Before moving to Northampton I used to live in Streatham Hill and all the photographic potential of London was on my doorstep. I don’t regret moving as I don’t like over populated places and my standard of living has improved since the move. Every few months though I do try and visit London for the purposes of taking photographs. This particular visit was very brief, perhaps only a couple of hours but I did still manage to capture a few images I was happy with.
My Black and White conversion software of choice
I often find photographs of cities work really well in black and white. Many who are new to photography are often unhappy with their black and white conversions. Some years ago I was also less than impressed by the black and white results I would get from image editing software like Photoshop. Today my usual black and white conversion workflow involves Silver Efex Pro, a product by a company called Nik. Nik were purchased by Google in 2012 and instead of selling the Nik software products separately, Google decided to bundle them together for a reasonable price. Then in 2016 Google decided to give the Nik collection away for free. Those who are critical of Google say they only purchased Nik for their software Snapseed. It’s true that since Google took over the Nik collection of plugins have not been developed further but the fact remains that they are still great products for photographers and you can’t really complain at a free product. It works both as standalone software and as a plugin for programs like Photoshop and Lightroom. Why not look at some of the tutorials on YouTube and give it a try?
Westminster Bridge Area
Often when I visit London I will start around the Westminster Bridge area and start walking from there. I’ve always loved Big Ben, such an iconic building and incredibly photogenic in good light.
Also from Westminster Bridge there are various views of the London Eye which has lots of photographic potential from various different angles.
From Westminster Bridge I then walked for just a couple of minutes to the South Bank for a different view of Big Ben. I like to play with shallow depth of field and enjoy including a well known landmark in the background but out of focus. Even when out of focus, the most well know and distinctive landmarks can still be recognised. For this particular image I used a focal length of 70mm on an APS-C sensor camera (so 105mm in 35mm terms). Aperture was f4 which is enough to blur the background if the foreground subject is close enough to the lens.
I then retraced my steps back across Westminster Bridge towards Westminster Green. From here you get another view of Big Ben, this time I decided to use the Winston Churchill statue as my foreground interest. The number of different photographs you can get of the same landmark is almost limitless if you take the time to look.
Trafalgar Square – But still with Big Ben in the frame!
My next location was Trafalgar Square which can be a good place for street photography. There are usually a number of street performers here who can make good subjects. The image I wanted to capture however was another shallow depth of field image with again Big Ben as my out of focus background. I decided my foreground subject should be one of the Trafalgar Square lions. To get both the lion and Big Ben in the same image requires a telephoto lens. To the human eye Big Ben is further away from the lions than it seems in this image which is one of the things I love about telephoto lenses.
Hopefully this article illustrates that a small area can provide huge photographic potential, at least in a busy city like London. I do think you need to train your eyes to look for such scenes but the more you use your camera the easier it gets to ‘see’ a different way to look at a scene.