Parliament Buildings: Chasing the Light in London
Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 1, 2012
If you were strolling along the south bank of the Thames in London on June 27, 2012, between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., you might have noticed me trotting up and down the embankment trying to take advantage of the only decent light that appeared. Sunset occurs so late in London that I didn’t get back to my hotel until after midnight.
The first photo (above) was taken at 8:30 p.m. close to the Hungerford railway bridge, with Westminster Bridge in the foreground. The lighting is nice and soft but the sky is flat grey. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but good photographs usually require good light (or intelligent ways of compensating for poor light). The light isn’t always going to come to you and deliver an Ansel Adams shot; sometimes you have to chase the light to get the shot.
Around 8:45 p.m. the setting sun appeared through the crowds, so I started jogging westward. I was hoping for some nice skies behind the Parliament buildings. The photo below was taken beside Westminster bridge.
The next photo was taken at 8:55. The clouds were getting a bit more interesting. I wanted to try to get some colour behind Big Ben (the tower on the right), so I moved further west.
The photo below, of Big Ben, was taken at 8:52. I underexposed it deliberately to show the rays. I did get a shot that showed the clock face more clearly (smaller photo below), but at the expense of the detail in the clouds. (Photography is always a compromise, unless you’re doing HDR.)
The next photo was taken at 8:57 and underexposed slightly to hold the detail and colour in the clouds. After I took this photo, I trotted over Westminster Bridge to see whether I could capture any of the light bouncing off the towers, but wasn’t very successful. So I had to hang around for a while for the sky to darken, so that I could take some night shots. Since I didn’t have a tripod, it wasn’t a wildly successful attempt.
The last photo was taken at 10:30 p.m., from roughly the same vantage as the first photo. If I’d used a tripod it would have been a bit sharper.
OF course, if you ever find you have really flat light and grey skies, you can always turn it into black and white and call it “art.”