By the Thames (again…)

I’ve got a bit of a backlog of posts at the minute. I had a lot of ideas and tried out some interesting stuff during the couple of weeks off work I had over the Xmas break, but returning to the choke of my employer (and the 6am wakeup, which I suppose doesn’t help much either) has taken the time from me that I’d usually use for photographing and writing and compressed it down to a few hours between work and bed, which is also used for eating, cleaning, and spending time with the wife.

The best example of this is my last post, Return to the Royal Parks, which took over a week to write.

I’m not looking for sympathy here; I just want to point out why I achieved almost a post a day for the first week of this year, before tailing off a bit over the last couple of weeks. It’s that damned gainful employment (I really shouldn’t complain about it, it does fund an expensive photography habit). It’s not all gloom, however: this post has made this month my busiest, most-postiest month since I started this blog.

Anyway, to the photos.

The day after I took my stroll around the aforementioned Royal Parks to try out my new macro lens, I made another trip to the riverside at Twickenham, by now an old hunting ground. It wasn’t a planned trip this time; we were dumping a load of (hopefully) sellable junk onto a charity shop in town and decided to head to the river to see what, if anything, was what.

For a start, there was a man sitting in an old Jag, seemingly waiting for people to come talk to him (which was apparently working).

It was quite a bright day, although as is common for this time of year, the axial tilt of this rock we live on meant that the sun didn’t get that high in the sky. This caused, as it has for most of my posts this month, the light to be quite impressive. I keep on saying ‘quite impressive’; I think it’s because I think it looks nice, but don’t presume what it is you, dear readers, look for in a photo. I do, however, presume that at least some of the images I post meet some of your criteria from time to time.

I’m sure I was intending to put some photos in this post at some point. Yes, yes I was. Like this one of someone feeding seagulls:

Exposure 1/1250sec, f/4, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 24mm focal length

Quite a lot like that one, in fact.

Seagulls can be horrible (I once saw one in Weymouth try to eat a live pigeon – I don’t mean a live injured pigeon, I mean a living, walking, minding-his-own-business pigeon), but they can look visually appealing in flight, especially when silhouetted.

Exposure 1/2000sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 300mm focal length

I managed to catch a few decent closeups of the ‘gull with my telephoto. In the following image, I’ve attempted to simulate a fill-in flash by lightening the contrast of the darker areas of the image. It seems to have worked reasonably well.

Exposure 1/2000sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 300mm focal length

There weren’t just seagulls, there were also pigeons (no attempted eating going on, however; presumably due to some sort of truce agreement). The pigeons have a habit (and I’ve seen this on several occasions on several different days so I feel justified in calling it a habit) of sitting on a roof, and then suddenly without warning all taking off at once and flying in circles over the surrounding area for a few minutes. Perhaps a show of strength to the seagulls.

If you can catch it with your camera, however, it is a bit of a sight.

Exposure 1/3200sec, f/4, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 70mm focal length

This little spot of Twickenham is a bit of a hive of activity. There are all manner of birds (and usually plenty of people with bread to feed them) – seagulls, swans, pigeons, geese, coots and ducks are the usual suspects. These two look like geese to me:

Exposure 1/1250sec, f/5, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 52mm focal length

I enjoy silhouettes. I’m not really sure why, maybe it’s that it’s something that you won’t normally see as the brain doesn’t tend to process images in that way.

Whilst I was checking out the probably geese, I slipped into the Thames with my camera – but I managed to perfectly time a shot as I hit the water.

Exposure 1/80sec, f/5, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33 (-0.86), 42mm focal length

Okay, okay, you got me. I’m joking. The Thames is a tidal river, and in the quarter of an hour we had been sitting there the tide had rolled in really quickly, to the point that it was touching my feet as I sat on the waterside. So, I did a quick splash of my feet in the water to catch the shot. Did I fool you at all? Even for a second?

No? Damn. Oh look, the pigeons are still circling.

Exposure 1/640sec, f3.5, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm focal length

I still had the polarising filter on my 18-135mm lens from the previous day’s shooting, which I was occasionally remembering was there (something I still need to work on, I admit); you can see it in the slight coloration in the sky in that last picture.

With the tide suitably rolled in for us not to be able to sit on the waterfront anymore, we got up and headed towards the gardens of York House, somewhere I’ve admittedly been before.

On the way, there was a few opportunities to grab some riverside shots. This bit of Twickenham is right by the famous Eel Pie Island, and it can look a bit aged if you frame it right.

Exposure 1/500sec, f/3.5, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm focal length

That picture has had all colour removed except red. Although Aperture gives me the option to selectively ‘paint’ which areas I want to be unsaturated and which I want in colour, I tend to prefer the former method, as it leaves hints of colour elsewhere in the picture which makes it a more interesting image. In the above image, the red has remained not only in the boats in the foreground, but in the boat in the background and in the trees.

Of course, sometimes the shots look better with no colour at all.

Exposure 1/320sec, f/4, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33 (+0.55), 30mm focal length

Further along the river (you can just about make it out in the background in the photo above) the wall bordering the Thames turns more old-fashioned. I’ve shot it a few times before; this time was no exception.

Exposure 1/2000sec, f/3.5, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm focal length

A bit further on, the Naked Ladies statues – something else I’ve photographed before – looked a lot duller without the water running (presumably turned off due to the winter cold). With the water being so still, some algae had built up, making for an odd but tranquil pool.

Exposure 1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 250, exposure bias -0.67, 135mm focal length

When I got to the gardens, I snapped on my macro lens and played about getting some extreme closeups of some of the flora and fauna. That, however, will form the basis of another post.

As I headed out of the gardens, I still had the macro lens on. I really enjoy using it for distant shots as well as macro stuff; the quality is fantastic.

Exposure 1/1250sec, f/2.8, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 100mm focal length

I seem to have been holding the camera a bit wonky on that one. I usually correct it, but I think I missed it on this one.

Using the macro as a more general lens can produce some nice results. On this occasion I pointed it straight into the sun with the aperture wide open (and the ISO a little high, to be honest), and this is the result:

Exposure 1/7999sec, f/2.8, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 100mm focal length

I’m not sure quite what has caused the coloration in this shot, but I like it.

By this point, the sun was lowering in the sky, making for some impressive sunsetting action.

Exposure 1/7999sec, f/4, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 24mm focal length

The sky looked amazing; still blue overhead, but gradiating to the sepia where the sun was approaching the horizon.

Exposure 1/3200sec, f/3.5, ISO 500, 18mm focal length

Back at the bridge to Eel Pie Island, the beams of light were getting stronger through the clouds.

Exposure 1/7999sec, f/4.5, ISO 500, exposure bias -1.33, 36mm focal length

A little further along the river, there was another old-style streetlight, allowing me to frame a shot not entirely unlike the one that I closed Return to the Royal Parks on.

Exposure 1/6400sec, f/4, ISO 500, exposure bias -1.33, 28mm focal length

It’s useful to have somewhere so close that can result in quite a variety of nice images. As much as I love travelling to new places and shooting interesting things, sometimes just being able to pop down the road to familiar grounds and attempting to try new things with familiar material is a good way to exercise the old shutter finger and my creative juices.

2 thoughts on “By the Thames (again…)

  1. My 140mm macro became such a favorite of mine, that when it met it’s demise, I haven’t pulled the camera out since.


    1. It’s entirely possible I’m fostering a similar attachment to my own macro! My next post will contain a bunch of shots with it, stay tuned!


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