Experiment with focus
Try photographing a recognisable landmark completely out of focus for more creative results
One way in which you can give a much-photographed scene a new spin is to shoot it out-of-focus. This might seem a little avant-garde for some, but give it a go and you’ll see how the lights within your scene look incredible when defocused into blobs of beautiful bokeh. The challenge is to keep some semblance of familiarity in the image so that it’s more than just a collection of coloured spots, so look for angles that clearly show off the shape of the building or landmark. With the London Eye here that’s not too tricky!
To add depth we included the dappled fairy lights on foreground trees. Capturing out-of-focus scenes might seem simple (after all, we’ve all done it plenty of times by accident) but it still requires a little practice to visualise the night-time neon world as circles and shapes. So to begin with, switch your lens to manual focus mode, ramp up the ISO and shoot handheld. Experiment with different compositions while rotating your lens ring to create different strengths of bokeh. Once you settle on a composition you like, grab your tripod and lower the ISO to take your final shot.
As you’d expect, it’s always worth getting a classic shot of the landmark while you’re there. With slow-moving structures like the London Eye here, you could try lengthening your exposure even longer than a typical night-time shot by attaching a Neutral Density filter to your lens. This will allow for exposures of several minutes that transform the moving lights into wonderfully fluid streaks.