Thursday 2 April 2009 11.57pm
These notes are illustrated in this gallery
should be a Unesco World Heritage site. The sloping balconies stack up at mad angles to create a sensational effect. Still it's not trivial to make a decent image. The light is often unyielding, either overcast and undifferentiated or such high contrast that the dynamic range from the dark, narrow canyon to the bright,white top of Butlers Wharf exceeds what a camera can handle without High Dynamic Range techniques which look surreal. Go with the glow. Shoot backlit effects with sharp light leaking through the metal balconies. This is especially effective during the intervals when the morning light casts long shadows of the balconies on the side walls of the canyon, first one wall then the other. In between the sun shines straight down the canyon lighting up every balcony and some of the coloured signs along the street. Often there's a cluster of Biffa bins at the Curlew street corner. They look incandescent in the sun. When the trash trucks move up the street, that image slots in nicely beneath the stacked up balconies. a white van will pick up the shadow outline of a balcony. Don't forget the brightly coloured jackets of the Parking Wardens.
is a visual cliche' and hard to do much with. Dramatic skies help. Stepping down onto the shingle is another view. Moving towards Rotherhithe yields busy images which appeal to me. Buying a flat on an upper floor can give you a chance to shoot from an unusual stance. Interesting boats going through happens often enough and can be tracked on the internet.
are good round here. Cormorants
may look black, but they're black and white and irridescent when you get a good view and they have strange heads and strange stances. They often present themselves perched on a highly textured beam or a yellow buoy, drying their wings like laundry on a line since they have no oil on their feathers. You can catch them juxtaposed with the bridge, or City Hall
or a police launch or some other artefact they appear to be sneering at or haranguing. Pigeons
are more handsome than you might think - bright eyes, handsome feathers when fluffed up for bathing or sex. It helps their interesting personalities
that they are the next stage up from humans on the re-incarnation ladder; like us, but less litter.
has a reputation for harrassing photographers taking pictures of all the world-famous icons around, but I think it's unfair to call the security staff 'Morons'. Some of them, often African, are perfectly polite and smiley. Others, unfortunately, start citing laws they know nothing about and don't apply and make it harder to kowtow to what amounts to a breach of the peace when they try to obstruct innocent photography. One approach is simply to snap one of these surly actors if they refuse to get out of the frame. It's an amusing alternative to the standard Tower Bridge shot - Tower Bridge + surly security guard breaching the peace. Yes I know it's private property. They think that's a trump card in law, but it isn't.
. 'Hell is other people
' certainly applies now that Shad Thames
is so crowded. You can shoot high or crop out specks of lumpen humanity from the bottom of the frame. Another approach is to include the odd person for scale or clothing or some other factor. My shot of The Navigator in Hays Galleria was enhanced by the intrusion of a tourist who looked like the model for the nasally endowed sculpture. A winter shot of the anchor by the Cantina was enhanced by a bloke giving scale alongside. A few seconds later a man in a top hat came striding through the snow and gave me a lovely image looking back to the bridge.
are a treat around More. It can be a puzzle finding just the right spot to optimize a multiple image of City Hall
. That's when I look most like a terrorist casing the joint. Don't forget that rain begets good reflections. La Strada
has fascinating reflections of City Hall
and the bridge combined with their signs and the big red lampshades inside.
Again here's a link
to a gallery of mine which shows several of these points. I'd be interested to read others' tips.
I should mention that I've posted smallish files for fastish download from a US server, so the images have a slightly stressed quality rather than the more 'liquid' surface I prefer.