the Westminster borough of London.
Traffic around Trafalgar Square, which is located within the Westminster borough of London.Traffic around Trafalgar Square, which is located within the Westminster borough of London.Traffic around Trafalgar Square, which is located within the Westminster borough of London.

For my final evening I wanted to re-take a few shots I already had in my library, mainly due to better conditions but also due to the fact the cherry blossoms around the London Eye were in full bloom. The white and pink of these petals took on all the surrounding colour, making what is a standard travel shot something quite beautiful. I of course shot many more angles but the following shot was my favourite.

The EDF Energy London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, located on the South Bank of the River Thames in the Lambeth Borough of London.The EDF Energy London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, located on the South Bank of the River Thames in the Lambeth Borough of London.

So there you have it, three days in our capital, half of which the rain prevented any real work, but a selection of images that I am proud of. There are hundreds more locations that I have yet to shoot but given that it’s only a 2 hour train ride for me to reach this fabulous city, it won’t be long before I’m back!

I am also thinking of running a few workshops around the capital, and depending on the success of these maybe taking a few groups to my usual stomping ground of Asia. If you know anyone who might be interested in a session with me or if you fancy it for yourself, please do let me know in the comments section and I’ll try and get something arranged for the next few months…

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  • Aaron Jones

    Stunning images as always, particularly love the stormy City Hall shots – very cool!

  • Lady F

    Incredible shots, especially with the Tower Bridge open. You obviously need patience to take these photos.

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