London at Night Part III

In the evening after my apparently rather successful trip to Borough Market, I found myself, after a few pints, walking home with my wife from a London pub.

We had been drinking in a pub right by the Tate Modern, on the other side of the Thames from St Pauls, which had caught my eye whilst we were drinking.There was a bit of mist in the city that day, as evidenced by the disappearing top of the Shard earlier in the day, but as the night rolled in the Shard disappeared from view completely.

This did wonders, however, for the lights used to illuminate the dome of St Pauls, which was enough to make me pull out my camera.

There is definitely nothing boob-shaped about this monument.  |  1/15sec, f/5, ISO 2000, exposure bias -1.0, 44mm

A little further up the river as we headed towards the station, we came across a little seating area, which was lit up better than my house at Xmas, with wonderful blue and white lights in the trees.

This is as close to a starry night as you’ll see in London. | 1/10sec, f/3.5, ISO 800, 18mm

Post processing this shot was a bit tricky, as the desire is to bring out a bit of the detail in the foreground, but not too much, whilst keeping the contrast of the lights in the trees. The white balance also tended towards the yellow a bit and, being a predominantly dark image, it’s difficult to balance it to where it should be.

Surrounding this little seating area, there were benches, and someone had had the brilliant idea of putting strip lights under them.

The lights are for drunk people to be able to ensure they’re sleeping on the correct side of the bench. | 1/10sec, f/3.5, ISO 800, 18mm

It wasn’t just here that the benches were under lit like this, along this stretch of the river they were similarly equipped.

Traditionally you light up the whole path, not just under the benches, but at least you’re unlikely to catch your knee on one. | 1/6sec, f/3.5, ISO 500, 18mm

I quite like the perspective and composition of this shot, so  I decided to see how it would look in black and white:

Black and white makes things look more serious. | 1/6sec, f/3.5, ISO 800, 18mm

After we’d walked along this section of the wharf, I looked back in the direction we’d came, and liked what I saw.

Someone is playing a giant game of noughts and crosses on that building. | 1/6sec, f/3.5, ISO 800, 18mm

I liked this shot a lot, but wanted to try a longer exposure, as I love the way the longer exposures give a frosty sense to the water. So out came my reasonably trusty GorillaPod, which I attached to the railing for a sturdy shot.

If someone had chosen that moment to fall in it would have ruined this shot. | 13sec, f/13, ISO 100, 18mm

Unfortunately, this photo put me in one of my usual quandaries. There are lots of reasons why I prefer this shot over the previous one: the smoothness of the water, the sharpness of everything else, the flares from the stronger light sources, the detail in the shadows cast on the water that just isn’t visible in the other shot. But I had decided to frame for the reflection, and in doing so cut off the top of the building in the centre of the frame. I didn’t realise it at the time, but looking at it now it adversely affects the shot, simply because it is so central in the image, even if it is largely in the background.

So, I decided to give something a try. As the shots were so similar, I figured – hoped – that I could stitch the top of the first image onto the rest of the second.

I fired up Photoshop, and put both of the RAW images through its automated photo stitch to see what would happen.

To be honest, that’s all I really needed to do. I’d love to say I tweaked this, nudged that and worked hard to join the image together coherently, but no, Photoshop did it all itself.

Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly powerful piece of software (the Adobe Updater, meanwhile, is one of the worse bits of software ever written, and it always amazes me that they bundle one of the world’s most powerful image editing applications with such an ineffective installer. It’s like owning a Bugatti Veyron but needing to turn a crank handle to start the engine). It certainly has made me look good in this instance.

This ‘shop has done wonders and combined the best of both images. The only downside is that it has dulled the lovely lens flare from the longer exposure, but I think I can live with that, considering.

Just a short post from me this time, it was a short walk back to the station and it was very cold. I’m not sure how often I’ll get to shoot London’s night scenery in the near future as the days are getting longer, and the clocks go back in a few weeks (potentially robbing me of the joy of leaving for work in daylight in the morning).

If you liked these, check out London at Night: First Excursion and London at Night Revisited.

11 thoughts on “London at Night Part III

  1. Fantastic pics of a city I love – London!! 🙂 🙂


  2. Should have known that you’d crack and get the camera out!

    The St Paul’s shot, which at first I thought could do with more sky before I saw the reflection, is really good, but I think the best is the colour version of the benches with people walking by. I’d be intrigued to see or try a shot from exactly the same position but with a slow shutter speed so that the shadows of people walking past were blurred. It could be a very creepy image!


    1. I was contemplating a longer exposure, but it was cold and 1/6th is as slow as I could go handheld without getting the GorillaPod out (which I inevitably I did anyway later on, but still).


  3. aaaaah, love London!!

    do you ever visit smaller parts of the city?
    I was in Barnes the other day, and it was beautiful 🙂
    Feel free to take a look at my post


    1. I pass through Barnes on the train into work every day, but have never really explored much too far from the main central areas. It is my full intention to do so however!


      1. You should, its beautiful 🙂 especially by the river!


        1. Actually, thinking of it I have been (briefly) to the riverside at Barnes; my wife and I cycled down there along the Thames from Twickenham a couple of summers ago. You’re right, it is wonderful down there!


  4. The only thing I don’t like about viewing photos on a blog, as opposed to viewing them on Facebook, is that I can’t click a ‘Like’ button on the specific photo(s) I like the best. Curses! lol. I especially like the second one, with the lights in the trees and the circular path. What I really enjoy about your photos is the London cultural qualites. I’ve never been to England… so I get to live it a little through your experience – and exposures. Thanks! (Also, I’m just checking out ‘Misfits’ for the first time on our BBC Canada station – do you watch it? It looks pretty good!)


  5. the bench shot with curved path…nice!


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