This post is a bit of a departure from the usual street photography. I’m not usually one for sunsets. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very nice and I do like a pink sky when I see one but I don’t go out of my way to photograph them.
However… These photos were the result of a Sunday afternoon walk along the Thames towpath at Mortlake in February. I took my camera along for the ride, in case I saw anything. I did take some street photography later on in the evening. I certainly didn’t expect to be taking sunset photos of the river. But the colours on the river were so beautiful, I just had to. And here they are.
You can’t stay on the Thames towpath for long. Eventually you have to take to the road. I got as far as Barnes Bridge.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the more touristy areas of London over the last few months. I haven’t been able to avoid them. Note to self: don’t try to walk across Westminster Bridge between 10am and 10pm and avoid The Globe around 2pm when all the school parties are going in.
One place that you can actually walk across is Horse Guards Parade. It’s so large that there’s enough room for everyone. And at night it’s one of the only truly dark places in London. Walking across, you get a sense of what London must have been like before electric light when you can’t see to put one foot in front of the other.
And when you’ve finally made it across the gravel of Horse Guards Parade without falling over, you get this wonderfully atmospheric view back through the arches of Horse Guards to the Guards’ Memorial. And then turn round to find a lone soldier from the Household Cavalry at the entrance gate. (There are usually a couple inside the gates too.)
The light makes for a very atmospheric photo – if only you could get one without tourists in it!
If you wait long enough, you might get a shot:
with just a few tourists in.
Or even just 1 tourist:
And then just when you think you’ve been waiting long enough to get just the right shot:
But at least it’s iconic!
And eventually all that waiting pays off:
And it’s all worth it.
I’ve been revisiting old photos again and reprocessing them. And now I’m working in Lightroom I’ve been discovering detail that I couldn’t get when processing photos in Aperture even when moving them to Photoshop to finish them. Lightroom brings out different colours to Aperture. It’s much more subtle. The greens and the reds stand out in these photos. You can see the difference when compared to a previous post.
What caught my eye while wandering round Spitalfields one evening was the welcoming feeling of the lamplight seen from the road. I could imagine putting my key in the door after a night out and feeling glad to be home.
These are the windows of lovely early Georgian houses in Spitalfields. Many of these houses were occupied first by Huguenot silk weavers fleeing persecution in France. They were later the homes of Jewish refugees and immigrants and, more recently, homes to Bangladeshi immigrants. The area has now become gentrified and many of these houses have been restored.
Spitalfields has been inhabited since Roman times when it was outside the walls of the Roman city. I’m sure it will continue to change as more gentrification takes over and then the rich move on. It was ever thus.
The great thing about cities and tall buildings is that you get shafts of light – natural spotlights. When I spot them, I stop and wait for someone interesting to walk into them – setting the exposure to be ready to press the shutter at exactly the right moment.
Sometimes that wait can prove fruitless and I get fed up waiting and move on to see if I can get something better. But at other times, the perfect person walks into the shot – or in the case of this shot, a person wearing the perfect clothes. This man walked into shot in the perfect position. If he’d been a little to one side or the other, the line of shadow wouldn’t have fallen down the centre. He could have walked through the shadow and I wouldn’t have got him at all. Or I might have moved my camera and snapped a very quick shot but it wouldn’t have worked in the way that this shot does.
As Trente Parke says: “Light turns the ordinary into the magical.”*
*Street Photography Now, published by Thames and Hudson
You always need one look out in a group.
I took the first photo in Covent Garden during an overnight shoot in June. The second is from a series I started work on this summer in Southend – London’s Colney Island as themofman commented when I shared some of the shots in a post in August.
Having switched from Aperture to Lightroom some months ago, I’ve finally got round to reprocessing some photos that I’d previously attempted to process in Aperture but wasn’t happy with the results.
This is the first of those. I don’t know why I resisted Lightroom for so long. I think it was a case of better the devil you know – or rather just not wanting to learn to use yet another piece of software. But Apple forced my hand when they dropped Aperture. And I’m so glad they did.
The problem with this shot was that there was a lot of noise. Switching it to black and white in Aperture didn’t give a satisfactory result. But de-noising in Lightroom and adding a bit of grain seems to have turned this into a half decent shot.
Though, having bought a new camera in April that is much better at low light, I won’t have this problem again. You’ve got to love technology!