Get up high
Shooting from up high above a city provides a unique perspective, and is also ideal for trying the so-called ‘tilt-shift’ effect
Most cities have a vantage point – a viewing platform in a public building, a roof-top restaurant – that enables you to get a bird’s eye view of a city. This, viewing spot, of course, will provide you with a fresh perspective, and a more original angle to shoot from than street level.
For our classic shot of the River Thames in London, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background, we shot from the public viewing platform at the top of the Oxo Tower. We got set up soon after sunset, and waited until the sky was turning a deep, dusky blue before taking out shot. The idea was to capture every last detail of the scene, from front to back, so we set a small aperture and a long shutter speed (see ‘Include every last detail’, below) to maximise depth of field. This had the added benefit of blurring the moving water and the light trails of the traffic crossing the bridge, creating a classic view of the London skyline that combined the old of St Paul’s on the left, with the new of the Shard on the right.
The twist in this case was to take exactly the same view, and apply a tilt-shift effect to make it look like a model town at night. The tilt-shift effect is nothing new, of course, but it’s almost always used on scenes shot in daylight. We’d only seen a handful of tilt-shift shots taken at night, so we decided to give it a go. The result is certainly much more striking than our original and has a very convincing, toy-town feel.